May 3, 2012

My (Editing) Mark on True Crime

Posted in Publishing tagged , , , , , , , , at 1:55 pm by The Word Jar

I love true crime books. It’s really a strange fascination, to love true crime books. They aren’t written as instruction manuals. If you read The Stranger Beside Me, it’s not likely to keep you from falling into the clutches of the next Ted Bundy. I guess it’s a voyeuristic venture. Peering into the minds and lives of those who are so utterly different than who I am. Unless I become an unfortunate victim, I doubt I’ll be written about in a true crime book. I don’t even eat grapes at the grocery store.

But, I will be leaving my mark on a true crime book. I’m currently editing Ghost Burglar: The True Story of Bernard Welch—Master Thief, Ruthless Con Man, and Cold-Blooded Killer by Jack Burch and James King. Ghost Burglar chronicles the life and crimes of Bernard C. Welch, who stole millions of dollars of goods from the elite in Washington, D.C., in the late 1970s. Co-author James King lends an insider’s knowledge to the book, as he was one of the detectives hunting Welch at that time. He was the first to identify Welch as the suspect, even as police struggled to locate and apprehend him. Welch was finally arrested on December 5, 1980, after murdering Dr. Michael Halberstam (brother of author and journalist David Halberstam) in a botched burglary. Even though he had been shot multiple times, Halberstam ran over the fleeing Welch with his car on his way to the hospital. And as if being a thief and murderer wasn’t enough, Welch also successfully (for a time) escaped from prison twice.

It’s been a fascinating experience to edit a true crime book. The authors did a wonderful job with the writing. The majority of the work I’ve done is to structure the book so that it flows smoothly, weaving between Welch’s lavish life on the lam and the police desperately pursuing him.

Ghost Burglar is also my first attempt at being more than just an editor. I’ve been put into a sort of publishing coordinator role for this bookcreating the publishing schedule, designing marketing materials, setting up a blog, creating and sending out ARCs, as well as trying to gather reviews. As the editing process winds down now, Ghost Burglar will go for layout and design next week, and then ARC distribution will soon follow. It’s off to the printer in June and into bookstores in September.

If you’d like to review Ghost Burglar, let me know. I’d love to hear what you have to say. I’ll have a few ARCs to distribute here, and I’m also trying to set up a giveaway through LibraryThing’s Early Reviewer program.

Check back soon for more Ghost Burglar updates!



  1. wow, this sounds like quite an exciting opportunity for you! i’m not much for true crime–my husband reads it–but i tend toward memoirs and fiction. 🙂 good luck with the early reviewer deal–this genre is popular and people will probably be eager to give it a read!

    ps. how are you enjoying the night circus? it was one of my favorite reads (and LISTENS!) in 2011.

    • The Word Jar said,

      Thanks for stopping by, Natalie! I am loving The Night Circus. She paints such an amazing picture with her words, and it’s such a cool story. I never think to listen to audiobooks, but I’ll bet this one would be amazing!

  2. Stacy said,

    your review is phenomenal! If I were to read True Crime I would definitely want to be on the list for this one….but I can’t bring myself to join that genre – weird because I love suspense/thrillers! the whole fiction v. truth gets me though…and the true crime I have read leaves me disturbed for days. Loving your blog 😀

    • The Word Jar said,

      True crime is certainly not everyone’s cup of cocoa. You not only have to contend with being creeped out for the duration of the book, but if you’re anything like me, you feel creepily self-conscious just browsing and being seen in that section of the library. It’s probably best just to buy true crime books in the bookstore. Preferably a secondhand one. With cash.

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