I have acted as co-author, collaborator, and ghostwriter. This means, I respect a healthy division of labor. My partner is the author – the originator of the ideas, research, and anecdotes in the book. I am the writer. Often I receive cover credit that reads, So-and-So-Author with Susan Golant. People in publishing understand this to mean that the author generated the ideas, but I sorted through them and wrote the book based on them. My work is to organize and shape my partner’s material into language that everyone can understand (while preserving his or her voice) and also to create a structure for the book that flows and makes sense without being repetitious.
My ego is invested less in the material itself than in the way it is conveyed. Is it clear? Precise? To the point? Is it interesting and entertaining? Can the reader follow the arguments or the story we are telling? Have we solved the problem the book poses? Will this book ultimately be effective and uplifting? Will it push society in a new direction? Will it make a difference in people’s lives? If we can answer yes to all of these questions, I know I’ve done my job, and in the process I hope that we’ve created a winner.