Book Collaborating

What do book collaborators do?

A book collaborator is a cross between a book doctor and a ghostwriter. Like book doctors, we treat mangled manuscripts (think undefined scope, outlines with notes and bullet points, streams of consciousness, disjointed ideas, incomplete thoughts and sentences).

A book collaborator is a strategic partner. We serve as sounding boards, consultants, writers, editors, and project managers. We have a knack for asking questions that help  identify your ideal reader, highest goals, best ideas, personal and professional strengths, and unique selling proposition.

Collaborating is much closer to ghostwriting than developmental editing because we often do a lot of writing and rewriting for our clients.

What's the difference between collaborating and ghostwriting?

Ghostwriters typically start from the ground up. The client has an idea and maybe a few notes or a rough outline, but ghostwriting clients typically want to hand the project to a professional and stay out of the writing process.

When collaborating, there's a lot more back and forth. It may be a from-the-ground-up type of project, or the client may have many pages of written material or recorded notes. The main difference is that there is little coaching in a ghostwriting relationship, but a professional collaborator serves as a private writing tutor and industry consultant.

In short, it's a matter of degrees (which is also why in some cases the cost is similar to having the book ghostwritten).

Who's the author and who owns the rights to the book?

You are the author. The book is the visible product of your experience, expertise, and vision. I may have written it, but it reflects your voice and vision.

My name may appear on the cover*, but you own the rights.

How does it work?

When you get frustrated or overwhelmed by the project, we discuss your audience, goals, and vision and then you turn all the material over to me.

Then I:

  • do a full review

  • develop a strategy to shape the available content and fill in the gaps

  • discuss my findings with you

  • refine the strategy and document tactics

  • manage the project based on our new objectives: writing, revising, author coaching, and more

  • deliver a strong final manuscript ready for line and copy editing

When should you consider collaborating with a professional writer and editor?

Like working with a ghostwriter, hiring a collaborator is an investment. It's for ambitious authors who recognize the monetary value of their time and energy and have a clear vision for how a strong, healthy manuscript (book) will help them reach their goals.

Think of yourself as an athlete. If your goals for your book and writing career are equivalent to weekend warrior level fitness, you probably won't be willing (or need) to invest in this level of manuscript development. If, however, you expect this book to perform at pro athlete level and plan to write more books and/or articles for professional publication, you should consider addressing everything that's holding you and your body of work back from operating at peak performance.

If you're an ambitious, career-minded, self-identified writer who recognizes a need to develop your craft, now's the time to contact me.

If you're more interested in the result than the writing process, I recommend ghostwriting.

Recommended reading: Quick-Reference Publishing Stats

How long does it take?

That depends on how much work the manuscript needs, its length, and how involved you want to be. The more involved you are, the longer the project will take because in addition to my writing and editing, I'll be coaching you and reading, revising, and incorporating your new material. In general, it takes approximately 6 months.

After 15+ years in publishing, I can say that Cristen sets the gold standard for freelance editing. She recently worked with us on a client’s memoir proposal, including an extensive amount of co-writing of sample chapters. From the start of the process, I was highly impressed with her writing, her ideas, and just how much organization and inspiration she brought to the project. Her writing was beautiful, clear, and very true to the author’s unique voice. Collaborating with her has been a joy for both author and agent. She had tremendous impact on this project, and we will look forward to working with her on many more, given our experience.
— Lilly Ghahremani, JD, MBA, literary agent and co-founder of Full Circle Literary