Book Doctoring

Sometimes called “developmental editing,” book doctoring is similar to ghostwriting, but often succeeds ghostwriting—meaning the author already has a manuscript draft completed. The author/agent/editor likes the idea – and probably the author’s platform – but won’t consider publishing the book without revisions, sometimes minor, but perhaps major. It might read unevenly in terms of tone or style, might confuse, might (dare we say?) find itself gasping, near brain death. Enter the book doctor to diagnose the disease and prescribe the remedy. Would restructuring help? Would bolstering support for assertions do the trick? Would substituting novel expressions for clichés make the book better? How about adding more gravitas—or making it more colloquial, depending on the subject and author? Sometimes an author would like to write his or her own book and not surrender the writing process to a ghost. Sometimes a would-be author would like to learn how to write. This is another function of the book doctor: a kind of patient-guided literary health care. The book doctor walks the author through revisions, identifying weak spots and helping to heal them, one ailment at a time.