Novices, Ghost Writers, Editors, and Publishers
Most, if not all, would-be writers are diffident about some aspect of their craft. Even world renowned novelists of the past had their private misgivings about writing well; or even being able to write at all. Writer’s block is a condition that involves not only being unable to come up with the right words at the right time; it also involves the reticence to proceed apace, due to an unspoken fear of being deprecated by reviewers, editors, and publishers. Rejection of one’s best work can outwardly affect a writer indefinitely; and it is probable that writers never forget the criticism they receive, despite what admirers might think of them. It has been suggested that Ernest Hemingway committed suicide because he had self-doubts about the quality of his own writing.
NOVICES LIKE US WHO ONLY WANT TO SHARE
Our happy little family of amateurs at writing is probably infected with writer’s block to a far greater degree than published and well-known authors. We are more inclined to have more unsorted jumbles of ideas that need to be directed, refined and polished; and few of us are really good at sorting things out by ourselves. And we are less likely to have friends and associates who can help us to see things clearly; or assist us with the essential mechanics of writing for publication.
Our self-doubt is something we usually keep to ourselves because we are the only ones who are engaged in the first stages of writing; into the second and third stages; and perhaps we alone will go all the way to completion of our goal as solo performers in accomplishing what we set out to do. No wonder we have trepidation and self-doubt about our full range of abilities and talents. Even the mundane aspects of the mechanics are likely to slow us down; things like being a slow typist, or not having a typewriter, at all.
Of course, most young people do not even consider having a typewriter as practical in this modern era of computers with built-in word processers that even check your spelling. They are right! There is no better way to get started, to augment, and to archive your draft creations than in a word processor. Only a few superior programs have survived since the early days of word processing; but of the few that remain, they all provide assistance to the would-be writer by having links to spell checking; a thesaurus; reference sources; and graphics support. We aspiring writers have more resources that are available to us, personally, than ever before, so we should all consider how best those resources might assist us.
On the other hand, most of us have no track record of success to re-assure ourselves that we can, some day, reap the prize of critical acclaim as published authors. To get there, we might forge ahead on our own; or seek outside assistance. Ghost writers are such assistants.
Of all of the books authored by celebrities and politicians, a large proportion is crafted by ghost writers. How much of such books that is chiefly the work of the ghost writer; and how much is really the product of the named author, is a matter of pure speculation. A ghost writer might receive credit as a co-author, but that is not always the case. One can only speculate about the origins of creative ideas; and the singularity of authorship of books purportedly written by well-known politicians, for example. It is hard to believe that all of them have such prowess as writers, especially when they devote their time and lives to active public service.
It took over three years to come up with a first-person account by a ghost writer to vindicate the view that the ghost writer should get more credit. Tony Schwartz, ghost writer for Donald Trump's famous book, The Art of the Deal, stated flatly that he himself wrote the book and that Trump only read it. Schwartz also said that Trump hasn't read a book in his adult life. Video reference to that claim first appeared in late July 2016.
The same undeserved credit goes for speech makers who may or may not be the predominant authors of the speeches they give. Much of the credit should probably go to the ghost writers; acknowledged or otherwise. It should also be recognized that book jackets that say (often in small print)…”As told to”; or “With So-and-So”; or “As told by” … are probably created with the help of ghost writers or their equivalents. In that case, the politician or celebrity is riding on the coat-tails of the ghost writer.
Anyone with a story that is so compelling that it ought be told should, perhaps, seek out a ghost writer; that is, if practicing ghost writers don’t seek them out preemptively. Having a ghost writer is nothing to be ashamed of, if that is what it takes to get your story published in prominent places.
Short of engaging the professional services of a ghostwriter, budding storytellers can benefit from tips and suggestions given by editors. Although a newspaper editor might come to mind, the truth is that anyone who knows enough about grammatical constructions, the proper use of syntax; can spot and correct erroneous spelling and punctuation; and otherwise provide advice that will improve the appearance and readability of written text….is an editor. In deference to those who are gainfully employed as professionals, we shall henceforth refer to them with a capital E. If your English major friend helps you out, s/he is serving as an editor. But the person on the other end of the phone line at the New York Times might be the real Editor of the morning edition. You can be sure that there are plenty of people in that office who also have editing skills.
Well before you absolutely need the services of a professional editor, however; you should take stock of your own abilities by consulting articles and guidelines about what is typically found in the genre of writing about which you are most interested. Some writing genres have exceedingly specific requirements; and you will not go very far unless you impress the Editor and his/her assistants that you have made a conscious effort to do it the way they expect. For example, there are explicit editorial requirements for virtually all scientific journals and periodicals.
When you deal with publishers on a regular basis, you know that you have reached the big leagues. And like major league sports with paid scouts out searching for talent, many big name publishing houses are willing to publish your work at their expense. After all, if your writing sells under their imprimatur or logo, they stand to make some profit. The good news is, you don’t have to have a prior track record as an accomplished writer, if you are willing to pay for publishing on your own. Some of the smaller publishing houses are willing to help you at every step of the way, for fees that vary, based on what assistance you request. All manner of writing is invited, from illustrated childrens’ books; to long novels; to technical works.
There is help out there. If you are really serious about sharing you writings with others; and if you want be be assured that the criticism of your style, constructions and grammer are not going to embarrass you, swallow your pride and seek out someone who will be frank and honest with you. At best, you may learn something of your present writing faults and henceforth diminish them. At worst, you may never elicit a response, which might be a sign that your work is unworthy of comment. That is something you have to find out for yourself, by testing the waters.