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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