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Beta Reader? Manuscript Appraisal? Editor? How to take the next steps

Updated: Nov 28, 2023

You have written your best possible version of your book, and now you may just need someone to make it better. The good news is that there are other people who can take your book to the 'next level' before you send it to a publisher. I have outlined some ways below in which you can hand your book over to a professional to work on your book for you.

All books benefit hugely from a really good editor. Editing is the process of reviewing and correcting your book material to improve accuracy, readability, flow, pace, and style – and depending on your book - this could be an advanced structural editor who rewrites and fixes a lot of it OR a 'last eyes' copy editor. But before you consider an editor you may want some feedback on your book and if its actually working. Option 1: A BETA READER REPORT A Beta Reader report is a highly useful and honest report by someone who knows and loves books. It will be someone who will give you an honest report and feed back to you what a reader thinks of the book, with some ways to make it more readable. This is not a professional Manuscript Appraisal (see below for that link). As an author you are looking for fresh eyes and honest feedback. The reader report is around 3-5 pages and will be objective, honest and constructive. An author can use this beta feedback to re-assess, re-write the next draft and take the book forward. The report will also comment on the commercial viability of the book and if a publisher may pick this up in the future. It will cover 1. Overall impression of the entire book and its arc 2. Beginning of the book / hook 3. Assessment of the characters (general, lead character, other main characters) 4. The middle build of your story 5. The ending 6. The plot progression or argument development (this is about the book structure) 7. Language use 8. Weaknesses of the book 9. Strengths Do you need a more professional review? Then look at rather booking a Professional Manuscript Appraisal. Option 2: A Professional Manuscript Appraisal Who should choose this? This is for writers who have completed a full draft of a book and feel it needs input / improvement or a professional eye to assess it and give critical feedback. You have done your very best, but you know it’s not quite working yet and you have run out of ideas on how to ‘fix it’. You need an outsider to make those calls for you, or at least give you suggestions. I highly recommend serious writers have a full manuscript critique before considering spending money on any editing. Don’t waste years trying to sell and promote a book that really isn’t ready for publication. A MS appraisal report is a professional assessment of all aspects of the structure of the MS such as plot, character, dialogue etc . It is a commercial assessment that gives you a fresh, objective outsider's perspective done by a qualified editor The overall aim of this high-level assessment is to improve your MS and give you real ways to make it better and more publishable. During the process they will make significant notes and changes. At the end of the process you will get a full written report. The report will make suggestions, changes and act as an overall assessment. It will suggest specific large-scale changes / improvements / refinements (plotting changes, structure changes, pace, characters and overall novel read). Some editors will also make detailed edit notes on your manuscript, or comments, for you to work with. In a novel a manuscript appraisal focuses on structural strengths and weaknesses: Character. Setting. Plot. The process will be completed in 4-8 weeks.​ ​Please note that a manuscript (MS) appraisal is not an EDIT at all. The appraiser will not change your MS. , rather it is a high-level structural assessment of the MS. The onus is then on the writer to 'fix' the structural suggestions and accept and work on the changes. ​Option 3: A developmental or senior structural editor This is an editor or professional author/ writer who is going to take your entire book and fix it FOR YOU. We can liken this to a hybrid between a ghost-writer and a senior editor. Who should chose this? You have written a book but you have run out of steam, don't want to do another rewrite or just want to hand it all over to a professional to do it all for you. No problem. That is what we are here for. It is your idea and you have put it down on paper as best you can, but it's not yet working and you just need someone to make it work. This process will take 8-12 weeks depending on the length and the quality of your existing book and what needs to be done to it. We will match your book with the right editor, who is a specialist in that field. You will hand over your manuscript and expect it to be fixed, improved, substantially changed and entire sections rewritten at times. This may include conducting more interview, writing in missing pieces, asking you to source more copy, moving the entire book around, re-arranging the chapters, creating an argument/ angle / thread and running it through the book. This editor will also do traditional editing functions and you can see what those are below. This is a close collaboration between you (as author) and an editor (as your co-author). This is a far lower price than having a ghostwriter write the actual book for you as you have done the bulk of the initial work. They do all the finishing work and make this book a professional and well-written product. ​ Option 4: A senior editor This is the sort of editor you would get if your book was accepted for publication by a traditional publisher. You have written your book, it's working, you have done a few rewrites but it needs a lick of a professional touch. It may need better chapter headings, a read for legalities, spelling and grammar fixed, tenses checked, your point of view corrected. These are all things an editor does. An editor will look at your book overall, make changes, suggest new chapter headings, fill in blanks or inconsistencies, point out and fix problems, check legalities or advise what to check. It will include all the things in Package 3 that a copy editor does. They will flag places need to write more, or less. They may move chapters around, make suggestions to cut, look for flow and suggest changes. They may ask you to add some pieces or for input. This editor is going to make your book better and slicker. You will get your manuscript in Word with changes that you can accept or reject. ​ Option 5: A copy editor You have written your book and it's pretty solid. You may have had an editor work on it with you, or you may be a grammar fanatic and know your work is great. You are going to self publish and you need it lightly edited for print. You don't want any errors in the final version. A light copy editing service is for well-written work that nevertheless still requires a thorough proofread and final check, and includes editing and proofing for spelling mistakes, typos, punctuation problems, capitalization errors, clumsy grammar and overall flow and readability. The editor will fix all minor errors and flag any larger areas you need to correct or look at. The manuscript will be returned to you as a professional and well-written product that can be published. The editor is not changing your story, concepts or structure and the assumption is that you have done most of the thinking and fixing work, they are making it print-ready. Although it is not the same as proofreading (which is done later on a printed version of your book after layout), the copy editor will also proofread your book - correcting grammatical errors, style errors, and spelling. You will get your manuscript back in Word with changes made, and bigger suggestions that you can accept or reject.

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