5 Reasons Why Hiring a Professional Editor Is Better than Using Online Editing Tools

“The life of an editor is not a glamorous one. You’re a fixer; you make things better.” —Courtney B. Vance

Typically, most people think editors are folks who wield big, red pens. However, a professional editor is far more than someone who corrects written content.

An editor needs to dabble in mind-reading. For starters, an editor needs to glean what is in the writer’s mind and understand what the writer wishes to convey. This is necessary because the editor’s goal is to adequately transmit the writer’s message in the best possible manner.

Secondly, an editor must read the audience’s mind to understand the reader and what they expect to get from the text. Consequently, an editor must have one foot on each side of the writing equation.

That is certainly not an easy task.

With the advent of computer-aided tools, many writers and even publishers have increasingly turned to automated online editing tools. However, there’s no doubt that an old-school approach is more appropriate in professional editing.

All About Automated Online Editing Tools

Good editing  requires a careful and deliberate process. After all, there is an evident reason why publishers hire professional editors. They have the necessary skills to sift through literary works to uncover any needs for improvement.

Contrary to popular belief, the job of an editor is not to simply “correct” mistakes.

Editors must interpret texts so they can ensure the content is clear and transmits the message it intends.

Generally speaking, an editor should be able to polish up a book.

Here is one way to think of it:

A master craftsman produces a beautiful table. The table goes into a showroom for customers to purchase. The sales staff polishes the table one last time before customers buy it.

This example underscores the need to make sure books are as neat as possible. Editors can catch minute details that may get past an author or beta readers (non-professional test readers who read a manuscript before publication).

However, the increasing trend toward automation has naturally crept its way into the literary field. The case for automated editing tools lies in their simplicity and efficiency. After all, using automated online editing tools can seamlessly “replace” an editor– or so some might believe.

Automated tools cost a fraction of what an editor would charge. Most online tools offer a free basic subscription. Extra features can be obtained with premium packages which cost more depending on the application.

The NY Book Editors group offers this insight into what an automated editing tool can provide:

“This type of tool proofreads your writing, checking for grammar, spelling, and a host of other errors. While your text editor will probably have built in spelling and maybe a grammar check, a dedicated editing tool can find hidden errors that are easily missed on a standard text editor.”

This statement encapsulates the purpose of an automated editing tool. Consequently, automated tools are a great way to catch spelling, grammatical, and some relatively basic style errors.

However, the NY Book Editors also drop this small dose of truth: “Remember that no automatic editing tool can ever take the place of a human.”

Indeed, there is no way to replace a human editor. There is a reason why publishers still hire professional editors. They can check for style, voice, and messaging in the writing. They can determine the appropriate tone for the subject matter.

Moreover, professional editors can intuit what readers want to get out of the text.

These services are things no automated editing tool can do.

Nevertheless, there is no reason to dismiss automatic online editing tools entirely. These tools can drastically facilitate the editing process and  provide further support to the author.

As such, it is worth taking a look at the most popular text editing tools on the market.

The Most Popular Automated Online Editing Tools

Cyberspace contains various automated online editing tools. With such an array of options, choosing the right one might be somewhat confusing.

To help you make the decision, we have compiled a list of the most popular online editing tools available, focusing on their pros and cons.

Grammarly

Grammarly has taken the automated editing market by storm. This app has quickly become a fan favorite across the board. This is because Grammarly is quite comprehensive, even with its free version.

Basically, Grammarly is a turbo-charged proofreading tool. It can capture spelling, grammar, subject-verb agreement, and clarity errors.

Its artificial intelligence (AI) engine can adapt to various writing styles. For instance, its AI can check text using an academic approach.

Other settings include business, casual, and creative. The main difference lies in how strictly the writing adheres to convention  (academic, business, casual, or creative styles). For example, the academic setting will strictly enforce all grammatical and style conventions such as contractions, personal pronouns, and passive voice.

Grammarly.com

Another of Grammarly’s interesting features is its word choice and sentence structure check. These features are part of the premium package. Nevertheless, they are worth the money for professional writers and editors.

The word choice feature provides suggestions on synonyms and related terms. This feature is useful, particularly when writers get in the habit of overusing a single term. The structure check offers helpful hints on improving clarity and removing “wordiness.” However, wordiness is a relative term as some authors prefer more complex sentence structures.

Grammarly offers suggestions on four specific areas: correctness (spelling or grammar), clarity (logic and coherence), engagement (engaging and interesting), and delivery (connotation or meaning of words). Correctness pertains to fundamental mistakes such as grammar and spelling. Clarity and engagement are not mistakes per se.

However, these suggestions may constitute mistakes depending on the degree of formality. For instance, the use of passive voice may not be suitable for formal writing. In contrast, the passive voice would be acceptable for informal writing. Furthermore, delivery focuses on style issues such as adverbs, adjectives, and word order such as prepositions ending a sentence.

Also, Grammarly offers various levels of formality. There are three levels: formal, neutral, and informal. These three levels determine how strictly the writing should adhere to writing conventions. The formal setting requires the strict observance of all related American English spelling, grammar, and style conventions.

Perhaps Grammarly’s best feature is checking text based on “audience.” There are three types of audiences: general, knowledgeable, and expert. Naturally, each type of audience sets Grammarly’s AI to sniff out terms that may be too infrequent for a general audience. By the same token, the AI may suggest more formal terms for common words and expressions.

On the whole, Grammarly is a wonderful tool. Many will find the paid subscription is worth it, especially for writing and editing pros.

However, Grammarly is not perfect. Its AI tends to confuse terms from time to time. For instance, Grammarly’s AI may not recognize technical or legal terms. Additionally, text that makes consistent use of a specific term trigger constant suggestions for synonyms. But there are times when synonyms do not make sense within the material’s context.

The good news is that Grammarly’s AI continues to improve as writers and editors feed its engine. Nonetheless, writers and editors must be wary of accepting suggestions on auto-pilot. Grammarly is not perfect and thereby requires attention when editing texts. Grammarly easily installs onto Microsoft Word as an add-on and it easily facilitates editing for those working directly in Word.

Hemingway

Named after the Nobel laureate, Hemingway is a no-nonsense online editing app.

Its most interesting feature is its color-coded system.

Essentially, Hemingway identifies various types of errors by highlighting them with different color schemes.

For instance, blue indicates adverbs, green is passive voice, purple points out simpler phrases, yellow shows hard to read sentences, and red points out very hard to read sentences.

Hemingway’s main purpose is to encourage simplified writing. Therefore, its suggestions aim to make writing short and sweet. Mainly, this app looks to reduce the use of adverbs and wordiness as much as possible.

Hemingway also assigns a grade level for texts. Thus, writers and editors can assess the reading difficulty of their materials. This feature enables writers and editors to simplify or increase the complexity of their texts to meet their target grade-level reading.

One of the great things about Hemingway is that it is also free. Anyone can use it directly from its website. A relatively recent desktop app has also been created.

The verdict on Hemingway is that it is a good app for shorter pieces of content. Texts around 1,000 to 2,000 words work very well with Hemingway. But the app is less suitable for full-length book manuscripts. Nevertheless, blog posts, articles, or shorter materials work very well with it.

CorrectEnglish

CorrectEnglish is essentially a proofreading app. It works very well by sifting through texts for grammar and spelling errors. Also, it helps with readability and overall flow. However, this app is not capable of full-fledged editorial work. As a result, authors and editors should proofread a text before conducting a deep and detailed read.

AutoCrit

AutoCrit is specifically made for fiction writers. It aims to reduce redundancy, passive voice, filler words, and adverbswith a goal of improving overall pacing and dialog. It is very good for weeding out common writing mistakes. These features make AutoCrit  great for authors looking to clean up a manuscript. The app carries a $5 monthly fee.

WordRake

WordRake is a great proofreader. It works in tandem with Microsoft Word. Specifically, this editor seeks to reduce confusing prose by avoiding redundancies and highlighting mistakes such as subject-verb agreements, incorrect tense use, and misspelled words. It is great for tightening up texts. WordRake is quite popular with lawyers and students. However, there is one major drawback. WordRake does not do a deep dive with grammar and spelling. Therefore, users may need to rely more on Word’s built-in spellcheck capabilities to cover these areas.

When to Hire a Professional Editor

Automated editors are wonderful tools to have. They can facilitate the proofreading process by doing most of the heavy lifting. However, the truth is that there is just no substitute for a human editor.

Indeed, there limitations to what automated tools can achieve. And there are times when the best option is to hire a professional editor.

As such, here are five specific areas where hiring a professional editor is better than only relying on automated editing software.

1. Developmental Editing

At its essence, a developmental edit is a “significant structuring or restructuring of a manuscript’s discourse.” In other words, a developmental edit looks at a manuscript’s structure, whether or not the text accomplishes its purpose, and if there are any missing pieces.

A good developmental edit requires using an experienced editor familiar with the subject matter.

The result should be an editorial assessment that publishers and authors can use to improve a manuscript’s quality. In some cases, the recommendations from an editorial assessment may lead to significant rewrites.

This type of assessment is suitable at all stages of the writing process. But developmental edits are best for finished and proofread manuscripts undergoing the initial editing process.

2. Fact-Checking

In the non-fiction domain, some editors specialize in fact-checking.

Specifically, fact-checking ensures that the information, claims, and advice presented in the material is accurate. Furthermore, fact-checking helps writers avoid using misleading or partially true information. Naturally, authors and publishers must ensure accuracy to avoid legal consequences.

Also, fact-checking is an essential task that automated editors cannot carry out. After all, AI has yet to reach a point where it can differentiate between fact and fiction. Professional editors have the ability to cross-reference information to ensure they are on the right track.

3. Quality Assurance

Author Copilot founder J. Thorn believes “…an editor should be hired when the author believes the manuscript is as good as it can be.”

A professional editor plays a crucial role in quality assurance. After all, authors do not always have an objective opinion about their work.

Even when authors receive honest and constructive third-party criticism, an editor provides an impartial opinion on the manuscript’s overall quality.

Please bear in mind that this quality assurance role should not involve proofreading. Grammarly (or a professional proofreader) can take care of that.

A professional editor’s quality assurance role should focus on honestly assessing “big picture” items. In other words, a professional editor must ensure the manuscript’s cohesion, logic, and narrative.

4. An Expert Opinion

Publishers often take a professional editor’s opinion at face value.

Why?

Professional editors are seasoned veterans who can distinguish between a good manuscript and a subpar one.

Hiring a professional editor gives authors an expert opinion on their work. Professional editors know what makes good writing, and can help authors improve their manuscripts.

Authors and publishers should hire a seasoned editor to provide an unbiased appraisal. Editors can help writers refine their work and create the best possible manuscript.

When authors or publishers neglect to get an editor’s opinion, they are unlikely to publish the best possible version of the work. The publication may fail to deliver on expectations.

5. The Human Touch

There is one thing that AI will never be able to deliver: the human touch.

Automated tools may be great at sifting through the linguistic minutiae. However, automated tools do not have the human intuition that great writing requires.

Words can trigger emotions. Great prose can create images in a person’s mind as imagination soars. Only humans are capable of determining the impact of wonderful writing. Only a professional human editor can assess how effectively a literary piece is able to produce feelings in the reader.

At the end of the day, a professional editor provides insight that no machine can deliver. Perhaps technology may be able to supplant a human editor at some point. For now, the human touch will always be an important component of all great writing.

The Final Verdict

The debate between automated editing tools and professional human editors should focus on combining both approaches.

Automated editing tools greatly facilitate the proofreading process. These tools save time, allowing editors to focus on the most important aspects of the editing process.

Consequently, authors, editors, and publishers could consider adding automated online editing software as another arrow in their quivers.

It may be that AI will never be able to replace the human touch. Professional editors will likely always have a place in the literary world.

The decision to hire a professional writer ultimately boils down to wanting to produce the best possible manuscript. Automated editing tools can help make that aim easier to accomplish.

10 Gift Ideas for the Historian or Genealogist in Your Life

If you have a historian in the family or a genealogist on your list for the 2021 holiday gift-giving season, you’re probably already well aware that shopping for such skilled and knowledgeable folks can be a little intimidating!

How do you surprise or impress someone who already knows so much about so many things?

Hopefully, the following guide will give you some inspiration and help you pick out the perfect present that they’ll surely love.

1.  Subscriptions! Subscriptions! Subscriptions!

Online databases are extremely useful when researching family history but maintaining their monthly subscriptions can be a real drag for historians and genealogists.

Brighten your favorite researcher’s holiday season this year by giving them the gift of access to one of the top three genealogical sites.

Ancestry

Ancestry is often regarded as the best overall value in genealogical research sites.

They host more than 27 billion historical records and offer subscription packages that range from $16.99 to $49.99 per month.

While the cost of their services is at the higher end of the scale, the quality and comprehensiveness of their offerings is way up there, too.

My Heritage

MyHeritage doesn’t offer as huge a database as Ancestry, but you’ll still find a lot of value on this more fun-focused site.

The service features very user-friendly navigation and neat tools like black and white photo colorization and animation.

Only yearly subscriptions are available, but their more affordable packages range from only $129 to $299 per year.

Find My Past

FindMyPast is even more limited because it is a service dedicated solely to Irish and British records.But the narrowed focus makes it a veritable treasure trove for researchers tracing their ancestry to that specific region of the world.

Their continuously expanding database also offers some of the oldest records that exist online.

Yearly subscription plans start at $129.

2.  Legacy Box Media Preservation

Your family’s historian has assuredly amassed a collection of old photos and assorted media. This year, give them the gift of preservation!

Legacy Box is a company that digitizes or “future proofs” your old family photos, film reels, VHS tapes, and even audio cassettes.

For many of us, the various players and projectors we once used to enjoy our home movies and recordings are now “dead tech.”

Unfortunately, there are a lot of memories out there locked up in unwatchable formats.

Legacy Box can bring them back to the present in digital form on thumb drives, DVDs, and as shareable downloads so they can be enjoyed once again.

Digitization packages start as low as $21.

3.  A Really Cool Magnifying Glass

If the historian on your list spends a lot of time pouring over small print in dimly lit spaces, The Wide View Lighted Magnifier from Hammacher Schlemmer might be just the thing for a holiday that’s both merry and bright.

After all, who doesn't want to look like a modern-day Sherlock Holmes?!?

This oversized 5-inch illuminated lens sells for $29.95 and makes for a great stocking stuffer.

4.  A Digital Recording Device

Genealogists and historians alike take lots of notes and conduct a lot of interviews. Their to-do lists are always expanding. A digital recording device is a great way to manage the chaos.

The EVISTR 16GB Digital Voice Recorder  is a highly rated budget option that will get the job done for only $39.99 on Amazon.

This handheld recording device offers crystal clear audio recording, voice activation, and MP3 or WAV formats for easy transfer to a computer via the supplied Micro USB cable.

It also offers seamless file management with a time stamp feature that makes it easy to find out exactly when you recorded.

And, as an added bonus, batteries are also included!

The Tascam DR-40X, priced at $199, is a higher end option that can record 192 hours of studio quality sound direct to an SD card. The internal battery can record non-stop for 18 hours on a full charge.

It has multi-track functionality, a reverb effect, and built-in, adjustable stereo microphones.

The capabilities of the DR-40X are simply amazing; it would make an excellent gift for any researcher, documentarian, or podcaster.

5.  Paper and Ink

Ink and paper are ancient technologies that work so well together that they’re still quite useful to this day—and they don’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon.

Smartphones and tablets have undoubtedly brought more than a few convenience miracles to the table, but they’ll never beat the feel and familiarity of a quality notebook and a solid writing implement when it comes to making lists, jotting down notes, or making a quick sketch.

While Montblanc is known for fountain pens that sell for nearly $40,000, the Montblanc Meisterstück Platinum-Coated Rollerball, may be the best high-end pen on the market.

Priced at a measly $505 for the Classique model, it is arguably the snazziest writing instrument that someone might actually carry around with them during the day.

Its classic chrome and black styling pairs well with any ensemble, briefcase, or backpack.

And the rollerball tip reliably produces the finest handwriting.

If value over exclusivity is what you’re looking for in a gift, uni-ball Vision Rollerball Pens offer the same smooth flow of waterproof ink at a more down-to-earth price.

For just $12.65 you get not just one great pen, but an entire pack of 12!

That way, your recipient will always have an extra pen on hand when needing to jot down their fascinating discoveries.

When it comes to paper, the Apica Premium A6 CD Notebook is often cited as the very best on the market.

Imported from Japan, these notebooks retail for $12.75 each and feature baroque styling and acid-free paper that works perfectly well with either ink or pencil.

The three available color choices indicate the type of paper bound inside: Black is plain paper, red is graph paper, and blue is standard ruled paper.

For a more modern look, the LEUCHTTURM1917 – Medium A5 Ruled Hardcover Notebook is another great choice at a slightly higher price point. 

These notebooks feature multiple bookmarks and an elastic closure band.

They are also thread-bound to open flat, which helps make reading and writing much easier.

They are available in a wide array of different colors and can be lined with plain, ruled, squared, or dotted pages.

6.  A Family Tree Chart

Genealogists spend their days mapping out ancestors and filling in pedigree charts, but many of them have never put their skills to work on their own family tree.

Perhaps your favorite genealogist would appreciate a blank slate to showcase their own heritage for once!

Etsy offers all types of customizable, display-worthy pieces.

This one is a particularly handsome specimen and a steal for only $17.05!

7. A Time Capsule Kit

Is there anything more exciting for a history lover than opening up a time capsule?

The next best thing would have to be creating and sealing away a capsule of their own creation.

Just imagine how excited your family historian would be to have the opportunity to fill a time capsule with the family treasures they have collected over the years.

This Stainless Steel Time Capsule will keep your chosen artifacts safe and sound for ages for only $59.99!

And this 100 Piece Time Capsule Preservation Kit is the perfect add-on for ensuring that whatever documents you choose to include will stand up against the test of time.

https://www.futurepkg.com/assets/images/supplies/preservation-kit-large.jpg

8.  DNA Kits

DNA testing is central to a lot of genealogical research and can open up a world of fascinating self-discovery.

This year, why not give the gift of scientific knowledge?

The following test kits are comparatively priced and consistently rank among the best on the market for gaining deeper insight into your origins:

If the historian or genealogist in your life is also a dog owner, they might get a real kick out of discovering more about their furry friend, too!

Embark Dog DNA Tests can reveal a dog’s complete genetic makeup and potential health risks.

It can even connect you with their siblings and relatives via Embark’s extensive social network!

9.  A My Heritage Family Discovery Kit

A My Heritage Family Discovery Kit combines DNA testing, ancestry research, and scrapbooking in an attractive giftset for only $79.99!

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10.  A Mini Museum

Finally, we’ve saved the best for last.

If you’ve been pulling your hair out trying to come up with a gift for the history buff on your list, a Mini Museum is THE THING that you’ve been looking for.

Mini museums might not look like much from a distance but encased within these unassuming little blocks of Lucite are actual, physical pieces of mind-blowing history.

Mini Museum offers editions from many different categories, like the age of dinosaurs, natural history, air and space, and world history. They also offer editions that bring multiple categories together.

How cool would it be to give a history lover a plesiosaur bone, a medieval knight’s sword, a brick from The White House, and a piece of the space shuttle all in one package?

Well, now you can thanks to the offerings at MiniMuseum.com!

While the site sells many gifts for under $20, you can also purchase certified fossils, rare gems, and meteorite jewelry, or, if you’re feeling really generous, you can even pick up a shield window from the Manhattan Project for a cool $3.4 million!

Photo by Jill Wellington from Pexels

Hopefully, this list has given you some ideas for how to surprise the historian or genealogist in your life with a gift that they’ll truly cherish.

Thanks for reading and Happy Holidays from all of us at The Writers for Hire!

5 Great Ways to Turn Your Blog Posts into a Book

“This is how you do it: you sit down at the keyboard, and you put one word after another until it’s done. It’s that easy and that hard.” — Neil Gaiman

Writing a book is a dream for many folks. Some try very hard to write a book from scratch but never get very far. Others take baby steps. Little by little, they manage to put something meaningful together. Nevertheless, they fall short of writing that elusive full-length tome.

Some writers have success by beginning their writing journey with a blog. Often, starting a new blog feels more like a hobby than a formal writing project. Over time, this “hobby” gains enough traction to earn the writer a regular following.

If they have been successfully blogging for awhile, they will have accumulated a significant amount of content. It could make sense for a recognized blogger to transform their blog posts into a full-length book.

This article will explore how blog posts can be compiled into a book. It will cover five ways it can be done, including how hiring a ghostwriter can help with such a major writing project.

Getting Started: Outlining a Non-fiction Book

Outlining is the first major step in getting started producing a full-length book. Starting with a fully developed outline can help with the writing process and organization of the book.

There are two major reasons why an outline is important.

First, an outline serves as a roadmap for the book’s content.

Many writers get stuck without the guidance of a clear outline. In some instances, they may write copious amounts of material. However, they are unable to translate the material into a seamless narrative.

Books without a consistent narrative are likely to fall short of readers’ expections.

Second, a solid outline allows writers to pick and choose which blog posts fit their vision for the book.

The outline provides criteria that can measure whether a blog post should be included in the final book. Without these criteria, mashing blog posts together can result in a disjointed final product that fails to convey the intended message.

When outlining a book, it is crucial to determine the book’s message.The blog posts must fit the message and not the other way around. A common mistake is to attempt to force a narrative around a collection of blog posts. Blog posts often touch on different subjects and have different approaches to them. Using a central message around which to select posts is more effective than trying to develop criteria from various posts.

The following steps will facilitate the overall process:

  1. Create an outline or table of content that reflects the book’s content.
  2. Search for the blog posts that fit the criteria presented in the outline.
  3. Compile the blog posts to create a working manuscript.
  4. Edit existing posts while adding new material to ensure a smooth narrative.

Please bear in mind that this process is not about merely shoving posts together into a volume. It is about weaving them together much like a quilt. A great outline can also become a highly useful tool when a ghostwriter comes into the picture.

Number One: “Blogging” a Full-Length Book

A common complaint among writers is that they do not have enough time to sit down and write a book. However, most bloggers already commit a specific amount of time to their blog. They have time to write, but don’t feel they have time to compile an entire book.

Consistent bloggers can leverage their writing habits into a full-length volume. The secret is to break up the entire book into blog-sized chunks.

By dividing the workload this way, producing the overall content is less demanding on the writer’s time.

Additionally, divvying up the material softens the psychological impact that writing a book can present. Focusing on 500-to-1,000-word blog posts at a time builds momentum, which can push the project forward.

A full-length book usually falls in the 30,000 to 50,000-word range. By “blogging” a book piece-by-piece, reaching this significant word count is accomplished in a steady and systematic way.

Use the following steps to “blog” a full-length book:

  1. Build an outline that reflects the book’s overarching message and theme.
  2. Divide the material into blog-sized posts (500 to 1,000 words).
  3. Publish “chapters” on your blog following a specific schedule.
  4. Keep roughly 25% of the chapters exclusively for the finished book.
  5. Compile the set of blog posts into a working manuscript.
  6. Review the material to ensure a consistent narrative.

A good rule of thumb is to avoid publishing everything on the blog. After all, why would readers be interested in the book if everything is on the blog? Moreover, the book will not sell if the content is freely available on the blog.  Creating a certain amount of material exclusively for the book will keep it useful and interesting.

Number Two: “Blogging” Short Books

Some writers prefer to break up a single, full-length book into a series of smaller books. This approach allows writers to publish more books at frequent intervals. More frequent publishing also cuts down on readers’ waiting time.

Like a full-length book, blogging short books begins with publishing blog posts. Each blog post pertains to the overall topic related to each of the volumes in the series. Short books can emerge from a a handful of posts or even one lengthy piece.

Typically, short books range from 5,000 to about 20,000 words. These types of books are common on Kindle or in e-book format.

Short books intend to provide the reader with detailed information on one or two defined topics. For instance, a writer may chose to produce a series on best management practices instead of a single, comprehensive volume.

When blogging short books, writers can use individual blog posts as teasers for the books’ content. As such, published posts can become the introduction to the book. With this approach, writers do not give anything away. Instead, they can create a buzz in readers, enticing them to read the entire book.

Here are some steps to consider:

  1. Create an outline that encompasses the series’ narrative.
  2. Break up the narrative into a reasonable number of volumes. Generally, three to five volumes work well.
  3. Write one major blog post that introduces the volume’s central message without giving away its essence.
  4. The blog post should avoid becoming too “salesy” but should strive to pitch the book.

Regular bloggers often exploit this approach to generate traffic for their content or drive sales. It can even lead to a steady income stream.

Number Three: Blogging Short Series

Another popular approach among bloggers is to produce a short series. These series usually have a specific theme to them. For example, a blogger may choose to chronicle a trip or detail a project. Creative bloggers often use this format to unfold a story over several “chapters.”

A short series offers a great deal of flexibility as they can generate expectations for every new installment.

How-to guides commonly follow this approach. Each installment in the series builds on the previous one. By the end of the series, readers have a completed project. In contrast, if they miss a chapter, they will not be able to fully reach the outcome.

A short series can also lead to a full-length book. Each installment could serve as a chapter that builds anticipation.

Additionally, short series help readers construct the overarching theme piece-by-piece. This approach allows readers to get valuable information in digestible chunks. As a result, it avoids placing too much information on readers in one volume.

When using the short series approach, writers should consider purposely leaving important details out. These details would only be available in the full book. In doing so, readers would need to purchase the full book to get the remaining pieces of the overall puzzle.

Non-fiction writers can benefit from this format. For instance, blog posts can introduce the main aspects of a case study. Each installment could present individual stories that build on the overarching message contained in the book. However, the blog would not include the book’s value proposition.

Consider this example:

A book on management practices presents a series of case studies on successful companies. Each blog post tells the story of a company turning their management practices around. However, the blog posts do not reveal how each company achieved its results. Readers would need to read through the book to find the specific measures that led to the successful outcomes.

Another benefit from blogging a short series is the possibility of a book series. Often, short stories have the potential to expand into larger books or expanded narratives. Both fiction and non-fiction writers could consider using short stories as a springboard into a book series.

Number Four: Publish an Anthology

An anthology is a collection of writings. Often, publishers bundle poems or short stories into anthology volumes. These collections may or may not have a specific theme to them. Their intention is to provide the reader with a compilation of a writer’s work. Also, an anthology may feature various authors’ work on a specific topic.

For some bloggers, an anthology may be a viable alternative to producing a full-length or short book.

Writers can benefit from producing an anthology as they do not need to “fit” every element perfectly. They can compile various ideas into a bundle that is consistent with an overarching theme. Nonetheless, each element should help build the narrative effectively.

Anthologies also offer more freedom to explore topics. This freedom allows writers to include material that does not necessarily fit in perfectly with the other blog posts in the series.

As a result, writers can allow themselves to the freedom to divert from the topic at hand. Of course, it is crucial to maintain focus on the overarching theme.

Please consider the following steps when building an anthology:

  1. Anthologies need a common thread that unites every piece. For example, a book could contain several pieces on a specific topic, such as social justice.
  2. Individual blog posts do not necessarily need to follow a seamless narrative. However, they must have a clear relationship with one another. Disjointed or unrelated blog posts can leave readers confused and the writer’s main message may not be clearly expressed.
  3. An anthology must have an introduction that helps weave each post into a common theme. The introduction should make it clear  what the reader can expect to find throughout the book.
  4. A conclusion is another important component of a great anthology. The conclusion helps bring the book full circle in a way that leaves readers with something to look forward to. A conclusion can also serve to “hook” readers into anticipating the next short or full-length book.

Bear in mind that anthologies should also contain unpublished material. These “bonuses” help drive interest in the anthology. Otherwise, readers need only go to the blog to get the material. Fans of a blog may be interested in an anthology because the collection gives readers deeper insight into the blogger as an individual.

Number Five: Hiring a Ghostwriter

Unfortunately, there are times when writing projects stall.

When this occurs, it is often a good idea to bring a fresh mind into the fold. Hiring a ghostwriter can be one solution.

A professional ghostwriter can take a series of blog posts and mold them into an anthology, a series, or a full-length book. A ghostwriter can take the overarching narrative and fill in the gaps needed to complete the project.

There are two main benefits of hiring a ghostwriter:

First, professional ghostwriters can take existing blog posts and tweak them to fit the book’s criteria. This approach does not require any material to be rewritten. A ghostwriter can produce new material and link existing blog posts together to build a seamless narrative. With their help, a ghostwriter can greatly reduce the time needed to get the book out to the public.

Second, hiring a ghostwriter allows bloggers to start new blogs or writing projects.  Ghostwriters can also take ideas from the blogger and help create new blog posts or even short stories.

This approach is not about hiring a ghostwriter to write a book. Instead, the ghostwriter’s job is to compile existing content and bring the book writing project to fruition.

Ultimately, getting a ghostwriter on board might be the final piece of the puzzle. A professional ghostwriter is always a worthwhile alternative when other approaches cannot seem to bear fruit.

Bringing It All Together

Going from a blog to a full book is a great way to take a seemingly daunting task and attain a long-held dream. Writers who feel they do not have the time to produce a full-length book should think again. After all, producing consistent blog posts will eventually lead to a significant amount of written material.

Building a book from blog posts hinges on choosing a narrative that can bind the various elements together. Consequently, writers must craft a narrative that unites several posts.

Carefully choosing the posts that fit the narrative, and leaving out those that do not, will result in a strategically crafted book.

Lastly, hiring a professional ghostwriter might be the answer to reviving a dormant writing project. Whether it is taking existing blog posts or building new ones, a ghostwriter can help take a writing project from an idea into reality

Give the Gift of Connection This Holiday Season

Once again, the COVID-19 pandemic has turned life as we know it on its head, including the holidays.

With rises in Covid cases, for the second year in a row, many of us won’t travel or gather as we traditionally do to see friends and loved ones. And as such, we may be on the hunt for ideas that forge a connection, despite separation and miles during what should be a cherished and memorable time of year.

Here are some ideas that might help you stay close at heart to the ones you love and cherish the most.

Holiday Cards

According to an article in the JSTOR Daily, the first commercially produced holiday card was designed in 1843.

It featured an illustration of people toasting the holidays with the message along the bottom that read, “Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to You.”

Soon after, the idea of sending holiday cards near and far caught on as a way to celebrate the season and connect with friends and loved ones. Holiday greeting cards became a convenient, cost-effective way to stay in touch.

Over the years, the concept of sending and receiving holiday cards has become somewhat of a lost art, especially with the advent of e-cards and social media. However, this year might be the perfect time to restart this tradition.

You can purchase cards or make them yourself. Regardless, sending a card is an easy, affordable touchpoint and a way to say “hello” and “happy holidays” to a close friend or relative you may not be able to see this year.

Winne Parks, CEO of PaperSource, a popular cardmaking and stationery company, was recently interviewed for an article in Bloomberg News about the spike her business has experienced in greeting card sales since the pandemic began.

“One of the great silver linings out of this is the time for people to slow down and go back to the basics,” she said in the article.

So, if you’re looking to supplement those video chats with a little something extra, consider sending holiday cards to let others know you’re thinking about them.

Handmade Gifts

Taking the time to handcraft a gift is another way to feel connected as we continue to quarantine and socially distance ourselves from others this season.

Homemade gifts aren’t something novel, but they may hold more meaning than something purchased.

CNBC recently reported that online searches on sites like Etsy and Pinterest suggest that people are looking for gift ideas that are more personalized or for gift ideas they can craft themselves.

If you’ve picked up an old hobby or started a new one during the lockdowns, you could put it to good use, making one-of-a-kind treasures for your friends and loved ones.  

Personal History

What about giving a gift that tells a story? Have you ever thought about giving your mom, dad, grandparent, aunt, uncle, or close friend the gift of their personal history?

It may sound like a daunting task: gathering anecdotes, collecting photos, and capturing quotes. Don’t let this stop you, though. You can enlist a writing service to put together this keepsake your loved one and future generations will cherish for years to come.

They will do all the work for you – interview your loved one, transcribe the notes, and produce a professional, personalized custom book that captures favorite moments, life wisdom, and funny stories.

The end product is sure to make you and your loved one feel more connected.

Impact on Mental Health

Without a doubt, the holidays are going to be strange again this year. We will not be able to partake in many of the holiday traditions we have in years past, and many of us may feel out of sorts.

Engaging in activities like sending holiday cards, making handmade gifts, and giving a loved one a treasured keepsake of a personal biography are all ways you strengthen bonds with family and others you hold dear. 

Digital vs. Print Books: How a Ghostwriter Can Boost Both Digital and Print Publishing

“A room without books is like a body without a soul.” — Cicero

Books have always been a powerful means of communicating knowledge. Humankind has used books to preserve and further develop civilization for centuries.

And in the information age, books have become more powerful than ever. However, the changing technological landscape has started to morph books into the electronic domain.

Nowadays, books do not need paper to exist. Books can thrive in a non-material world in which words pop up on a screen. This new domain has done nothing to diminish books’ importance. However, the question now becomes: Are books better suited in their traditional paper format or their new digital embodiment?

In this article, we will explore the pros and cons of print versus digital books. Moreover, we’ll discuss how readers, writers, and publishers can take advantage of both formats to pursue their aims. Lastly, we will examine the role that individual ghostwriters and ghostwriting companies can play within the shifting literary realm.

Are print books still relevant?

Virtually every facet of human existence is progressively migrating to the digital world. In fact, it is hard to find an aspect of modern life that is not somehow part of the digital world.

Books are no exception.

Now, more than ever, it is quite easy to access vast arrays of literary materials in  electronic formats. It seems as though digital publishing is barreling ahead, poised to overtake traditional print publications.

Or so it seems.

In 2019, the Association of American Publishers reported an estimated $26 billion in publisher revenue. While this figure is impressive, the most stunning figure is the disproportion between print and digital book sales.

Print book sales comprised roughly $22.6 billion of the total market revenue.

Surprisingly, digital books accounted for only about $2.04 billion in sales.

This significant gap raises questions about digital books’ true popularity among readers.

Meryl Halls, managing director of the U.K.’s Booksellers Association, offers this insight into print books’ ongoing popularity: “I think the e-book bubble has burst somewhat, sales are flattening off, I think the physical object is very appealing. Publishers are producing incredibly gorgeous books, so the cover designs are often gorgeous, they’re beautiful objects.”

Indeed, print books offer a sensory experience that digital books are yet to deliver. This phenomenon explains why devices such as e-readers have sound effects for turning pages. Moreover, these devices attempt to mimic the reading experience that comes from holding a paper book.

Unfortunately, electronic devices are unable to deliver that same degree of experience.

Halls adds, “The book lover loves to have a record of what they’ve read, and it’s about signaling to the rest of the world. It’s about decorating your home, it’s about collecting, I guess, because people are completists, they want to have that to indicate about themselves.”

Undoubtedly, a tablet or e-reader full of volumes cannot offer the same visual exposure that physical books can. After all, the visual that comes from seeing shelves full of paper books is unbeatable.

Are digital books the wave of the future?

As society transitions into a fully digital world, electronic publications will eventually overtake print ones. This phenomenon has already disrupted the newspaper industry.

According to a study by the Pew Research Center, daily newspaper circulation averaged 63.2 million in 1990. Additionally, Sunday newspaper circulation averaged 62.6 million in 1990.

Fast forward to 2020, that figure had fallen to 24.3 million on weekdays and 25.8 million on Sundays.

Print newspapers’ remarkable decline is partially due to the accessibility that digital media offers consumers. With tablets and smartphones readily available, it would appear that a transition to a fully digital media world is evitable.

Furthermore, generations of digital natives continue to place greater pressure on print publications. Author Franz S. MacLaren sums up e-books’ influence by stating, “Life without a Kindle is like life without a library nearby.”

Indeed, an e-reader such as a Kindle can open the floodgates to an immense world of knowledge.

Therein lies both a blessing and a curse.

On the one hand, digital media allows readers to access vast quantities of materials. A quick stroll through the Amazon Kindle selection can easily blow anyone’s mind. Consequently, there is no shortage of options to choose. There will always be something to read and something new to discover.

On the other hand, the seemingly limitless array of materials can make narrowing focus virtually impossible. Choosing what to read may become extremely complex. And getting lost in an immense ocean of titles may ultimately discourage readers from making a choice.

Undeniably, digital media has entrenched itself in people’s day-to-day lives. Nonetheless, it may seem that the transition from print to digital has not been as rapid as once thought. Therefore, authors and publishers should not neglect the importance that both print and digital have on society. It would appear that authors and publishers are attempting to serve two masters at once.

Should authors and publishers focus on print, digital, or both?

The question “Should authors and publishers focus on print, digital, or both?” encapsulates the core of the print versus digital discussion. There are three main points to consider in this debate.

First, print media will remain a significant force in the years to come. While print newspapers are rapidly becoming obsolete, print books are not. Print books maintain a firm position in the publishing world.

So, why are books in and newspapers out?

Newspapers, like all news media, thrive on speed.

The faster news reaches audiences, the better. As such, print newspapers cannot hope to compete against instant information sharing through social media.

In contrast, print books offer a leisurely or learning experience that transcends speed.

Reading a book is an exercise in discovery. As a result, print books deliver a singular experience that fast-paced media outlets have come to overlook.

Second, digital media, such as e-books, offer instant access to readers.

In the past, publishers needed to wait weeks, or even months, for their publications to reach a nationwide audience.

With online marketplaces such as Amazon Kindle, access to a nationwide and worldwide audience becomes instantaneous. Authors and publishers can begin to see the returns on their investments within minutes.

Third, digital media is boundless insofar as its capacity to store information. In contrast, physical books need to compete for shelf space. Unfortunately, some books do not make the cut.

Sadly, folks discard unwanted books, relegating them to oblivion. While digital media seems to remedy this situation, it is crucial to remember that physical books are trophies. Print books constitute a status symbol that no e-book can match.

Ultimately, authors and publishers cannot neglect one type of media over another. Authors and publishers need to keep one foot in print and one in digital if they aspire to make their investment profitable.

How can hiring a ghostwriter help boost print and digital publishing?

It has become clear that authors and publishers must boost their presence in print and digital landscapes. Neglecting one over the other may lead to a counterproductive strategy. Moreover, publishing formats that discriminate may ultimately alienate readers.

Based on the need to publish materials in both formats, authors and publishers may become overwhelmed. After all, producing content for both print and digital requires different approaches.

Print books provide a recreational experience that demands more extensive materials. Books related to history, travel, art, and science, among other topics, provide readers with a pleasant reading experience.

Conversely, digital materials provide a quick burst of information. Digital materials appeal to the fast-paced lifestyle of most individuals. Therefore, authors and publishers must focus on a differentiated approach.

However, a differentiated approach to publishing across multiple platforms can become a daunting task.

A professional ghostwriter can help authors and publishers share the workload. The adage “the more, the merrier” certainly applies within this context. After all, authors’ time and attention are finite. Thus, employing the assistance of a ghostwriter or ghostwriting agency can make a huge difference.

Hiring a Ghostwriter for Digital Publishing Purposes

Hiring a ghostwriter or ghostwriting agency can help publishers and authors apply a segmented strategy that allows them to cover several bases.

For example, an established author can employ the services of an experienced ghostwriter to produce a series of blog posts.

In essence, the blog posts serve as marketing copy to draw attention to the author’s books. However, the author does not have the additional time it takes to produce a regular blog post.

As a result, hiring a professional ghostwriter enables mainstream authors to extend their reach without sacrificing quality or quantity.

Hiring a Ghostwriter for Print Publishing Purposes

Authors and publishers working predominantly in the digital domain may choose to move into print. This endeavor may require additional time and effort to produce full-length books. However, they may not have the additional time and effort to spare. As such, a professional ghostwriter can help produce content specifically aimed at print publication.

Ghostwriters are a great alternative for authors and publishers looking to pivot into print. Indeed, sharing the workload reduces unnecessary stress while allowing for a differentiated publishing strategy.

How can hiring a ghostwriting agency help boost publishing?

Publishers looking to paint with a broad brush should consider hiring a ghostwriting agency. Reputable ghostwriting agencies employ a team of professional writers specialized in various areas. As a result, authors and publishers looking to spread their wings can take advantage of what a ghostwriting agency can offer.

While hiring an individual ghostwriter is a great alternative, hiring a ghostwriting agency offers greater flexibility than individual ghostwriters.

In particular, publishers can employ ghostwriting agencies to produce large quantities of material within a relatively short timeframe.

The secret lies in employing a team of writers to work on specific projects simultaneously. As a result, publishers seeking to expand their scope can certainly benefit from a ghostwriting agency’s services.

Individual authors can also benefit greatly from hiring a ghostwriting agency. For instance, an author looking to promote their blog can employ a ghostwriting agency to produce a series of articles within a quick turnaround.

In doing so, the author can provide consistent content to their readers while they work on their next full-length book.

Indeed, employing a ghostwriting agency offers a significant amount of flexibility: The agency can help authors and publishers leave their traditional niches and confidently move into new realms.

Moreover, a ghostwriting agency virtually eliminates the need for additional investment in terms of time and effort. Undoubtedly, a ghostwriting agency offers the opportunity to create a diversified publishing strategy without overextending current capabilities.

Conclusion

The shifting landscape in the publishing world has progressively morphed traditional print publications into the digital world. Traditional print publications such as newspapers now predominantly populate the digital world. However, regular print books still hold their ground amid digital media’s expansion.

The dual relationship between print and digital publishing has forced authors and publishers to maintain digital and print markets. However, maintaining such a presence can imply a significant investment in time and effort.

Hiring a professional ghostwriter is a viable alternative for authors and publishers to further their reach in one or both domains. Professional ghostwriters can produce content that allows authors and publishers to strengthen their position in either domain. This strategy enables them to continue focusing their efforts on their core business while expanding their reach.

For authors and publishers looking to truly spread their wings, employing a ghostwriting agency can help them produce significant quantities of content in a relatively short timeframe.

This approach enables authors and publishers to maintain a consistent presence in the digital and print domains without overextending their current efforts. Since ghostwriting agencies employ teams of writers, ghostwriting agencies have the capacity to produce high-quality content quickly.

Ultimately, authors and publishers can continue to focus on their core business while expanding their overall digital and print media presence.

Write Your Book Without Writing a Word! How to Hire a Ghostwriter to Get Your Book Written

There’s a fairly well known saying, attributed to the influential journalist, Christopher Hitchens (1949-2011), that states, “Everyone has a book in them, but in most cases that’s where it should stay.”

Whether he meant the idea or story isn’t actually worth telling, or not everyone has the ability to tell the idea or story in a compelling way, or both, is hard to say.

Many people believe they have a book inside them just waiting to come out. You may be one of them.

If you have always dreamed of writing a book or seeing your ideas in print with your name on the cover, yet you aren’t a writer and don’t know the first thing about the process of writing a book, do you have options?

Can you still see your book completed and in print with your story written in a compelling, interesting way?

If you are reading this, you have a book in you and you just need to know how to move it from idea to the written page, all without having to learn the necessary writing skills and the months (even years) it could take to produce it.

Getting Your Book Written

The most obvious way to write your book is to pen it yourself.

Writing your book on your own is a great option if you are a hands-on person and you want full control of your book.

But it does require having the knowhow, time (a book can take anywhere from a few months to a year or more to complete), and desire to write and complete your project.

You also have to enjoy writing.

The benefit of writing your book yourself is certainly the pride you gain from accomplishing the task.

It also helps build your skills as a writer and you get full control of the words and how the book turns out.

It is also the least expensive route.

The alternative is to hire someone else to write your book – a ghostwriter.

This is a professional writer (or group of writers) who will organize and outline, write, and edit your book from beginning to end.

Ghostwriting is a great option: you get your book written by a professional who knows the process and will work with you to make sure you get the book you’re envisioning.

You get your name on the book, and the ghostwriter takes no credit.

How to Hire a Ghostwriter

Once you’ve decided to go the ghostwriting route, the next step is finding the right ghostwriter.

Your choice will depend on several factors, including your budget, timeline, goals, and even your personality and preferred working style.

There are several ways to find the right ghostwriter:

1. Use a Freelance Bidding Website

There are many freelance bidding websites where you can hire anyone for just about anything.

Writers are a particularly popular commodity on sites like Upwork, Guru, and even Fiverr.

On Upwork alone there are an estimated 12 million registered freelancers (in various industries, not just writing) with only an estimated three million jobs posted annually.

Just type “ghostwriter” in the search bar and you’ll get tens of thousands of writers from all over the world, ready to bid on your project to write your book for you.

This option allows you to be as involved as you want: You can simply give your ghostwriter an idea and let them run with it, or you can provide detailed information and direction.

Using a bidding site is a cheaper option, with many writers available to ghostwrite books for as little as $100.

You can pay by the hour or by the project, and you can often put the project fee into escrow to ensure the project will get done or you won’t have to pay, with milestone check-ins along the way.

Remember, though, that most of the time you also get what you pay for.

Quality can be an issue when hiring freelance ghostwriters from such sites.

There is no guarantee that the writer can actually write, or that they can write your project in the way you envision it.

There might be more limited contact with the writer and you might be hiring someone who speaks and writes English as a second language.

If you choose this option, it’s important to perform a bit of due diligence to make sure that you don’t get an end product that’s unusable, or in need of extensive editing and rewriting.

Always check writer’s reviews from past clients and request a writer with experience fluent in your native language.

If you want to be more involved, make sure the writer is easy to meet or have contact with.

And get periodic updates using the milestone features on the site, scheduling to get sample chapters to review before going too far into the project.

2. Hiring a Turnkey Book Writing Service

A step up from a freelance bidding site, this option is ideal for people who know what they want in their book and who can explain their ideas clearly and easily.

From this option, you have two choices.

You can handle much of the work yourself by organizing your information and then dictating your book into an audio or video recorder.

Once done, you can hand your recording over to a service company; they’ll take your recordings, transcribe them into written form, and send you a book.

If you’d like more of a back-and-forth working relationship, you can hire a service company that offers a more personalized book writing experience.

You meet with one of the company’s ghostwriters and they familiarize themselves with your book idea and the style of book you want.

They then do in-depth, recorded interviews with you to not only get all the information you want in your book, but also to get a sense of your voice.

From there, they transcribe the information they collected on audio and edit the recordings, completing the transcription of your book into written form.

Companies like Scribe Writing or Radius Book Group are examples of this option.

And some of these types of companies not only provide the interview, transcribe, and provide you with a written book, but they will take your finished project all the way through to the layout and printing and offer a marketing plan as well.

Keep in mind, in this process, the service company is basically transcribing the words you speak with minimal or limited editing or revising.

3. Hiring a Professional Ghostwriter

The third option for writing your book is to hire a freelance ghostwriter.

A freelance ghostwriter is a single individual, dedicated to your book.

The right match with a good ghostwriter, can be a rewarding experience, and the arrangement carries a certain amount of romanticism.

Celebrities, political figures, athletes and VIPs from all walks of life are known to hire ghostwriters to write their memoirs or autobiographies.

Good freelancers can be hardworking and dedicated to your project.

Unfortunately, other freelancers can be fickle and peevish if things don’t go their own way, and you won’t necessarily know that until further down the road in your new relationship – sometimes after dozens of hours of interviews.

When choosing your freelancer, a good tip:  A freelancer’s ability to sell themselves to you has little to do with their ability to write your book.

So, don’t jump at the one that sounds the best simply because he or she gave you a good spiel.

Call their references.

Without proper due diligence, you can invest a lot of time and money before finding out the writer doesn’t fit your project or your own working style.

Another tip:  Be sure to ask how much time they can devote to your book, and if they have had success completely projects on deadline in the past.

Remember that when you hire an individual, you are at the whim of his or her timeline.

While some individual ghostwriters spend most of their time writing, others may consider it a part-time job, meaning your project will need to work around their life.

On the other hand, if your writer makes a living ghostwriting, you may have to wait for an opening in their schedule — and even then they may be juggling you and several other projects which can make for a long process.

4. Hiring a Ghostwriting Company

If you want a more hands-on experience with more options, hiring a ghostwriting company might be the best choice for you.

You will still have the opportunity to develop a one-on-one relationship with your writer (complete with frequent in-person interviews), but you’ll also have the safety net of company management if a problem ever arises.

Plus, with a senior editor available for all stages of your book, those closest to the book (you and your ghostwriter) will always receive objective editorial feedback.

When you are done, the firm will consult on all of your available publishing options – from traditional publishing to print-on-demand services – so you can choose the option that is best for your story.

A ghostwriting company allows for the ability to “go where the project takes you,” in a way that may be difficult with another writing model.

Want to scan hundreds of photos?

Need to track down hard-to-reach expert sources for interviews?

Maybe you want genealogy tracked back to 10 generations, or you are determined to find a needle-in-the-haystack research item only available on microfilm.

You might need a team to sort through hundreds of pages of old legal and medical documents, chronologically sort every piece of material, cross reference it against topic categories and cite it all.

Quality ghostwriting companies are used to receiving out-of-the box requests, and they have the manpower to make them happen, without distracting from your book’s progress.

Finally, because a writing team can share the workload, ghostwriting companies can often take on rush projects and maintain quality, in a way that is simply impossible for a one-man show.

If you’re looking for attentive, white-glove service, lots of interaction with your writers, and an end product limited only by your imagination, this last option may be the best for you.

4 Surefire Ways to Keep Your Nonfiction Book Project on Track

It is an inevitable reality that all nonfiction manuscripts hold the potential for work-stoppage and long-term shutdowns along the way to completion.

It doesn’t matter if you are a commissioned writer working on an assigned topic.

It doesn’t matter if you are an independent researcher, intrigued with the subject matter, thirsty for further discovery, and eager to share your findings with the world.

It doesn’t even matter if you are a world-renowned authority with the capacity to type out an entire textbook on your field of expertise from memory alone. 

Writer’s block and other intangible obstructions can halt anyone’s writing progress at any time.

Quite often the culprit behind such shutdowns is a lack of inspiration.

Fiction writers famously suffer from this affliction—writing themselves into corners or losing sight of where they wanted to take their characters, but nonfiction writers are equally susceptible.

Works of nonfiction differ from their fictional cousins in the sense that their stories are already written. The facts are known. The timeline is in place. A guidebook already exists that you could follow and interpret as a means of fleshing out your nonfiction manuscript.

The trouble for nonfiction writers arises when confronting certain realities of their craft.  Despite the convenience of already having the whole story and all the facts and figures, one must decide exactly what information to cover, explore, and illuminate. They must also choose the most effective and engaging order in which to relay this information.   

Not every detail can make the cut. Nonfiction authors must decide what elements of the larger story to exclude based on weight, and how to most effectively link up the elements that remain.

If you’re working on nonfiction, it’s safe to assume that you’ve surrounded yourself with other published books, folders packed with documents, piles of your own notes, and more than just a few computer files. 

Without a firm, well-thought-out framework for tying your source materials to your own writing underneath it all, it’s easy for your entire project to get away from you. 

Unfortunately, unfinished works of nonfiction that get unruly during the writing stage have a real knack for staying unfinished. 

Creativity, artistry, and entertainment are also not strangers to the realm of nonfiction. Failing to adequately tend to these essential components (relative to the subject matter at hand) will only produce a snooze-inducing final draft in the end.

Letting go of the fun factor within a work of nonfiction is also a guaranteed method for thoroughly killing whatever inspiration you had left to finish writing it.

It doesn’t matter what particular genre of nonfiction you’re grappling with. It also doesn’t matter if you’re an expert, a researcher, or simply working towards completing an assignment. By putting into practice all four of the methods detailed below, you’ll manage to stay organized, on schedule, and inspired along the way.

4 WAYS TO KEEP YOUR NONFICTION BOOK PROJECT ON TRACK

1. Plan your attack.

All works of nonfiction are essentially histories. They merely differ in scope and level of magnification.

It doesn’t matter if you intend to document all the major world events between The Big Bang and yesterday or just the evolution of speed boat racing in Nevada—you’ll need to start with an attack plan regardless of your chosen focus.

What is an attack plan exactly? Unfortunately, there is no “exactly” in this case.

Attack plans come in many shapes and sizes. They can be written documents, hand-drawn flow charts, memorized lists, mantras that you regularly repeat to yourself, or codes that you adhere to strictly when writing your piece. 

How you craft your attack plan depends on your answers to four basic questions:

  • Where does the story I’m telling begin and end?
  • Where does it really begin and end?
  • Who am I telling it to?
  • How am I going to tell it?

If you have yet to begin your nonfiction project, answering these questions is a strong starting point. Meditate on them for a while before ever putting ink to paper.

However, even if you are three-quarters of the way through the lengthy book that you thought you were writing but have suddenly realized that you are actually in a massive quagmire of dead-ends and disillusionment, all is not lost.

Now would be the perfect time for you to go back, consider these four questions, and let them guide you through a newly inspired revision of the hard work you’ve already put in.

Let’s take a closer look at these questions and how your answers to them can guide your writing into a more vibrant and dynamic final form.

Who am I telling it to?

The intended audience of a written work must always be at the forefront of the author’s mind all the while he or she is composing it. 

Nonfiction is a term with a wide range of definitions that encompasses anything from primary school educational material to graphic explorations of horrific murder cases that shocked the world.

Conversely, there are publications out there that cover the same coursework as an average K-12 curriculum, but are written specifically for adults, just as there are other nonfiction subcategories like True Crime for Kids.  

When writing a piece for fellow scholars, you wouldn’t trail off on explanatory tangents to catch them up on concepts that they should already thoroughly comprehend, just as you wouldn’t let your writing get too salacious for an audience of young adults.

Knowing who you are writing for beforehand, and keeping them in mind during the entirety of your writing process, will keep you on point and on schedule while avoiding the pitfalls of veering in and out of the appropriate territory.

How am I going to tell it?

As a nonfiction writer, you need to pick a formula or a flavor for your project and stick with it throughout its development.

Will you stick to a textbook rigid description of the people and events in your story, or will you add some flair and humanity to it?

Nonfiction books that bring to life the places and characters described within them are fully capable of remaining equally factual.

Consider “setting the scene” as an introduction to each new chapter in your nonfiction book.

Look up the historical weather data for a particular time and place and incorporate it into your description. Make use of documented quotes from the prominent people in your story as dialog the same way a novelist would use it in theirs.

Of course, you should also be careful to avoid over-writing. You don’t want to bog yourself down by sharing the full biographies of each new side character that plays a part or the full history of each new location you introduce.

Knowing just how you want your work to read right from the start will help you to stay focused on writing in the same consistent voice the whole time.

If you have already written a substantial portion of your book, go back through it to make sure its voice is unified, and adjust it accordingly if it is not.

Beginnings and Endings

Lastly, you need to consider how your information is arranged for the reader in regard to time.

No matter the topic, your nonfiction book will have an exact chronological timeline to it.

For example, if you are mainly writing about a series of events that took place between 1976 and 1982, but there is one crucial anecdote that took place in 1954 and just one more in 1999, your timeline is 1954-1999.

Prescribing an order for the events in your book is essential to keeping on track and maintaining a steady flow to your writing. 

There are numerous story structure options to choose from for your nonfiction project. Let’s examine four possible structures that are often implemented by popular fiction:

  • The Inverted Checkmark
  • The Interrupted Timeline
  • The Circular Timeline
  • Parallel Worlds

The Inverted Checkmark is arguably the most common. 

Imagine a check mark, now turn it upside down. The story that you tell could follow along the same shape. 

The action of the story takes place in chronological order, and it intensifies as time goes on.  Eventually, the action meets its peak; then there is a turning point followed by a quick resolution.  The Hollywood blockbuster The Matrix follows this formula perfectly as the main character is plucked from his dull life and dropped into a dangerous new world. A series of increasingly difficult challenges reveals the full extent of his powers. He then uses those powers to defeat the foes who have plagued him from the beginning. 

The inverted checkmark is a classic pattern that translates well for any tale of overcoming adversity.  

The Interrupted Timeline can be adopted when your nonfiction story is perhaps more interesting and illuminating when told out of order. 

This technique can be observed in the movies Memento and Pulp Fiction. In both instances, the events of only a few days are shown as out of order as they can be. 

The choice to go with an interrupted timeline can keep the audience on their toes.

It forces them to pay attention to every small detail.

In the end, they are rewarded with a satisfying conclusion that answers all of their remaining questions.

The Parallel Worlds template is effective when initially unconnected stories are told simultaneously. 

Ford vs. Ferrari is an example of a parallel worlds story: It documents the trials of automotive racing designers, an ocean apart, who eventually go head-to-head with their creations at Le Mans. 

In Stephen King’s IT, the barrier is time rather than distance: He tells the story of just one group of people, but each chapter of the book alternates between their experiences in the 1950s and their present day lives set in the 1980s.

The Circular Timeline begins at a key point in the story. It then cuts back to another starting point earlier in history. The majority of the story is then told all the way back to where it began.

Saving Private Ryan and Forrest Gump make use of this timeline. Tom Hanks just happens to star in both of them, and both movies also won handfuls of Oscars. 

Maybe a circular timeline is the best choice for your story as well!

Allow your attack plan to manifest itself in whatever form you think will work best for you and your natural tendencies. Just keep it in your head or write it down and tape it to the side of your monitor. 

The real secret to a successful attack plan is sticking to it.

As a partner in the endeavor to produce a nonfiction book, your attack plan will constantly remind you to add the ingredients that your work is lacking, and it will give you permission to discard whatever it is that’s dragging it down.    

2.  Let your outline evolve.

Outlines are to books what engineering schematics are to finished mechanical devices. 

Name a product. It won’t matter which one you choose.

The best blenders, dishwashers, cordless drills, Corvettes, and curling irons all began their lives on drawing boards.

Countless great books began their lives as outlines and your book most likely will too.

An outline is an extremely pared-down version of an entire book. A traditional version follows all the rules of Roman numerals and indentation that you learned in high school, but this is your book, and you are free from such academic shackles now. Let your outline look however you want it to.

What’s really important is that you write one.

Write out your outline in whatever format you think will work best for your project and work style. If the right format doesn’t exist, make up your own. It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t make sense to anyone else, as long as it makes sense to you.

A completed outline that details your entire book from start to finish will give you an aerial view of all the chapters you intend to write and the finer points contained within them.

As you write your book, refer back to your outline like a checklist. It will serve as a reminder of all the topics that you originally wanted to discuss and explore. 

The next most important step is to let your outline evolve.

As your book grows in length, it’s a guarantee that you’ll also come up with new ideas. The research that goes into nonfiction books never really stops, even as they’re being written, so it’s likely that you’ll make additional discoveries, even late in the writing stage.

When new information like this arises, consult your outline. Decide where it can be plugged in.  If there really isn’t a suitable space, make a new one.

If your outline starts begging for a more visual existence, let it happen. Draw boxes and connect them with squiggly arrows—do whatever you need to do to keep the inspiration flowing.

If you find yourself fantasizing about markers and big white dry erase boards, get a dry erase board and wheel it into your writing room! If the cost of a brand new one is a turnoff for you, consult your local Craigslist or Facebook Market page. You’ll be shocked by how widely available and inexpensive they are second-hand.

If pinning papers into cork is more your speed, take some picture frames off the wall, hang up a corkboard for the time being, and get pinning! Yes, we’re having a little fun here, but this is not insincere advice. There’s a reason that you see whiteboards and corkboards in every “behind the scenes” documentary or FBI drama—they work!

With an up-to-date outline in your arsenal that is set up just how you want it, your nonfiction book project will be heavily fortified to stay right on track.

3. Live the lifestyle.

Setting out to write a nonfiction book shares many similarities with starting a new diet plan or fitness regimen. You will not find success unless you stick to it and welcome it in as a new part of your daily life.

The first step is to establish some kind of a deadline.

People set health and fitness goals for themselves all the time. “I want to be 20 pounds down by Thanksgiving” or “I want to see my abs in the mirror by summer.”

Set the same kind of goals for your book project.

Go easy on yourself at first. For the completion of the project in its entirety, pick a reasonable date as far off in the future as you think you’ll need and keep it in the back of your mind. 

After the big date is set, you have to focus on developing your habits. You’ll get back to setting smaller goals for yourself later.

First, you’ll need to decide how you’re going to put this book together. 

Inspiration comes in spurts that have to be acted on as soon as possible. It’s most likely that your book will assemble itself organically from a long string of these random moments.

A good practice is to keep a master folder for your book right on your desktop. Inside it, set up additional folders for your outline, notes and ideas, individual passages, and the rough draft.

Categorizing the separate elements of your book is a handy system for managing your thoughts as they develop. You should establish a system for capturing these moments as well.

Try to carry at least a pen and paper with you at all times to jot down notes throughout the day.  Fold the notes into your wallet or purse and transcribe them into one of the folders on your computer when you get back home.

In the 80s and 90s, it was quite possible that every single writing guru of the era recommended carrying a miniature cassette recorder for keeping a voice record of your random inspirations.  With present day smartphones, we have the luxury of numerous voice recording or voice-to-text apps capable of that very same function and much more.

Many established writers suggest writing every single day. While that may come naturally for some, it’s not feasible for others. You may prefer writing every other day or maybe your best work comes from marathon writing sessions every weekend. 

Follow your inclinations and stick with what works best for you, but it is definitely recommended that you do something for your book on daily basis.

Check out research books at the library, look over your notes and cross off entries you’ve already taken care of, schedule an interview, or clarify recent additions to your outline.

Spend at least a few minutes on the project every single day to keep it going as a part of your daily routine.

Keeping a progress journal is another technique for ensuring the continued momentum of your nonfiction project. 

It might sound redundant, writing about your writing, but this doesn’t mean multipage, long-winded reflections on your progress for the day—a single line entry is sufficient. Doctors and research scientists keep progress journals. Even Alex Honnold—the world-class mountain climber who famously scaled the face of Yosemite’s El Capitan without a rope—attributes some of his success to the practice of keeping a daily progress journal.

It’s also important to listen to your inspirations. If you feel obligated to keep chugging away at a particular chapter, but an idea for a passage in another section of your book keeps distracting you, follow it and get the gist of it down in the moment—you could lose it by putting it off.

The time to set new deadlines is when the writing stage of your book is officially underway.  Take your schedule into consideration and weigh it against where you’re at with your manuscript. Calculate a reasonable accomplishment for the timeframe available and then increase it by one percent.

If your goal is to finish a certain chapter by the weekend, challenge yourself to also write the introductory paragraph for the next one.

Setting the bar just one small step beyond your initial goal each time will keep the momentum of your progress rolling.

4. Secure your support system.

Finally, it would be in your best interest to assemble a support team for your nonfiction project. 

Reach out to friends and family members. Inquire as to whether or not they’d be willing to read and critique portions of your book as you write them.

If it’s in the budget, you may want to also consider hiring editors and proofreaders for a more professional analysis of your output.

If you find yourself in a creative rut with particular segment of your book, outsourcing it to a professional ghostwriter might be just the thing to get you over the hump.

Working with others, and making firm commitments to them along the way, will definitely keep you writing.

By combining all of the methods detailed in this article, you’ll surely keep your nonfiction book project on track.

5 Tips for Conducting Remote Interviews for a Family History Book

“A good laugh makes any interview, or any conversation, so much better.” — Barbara Walters

A family history book is very much like an onion. There are many layers to uncover. Each layer comes off one at a time. Often, individual family members and close friends hold the essence of each layer. It would be impossible to put together a faithful rendering of the family’s history without that essence.

An effective technique used to peel back those layers is conducting interviews.

Interviews can help collect first-hand accounts and corroborate information. Moreover, interviews can fill in the gaps left by documentary evidence. After all, papers can only reveal so much, and photographs do not tell the entire story.

With family members spread out across the country, or even the world, remote interviews are a viable alternative for face-to-face communication. But what is the best way to conduct those interviews?

Five Tips for Conducting Remote Interviews for a Family History Book

Tip #1: Have a game plan.

Often, family historians intend to cover as much ground as possible. They seek to get as much information as they can. After all, time is precious, particularly with older relatives.

However, trying to cover too many bases may lead to losing focus. Therefore, it is essential to have a clear game plan before conducting the first interview.

A game plan consists of understanding where the book is heading. For instance, a family history book may center on the family’s journey to America.

As a result, the information needs to home in on that specific episode in the family’s history. Any other information, while useful, may digress from the main story. Ultimately, deviating from the book’s focus may defeat its purpose.

With a clear goal in mind, interviews should aim to shed light on the book’s purpose. Forbes Magazine columnist Shel Israel recommends preparing before an interview. In his view, being prepared saves wasting time. Focusing on the conversation allows the interviewer to focus on the relevant information. This approach begins with careful preparation.

Family historians need to prepare before going into an interview. That preparation begins with understanding who the family member is and what they have to offer. From there, family historians can craft interview questions that will help them peel back one layer, or even multiple layers.

A good rule of thumb is to evaluate what all relatives have to offer. Often, each member has a piece of the puzzle needed to articulate the full picture. Then, conducting interviews just becomes a question of fitting each piece. In the end, the whole puzzle will begin to take shape.

Tip #2: Embrace remote interviews.

Traditional interviews involve a face-to-face sit-down. However, circumstances may not allow an old-fashioned in-person talk. Therefore, family historians must embrace the use of remote interviews.

In the past, remote conversations took place over the phone.

While that approach continues to be valid, technology has afforded family historians new tools.

For instance, video conferencing technology can facilitate a more intimate conversation.

One very important reason video conferencing calls are pivotal is that video calls allow interviewers to create a more comfortable and personal atmosphere.

The following tidbit from a Harvard Business Review publication offers wonderful insight into this topic:

“There’s a great deal of hand-wringing over all that’s lost when screens intermediate our interactions. But there is a certain intimacy that screens can actually facilitate. During a remote interview, the interviewer and interviewee are sitting inches from one another’s faces. The screen creates a sense of psychological safety that may allow people to open up more than they might in person.”

Indeed, a video screen can provide an unparalleled sense of closeness. Moreover, a screen can provide enough proximity to make things more personal, despite the physical distance.

Please bear in mind that the subject matter has a deep connection with each individual. Every life story has a profound significance to everyone connected.

Thus, it makes sense to approach remote interviews with the same warm touch a face-to-face discussion would hold.

The most powerful angle to a remote interview lies in utilizing video to convey facial expressions and physical gestures. A phone call cannot replicate these features. Consequently, using video conferencing to its fullest allows the interviewer to build rapport with the interviewee.

Tip #3: Prepare interview questions in advance.

A successful interview begins with preparing questions in advance. The questions must help the interviewer focus on the information needed to cover the topic at hand. As such, questions should focus on particular points. Painting with a broad brush may lead the conversation astray.

This tip opens the discussion for two specific situations.

The first situation pertains to delivering interview questions before the interview. The rationale behind this approach lies in giving the interviewee advance notice to prepare.

This approach works well, especially with busy people. Additionally, providing interview questions in advance sets the tone for the interviewer’s expectations.

As a result, the interviewee will be aware of what information the interviewer seeks to obtain.

The second situation pertains to allowing freedom throughout the interview. This school of thought allows the interviewee to speak their mind freely. Consequently, the interviewee can take the lead, providing the information they consider relevant to the question and conversation.

When considering both positions, it is best to find a balance between freedom and directing the conversation. The interviewer must be proactive in guiding the conversation to avoid losing precious time on irrelevant or perhaps repetitive items. Ideally, the interviewer should be tactful in bringing the conversation back to its main objective.

Author and photographer Brandon Stanton offers this highly insightful thought: “Interviewing someone is a very proactive process and requires taking a lot of agency into your own hands to get past people’s general self-preservation mode.”

Undoubtedly, some folks may feel defensive when talking about their lives. This “self-preservation mode” might become active, particularly when meeting someone for the first time. Thus, a good interviewer must allow the speaker enough freedom to feel comfortable but become proactive enough to avoid losing focus. Therefore, preparing interview questions in advance can provide the structure needed to avoid losing direction.

Tip #4: Take as many notes as possible.

In-person or remote interviews have the potential to deliver copious amounts of information. However, once the information is out in the open, the interviewer must capture it before it disappears. This phenomenon underscores the need for notes.

When taking notes, it is crucial to let the interviewee know about them beforehand. Otherwise, the interviewee may become defensive and enact their 'self-preservation mode.'

After all, it is one thing to speak one’s mind. Nevertheless, it is a completely different thing to have their words on record.

Initially, interviewers must communicate their intention to take notes. In doing so, the interviewer can provide forewarning so that the interviewer feels comfortable providing their answers.

Consider this situation:

Therapists always manifest their intention to take notes. The rationale is to provide the patient with a comfortable atmosphere. This atmosphere should be conducive to open discussion. Nevertheless, there are instances in which patients may feel self-conscious. As a result, they may request that their therapist refrain from taking notes.

Based on this scenario, what should an interviewer do?

First, interviewers must communicate their plan to take notes. The interviewer must ask the interviewee if they feel comfortable with notetaking. In some cases, it may be necessary to sign legal paperwork, particularly a non-disclosure agreement, due to the information’s sensitivity.

Next, interviewers need to be honest and transparent.

There is nothing wrong with sharing the notes’ contents. In doing so, the interviewee can feel more comfortable about what they are sharing. It may also be necessary to take a break to share notes. Moving forward, the interviewee can relax and continue with the interview.

While note-taking is a great tool, it can be time-consuming and distracting from the conversation. As such, some interviewers prefer recording interviews. Nevertheless, this approach opens up an entirely new set of considerations.

To begin with, recording an interview requires due authorization from stakeholders. As such, interviewers may need legal paperwork to proceed. Specifically, privacy laws apply.

Consequently, consent on the interviewee’s part is essential. Also, all sides must determine who will hold the rights to the recording. Generally speaking, the rights should belong to the book’s author. In the event of co-authors, then rights may be shared.

Additionally, all parties must agree on the recording format. For in-person interviews, audiotape recordings are the norm. Nevertheless, videotaping may also be an option, particularly if there is a video component to the story. The same rules apply to remote interviews.

Please keep in mind that the worst approach is committing information to memory. Much of it can fall through the cracks when there is a great deal of information swirling around. Thus, leaving vital information up to memorization will essentially lead to lost details. Therefore, the best approach, whenever possible, is to record interviews for later review. Alternatively, taking notes is the best way to go.

Tip #5: Hire a ghostwriter.

Family historians may need a helping hand at some point in the process. This is where hiring a ghostwriter comes into play.

Professional ghostwriters come with varying skill sets.

Some ghostwriters are adept at putting pen to paper. Others may have experience in conducting interviews.

Although the question begs, why hire a ghostwriter in the first place?

Ghostwriters are professional writers that can help family historians bring their projects to fruition.

Particularly, family history projects can become quite extensive. Therefore, bringing on a ghostwriter can help facilitate the process.

A ghostwriter can provide support in two main ways.

First, a ghostwriter can help conduct interviews. Involving a ghostwriter in the interview process is important. After all, the ghostwriter might end up writing the bulk, if not all, of the book. Thus, involving a ghostwriter in the interview process makes sense.

In contrast, some family historians prefer to give their ghostwriter only the material they need. That approach is fine, especially when there are privacy concerns.

Second, a ghostwriter may have experience conducting interviews. For example, ghostwriters with a journalism background may have the sort of expertise necessary to conduct interviews. Then, the ghostwriter can get to work on drafting the manuscript.

Please remember that hiring a ghostwriter is an investment in time and effort. Often, family historians may not have the time or the availability to conduct interviews and then sit down to write. As a result, hiring a ghostwriter can save time and effort, leading to a finished family history project.

Conclusion

Completing a family history book requires time devoted to research. Research is crucial to peeling back the layers of the family history onion. Without adequate research, it may be nearly impossible to uncover the full details of a family’s true history and identity.

Conducting interviews is an integral part of the research process. Therefore, careful attention is necessary when going about interviews. Given today’s circumstances, embracing remote interviews may prove the best approach, especially when family members are in various locations around the country and the world.

Nevertheless, the scope of a family history project may require the assistance of a professional ghostwriter.

Beyond writing, a professional ghostwriter can help conduct interviews, as well. An experienced ghostwriter may have the skillset needed to conduct interviews, collect information, and put a manuscript together. Ultimately, a ghostwriter’s help can take a family history project and bring it to fruition.

How can a ghostwriter help get my book to the finish line?

Your book is your passion project. It was going great for a while, but then life got in the way. Work got busier. Kids are kids. Accidents happen. Or sometimes you just hit a wall.

Unfortunately, sometimes passion projects end up on the back burner.

Now, what you really want is for your book to be done, but you’re not sure how to get back on track. It may not seem possible at all. If that’s the case, it’s time to bring in a professional ghostwriter.

While it may seem like handing over your baby to a stranger, try not to think about it like that.

Think of a ghostwriter as a baseball reliever. You started the game and did great, but when you hit your wall, he comes in just to wrap it up with a fresh arm and a slightly different repertoire of pitches. At the end of the game, you still get the win!


What a Ghostwriter Brings to the Table

You’ve done a lot of work on your book, so why bring in someone else?

It’s really as simple as this: Ghostwriters are professional writers.

They’ve 'been there, done that' and they can help you get your project to the finish line, no matter where you’ve stalled.

Here are seven reasons why a ghostwriter gives you a better chance at finishing your project, with a few insights from professional ghostwriter Barbara Adams.

1. They have an established process. 

For many people who are trying to write a larger project for the first time, the excitement of the idea can quickly give way to the realities of getting it completed.

A professional ghostwriter knows what it takes to get a project completed successfully on a consistent basis. If that weren’t the case, they wouldn’t be surviving as a ghostwriter.

To stay consistent, professional writers establish a process that helps keep them on track. 

Adams knows this firsthand. “Most people can’t really imagine the work that goes into writing a book or professional article ahead of time. On the other hand, an experienced ghostwriter knows what’s involved and has the bandwidth, patience, perseverance, and talent to get the job done.” 

2. They have fresh eyes.

Have you ever looked at something so much that you don’t really see it at all anymore?

A big writing project can get like that.

You’ve been emersed in it for so long that you don’t even know where you start in again and what needs to be done.

When you bring in a ghostwriter, you are bringing in a fresh set of eyes.

She can review the completed work and figure out what’s missing, see what might need to be re-done, and may even have new ideas you hadn’t thought of for your project.

The key is to be open to their ideas.

A good ghostwriter is never looking to take your project away from you; they just want to help you make it the best it can be.

3. They have experience. 

Once you start your project and begin to understand the amount of time, editing, research, cataloguing, and other things that go into the process, it can be incredibly daunting.

Part of the reason that it seems so impossible is that you have to learn it all as you go. That’s not the case for a ghostwriter.

Remember, “been there, done that!” Because they’ve done it all before, it’s no longer intimidating to them. Plus, as we mentioned, they have a process now. 

4. They know your market and what sells. 

What is your goal for your project? Is it an article that you want to get published in a high-end industry magazine? Are you creating family history just for a keepsake? Perhaps you think you have the next great personal memoir to fly off the bookshelves.

Those are all perfectly valid goals, but they each come with different requirements.

A good ghostwriter knows the industry and how to cater a project to meet those end goals. Sometimes that can mean they’ll have to bring a little tough love and make you pivot your story direction or make cuts that are difficult.

Remember, the ghostwriter has your goals in mind. If you want to reach that finish line, you need to be open to new ideas.

Adams says, “A ghostwriter has to understand the author’s goals and objectives, conduct interviews, gather and review all the source materials, and create a plan from there.”

5. They may have publishing connections.

An added bonus to hiring a ghostwriter is that they may have some connections in the publishing or printing industry that could be of use to you.

Consider their portfolio and look for publishers you’d like to partner with for your book or magazines in which you’d love to see your article.

There are no guarantees here, but a ghostwriter’s experience in the industry could open a couple of doors for you or at least get you pointed in the right direction.

6. They can bring an editorial eye. 

Ghostwriters serve as editors, too.

They’ll look at your work with the eye of an experienced writer and help you clean it up, shape it, and get it in better condition than ever before.

It is still your ideas and mostly your words, but they can bring a little polish.

7. They work fast and efficiently. 

While you toil away at your project, get distracted, agonize over certain passages, and give yourself mental breaks, your project is moving at a snail’s pace, if at all.

Ghostwriters get paid to get the job done.

To this end, they’ve learned to be very efficient with their time and energy. You might be amazed at how quickly your project leaps forward in the hands of a pro.

Don’t worry, it’s in good hands! It’s like the average person changing a tire versus those professional pit crews. They have the experience and tools to make it look almost easy!

Keep Your Eyes on the Prize

Remember, the goal is to get the book done. The ideas are still yours. You’re just bringing in someone who can tie the loose ends together and wrap up your project, whether it’s a novel or a family history.

However, don’t expect to hire a ghostwriter and simply wait for a miracle. When asked about what misconceptions people have about ghostwriters, Adams said: “That we can read minds! We rely on the author to provide the information we need, although we’re always willing to do supplemental research.”

Trust your ghostwriter’s advice, but follow your gut, too.

Your ghostwriter isn’t looking to steal your ideas or take credit for the final work.

This is what they do, and they understand the rules of the game.

But that being said, it is your project, so if you feel strongly about leaving in a passage or some other edit, stand firm. Your ghostwriter won’t be offended.

You’ve already put a lot of time and hard work into your project. Don’t shelve it before it has a chance to shine! You’ll always wonder “what if….”

As Adams says, “Once you see the finished project and you can share it with pride, you’ll realize that getting it moving again was worth every penny!”

How Can a SME Work with a Technical Ghostwriter to Create Company Documents?

Can scriptwriters edit movies, or farmers manage grocery stores? In theory, yes. But it’s not the go-to solution for a reason.

Scriptwriters understand their movies but rarely possess professional grade editing skills. And farmers know their produce but generally lack the interest and knowledge needed to run an entire store.

The same logic applies when you ask SMEs to write company documents. Sure, some SMEs can reach into a hat and pull out the particular interest, mindset, expertise, and time needed to create those documents.

But that’s the exception, not the rule. For most companies, hiring a technical ghostwriter is a much better approach to getting those important documents written.  

Now, that may seem like a fairly broad—and possibly expensive-sounding—proposition. And you probably have many follow-up questions.

So, let’s begin by talking about SMEs and their relationship with writing technical documents. (Spoiler alert, it’s generally not ideal.)

The issues that most SMEs have with writing technical documents comes down to more than raw wordsmithing. After all, even SMEs who generally enjoy writing can struggle with technical documents. In most cases, the very qualities that make people excellent SMEs render them ill-suited to create great company documents, especially ones directly related to their particular projects.

When it comes to technical writing, SMEs’ strengths usually morph into these pain points:

  • Too close to the subject
  • Too distracted by details to focus on the larger picture
  • Don’t understand their target audience’s mindset or desires
  • Lack the bandwidth for work outside their “real” job

But when do these broad pain points actually manifest in the technical writing process, and how can a technical ghostwriter solve them? The answers depend on the specific document at hand.

Let’s start by breaking down the different types of technical writing, and identifying exactly how a technical ghostwriter can help with each of them.

  1. Documents that attract and persuade the general population
  2. Documents that instruct non-SMEs
  3. Documents that persuade decision makers
  4. Documents that inform other SMEs

Documents That Attract the General Population – Why Should Average Joe Care?

Photo by Pressmaster from Pexels

Brochures, press releases, and trade publications are the shiny toys of technical writing—they exist to catch and hold the average reader’s notice. Why is this product interesting to me? How does it make my life easier?

Such questions are to a SME what the following are to a Parisian-trained, only-buys-gourmet-beans barista: Would it kill you to drink instant instead? For that matter, what’s the point of caffeine when we could all just get more sleep?

SMEs, knee-deep in their field, don’t instinctively ask those larger-picture, accessible questions. And when someone else asks them to explain, they hardly know where to begin. A career spent obsessing over a particular stem, leaf, or twig makes it difficult to back up and view the entire tree, much less the combined landscape of forest, mountain, and lake.

That becomes the technical ghostwriter’s first job: Asking those large-picture questions in the first place, and then teasing out a useful answer.

“If you ask a pipeline services engineer what was cool about their latest project, they’ll first say something like ‘We cleared a pipeline by using x tool instead of y tool,’” technical ghostwriter Barbara Adams explains. “They won’t automatically produce answers like ‘We reduced this many emissions, which in turn reduced greenhouse gases,’ so you have to be able to get them to dig a little deeper and describe what the reader would care about.”

It’s not surprising that SMEs don’t easily pinpoint which parts of their field lay people find interesting or meaningful, and which parts boring. After all, if SMEs weren’t already inherently fascinated by their field, they wouldn’t be SMEs.

And even SMEs who do have a knack for asking and answering those questions won’t consider it a priority; their primary job is to complete the project, not defend or explain its existence.

“If you ask them a wider question like ‘Why was this important?’ or ‘How does this solve a problem?’ they can usually think of a good answer, but they consider it a waste of time to sit down and do so,” former cyber-engineer and writer Joe Brule adds.

It’s not surprising, then, that SMEs particularly dislike writing such attention-getting documents. It takes time and several mental somersaults for a SME to back away from those fine details, find the larger picture, and use the picture to catch an audience’s attention, all to convince the audience of something the SME already believes: The product or development is interesting and worthwhile.

And that’s just the mindset needed to write such documents. We haven’t even gotten into the actual time and labor involved in writing, editing, and formatting. If a SME is already reluctant to pile a fun writing project onto their full plate, they’ll run screaming from one they actively dislike.

Barbara Adams says it best: “For a press release or a trade publication, they’ll usually just hand it over to me.”

Everyone’s happier when the technical ghostwriter asks the larger questions, translates the answers, considers the audience, hooks the audience, gives them a call to action, and, most importantly, gets the words onto paper.

Documents That Give Instructions to non-SMEs – Press X While Holding Y and Gluing On Z

User manuals, policy documents, and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) teach non-SMEs how to do something. Anyone who’s ditched the user manual for a YouTube tutorial knows exactly how difficult it is to follow, much less write, good instructions. How do I use this thing? It’s a simple question. Why am I being forced to read someone’s dissertation?

Even SMEs with writing talent usually aren’t well positioned for creating instructions like manuals or SOPs—they’re simply too close to the process to break it down properly.

Teaching what feels automatic to us takes particular patience and skill, akin to showing a toddler how to hold their fork or tie their shoes. But at least parents can backpedal and answer a child’s questions in real time—someone reading a bad SOP can’t immediately run screaming to the writer.

As former Hewlett-Packard technical writer Dennis Chiu points out, SMEs often overestimate what a typical user already knows and understands. One of the ghostwriter’s main functions, then, is to catch those gaps from the beginning.

“Experts don’t break out of acronyms easily,” Chiu says. In an on-the-nose example: “You and I know what S-M-E stands for, or you wouldn’t be writing this article. But do you think the average reader knows? When I write a manual, I usually repeat the acronym several times, just to make it easier for the user. But someone else in the industry might not think of that.”

Of course, omitting information is just one pitfall—SMEs are just as likely to include far too much.

“Engineers are data people; they love to give you all this data and show off all the wonderful things this piece of software does. Most users don’t give a damn about how it works, they just wanna turn on the car and drive,” Chiu says.  

This is another case of the gap between a SME’s instincts and reader’s needs. From the SME’s point of view, the product’s extra features, backstory, and improvements are fascinating and worth knowing.

An engineer would love to tell you about tensile strength, heating element, and cost-effective material—but most buyers just want to make sure their coffee pot is dishwasher-safe.

“Even at work, SMEs sometimes overestimate what people need to know—for example, not every employee who reads news stories on the company’s internal website wants to hear all the details of a project,” Barbara Adams says.

Even if the SME could magically transmit their thought process onto a Word document, the result might be an unusable behemoth for the specific reader.

A huge part of the technical ghostwriter’s job, then, is sifting for information that actually belongs in each document, for the particular audience.

“When it comes to a user manual, I always say, ‘Just the facts, ma’am,’” Chiu says. “Don’t you hate it when you’re reading a manual, and they don’t get to the point until the fourth or fifth paragraph? My job is to make it as easy as possible to find the answers.”

Documents That Are Technical but Target Decision Makers – What Matters to the Bottom Line?

White papers, case studies, requests for proposals (RFPs), and technical request documents (TRDs) form a counterintuitive category. On one hand, they’re highly technical and thus tempting to hand off to a SME.

However, such documents usually target decision makers, not fellow SMEs. As a result, the language, goal, and scope of the paper still require a professional writer’s focus and editing skills.

SMEs often assume that people in their field speak their jargon—but in reality, a decision maker might be too far removed from those niche details.

Once again, a technical ghostwriter has good instincts for what their target audience will actually understand and writes accordingly.

Above all, the ghostwriter understands that these documents have a very specific goal—and they know what information actually pursues that goal.

Despite its technical content and language, Adams reminds us that a white paper has a marketing purpose. If left to their own devices, a SME may pile on data and details that distract from that marketing purpose.

A technical ghostwriter, however, knows what raw material is actually necessary to make the sale—and what to cut.

“When writing an RFP [Request for Proposals], SMEs often want to include their suggestions on how to do something. Which makes sense, because they’re experts and have their own opinions. But that’s not the point of an RFP—it’s a document that asks vendors to provide the solution. If you wanted to solve it yourself, would you be writing the RFP?” Joe Brule says.

Documents for Fellow SMEs – Finally, a Chance to Geek Out!

SMEs feel much more comfortable writing for fellow SMEs—that’s where conference papers, technical manuals, some white papers, and some trade publications come in.

A familiar audience, plus the rare chance to share those details, data, and tangents, make a much more inviting writing experience.

“When it comes to a conference paper, they want first crack at it,” Barbara Adams explains. “They do want help with the organization and editing, though, so I’ll look at drafts in various stages of doneness.”

Yet even with conference papers, those familiar pain points crop up. For starters, SMEs don’t always understand fellow SMEs’ language.

“A mechanical engineer may assume that a civil engineer will understand their language and world, but that’s not always the case,” Adams says.

Even two engineers in the same niche may find language barriers. “A fellow mechanical engineer who works for a different company may have picked up company-specific terms or slang,” Brule adds. “In practice, the technical writer ends up standardizing the language for the SME.”

Once again, it comes down to time—SMEs have no interest in formatting, standardizing, or editing on top of their “real” job.

Help me to Help You

With all four document categories, the SMEs’ pain points occur in at least some form: being too close to their field, not understanding their audience, being distracted by the details, and not having enough bandwidth.

And in each case, the technical ghostwriter provides objectivity, targets the audience, sees the larger picture, and—most obviously and importantly—actually gets the job done.

It’s not surprising that, according to Barbara Adams, half the SMEs she’s worked with really welcome help; the rest are willing to get help.

Then there are those who are reluctant to have someone even attempt to give them a hand. “The ones who are reluctant to work with a ghostwriter are usually afraid I won’t have the technical savvy to help them . . . there’s a learning curve, but eventually they grow to see me as a partner,” she says.

What was that last word? Ah, partner.

We’ve discussed what the technical ghostwriter brings to the table, but what can the SMEs and decision makers do to make the process easier? After talking with several technical ghostwriters, we’ve compiled some best practices they would love to see from SMEs.

1. Keep the ghostwriter on the same project from beginning to end.

Decision makers might be tempted to save time by assigning multiple writers to one product’s array of documents—one for the press release, one for the user manual, one for the technical manual, and so on. In the long run, though, assigning everything to one dedicated ghostwriter results in better documents all around.

“If I was the boss I would have the same writer create the installation manual, user manual, and technical manual,” Dennis Chiu says. “[Ideally] I’m with the engineer every day. As they write the software, I’m interviewing, I’m sitting down at the computer, I’m playing with the software myself, I’m doing revisions to my manual.”

This method also assuages the SME’s greatest fear of writers—that they won’t be tech savvy enough to keep up with the engineer. If the technical ghostwriter works on the project from beginning to end, they become an expert in their own right.

Sure, it’s tempting to bring on the ghostwriter later in the process to save money or time, but that’s like waiting until the last minute to see the doctor—problems may arise that can’t be fixed.

“If [a SME] submit[s] an abstract and it gets accepted for a conference, I can’t edit it at all, [even when] the abstract is really poorly written,” Adams says. “In an ideal world, they’d give me their white paper draft first, then I’d pull the abstract from it and edit both. When [that happens], I’m so happy.”

2. Refer to the specific style guides, glossaries, and authoritative sources.

Sure, SMEs often don’t understand each other’s jargon—that’s exactly why standard language and glossaries exist in the first place. And writers love SMEs who actually use them!

“Here’s what often happens,” Brule says. “Engineers often say ‘weakness’ or ‘susceptibility’ when they should be saying ‘vulnerability’—the National Glossary of Information Assurance has a specific definition for vulnerability. Always refer to an authoritative source like that to look up the proper terminology.”

“Please, please use the style guide,” Adams says simply.

3. Be open to questions – both low- and high-level.

Taking the time to answer technical ghostwriters’ questions can irritate SMEs, who generally want to focus on their main job.

Even technical writers with considerable expertise, however, often find interviews a necessary step in the process.

“Accept that sometimes I’ll have to ask more elementary questions,” Adams says.  

Chiu, armed with his own engineering degree, reveals that, “I like to start with the thousand-foot view, and then get into the data and details.”

“I ask the engineer to talk to me like I’m a first-time user—that’s who I’m writing for,” he says.

That being said, SMEs are often pleasantly surprised by technical ghostwriters’ savvy.

“The greatest compliment I ever had was when a SME assumed I was an engineer,” Adams says. “I wish SMEs knew that technical writers actually find this stuff interesting, and like it.”

4. Keep the technical ghostwriter informed.

Even for projects where the SME remains fairly hands-off, there’s one vital way to kick things off.

“Send me all the relevant background information at once, early on,” Adams advises. “It’s better to share too much than too little. If you leave something out at the beginning, I may have to start over.”

It’s the same reason Chiu prefers to work with programmers from beginning to end. “One update can mean I have to ditch my entire manual draft,” he said. “That’s why I talk to the programmers, I work in the same room with them.”

5. Tell the technical ghostwriter what you want.

Remember that the ghostwriter is here to help you—and they can only do that if they know what you need.

Do you want them to write the entire document from beginning to end, just edit and format, or combine existing documents? Experienced technical ghostwriters have done all of these things and are happy to be of service.

Ultimately, though, this is your document.

As Adams says, “Take ownership. It’s your paper, not mine. I’ll make suggestions, but you’re the decision maker.”

Remember the “ghost” in “ghostwriter.” They’re here to quietly help, not take over the company brand. When you have pain points, they’ll step in–just as little or as much as you want.