When we read a good book or an article in a specialized magazine like this, one of the details to which we pay attention is, in addition to the content itself, the form, and this is what pushes us to make considerations on that author and his writing style.
How many times have you thought: “This guy / this guy writes really well!”? But what you probably don't know (due to the fact that it is something that only “insiders” know well) is that maybe things are not quite like that, because there are figures relegated to living their existences in the shadows that make even worse written texts readable and enjoyable: they are editors, proofreaders and, in the most extreme cases, ghostwriters .
Before starting to analyze very briefly the roles that these figures play, I would like to underline a detail: you will certainly have noticed that very often the articles that appear in newspapers present at least some typos (involuntary typing errors), but this it happens because there is no material time to review them.
Instead, the discussion changes when we talk about specialized magazines and above all books. How do I know these things? Simple: among other things, I am a proofreader and an editor myself, only that I simply got tired of not talking about the great work that ghosts like me do every day.
We are able to save even texts that would literally be incinerated, yet all the merits, even those relating to our work, then go only to the author whose name appears under a text that may have been reworked so heavily to have almost nothing of its original version.
Not only that: the names of editors and proofreaders do not appear on any page of the printed books. Why? Simple: to give the illusion that writers are impeccable . Which publishing house would benefit from showing that perhaps one of the authors on which he has invested more fills his writings with errors from third grade?
I am not writing this article just because I would like to see recognized the merits of my category that practically nobody talks about to keep alive the illusion that anyone who writes is able to do it, but also (and mainly) to make you peek behind the scenes in the publishing world, so that you can ask yourself a question: “Is this guy / this guy really writing so well, or is someone else behind?” .
So, let me briefly illustrate what the three categories of professionals that I mentioned a little while ago, starting from the one that does the least “invasive” job.
First, however, one last, small clarification: at the work of these three invisible figures who push the publishing world forward and also allow those who can barely read and write to see their name triumphantly camp on the cover a printed book must also be added to the respect of what are called editorial standards: it is a set of rules, specific to each publishing house and website, which all authors (and, consequently, proofreaders, editors and ghostwriters) must respect to give a sense of organicity to each writing: for example, in the case of the printed paper there may be publishing houses that in the bibliography write the full name of a author, while another decides to use only the initial.
This professional figure is usually limited to making small changes that mainly concern punctuation, typos, missing or excessive spaces between words, modification of the order in which the terms are written. Let's say he's the top-level Super Saiyan in the publishing world. Since there are many different types of corrections, when we speak of proofreading on printed paper we use specific symbols . To give you an idea, below you can find some:
Of course, the proofreader must also verify that every single word, every single sentence and every single period respect the syntactic-grammatical rules of the language in which the text that is being reviewed is written.
Furthermore, again as regards printed books, the proofreader deals with aspects to which a writer usually does not pay too much attention because they are not strictly related to what his job is.
For example, the footnotes must be checked: are they inserted correctly? Are they spelled correctly? Are the reports reported true? Is the numbering correct? The bibliography: do all the texts cited follow a precise alphabetical order? Is the format in which the information is written always the same? But above all, believe it or not, it is also necessary to verify that every single text cited really exists: already, because even university professors and the most illustrious authors can invent books on a healthy basis only to replenish the own bibliography .
Now let's move on to the next level, where the work gets a little more complex.
An editor is basically a proofreader who does a few more tasks and therefore has more responsibilities. Let's say it's the Second Level Super Saiyan of the text revision.
The editor's work is required in cases where the texts to be corrected present errors and inaccuracies that are very difficult to find in texts written by high-level professional writers. Or at least that's how it should be.
In short, therefore, an editor does not just make small corrections, but sometimes has to change entire sentences, when these do not respect the rules of our beloved language.
Now, if a person is an editor, he should not have problems correcting entire periods, but the real problem is not this: a good editor must correct the errors he finds, but he must also do it respecting, as far as possible, the writing style of the author whose texts are being reviewed .
The reason is very simple: if the corrections differ too much from the original text (for example, by adopting lexical choices unrelated to the author) they emerge, a bit like when at school our teachers corrected our mistakes with the red pen to highlight them; well, an editor must do the exact opposite: that is, make his own intervention invisible, so that the text is fluid and written in a consistent style from start to finish .
And now, let's move on to the category that nobody should ever talk about and that exists, but in practice nobody knows, as the name suggests.
The Ghostswriter is the Super Saiyan God of publishing. His work is carried out very simply: the ghostwriter writes the book for you, but your name ends up on the cover anyway!
Thanks to this figure, literally ANYONE can write a book: you give him the basic idea, and the ghostwriter will write the texts for you. Isn't it wonderful?
This feature makes me think of the period in which literacy was so uncommon that those who were able to read and write provided their services for a fee.
In an era in which more or less everyone has artistic ambitions or the writing of a book to famous personalities of TV, sports and the web is required, the ghostwriter becomes fundamental, especially in cases where the author of the book is poorly schooled and therefore absolutely unable to write a book.
I hope this article can lead you to ask yourself questions every time you read an article or a book: do not immediately assume that the author of a written text is really a good author or the only author only because you only see his name, as this is almost never the case.
Now, if I was good at instilling doubt in your minds, you should ask yourself: “ Has anyone reviewed this text too? “. The answer is clearly a nice “yes”:
Of course, the changes made by our Francesco Marchionna only concern corrections of a couple of typos and the size of the font that I used for the titles of the paragraphs, but in any case some adjustments were made. Be wary of the press. Also of this article.