Confusing Terms In Authorship

19 Oct 2021


You glance at the cover of the memoir you are reading and realize that the author of the book is not exactly clear. There is a name on the bottom, but below that, there is yet another name. So, what does it all mean?

In the process of creating content for a book, there is frequently more than one person who contributes to the writing. The way these people are credited on the final product varies, depending on author preference and the level of involvement they had in the book’s creation.

To set things straight, we have come up with a list of confusing terms, and what they mean.

Your Guide to Confusing Terms in Authorship

Photo by Los Muertos Crew from Pexels


This is the person responsible for the creation of the book. They supply the overall ideas and stories for the book. This is also the person who frequently (but not always) will do the majority of the writing for the book. Most often, the name of the author is clearly stated somewhere on the front cover of the book.


This is the person who takes all of the ideas for the book and turns those ideas into the written content that becomes a book. Sometimes the writer and author are the same person; other times they are not.


A ghostwriter is a writer who is hired by the author to turn their ideas and stories into actual written content. Frequently the ghostwriter’s identity remains anonymous, as does the fact that a ghostwriter was even used. The ghostwriter flies under the radar, and credit for the book goes to the author.

Co-Author or Collaborator:

These are people who bring additional story ideas and research into the book. They collaborate with the author to conceptualize (and frequently write) the content for a book. Occasionally, a ghostwriter will be credited on a book and referred to as a co-author or collaborator.


This is the person who reviews the writing and makes sure that the style and format are consistent throughout. They also make sure that the content flows well and does not leave any gaps or areas of confusion. Editors frequently suggest changes to make the story better and more marketable.


This is the editor’s partner in crime. They support the editor and help with all of the functions involved with editing a book.


Once the final content has been written and edited, this person takes a fine-toothed comb through it and makes sure that it is free of grammatical, spelling, and typographical errors. This is the person who is responsible for making sure that the final product is ready to go to print.

Pen Name:

Also called a nom de plume or a pseudonym, a pen name is an assumed name used by an author in place of their own name. There are numerous reasons why an author may choose to use a pen name. To find out more, check out our blog on pen names and the famous authors who use them.

Jennifer Rizzo 
Jennifer Rizzo, also known as "Rizzo," is a Denver-based writer with a passion for writing, genealogical research, travel, and languages. She studied Spanish at the University of Guadalajara in Guadalajara, Mexico and also lived and studied in Ancona, Italy. She also holds a certification for International Tour Management through the International Guide Academy. Since joining The Writers For Hire, Jennifer has tackled a vast array of projects—from RPFs and SOPs to memoirs and company history books— and has done many in-depth genealogical research and family tree projects. She has also worked as Project Manager for various client projects, including family history books, websites, RFPs, blogs, autobiographies, and SOPs. She enjoys working closely with clients, and loves any opportunity that allows her to indulge her creative side.

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