Writing Books/co-writer


When publishing a book, how do you list the authors when you have a co-writer?  The book arose out of my life's story.  The co-writer is now at the point of doing the cover and she has listed the credits as:  authors (her name first, and then my name).  Please advise if this is correct.  Additionally, I have paid her to write the book.

You paid her to write the book, so unless you signed a contract that states otherwise, she works for you. When you contract to have someone write your book, you should have complete control over the contents, cover, and everything else, including the byline (credits). More often than not, such contract writers get no byline at all, which is the reason we are called ghostwriters.

The next part is going to be my opinion, based on the fact that Iíve ghostwritten many books, and sometimes the best Iíve gotten is my name buried in the acknowledgments page without an explanation. More times than not, I received no recognition at all. Therefore, in my opinion, if you should be so kind as to give your coauthor credit on the cover, it should be secondary and in smaller type than your name. It is your story, and you should have top billing. I find it offensive and surprising that a professional writer would put her name first, when the story is yours, but then thatís just my opinion.

Should you decide to give your writer credit on the cover, another way to handle it is to put the title and then this: by (your name) as told to (your coauthor or ghostwriter). Hereís a sample Iíll conjure up: Life in the Trenches: a Story of Survival in the Inner City by Joe Smith as told to Mary Bloom.

I cannot emphasize enough, though, that it is your story, not your coauthor's story, and therefore without a doubt your name should go first if both names are listed.

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Bobbie Christmas


Book Doctor Bobbie Christmas owns Zebra Communications, a book-editing firm in metro Atlanta. She not only edits books, she also helps writers power up their prose to increase their chances of success. She is the author of Write In Style (Union Square Publishing), a creative-writing guide that won three awards.


Bobbie has spent more than 40 years in the publishing and communications industry and has run Zebra Communications, a book-editing company, since 1992. The editor of many publications and periodicals, she has worked with book publishers and trade magazine publishers as well as working in marketing communications and corporate communications.

Past president, Georgia Writers Association; past vice president, South Carolina Writers Workshop; charter/lifelong member, Florida Writers Association; Southeastern Writers Association; Atlanta Writers Club; Society for the Preservation of English Language and Literature (SPELL); International Guild of Professional Consultants

Write in Style (Union Square Publishing), A Cup of Comfort (Adams Media Corporation), A Cup of Comfort for Friends (Adams Media), A Cup of Comfort for Mothers and Sons (Adams Media), Haunted Engounters (Atriad Press), Remembering Woolworth's (St. Martin's Press), First-Time Home Buyer magazine, HomeBusiness Journal, Apparel Industry Magazine, Edge Magazine, Atlanta Jewish Times, Time Travel Australia, American Writers Review, Points North, That's Entertainment, Atlanta Parent, Agnes Scott Alumnae Magazine, etc.

Journalism: University of South Carolina plus four decades of working in publishing, marketing, communications, advertising, newspaper and magazine production, book publishing, etc.

Awards and Honors
First Place, nonfiction, Georgia Writers Annual Contest, 2005; First Place, education, Royal Palm Literary Award, 2004; Best in Division, Georgia Author of the Year Awards, 2005; Finalist, Best Books 2005, USA BookNews Third Place, nonfiction, Georgia Writers, 1999; Nominated for Georgia Author of the Year, 1998; plus many other awards

Past/Present Clients
Capital Books, Sourcebooks, Olin Frederick, The Writer's Machine, Russell Dean & Company, Outskirts Press, and hundreds of writers.

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