What is the Difference Between a Nonfiction Ghostwriter and an Editor?

With so many different terms used in the process of writing a book, it’s easy to see how someone might get confused.

In our previous blog, we explored what a ghostwriter is and what they do. But, how does their job differ from that of an editor? And can a ghostwriter and an editor be one in the same?

First, let’s definite exactly what an editor is.

An editor is the person who prepares a manuscript for publication by polishing, refining, and enhancing it. An editor:

  • Helps organize the manuscript so that it flows
  • Makes suggestions to improve clarity and readability
  • Makes sure that style and tone are consistent throughout the manuscript
  • Corrects spelling and punctuation errors
  • Helps verify facts

Unlike a ghostwriter, who generally does the bulk of the writing, an editor does not actually write a manuscript. An editor’s job is to take work that is already written, and improve it.

Another difference is that an editor will not generally do any research for a manuscript. Research, as well as story development, is something that is done by the ghostwriter. 

Both an editor and a ghostwriter must have the ability to look at the rough beginnings of a manuscript and understand the author’s vision and what they are hoping to ultimately achieve with their book. They also both have to have a keen understanding of the author’s voice, so that the final product will sound like the author (and not the ghostwriter or the editor). And, ultimately, both and editor and a ghostwriter are responsible for turning the author’s book into the very best it can be.

There are vast differences, though, in what an editor and a ghostwriter do.

If you are looking for someone to essentially turn your thoughts and ideas into a well-crafted manuscript, it is a ghostwriter you want. However, if you have already written your manuscript and just need someone to polish it and make it better, you are probably looking for an editor.

And though there are ghostwriters who also occasionally moonlight as editors, it is highly encouraged that you do not use a ghostwriter to write AND edit your manuscript. Having a fresh pair of eyes to look over and refine your completed piece is an important step to getting your book publish-ready.

5 Reasons Nonfiction is Important for Children

We all know that learning to read is an important step in brain development and language acquisition. Whether it be a novel or a fashion magazine, reading of any kind helps us to understand the world we live in and learn how to function in everyday life.

Unfortunately, though, there are many countries in the world where learning to read is a luxury, reserved for only those with money. In fact, according to learntoread.org, more than 750 million people worldwide are illiterate—with two-thirds of those people being women and girls.

In an effort to transform education in low-income countries, learntoread.org has launched a program to create more accessible nonfiction books for kids in Tanzania and Zanzibar—two countries with very low literacy rates.

In this great article, learntoread.org tells a little bit about their Nonfiction Project, and explains why it is important for children to read more nonfiction books.

Lost in a thicket: How to avoid overwriting

In 1964, Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart acknowledged that certain words and concepts – in this case, pornography – were difficult to define in a precise manner. He hastened to add, though, that he could rely on his gut feeling, declaring: “I know it when I see it.”

Likewise, defining overwriting is not simple. It’s a phenomenon that readers encounter often enough that they know it when they see it, but they may not be able to identify the exact points at which the writer has gone off the rails. As a result, they may not always be able to help authors figure out how to avoid overwriting.

A good editor, on the other hand, can help freelance writers escape this trap and do a better job of keeping clients happy. At the very least, an editor should be able to tell them when they’ve spent too much time at the keyboard, and give them an idea of how to check themselves as they work.

And if you don’t have a good editor yet, you’re in luck. We’re here to offer some advice, starting with a few different tips on how to identify overwriting.

(Don’t) take it to the limit: word counts and deadlines

When freelance authors receive assignments, they typically receive a set of instructions defining the parameters of the job. These instructions cover basic points such as length, deadlines, style, and target audiences.

With respect to length, clients usually come to the table with an idea of how much they want. Most will give writers limits, in the form of word counts or page counts.

These limits are often formulated in a way that offers some wiggle room. For example, you might be asked to write a blog post that’s 750-950 words long. Even if you have some leeway, though, you should respect those limits. If you find yourself in (or above) the upper reaches of the desired word count or page count and you’re only halfway through the task, you’re probably overwriting. If so, it’s time to start thinking about where you can trim.

As for deadlines, clients typically have an idea of when they want certain milestones met such as seeing the first draft or receiving the finished product. You should take those deadlines seriously. Remember them. Put them in your calendar – both electronically and in paper form, if necessary. Abide by them.

But what if you’ve been managing your time well, doing a piece of the job each day and meeting your own expectations with respect to word count, and you still find yourself needing to ask for an extension of the deadline because you haven’t finished making all of your points? Once again, you’re probably overwriting – and that means it’s time to think about how you can separate the wheat from the chaff.

Know your audience

Style is also a point to consider. Most clients will be able to tell you what kind of audience they’re hoping to reach, whether it’s university professors, company shareholders, industry experts, or general readers. In turn, their expectations ought to drive the work you produce. If you’re writing for an academic audience, maybe you don’t need to worry about complex sentences and obscure references. If it’s for shareholders, focus on explaining the numbers. If you’re targeting industry experts, don’t be afraid to use jargon. If you’re writing for general readers, find a balance between describing the basic facts and offering deep background.

This is important because if you don’t match the style to the audience, you may slip up. For example, if you’re asked to write a social media post for general readers and you churn out a 2,500-word treatise with an exhaustive set of footnotes and sentences that average 75 words apiece, it’s safe to say that you’re overwriting.

Meanwhile, there’s another reason to know your audience: You will need to have an idea of whether your readers will be familiar with the topic you’re covering. If they are – as in a highly technical piece that will be read by industry experts – you can jump right into your topic and use jargon freely. But if they’re not, you may run into trouble.

What kind of trouble? Over-explaining. If you’re writing for a general audience that may not know much about your topic, you’ll need to devote some time to setting the stage – that is, to introducing the subject and giving enough background to help readers understand what your client wants to say. It can be tempting to go into intricate detail at this point, especially if you’re writing about a subject that is interesting or complex.

Nevertheless, you should fight the temptation to tell the entire story. You do need to set the stage, but you don’t need to include the entire script of the play, plus a list of links to every published review of the show. Nor do you have to offer a comprehensive discussion of the history of theatrical performance, an explanation of the techniques used to varnish the wooden floors of the auditorium, a review of the weaving techniques used by the costumers’ fabric suppliers, and an exhaustive biography of the actors. If you do, you’ll be saddling readers with more information than they want or need. (So if you’re ever in doubt about whether you’ve crossed that line, remember comedian Dennis Miller’s line from an HBO special that aired in 1990: “Stop me before I sub-reference again!”)

One is the loneliest number

We’d like to think that all the advice we’ve just given you will be easy to follow. After all, it sounds straightforward, right? If you want to avoid overwriting, follow instructions about length and time requirements, know your audience, and resist the urge to explain the entire story from top to bottom and then delve into tangential topics.

But frankly, it may not be simple to remember all these points – especially when you’re immersed in the job.

At that point, you may have achieved a state of flow that allows you to crank out one gorgeous sentence after another at top speed. Perhaps you’re preoccupied by more mundane concerns, such as the ticking of the clock that shows just how little time is left until your deadline hits. Or maybe you’ve just been working on the same assignment for so long that you can hardly see the words on your screen anymore. Under such conditions, your response to basic advice about how to avoid overwriting is likely to be just about as positive as the attitude of a toddler who’s been told to eat his or her vegetables.

The best remedy is to get help. Don’t try to finish your assignment alone; find at least one more pair of eyes to look at what you’ve written. If you are working with an editor, let that person see your work before you turn it in. If relevant, show your material to your supervisor, project manager, or another colleague who may have a different perspective on what the client wants. You could also enlist the help of a third party or a beta reader, if you need an objective response that’s not influenced by the concerns of either the writer or the client.

Once you’ve taken this step, you’ll need to prepare yourself to receive constructive criticism – and to take heed of the suggestions you receive. If you don’t, your chances of falling prey to overwriting will increase.

Now we’ll turn the floor over to you. Where have you found overwriting, and how did you recognize it? If it’s happened to you, what have you done to overcome it?

What Is A Ghostwriter And What Do They Do?

What Is A Ghostwriter And What Do They Do?

To some people, the term “ghostwriter” conjures up images of some kind of covert, undercover secret agent who writes novels under a pen name, never revealing their true identity.

The reality, though, is a whole lot less mysterious.

So, what exactly is a ghostwriter, and what do they do?

Ghostwriters are writers who are hired to write books (or other material) that someone else will be credited for.

In essence, the ghostwriter is the person who listens to your ideas and stories, and then helps you turn those ideas into a book. Once the book has been completed, you are listed as the author, with the ghostwriter’s identity remaining anonymous.

There are times that ghostwriter does receive credit for the part they played in the writing process. However, more frequently ghostwriters remain unknown (as does the fact that a ghostwriter was even used).

Although this may sound odd, it is actually quite a common practice. In fact, there are many celebrities and well-known personalities who regularly hire ghostwriters to help them pen their autobiographies and memoirs.

While ghostwriting is frequently associated with writing books for celebrities and non-celebrities alike, ghostwriters are also used for a variety of other written works, including:

  • Speeches
  • Blogs
  • Social media posts
  • Proposals
  • Newsletters
  • Website content


So, next time you find yourself struggling to put your words to paper, perhaps you should consider hiring a ghostwriter!  

How to Edit Your Ghostwriter

When you hire a ghostwriter, chances are, you won’t like everything they write.  That’s okay.  We may go so far to say, to some degree, it’s even expected. The author-ghostwriter relationship is a collaborative one, and one that works best when you (the author) are honest and clear with the feedback you have for your partner (the ghostwriter).

Now, we know that sounds somewhat self-evident.  However, it can be trickier than you think to edit your ghostwriter, if you aren’t familiar with editing.

When you start to see the first chapters proudly presented by your ghostwriter, you will likely have some or all of these questions:

What types of errors are normal in a first draft?

Should you be concerned about typos? 

What if you sort of like the material, but it doesn’t quite feel like you? 

What if you really don’t like it at all?

To help get started with constructive feedback, we’ve found that it helps our authors to separate their editorial comments into two types: large-scale, “big-picture” edits and smaller, one- or two-word “little-picture” edits.

This helps them, and us, categorize what level of editing or reworking might be necessary, and to determine best next steps.

“Big-Picture” Edits 

What are they?

These edits are just like they sound: “big-picture” edits are more about style and organization and often require discussion and rewriting. Not every draft requires big-picture edits, but such edits are not unusual, either – especially at the beginning of a book project.

Examples:

Here are a few examples of “big-picture” questions/edits:

  • Changing primary angle/direction of the copy
  • Scrapping current copy and rewriting from scratch
  • Changing the order of multiple sections
  • Combining, rewriting, or deleting larger sections
  • Changing the style or tone of the piece (i.e. your writing doesn’t sound like me)

What to do:

Stop.  Talk to your ghostwriter, in person or on the phone — email is almost always too vague, and it can be difficult to convey all of your thoughts into in-text comments.

Be clear that you are looking for major revisions (don’t sugar coat it), and give your writer the opportunity to rewrite.

“Little Picture” Edits

What are they?

“Little-Picture” edits are one-or-two word changes that don’t require any discussion or large-scale rewrites.

Examples:

Some typical “little-picture” edits include:

  • Small word choices  (“crimson” instead of “red,” for example)
  • Word preferences (you prefer not use the word “custom” or “affordable”)
  • Facts and figures (“September 29” instead of “September 19”)
  • Spellings of names, places, or companies (“Kathy” instead of “Cathy”, “The Writers for Hire” instead of “Writers for Hire,” etc.)

What to do:

Unless your document is littered in typos and factual errors, there is no need to worry.  Fact checking and proofreading come later on in the process.

We suggest you make “little-picture” changes directly on the Word document yourself. If you’re familiar with the “Track Changes” function in Word, you can use that. If not, just highlight your changes so your writer knows where they are in the document.

Send the document back to your ghostwriter for reference, but don’t ask for a cleaned up version yet.  Let them continue writing – your book will move along faster if you don’t try to perfect each chapter as you write it.

Good Ghostwriters Want Your Feedback – Really!

We mean it. The more specific, detailed comments you can give us, the better! As your ghostwriters, we depend on your feedback to ensure that your book actually sounds like “you.” You won’t hurt our feelings or offend us if you’d like to make a change.  

What happens if you’ve tried giving feedback, it’s just doesn’t seem to be working?  If you hired a reputable firm after close due diligence, chances are you’ll be able to work it out.  If not, check out our post on When to Leave Your Writer.

How Can a Ghostwriter Help Write My Family History?

Have you ever considered writing a book about your family’s history, but don’t know how or where to get started?

Perhaps you have a great concept in your mind, but are struggling to put the words on paper. Or, like many people, you would love to have your family story written, but you just don’t have the time to do it yourself.

Whatever your reasons may be, it is likely that you have at least contemplated the possibility of hiring a ghostwriter. But, can a ghostwriter really help write your family history?

The short answer is, yes.

Now, as in any profession, different ghostwriters have different strengths. So, you will want to find the right ghostwriter for your project.

Once you have found a qualified family history ghostwriter, though, there are many ways in which they can help turn your book dream into reality.

The Nitty Gritty Research

If tracing your family roots and learning details about your ancestors is an important part of your family story, then it is imperative that you look for a ghostwriter who has experience with genealogy.

While many ghostwriters can turn your family stories into a great book, you will need someone who is also skilled at the kind of in-depth research that is needed to trace your family history beyond what your grandparents’ memories could reach.

Not only will this ghostwriter need to have the ability to research information about your family’s history, they also will need the necessary resources to check (and double-check) the facts and information that they find. Along with genealogy research, your ghostwriter will be able to research additional details about what was going on at a certain point in history, or what life would likely have been like for your ancestors.

Once the research portion of your family history is completed, your ghostwriter can work with you to find the best way to showcase their findings within your book.

Living Interviews

While you may know most of your family’s stories, and could probably provide enough content for an entire book yourself, it is always recommended to hear those stories (and more!) from the perspective of other living family members.

That is where your ghostwriter steps in.

They have the experience and know-how to get your family talking. They also have the skills to ask the right questions, and dig into the meaty heart of a story.

Along with great family stories, your ghostwriter can also work on collecting old photographs to include in the final book. And once all of the interviews have been completed, your ghostwriter will be able to organize the information and weave it into the most appropriate parts of your book.

Keep in mind, though, that you will want to make sure that the ghostwriter you choose is likeable and has good people skills. Afterall, grandma is not going to want to tell her best stories to someone who isn’t friendly.

Writing and Editing

This is where your ghostwriter’s storytelling and writing skills come into play.

Your ghostwriter will work closely with you to find out how you imagine your story should be told, as well as the specific style and format that you want.

Don’t worry if you are not quite sure what it is you want. An experienced ghostwriter will be able to walk you through the process of figuring out what will work best for your family’s story. They will also be able to explain your options to you, and make personalized recommendations.

And once you figure out what you are looking for in your book, your ghostwriter will be able to make the magic happen.

Publishing the Final Product

Once all of the research has been done, the interviews have been collected, and your book has been written, you will want a way to publish it.

Whether you are hoping to publish just one copy for your own personal use or several copies to give as gifts to family members, you will find that there are many publishing options available.

Depending on the ghostwriter that you choose, they may be able to take you all the way through the publishing process.

It is important to remember, though, that most ghostwriters are not publishers.

Most experienced ghostwriters, however, have a working knowledge of the publishing process and will be able to educate you on your publishing options. Also, it is likely they will be able to help you self-publish, or connect you with a publisher who can take care of your final product for you.

How to Find the Right Tone and Voice in Writing

  1. As writers, we are always trying to make sure that our work reflects our clients’ unique and authentic personalities.

    It’s important that the things we write do not sound “cookie cutter,” or too generic. At the same time, though, we want to make sure that our writing is relatable and entertaining.

    But, how do we go about finding the right tone and voice for our writing? And how can we be sure that our tone and voice portray our clients in the way that they wish to be seen?

    This great blog from Kuno Creative is a fantastic resource for finding the right tone and voice for your writing. It gives some great tips on how to decide how you want to be portrayed, and how to successfully achieve the appropriate tone and voice to fit your unique self.

The Ghostwriter’s Survival Guide

Have you ever wondered what goes into being a ghostwriter?

Have you pictured yourself writing books for other people, but have no idea how to get started?

If you answered “yes” to either of these questions, then this great “survival guide” from Freedom With Writing is just what you need.

This informative guide covers everything from the definition of ghostwriting (and why it differs from copywriting and editing) to the art of writing from someone else’s perspective. It also dives into the difficulties of never receiving credit for the work you do, as well as tips for how to get started as a ghostwriter.

Looking for more information on what goes into a ghostwriting agreement? Check our blog on the Ins and Outs of a Nonfiction Ghostwriting Contract.

Publishing Guide – Defining the Terms and People Found in Publishing

Publishing has a long and romantic history, filled with names and figures that we all know. For example, most aspiring writers can tell you not only who it was that invented the printing press, but also what is often considered to be the first book ever printed on it  (if you’re not sure what the answer is, click here).

A lot has changed since then.

There’s no longer just one man with a printing press in Europe. It’s grown into an industry that’s worth $143 billion (USD). As you can imagine, with that kind of money floating around the industry, there are more than a few more people involved in the process and, best of all, no shortage of acronyms and terms for writers to keep in their heads (heads that are already full to the brim with ideas and books).

In order to help new writers cut through the clutter, we’ve put together this handy list of people and terms that are often found in the industry.

  1. The People

    This is a partial list of some of the major players that you’re going encounter as you work your way through the publishing world. These are the folks who help your get your book on the market and make sure that it’s seen by people worldwide (at least that’s what they try to make happen). You will likely encounter a few who aren’t on this list, but these are the main ones.

  2. The Publisher

    This is the person, or company, who publishes your book. They’re the ones who pay you for your work, and put your book on shelves (or amazon, etc.). They employ the teams of people that help you get your book ready for publication, and they handle all the printing. Without a publisher, there would be no publishing industry.

  3. Self-publisher

    The heroic soul who decides they want to do it all themselves. Self-publishers are writers who take on all the responsibilities of publishing a book. They put their own money on the line, arranging printing, editing, distribution, book tours- anything and everything that is involved with publishing a book. It wasn’t that long ago that self-publishing was a hard road to travel, but in recent years, the rise of things like ebooks have made self-publishing not only easy, but potentially very lucrative (think 50 Shades of Grey).

  4. Distributor

    The person, or company, responsible for shipping books to retailers. They receive the books from the printers and fulfill orders, as needed. In today’s market, distributors can be responsible for the distribution of both physical books to actual bookstores or for the distribution of digital books (a market largely held by Amazon).

  5. Agent

    An agent is a person (or company) whose main goal to is help an author sell their book to a publisher. And because publishing companies will often only work with authors who are represented by agents, they are very frequently the first point of contact for an author once they are ready to try and publish their book. Agents help authors get their books ready for publication, help them refine their pitches, and target the correct publishing houses. It’s not unusual for one writer to work with the same agent for most of their career.

  6. Editor

    Here’s where things can get a little tricky. In most circles, an editor is someone who works on the words. They worry about commas, headings, verb tense, and all that stuff. It’s different in the book world. In the book world, those tasks are largely taken care of by a proofreader (the ones who comb through a manuscript line-by-line after it’s been written to make sure that 99.9999% of typos and errors have been caught). In the publishing world, an editor (or book editor) first decides what books are going to be published (they buy the books) and then they help make them better. Their goal isn’t to change the book that you’ve written, but to help punch it up. They find any plot holes and things that just don’t make sense, they help you realize which characters could need a bit more work and which are fine just the way they are, and sometimes they even help you understand where the soul of your book lies (because it’s easy to lose sight of things like that when you’re so heavily invested in a project).

  7. Promoter

    This is the person who is responsible for promoting your book across all the various channels. These days, more and more of the job of promoting a book falls to the author. Publishing houses often do have promotions departments, but authors are often expected to do a lot of the heavy lifting. If you’re friends with any authors or follow them on social media, you’ve probably noticed that most of them talk about their books, both published and upcoming, pretty regularly in an effort to drives sales. Publishers usually put their marketing and promotion efforts behind a handful of titles each year that they know are going be huge books (like the newest JK Rowling book or Stephen King’s latest).

  8. Printer

    The person who puts the book on paper. These are the folks with all the printing gear who take the finished manuscript and turn it into the finished product. It wasn’t that long ago that printing was hard to do for someone who wanted to self-publish. You often had to print way more books than you could ever reasonably hope to sell in order to get a decent price on books. However, in the last couple of decades, the rise of things like Print on Demand (see below) companies has made it easier for self-publishers to jump into the game.

  9. The Terms and Acronyms

    Now that you’ve had a chance to process the people in the publishing world, let’s look at the terms and acronyms. Like the list above, these are just some of the terms and acronyms that you’re going to come across. By the end, you should be able to talk to any industry professional without getting completely lost (although there’s always going to be some phrase that they’ve just started using that you’re not going to know. It’s just the way language works).

ISBN

This stands for International Standard Book Number. It’s the unique 10 digit number that you see on the backs of books. It’s largely used as a way to track books through the sales process. You can use these numbers to learn how many books have been sold, to order books from book sellers, and things like that. ISBNs are typically handled by the publisher, unless you’re going the self-publishing route. These numbers are also usually embedded into the bar code of a book, although they can also be found on the inside cover.

POD (Print On Demand)

Print on Demand. This a method of printing books as needed. This setup is typically used by self-publishers because it’s cheaper and means you don’t have to have a warehouse full of books lying around. POD is helpful in situations where you’re using online booksellers to move physical copies of your books. Once a book is sold through this channel, it’s printed by the POD company and shipped out to the purchaser.

ARC (Advanced Reading Copy)

This is a finished copy of a book that is sent out in advance of the publication date, usually for the sake of getting reviews. They are often sent out about three to six months ahead of the publishing date. Sometimes ARCs are totally complete, but often they will lack things like dust covers or proper binding, or will have ARC printed over the cover in an obvious way.

Advance

A sum of money given to an author before a book is published. This money is often used to help the author have funds to get through the writing phase of the book, as it can often take months of hard work to get a book from the purchase stage to the published stage. Advances are looked at as a loan of sorts and are deducted from royalties (see below) until the advance has been paid out. It’s not unusual for an advance to be paid out in stages, like 1/3 at time of purchase (or signing of the contract), 1/3 when the book is done, and 1/3 when the book is published.

Royalties

The percentage of each sale that an author receives.  Authors receive different percentages depending on what stage of the publishing cycle they’re at. Hardcovers usually start around 10%, for example, while softcover books bring in 8%.  Royalties are paid out to authors after they’ve earned back their advances (see above). They’re often paid out on a schedule specific to the publisher (I have one publisher who pays out royalties once a year, and another who pays them out twice a year).

Rights (foreign language, movie, etc.)

Rights are permissions granted by publishers (or whoever owns a book) to publish and distribute a book, both in different formats and in different countries around the world. Rights allow books to become movies or TV shows, to be published in French, and things like that. Authors receive additional money each time a new set of rights is sold, even if the property is never used for the intended purpose (think books where movie rights have been sold, but a movie never comes out).

Book Proposal

A proposal is basically a pitch that is sent out to editors or agents, with the intention of selling a book. This is often the first stage of a nonfiction book because nonfiction books take longer to write and research, and it often doesn’t make sense for an author to put the time into something that may never be published. These are often quite detailed and, in some cases, can include sample chapters, full outlines, and even a table of contents. Their goal is to provide whoever is reading it with as much detail about the finished product as possible.

Query Letter

A query letter is similar to a book proposal, only way less detailed. More often than not, a query letter is a simple, one page letter that briefly outlines the book, the author’s experiences, and any other relevant information that might catch a reader’s attention.

Slush Pile

The thing most writers dread, the slush pile is where unsolicited submissions go. These submissions usually take the form of book proposals or query letters and come directly from authors themselves. This is the battle ground for new authors where they hope to be noticed in a pile that can often contain somewhere in the neighbourhood of 10,000 other books. This is why it’s important to have a stellar query letter or proposal, because you’re trying to stand out in that very crowded room.

Go Forth and Make Words!

By no means is this list meant to be a complete list. This is just a starting point for those who are looking to get into the world of publishing. It can be a lot to take in, but that’s true of most industries. Heck, you can’t even fry up a hamburger without learning some industry specific terms, such as Heated Landing Zone, Grill Slip, or HOT (which stands for Handheld Order Taker).

Commonly Used Printing and Publishing Terms

To a first-time author, few stages of the book-writing process are as overwhelming as publishing and printing.

You’ll make decisions about everything from cover art to paper quality. You’ll have to decide which printing option is right for you and your readers. You’ll need to have opinions about whether you want a prologue or an appendix — or both.

You’ll also have to learn some industry jargon along the way. Need a starting point? Check out this list of commonly used printing and publishing terms:

  1. Appendix

    A section at the back of a book that contains relevant “extra” materials that don’t really fit anywhere else. Items that might go in an appendix include things like copies of original documents, letters, maps, family trees, graphics, or lists of recommended reading.

  2. Binding

    This refers to how the pages and cover are put together. A few common types of binding include:

    • Perfect Binding
      Also known as a “soft cover book,” a perfect bound book features a durable (but flexible) cover and is held together with a heavy-duty adhesive. Most mass market paperbacks (the paperbacks you find in bookstores or grocery stores) feature perfect binding.

    • *Most paperback books are perfect

    • Saddle Stitching
      This is a slightly misleading name because there’s no actual stitching involved. Instead, pages and cover are folded and stapled along the crease. Magazines, booklets, and short manuals often feature saddle stitching. Saddle stitching is very inexpensive.


    • Hardcover
      As the name suggests, these books feature hard, sturdy covers made of cardboard, fabric, or even leather and are often wrapped in a protective dust jacket. Hardcover books tend to be pricier to print than other types of binding.


    • Spiral Binding
      An inexpensive option that features a plastic or wire coil. Because spiral-bound pages can lay perfectly flat, this is a great choice for more “interactive” publications like workbooks or guidebooks.


  3. Draft

    A draft is a working (as in, not final) version of a book. In most cases, a draft is a Word document. Drafts go through multiple rounds of editing and revisions before they become final.

  4. Dust Jacket

    The removable paper cover that protects a hardcover book. Most dust jackets have a cover illustration, a book synopsis on the front inside flap, and an “About the Author/About the Company” blurb on the back inside flap (In case you were wondering, you don’t have to have a dust jacket. There are other options, such as casewrap, that look just as nice. They’re often more affordable, too.).

  5. EBook

    Short for “electronic book.” eBooks are an increasingly popular alternative to traditional publishing. eBooks look exactly like traditional books, but they are designed to be read on tablets or dedicated eReaders (like the Amazon Kindle or the Barnes & Noble Nook). Many self-published authors prefer eBooks because they are much less expensive to produce than traditional paper books.

  6. Editing

    Unlike proofreading, which focuses on small grammar and spelling errors, editing is all about the big picture. Editing typically includes things like rewriting sentences for clarity, deleting unnecessary paragraphs, rearranging sections of a chapter, or adding details to make your writing more interesting. You can edit your draft yourself, or hire an editor to help you improve your writing.

  7. Foreword

    A short introduction that appears at the beginning of the book. A foreword can be written by the book’s author, but it’s often written by someone else, such as an industry expert or a respected author.

  8. Galley

    This is a sample copy of the book once it’s been through the layout and design stages. The galley copy provides a final opportunity to review or make changes before the book goes to print.

  9. Matte Vs. Glossy

    You’ll most likely have to decide between these two options when you choose a book cover or dust jacket. A glossy finish is super-shiny and a tiny bit reflective. A matte finish is low-shine and typically non-reflective.

  10. JPEG

    Pronounced “jay-peg,” a JPEG is a common format for compressing digital photos. If you plan to include photos in your book, you’ll likely need to convert them to JPEG format. Working with older photos? No worries. You can use a scanner to convert them to digital.

  11. ISBN

    Short for the International Standard Book Number, the ISBN is the unique number and accompanying bar code assigned to all commercially published books. A book’s ISBN contains a variety of information, including the country where the book was published, the publisher, edition, and more. The ISBN is also used by bookstores and libraries.


    *Traditional publishers (and most reputable self-publishers) assign an ISBN to all books they produce.

  12. PDF

    A PDF is another common digital file format. Unlike a bare-bones Word document, a PDF looks exactly like a printed page and will include design elements, graphics, custom fonts, and more.

  13. Print On Demand

    A type of publishing option where books are printed individually when they are ordered. This is an economical alternative to traditional publishing, which typically requires you to print a few hundred books at once.

  14. Prologue

    An introductory section that appears before the main book. In a non-fiction book, you can use a prologue to provide context or background information, or to explain your relationship to the subject matter. In a fiction book, a prologue might be a short vignette that sets the scene for the main story. A prologue is written by the book’s author.

  15. Proof

    In publishing lingo, “proof” means a pre-print sample of a book. Typically, your publisher or printer will provide you with a proof to review before your book is printed. This is your last opportunity to do a thorough review and catch any typos or formatting issues before your book goes to print.

  16. Proofreading

    Proofreading means going through a final draft to correct small issues such as missing punctuation, typos, or grammar and spelling errors.

  17. Publisher Vs. Printer

    What’s the difference? In most cases, a publisher handles all aspects of your book, from layout and design to printing, sales, and distribution. (Depending on what kind of publisher you’re using, a publisher may handle marketing and publicity, too.) A printer does exactly what the name suggests: They print your book. Printers don’t normally offer additional services like graphics, design or marketing.

  18. Self-Publishing

    Self-publishing is an increasingly popular option, and with good reason: It’s easy, it’s faster than traditional publishing, and it’s a great choice if you’re writing for a smaller audience and/or you want to retain complete creative control over your book. What’s more, many of the leading self-publishing companies produce beautiful books that rival their traditionally published counterparts. Our pick for self-publishing? CreateSpace, which is owned by Amazon.com.

  19. Table of Contents

    A table of contents appears at the front of the book and lists each chapter or section.