Keep your Style Consistent

Today I want to blog directly to potential ghostwriting clients out there, and here’s my message: little things make a difference. When I’m writing a book, I select the style very carefully. It might be serious, or playful, or intellectual, or quirky, but whatever it is, it’s that way on purpose. Then comes the time when the client makes edits.

Now, this is always a dicey moment, because I have two jobs. The first is to give my clients the books they want. The second is to advise them as to what makes a good book. Frankly, what my clients sometimes do is insert a bunch of writing into the book that isn’t in keeping with the style. They don’t realize this, because they don’t have the same relationship with the book as I do. So when I see their insertions and deletions, I’m stuck.

What a lot of ghostwriters would do is go ahead and make the client’s edits, exactly as they request them. You asked for it, you got it. But that’s shirking the second job, isn’t it? I feel obliged to tell them when the edits they’re making are a really really really bad idea. I can’t just assume the rest of the book will hold up in spite of them. Why? Because little things make a difference.

When people read books, it’s the consistency of the style, in large part, that keep them reading. When even one sentence reads like it comes from another author, the reader starts to lose interest. Personally, I’m a very sensitive reader and a little thing like that can make me put the book down, permanently. It just looks amateur, and I no longer trust the author.

Most people probably need to see such inconsistencies a few times before they give up, but the effect is the same. And guess who else is sensitive like me? Publishers. So, ghostwriting clients, if you’re trying to write a book meant for mainstream publication, I’m begging you: don’t go into the text and sneak in your own wording here and there. It matters. People notice.

Trust your ghostwriter, and if you don’t, discuss the issues at hand until the two of you come to an agreement. Yes, finding that agreement can take weeks. It can take bringing in an outside editor for a third opinion, but the “small” changes you want to make really matter and they are worth that trouble.

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