I have written a book.

Well, actually, my mother-in-law told the story of her experiences as a German forced laborer in the Soviet Union after World War 2. This was given in German and recorded onto audio tape a number of years ago by my sister-in-law. My S.I.L. later transcribed the story in German onto twenty or so tightly typewritten foolscap sheets, and a few years ago she gave us a copy of this. My wife and I eventually translated this into very rough English (we both speak German, my wife being a native speaker). It is quite a story and we have determined to self-publish it as a book. So this is what I need: a word (or two) for having put it into a final form for the book.

See, the original telling was done pretty much as it occurred to her to tell it, and it tends to get lost in parts, backtrack, go forward, and around the bend at times. The final version is still her story, but it has been reworked into what I hope is a readable and understandable whole, with a beginning, a middle and an end. I've also a spot of research on historical matters pertaining to the story, and because some words she used were Russian, I used Google Translate and the Russian Language SE to get some more information.

On the title page, I am giving the title of the book, followed by the subtitle, then the author attribution: by Gertrud Baltutt.

Below the author attribution (she is now deceased, btw), I want to indicate that the work is a transcription and a translation of the original tale, and the word I need is for the really hard part, putting it into a coherent form for publication. Here's what I got, so far:

by Gertrud Baltutt

As told to her daughter Cyberherbalist's Sister-in-Law.
Translated by her daughter Mrs. Cyberherbalist
and XXXXXXed by Cyberherbalist

What is that word (or words)? Arranged? Edited? What?

A secondary question is this: my mother-in-law did not actually write this book. It's her story, but when it comes down to it, I wrote it, or at least co-authored it. I tried to maintain the flavor of the original German, but is it really her who is the author? Or me? With her being deceased, there's not danger she'll get upset with me about it, so whatever.

  • Edited, Revised, Arranged, Redacted
    – mplungjan
    Commented Sep 15, 2013 at 5:09
  • This isn't quite the right site for this question. Although it seems like a single-word request, it's more of a philosophical/ethical question pertaining to authorial and editorial functions. Try the Writers StackExchange. And I would suggest you keep in mind, even when a person creates an autobiography and simply tells a rambling story to a hired ghost writer, the teller is the author, and the ghost writer, who typically does as much work as you described yourself doing, takes simply an "as told to" credit. In your case, I would suggest "edited," and then explain your process in a foreword. Commented Sep 15, 2013 at 5:09
  • That's very fair and a good answer, @JohnM.Landsberg Commented Sep 15, 2013 at 5:25
  • You probably won't like this, but as the mother told the story and is hence the author, and the daughter translated it, why do you need to mention yourself at all? The reason that you can't find a word for your role is that your role is not normally mentioned. Commented Sep 15, 2013 at 5:25
  • 1
    Maybe I could be credited as "Best Boy"? I love it. You're probably right. Anyway, I have posted this question on Writers SE, since @JohnM.Landsberg is probably right that is a better place. Although I love all you guys here on EL&U !! Commented Sep 15, 2013 at 5:41

3 Answers 3


This guy (see link) seems to make a substantial difference between proofreading and editing. So you are probably an "editor" (or one who provided editing services) in this sense :-) http://www.mcrobertstranslations.com/2011/09/the-difference-between-editing-and-proofreading-a-translation/

  • 1
    Could you please quote some brief, relevant material from the link? Commented Sep 16, 2013 at 23:34
  • To show why Bradd's advice should have been taken, please click on the link now. It's broken, rendering most of this answer fluff.
    – anon
    Commented Dec 5, 2015 at 23:22

Your role appears to be that of editor. Ordinarily the only mention the editor gets in a single-author work is an acknowledgement by the author - who is now deceased.

It also sounds like you may wish to give a little of the back-story in an editor's note or foreword, in which case it seems sensible to put your name as editor on the title page as well.


At Amazon each of those roles is called a contributor. In the case you describe, it seems clear that your mother was the narrator, your wife was the translator, and you were the editor.

Why do you think you need another role?

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