Friday, June 8, 2012

Karen Cole: Copy Editing in Ghost Writing

I'm excited to have Karen Cole here today. Karen is a ghost writer, copy editor, proof reader, rewriter and an author. There's been a lot of talk on the loops about self-publishing. This is the age of the Internet and there are so many platforms available that make it easier than ever to publish, but good professional editing is more necessary than ever before. So without further ado, here's Karen…

I have found over the years as a ghost writer that editing is always what you will be doing, strangely enough, one way or another. Even when you’re doing a strict ghost writing project from the client’s outline, notes are usually involved, and so is Internet and library research. And that usually entails some substantial rewriting of copy. If you use what you find on the Net or at the library, aside from writing people for permission to use their material, sometimes you will somewhat reword what you find and fit it to the client’s work. Also, the client will often give you notes that are comprehensive enough to work from, rewriting as you go and trying to keep to the client’s overall “voice.”

So you must understand the nature of copy editing to be a ghost writer. Editing comes in stages, which I will attempt to delineate for you in order. Basic editing or line editing involves editing for grammar, spelling, syntax (the order of words, arrangement of them etc.), and to some extent style and color. Basic editing doesn’t involve major rewriting, but there is the removal of redundancies, fact checking such as the correct spelling of names, etc. Beyond line editing, there are more comprehensive forms of copy editing, although line editing can be quite substantial by itself and involve the application and use of several style manuals, such as the Chicago Manual of Style.

Content editing is the next stage. When you content edit, you are usually rearranging things in a more major manner, involving rewriting the overall “voice” to suit the aimed-for audience of the work, for example. When you content edit, you are changing the style and overall “feel” of the work to suit the client’s specifications and the requirements of the readers. You may shift around chapters, rename characters, put in or take out whole scenes, etc.

Finally, there is developmental editing. When you do this, you’re coming much closer to basic ghost writing from scratch, but you’re still using the client’s material to work from. There is usually plenty of material to edit from, but you have to really rework it in a vastly major manner. You will be adding whole blocks of material, subtracting other portions, adding in new scenes, new characters, new backgrounds and new facts throughout. You basically take something that is dull and unfinished, full of bad material and redundancies - and you turn it into a professional, polished job. Or you work with something that has good or even great ideas, but it needs completely rewritten and restyled in order to fit the client’s and the readers’ needs a lot more precisely.

The best copy editors are probably the developmental editors. They do the most work, and their profession is a lot more like ghost writing than that of the other, lesser types of editors. As a ghost writer, I’ve had to do many different forms of editing, but I can tell you that proper developmental editing is the hardest form of editing. The other types are cakewalks next to developmental editing, but its challenges are there for the most capable editors to undergo and enjoy.

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Anonymous said...

Wow. I had no clue there were so many types of editing. As a ghost writer do you get acknowledgment for the creative work you do? I'm an aspiring author and am a little clueless lol;()

Janice Seagraves said...

I've gone through editing but still wasn't sure what each pass did. Thank you for clarifying each job.

Karen S. Cole - Ghost Writer, Inc. said...

Whether you edit or ghost write, it's up to the client and you to determine how much credit you will get for your own original work. Mostly, it's up to the paying client, and they often at most list me only as their "Editor" - no matter what type of work I actually did for them.