More Than Dotting I’s and Crossing T’s: The Levels of Editing

You’ve finally got it: a first draft. The last word has been written, and now you’ve got a couple hundred pages ready to be edited. You’ve completed what many consider the hardest part of writing a book, but there’s still work left to be done. It’s time for editing to begin.

All manuscripts need editing. Working with a professional editor is necessary to ensure your book becomes the best book it can be. Some writing requires basic sentence- and word-level polishing, while other manuscripts may need an overarching content edit. It all depends on the author’s writing process and where they feel their writing has ended up after the first draft. No matter what, flipping back to the beginning of the book and breaking out the red pen is a crucial step in the publishing process.

One editorial size does not fit all. The most common editing options are as follows:


Ghostwrite. A ghostwrite includes the complete drafting of a manuscript, beginning with interviews with the author and other important individuals and moving through a synopsis, outline, and chapter delivery. A professional ghostwriter has the most involvement in a manuscript. An author’s relationship with a ghostwriter can be as involved as they choose.

Writing Coach. A writing coach aids in the creation of an outline, table of contents, and writing schedule. The author writes the manuscript while the writing coach works closely with the author throughout the drafting process by editing each chapter as it is written for content-level concerns. Busy authors who are still invested in doing the actual writing of the book or those who need a schedule to stick to often opt for a writing coach to get real-time feedback.

Content Edit. A professional editor works with the author after the first full draft of the manuscript is completed. They suggest high-level structural and organizational changes as needed that may affect both the prose and content of the book. It’s a good choice for authors who have or will have a completed manuscript and are looking for high-level feedback. A content editor may rewrite sentences as necessary.

Developmental Edit. A developmental edit addresses clarity, style, and phrasing. The editor identifies areas with awkward word choice and sentences, when more information or explanation is needed, or when redundancies arise.

Copyedit. A copyedit involves an editor correcting line-by-line grammatical errors, including spelling, punctuation, word choice, tense, and sentence structure. Editing at this level aims to get the book grammatically sound and ready for print.


After completing your manuscript, you’ll likely have a sense of which level of editing you need. If you’re unsure, an editor or publishing professional can assess your manuscript for the appropriate level of editing needed.


Who will I work with?
Whether you are working with an in-house editor at a publisher or with a freelancer, ensure they have experience and qualifications to complete the level of editing necessary. Budget is a realistic concern, too, so confirm that the editor is providing a reasonable quote for a quality job. Working relationship is another factor. Depending on how heavy an edit your manuscript needs, you may be spending some time communicating with your editor, so see if you jive personally to work well professionally.


Every manuscript needs some level of editing before it’s ready to go to print, and CEOs and thought leaders often need the help of a professional to help bring their book up to scratch in a competitive market. A well written book is a must to represent yourself and your brand well, so choosing the right level of editing helps create a quality product.




As the CEO at
Amplify Publishing and Mascot Books, Naren Aryal is a recognized publishing industry expert. Naren advises authors, thought leaders, and various organizations on the opportunities and challenges that exist in the evolving publishing world. He’s guided the company’s growth from a single children’s book in 2003 to becoming one of the fastest growing and most respected hybrid publishing companies in the world. Today, Mascot Books publishes hundreds of books a year across all genres, and Amplify Publishing is a leading nonfiction imprint specializing in “big ideas” from some of the most reputable names in business and politics. 


Naren frequently speaks at publishing and business events about the importance of developing compelling content and a robust author platform. He is also the author of
How to Sell a Crapload of Books: 10 Secrets of a Killer Author Marketing Platform.

Prior to entering the world of books, Naren worked as a lawyer, advising technology companies in the Washington, D.C. area. He holds a B.S. in Finance from Virginia Tech and Juris Doctor from University of Denver.

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When Hiring a Ghostwriter is the Correct Editorial (and Business) Decision

You’re a thought leader and recognized expert in your field. Your audience enjoys your blogs, your videos, and your social media presence. Your influence is growing. And to keep the momentum going, you’ve decided to add a book to your platform and share your big idea with the world.

What’s the next step? For many, it’s finding a qualified ghostwriter.

So, let’s dispel some myths about ghostwriting here and now. It’s not cheating. It’s not unethical. It’s actually rather common. We estimate half of Amplify Publishing titles utilize the service of ghostwriters. And the other half rely on writing coaches, book doctors, copyeditors, and proofreaders. But today, let’s examine the world of ghostwriting and when it makes sense for you.


Why consider hiring a ghostwriter?
There are several areas in which a ghostwriter can add value and is worth considering:

Editorial quality. Poor quality writing undermines your credibility. Even if you can write, be honest with yourself: Is your writing of the utmost quality? Do you have the objectivity to persuade readers who aren’t already sold on your ideas, as you are? If you’re not sure how well you can represent yourself while writing, it may be in your interests to consider editorial help, be that a ghostwriter or some level of editing.

Time. Even if your writing is top-notch, you still might not have time to sit down and commit to writing a manuscript. Even a modest manuscript might be a six-month project. If you’re running a company or traveling for speaking engagements, you might be too busy. A book project is a time investment as well as a monetary investment, so be realistic with your schedule and whether you can take on another project right now.

Efficiency. Maybe you can write as well as any ghostwriter, but it takes you ten times longer to write one chapter than it would for them. A ghostwriter can step in and add speed while maintaining a quality product. For my book, How to Sell a Crapload of Books: 10 Secrets of a Killer Author Marketing Platform, I knew I could write well, but knew I couldn’t go to market without some help from Tim Vandehey, who did the heavy lifting on the writing. A professional isn’t just for those who have no time; it’s for those who value the time they have.


What is it like to work with a ghostwriter?
The ghostwriter and the named author spend a lot of time together. Brainstorming sessions, outlining, in-depth interviews wherein ghostwriter picks the author’s brain and develops a sense of their written “voice.” You don’t need to be in the same city, but an initial face-to-face meeting often produces the best writer-client relationship. The style of the meeting depends on you and the writer.

The continued level of involvement after the initial meetings is up to the named author. Maybe you want to be hands-off and just have the ghostwriter send you a completed manuscript. Perhaps you want to take an active hand in shaping the book. Many ghostwriters have a process of developing ideas and structuring the book, and the named author needs to be comfortable with that process beforehand. However the ghostwriter handles it, they will ensure they are staying true to the roadmap you laid out in the preliminary interviews. Understanding this process upfront creates the best working relationship.


What are the costs associated with hiring a ghostwriter?
There is a wide range of budgets involved in hiring a ghostwriter. The price depends on attributes like the ghostwriter’s experience, their credits, and any special circumstances like the complexity of the book or the turnaround time. We’ve worked with ghosts whose fee ranged from $10,000 on the low end to $100,000 on the high end—that’s a reality. But we are always able to find a ghostwriter within the budget of the named author.


Ghostwriting often stirs up negative associations, but it’s a crucial part of the book production process for the majority of successful authors. A great ghostwriter will provide the editorial quality and efficiency it takes to get a book done well and help you achieve your publishing goals.





As the CEO at
Amplify Publishing and Mascot Books, Naren Aryal is a recognized publishing industry expert. Naren advises authors, thought leaders, and various organizations on the opportunities and challenges that exist in the evolving publishing world. He’s guided the company’s growth from a single children’s book in 2003 to becoming one of the fastest growing and most respected hybrid publishing companies in the world. Today, Mascot Books publishes hundreds of books a year across all genres, and Amplify Publishing is a leading nonfiction imprint specializing in “big ideas” from some of the most reputable names in business and politics. 

Naren frequently speaks at publishing and business events about the importance of developing compelling content and a robust author platform. He is also the author of How to Sell a Crapload of Books: 10 Secrets of a Killer Author Marketing Platform.

Prior to entering the world of books, Naren worked as a lawyer, advising technology companies in the Washington, D.C. area. He holds a B.S. in Finance from Virginia Tech and Juris Doctor from University of Denver.

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The One-Pager: Quick Brainstorming to Begin Writing Your Book

You’ve got a brilliant book idea. You’re ready to start writing, but sitting down and banging out an outline or first chapter is intimidating—it’s hard to know where to start. A good place to begin is what we call the “one-pager.” A one-pager is a short piece of writing that helps you organize your content and gives you a road map for the next steps in the editorial process. It’s valuable to you and it’s valuable to the person receiving it, whether that be an editor, writing coach, literary agent, or acquisitions professional from a publishing company.


The meat of the one-pager
There are some key topics you should address in your one-pager. Thinking of a title, subtitle, and specific genre are all helpful, but not critical at this stage. Sometimes, a draft manuscript will inform the perfect title and subtitle, and in other cases, a title and subtitle can be a road map for writing. Here’s what’s critical at this stage:

Synopsis. What is your big idea? What value will the reader get from reading? Almost as importantly, what is the book not intended to be? The synopsis is a summary of what you want your book to say and its key takeaways. Although it will likely change as you write, a drafted synopsis now provides a foundation for a first draft later.

Target audience. Sometimes an author will reach out and say, “Everyone will love my book!” That’s a red flag. When I hear that, I think, “The author hasn’t determined a target market.” And that will undermine a project from the beginning. Imagining the value your book will bring to a certain group of people makes it more targeted. It’s easier and more effective to market to, say, proponents of youth football as Merril Hoge did in Brainwashed: The Bad Science Behind CTE and the Plot to Destroy Football, millennials as George Kroustalis did in Secrets to Becoming a Financial Badass, or business leaders looking for innovative solutions as Stephen Shapiro did in Invisible Solutions: 25 Lenses that Reframe and Help Solve Difficult Business Problems.

Call to action. What should your reader do after they have read your book? Your book should have at least one major takeaway that prescribes change on an individual, societal, or industry level. This can be as simple as arguing a more successful employee wakes up at 5 a.m. every morning or as complex as proposing large-scale economic or social change.

Goals. What’s your goal in writing this book? Think ambitiously, but realistically. Becoming a New York Times bestseller is probably not feasible, and that should rarely be your “why.” What we hear more often are things like, “I have a slightly different take on a political issue of the day,” “This book will solidify my position as a thought leader or recognized expert in the field of generational difference consulting,” or “This book will lead to more speaking opportunities and wealth advising business.” Those are all great reasons for publishing a book. Your goals should align with your book’s message and be achievable.


What comes next after the one-pager?
Having a completed one-pager is a launch point for the following possible options:

-Table of Contents. A table of contents is a “how” to the one-pager’s “what”—if a one-pager provides an overview of what you are saying, the table of contents is a plan for how to make your point.

Outline. A document more detailed and expanded than a table of contents, the outline builds off and expands on the one-pager’s main ideas.

First chapter. The one-pager covers the major topics in your book so you know where to begin writing and what will capture readers’ attention.

-Full-blown book proposal. A book proposal is the document used to pitch your book to literary agents and publishing houses. It usually includes an analysis of the following: the book’s content, target audience, author bio, marketing platform, comparative title analysis, table of contents, and a sample chapter or two. A one-pager can aid your book proposal by providing a first-draft synopsis and focusing your ideas on each of these topics.


The end product
Your one-pager doesn’t have to be a formal document that addresses all the topics above line by line. It can take whatever format works for your brainstorming process. These guiding ideas can prompt your thinking on central ideas and make the blank page a lot less intimidating by giving you a place to start. Once you have the main ideas down on paper, your book has a platform from which it can launch.






As the CEO at
Amplify Publishing and Mascot Books, Naren Aryal is a recognized publishing industry expert. Naren advises authors, thought leaders, and various organizations on the opportunities and challenges that exist in the evolving publishing world. He’s guided the company’s growth from a single children’s book in 2003 to becoming one of the fastest growing and most respected hybrid publishing companies in the world. Today, Mascot Books publishes hundreds of books a year across all genres, and Amplify Publishing is a leading nonfiction imprint specializing in “big ideas” from some of the most reputable names in business and politics. 


Naren frequently speaks at publishing and business events about the importance of developing compelling content and a robust author platform. He is also the author of
How to Sell a Crapload of Books: 10 Secrets of a Killer Author Marketing Platform.

Prior to entering the world of books, Naren worked as a lawyer, advising technology companies in the Washington, D.C. area. He holds a B.S. in Finance from Virginia Tech and Juris Doctor from University of Denver.

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Case Study: Uncovering the Secrets to Becoming a Financial Badass

How one successful wealth advisor made it his mission to increase millennials’ financial literacy.

 
George “G$” Kroustalis thought it was another typical day hosting a 401(k) enrollment seminar. Though a financial advisor for pre-retirement clients, Kroustalis hosts these events to reach young adults just starting their professional lives and to encourage them to begin saving money. That day, October 10, a former attendee came up to Kroustalis and told him that, though he was initially doubtful, he had followed Kroustalis’s advice over the past twelve years and built his wealth beyond his wildest expectations. That moment turned Kroustalis’s passion for spreading financial literacy into a crusade, which drove him to write Secrets to Becoming a Financial Badass.


An essential book young people need to read
Secrets to Becoming a Financial Badass was hailed as the “personal finance book that every millennial should read” by the host of MSNBC’s Your Business, JJ Ramberg, because of its sound financial advice and fresh writing style. Using his “Save, Spend, and Invest” model, Kroustalis uses his experience as a pre-retirement financial advisor to teach young people how to balance their budgets and become financially successful in the future. He keeps it simple with just the basics of what young adults need to know now so they make smart decisions with their money later. It’s Kroustalis’s personal mission to increase financial literacy in young adults, and this book is tailored for them with jokes and pop culture examples to keep it relatable.


Our goals?
1. Match Kroustalis’s vision to make the book relatable to young people by using their language and making references only they understand
2. Launch the book with a bang on national media channels
3. Supplement national efforts with local events to excite Kroustalis’s personal network


Kroustalis knew what kind of book he wanted to write. It needed to be informative yet humorous, to keep young people engaged in the financial content. The tone had to be light and invoke current pop culture references like Call of Duty, Instagram, and Lana Del Rey to explain complex financial strategies. All in all, it took a year to write the book. Kroustalis was involved every step of the way—from writing to fact-checking to the black-and-white interior illustrations—in order to ensure the book was true to his vision.

Once the book’s interior was set, the cover designed, and the book printed, Kroustalis took Secrets to Becoming a Financial Badass to the New York Stock Exchange for its debut. He appeared on Cheddar, the business news network, to answer pressing financial questions millennials face and describe how the book tackles these difficult decisions.

Kroustalis also appeared on SiriusXM’s “The Power Hour” with Godfrey the Comedian, a show that covers politics, pop culture, and social issues. He discussed the power of compound interest with the famous “Would you rather have a million dollars or a penny doubled every day for a month?” example, a question that highlights the importance of saving money early in life.

Kroustalis also launched the book at J. Sam’s, a restaurant in Charlotte, North Carolina, a launch so successful it was standing room only.


A charitable element

Secrets to Becoming a Financial Badass is one part of Kroustalis’s mission to spread financial literacy. Inspired by the date his former seminar attendee thanked him for his advice, Kroustalis created Project 10.10, a 501(c)3 nonprofit committed to educating young people on basic personal finance at the community level.


Young people have time on their side financially. Kroustalis’s experience as a financial advisor working with pre-retirement clients means he knows the importance of a 401(k), and he wants young people to know it, too. In Secrets to Becoming a Financial Badass, he takes three short chapters to teach millennials how to keep their budget sheet balanced and he succeeds at—above all—being entertaining.

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Case Study: How The Horseshoe Virus Created Political Change in Arizona

A Political Title Ideally Suited for New RealClear Politics imprint


Former Arizona state senator Bob Worsley uncovers the surprising beginnings of modern anti-immigration sentiments in his book, The Horseshoe Virus: How the Anti-Immigration Movement Spread from Left-Wing to Right-Wing America.


What is the “Horseshoe Virus”?
The “Horseshoe Virus” is the spread of “toxic, anti-immigration legislative and ideological strategy” from groups within both Democrat and Republican parties, Bob Worsley argues. Worsley focuses on how far-left activists shape far-right policies, reveals how anti-immigration feeling rose to prominence in modern politics, and prescribes ways to bring America back from the brink of extremism.


Our goals?
-Set up for success by partnering with RealClearPolitics and Gotham Ghostwriters and publish under the newly-established RealClear Publishing imprint
-Make waves in the press with Worsley’s activism on immigration policy
-Pick a strategic publication date to capitalize on the 2020 election cycle and move quickly to launch title

RealClear Publishing is an imprint of Amplify Publishing, RealClearPolitics, and Gotham Ghostwriters. RealClear Publishing was established with the goal of diversifying the conversation around politics. While traditional publishers only publish books by the political elite, RealClear Publishing works to bring out voices from educated thought leaders and respected individuals. RealClear Publishing authors retain full ownership of their copyright, receive 80% of the profits from sales, and have access to over 17 years of publishing expertise through the Amplify team.

When we started working on The Horseshoe Virus with Bob Worsley, we knew the collaborative style of RealClear Publishing was a perfect fit. Three heads are better than one, so we combined RealClearPolitics’ brand equity as a trusted platform for political news and commentary (and the massive audience they offer), Gotham Ghostwriters’ expert editorial and writing services, and our know-how when it comes to production, distribution, and marketing. The Horseshoe Virus is the product of partnership in action.


Going viral and the media interest that followed
While RealClear Publishing was working behind the scenes to get this book out there, Bob Worsley was getting attention for his well-timed op-ed in AZ Central titled, “A Response to the ‘Latter-day Saints for Trump’s Rally in Mesa, Arizona” in which he called for a return to the values of “truth, respect, honor, competency, freedom, and concern for our fellow man.” He argued that “President Trump is the antithesis of so much the Latter-day Saints community believes.” The letter has gained media attention in the Los Angeles Times, Deseret News, KJZZ, AZ Family, and the Daily Mail.

With Worsley leading the Arizona Republican movement to pull away from Trump, we knew the timing of The Horseshoe Virus had to be just right. With Worsley so prominent, it only made sense that his call to return from far-right extremism would debut on the market in October, right before the November general election.

The strategy paid off. In the election, Arizona went for the Democratic candidate Joe Biden despite being a Republican Party stronghold and a predicted Donald Trump win. Bob Worsley credits that flip in part to the efforts of many good members of the LDS Church and grassroots interest groups like Stand Up Republic, saying they were “a united effort to pull away from Trumpism, anti-immigration feelings, and return to decent, centrist American values.” Worsley’s voice was part of the call for Arizonans to vote for Biden not Trump, and The Horseshoe Virus achieves what a good book should: influence change.





As the CEO at Amplify Publishing and Mascot Books, Naren Aryal is a recognized publishing industry expert. Naren advises authors, thought leaders, and various organizations on the opportunities and challenges that exist in the evolving publishing world. He’s guided the company’s growth from a single children’s book in 2003 to becoming one of the fastest growing and most respected hybrid publishing companies in the world. Today, Mascot Books publishes hundreds of books a year across all genres, and Amplify Publishing is a leading nonfiction imprint specializing in “big ideas” from some of the most reputable names in business and politics. 


Naren frequently speaks at publishing and business events about the importance of developing compelling content and a robust author platform. He is also the author of How to Sell a Crapload of Books: 10 Secrets of a Killer Author Marketing Platform.

Prior to entering the world of books, Naren worked as a lawyer, advising technology companies in the Washington, D.C. area. He holds a B.S. in Finance from Virginia Tech and Juris Doctor from University of Denver.

 

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How to Deal with Crippling Self-Doubt: Advice for Authors

By Josh Bernoff

This post originally appeared on WithoutBullshit.com, an excellent resource for writers, editors, and marketers written by bestselling author Josh Bernoff.  View the original post in its entirety here and follow Josh on Twitter (@jbernoff), Facebook (@bernoffwobs), and LinkedIn for more wisdom on writing, editing, publishing, and business news.


Every nonfiction author feels it. That moment when you think “I can’t do this. I am not an author. I am helpless. I can’t move forward.”

That’s crippling self-doubt. It’s so common, it deserves an acronym. CSD.

Do you suffer from CSD?

Please have hope. ’m here to help.

First, here’s what doesn’t help

This is not a cheery post.

I’m not going to pay you on the shoulder and say “You got this. You can do it.”

Your friends may do that. It doesn’t help. Because the thing about CSD is: it is crippling, and it’s justified.

You feel CSD because you are not making progress. You feel it because you don’t know what to do. You feel it because the tasks ahead of you fill you with dread.

(Sorry, I know that’s depressing, but what the heck, you’re already depressed.)

Your well-meaning friends don’t understand. You don’t need cheering up. You need help.

If you want, go out drinking with them. You might enjoy that. Sure, your writing problems will still be there in the morning, but your mood might be lighter. (If you follow this strategy repeatedly, you might have a different problem.)

Here’s the thing about CSD. You might be right.

You might not have the stamina to be a writer.

You might not want it enough.

You might not really have anything to say.

If you read those words and agree, then I’ve solved your problem. Give up on writing. Do something else.

But if you read those words and object — “I really want this! And I certainly have something to say!” — then you are a writer. You’re just stuck right now.

Let’s take on one more objection. Do you have the talent?

Each of us writers, at some point, asks “Do I have the talent to do this?”

That’s a dumb question, mate. Because talent isn’t a prerequisite.

You write by typing words. If you you can do that, you can be a writer.

If the words are the wrong words, in the wrong order, in the wrong structure, then you need an editor. The editor will help you sort out what’s wrong. You’ll address their suggestions. And then it will be better.

Talent doesn’t enter into it. Talent just means you know how to take your experience and apply it to make writing that sounds better.

How do you get experience? By writing. So stop worrying about talent. It’s not something you can address (except by writing more).

So what should you do?

The biggest challenge in writing is that people start with writing. The biggest challenge is that people start with writing.

There are 20 different tasks you need to do before you start to write. If you skip some, then your writing will suck. You’ll feel CSD. And it won’t help.

Your CSD makes you feel you can’t write. So what should you do?

Don’t write.

Do one of these tasks (all of which you can do easily, even with CSD):

  • Talk about your book or chapter with some friends. Get some perspective.
  • Write a speech and build a set of slides about your book or chapter.
  • Draw a diagram on a whiteboard. Get some friends to help.
  • Do research. Do lots of research. Find articles about what you’re writing about. Clip useful bits out of those articles and put them in a bin — a big word or Google Docs file, or into Scrivener of Evernote if you use those.
  • Find people to interview. Email them or send a Linked In message or contact their PR staff. Get them on the phone and learn their stories.
  • Take a walk. Think about your chapter without sitting in front of a keyboard.
  • Rearrange the stuff in your bin of research into an order that roughly seems like a story.
  • Write two pages based on the stuff in bin. Write two more. You can do two pages, can’t you?
  • Write a terrible draft, filled with repetition and poor turns of phrase and fragments and passive voice. Experience CSD. Don’t show the shitty draft to anyone. But eat a cookie or however you reward yourself for completing something.
  • A few days later, read the terrible draft in the cold light of day and figure out what might make it better. Then revise it. Turning something into something better is possible, even with CSD.

Every one of those tasks are work that writers do. They don’t worry about whether they’re suffering CSD. They just do them.

Carpenters don’t have CSD, they just identify the tools and supplies they need, acquire them, and get to work.

Chefs don’t have CSD, they just assemble the ingredients, prepare them, and only then start cooking.

Writers have CSD, but they don’t need to. Do those other tasks for a while, assemble your content, write a shitty draft, and then make it better. Rinse and repeat.

Eventually, the crippling self doubt will recede and you’ll be working. And next time you’ll be able to do more without so much worrying.

If this works, let me know. I’d love to hear about it.


Josh bernoff author photoJosh Bernoff has been a professional writer since 1982 and co-authored the bestselling book, Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies (HBR Press, 2008), a groundbreaking book on social media that’s sold 150,000 copies worldwide. Josh is most recently the author of Writing Without Bullshit: Boost Your Career by Saying What You Mean (HarperBusiness, 2016) and has co-authored two other business books.

Josh was an analyst, senior vice president, and frequent public speaker at the renowned research and consulting firm Forrester Research for twenty years, following fourteen years as an executive in Boston-area startup companies. He has edited four books and works frequently with authors on book ideas and book proposals. His daily blog on writing, withoutbullshit.com, has generated two million views in just over two years.

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