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  • Writer's pictureToni

Do you need an editor or a ghostwriter?

Occasionally when I’m cruising through editors’ forums and job boards, I run across authors who claim they are looking for editors, but when I read the description of what they’d like the editor to do, it turns out that a ghostwriter would be much more suited to their needs.

Editing can be pretty opaque, especially if you’re new to the scene. It’s not always clear exactly what an editor does, and it doesn’t help that the world of freelance editing is full of individuals with different work styles. Some editors do much, much more than others do.

So I thought I’d write this post to clear things up just a tad. Maybe you’re looking for a ghostwriter without realizing it. Read on to find out!

What is a ghostwriter?

A ghostwriter is a professional writer who is paid to produce a piece of writing—an article, blog post, or even a whole book—for someone else. And part of the agreement is that their name does not appear anywhere on the finished product. Celebrity memoirs are often written by ghostwriters, and if you find an author who’s putting out books at a seemingly impossible speed, it’s quite likely they have a ghostwriter helping out as well.

Image text: Many novels published posthumously are also the work of ghostwriters, often using the original author's outline to finish their incomplete works. |

Ghostwriters are excellent at doing research and are also good interviewers. Their job requires that they match their writing style to the way their client actually talks or writes, so they’re also quite adaptable when it comes to their writer’s voice.

How are ghostwriters different from editors?


  • can work from an idea or a basic outline

  • do a great deal of writing—perhaps even write the entire book themselves

  • do more of the work themselves, or collaborate more closely with the author

On the other hand, editors:

  • need a complete (or mostly complete) project to work with

  • rarely do substantial writing themselves

  • give advice to the author so that the author can do the work

How do I know if I need a ghostwriter instead of an editor?

In general, you should consider a ghostwriter if you want to do little to no writing on your own. This includes situations like:

  • You’ve compiled a lot of data and research, plus your own ideas (maybe you’ve even written an outline), and you’d like someone else to put all of it into book form.

  • You’ve written part of a book, but there are several long blank areas that need filled in, and you’d like someone else to write those in your voice.

  • You’ve written a complete book, but it needs heavy rewrites that you’re just not willing to do yourself.

You absolutely don’t need a ghostwriter if you want to do all the writing yourself. If that’s the case, it’s better to hire an editor. This is probably you if:

  • You’ve written an outline, but you’d like some advice before you start writing the novel itself.

  • You’ve written a complete book, but you need some advice before continuing to revise it.

  • You’re almost ready to publish your book, but you need somebody to check for grammar, spelling, and typos.

Image text: Basically, think about how much writing you want to do yourself. Zero or very little? Hire a ghostwriter. A majority or all? Hire an editor. |

I hope this clears up the difference between editors and ghostwriters. There are definitely times when the lines can get blurred, but it’s much easier to find the service you’re looking for when you know exactly what it is.

As for me, I don’t offer ghostwriting as a service, but if you search for your genre and the word “ghostwriter,” you should come up with some good candidates. Good luck out there!

And of course, for any of your editorial needs, you can always contact me at


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