So, Are You Ready for Reading or Editing?

Questions to Ask Yourself

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Edit

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So, Which Author Services are the Most Important?

The two essential services every book should have are beta reading and copyediting. As an author, you need feedback from multiple readers before your book hits the market, and you need to have a professional make sure the book makes the impression you want it to make (few errors, no inconsistencies, etc.).

Beyond that, use your best judgment.

  • If you have a partial or complete rough first draft but are unsure of what you’ve written or what you plan to write (if unfinished), consider an alpha reading.
  • If the rewritten and self-edited version completed after assimilating beta reader analysis still doesn’t feel right, consider manuscript evaluation.
  • If you feel your writing lacks flow and clarity, consider line editing.
  • If you want to give your manuscript a final polish after all the edits–when you think it is really, honestly, actually done–consider proofreading.

Read on to get more detail about each service … and what you need to do before considering that move.

 

Alpha Reading

Alpha reading is a high-level analysis at your work-in-progress story; think of it as a light developmental edit. I evaluate the current state of your story as well as your plan for the rest of it (if you have one), and I give insights and make suggestions about plot structure, character development and arcs, and other elements of fiction.

You need alpha reading if you answer YES to any of the following questions.

Are you unsure about what you've written for your work-in-progress?

Unsure of what you’ve already done with your story? I’ll analyze your story looking at the big-picture elements: character development and arc, plot structure, dialogue, and all the other elements of fiction … and tell you how it’s going. 

Are you unsure if what you are planning next is right for your story?

If you have some of the story already written and a plan in place for the rest, I’ll evaluate what you’ve done in light of where you are hoping to go. 

Don't know where to go next with your story?

Don’t know where to take your story next? I’ll read what you’ve done and make suggestions about possible ways for you to take your story from where it is to a where it needs to be to be satisfying for your readers. 

Beta Reading

Beta reading analyzes a completed manuscript. You’ve done a few rewrites and are now looking for opinions about what future paying customers (readers) will think about it.

If you can answer YES to both of the following questions, your book is ready for beta reading.

Have you typed THE END?

I only beta read completed novels or nonfiction books. 

Have you done a round or two of self-editing?

No first draft is ready to be evaluated by beta readers. You need to at least get it into rough shape, determining not only if you think it matches your vision of it but also polishing the prose chapter by chapter, scene by scene, and line by line. Please see my Self-Editing and Rewriting Guide for tips about this stage. 

Manuscript Evaluation

Manuscript evaluation is similar to beta reading, but I look at your story with an editor’s eye–not a reader’s–after you and your beta team think the manuscript is in a perfect, ready-to-publish state.

If you can answer YES to both of the following questions, your book is ready for manuscript evaluation.

Have you self-edited the book several times?

You need to have analyzed and rewritten your book several times before it is ready of editorial manuscript evaluation. Ideally, you’ve self-edited the book at two different stages–both before and after beta reading.

Has the book analyzed by beta readers?

You need the input of three to five good beta readers. After you receive their analysis, you will most likely need to rewrite or tweak your story or tweak it based on what was said.

Want to Know More About Reading Services?

Line Editing & Copyediting

Line editing and copyediting are very similar; what you need and choose is based on your analysis (perhaps with beta reader input) of your writing. While every book needs a copyeditor to maintain clarity, correctness, consistency, and coherence in a work, some books may need a line editor to further polish the sentences and phrases for flow and readability.

If you can answer YES to the following questions, you are ready for line editing or copyediting.

Has the book analyzed by beta readers?

You need the input of three to five good beta readers. After you receive their analysis, you will most likely need to rewrite or tweak your story based on what was said. And you may want to go through another round of beta reading if you have made substantial changes in the work since the initial round.

Have you self-edited the book several times?

You need to have analyzed and rewritten your book several times before it is ready of editorial manuscript evaluation. Ideally, you’ve self-edited the book in at least two different stages–both before and after beta reading. If you are planning to have a professional manuscript evaluation, you will most likely need a third round of self-editing.

Have you used grammar and spell checkers on the text?

I always ask my clients to run their manuscript through Grammarly, Pro Writing Aid, or other grammar and spell checkers. I recommend Grammarly because they have a fairly robust FREE option that you can actually install in Word as an add-in. Right within your document, Grammarly can do both a grammar and spell check. I also like Pro Writing Aid; they actually have a free web-based option that feels somewhat limited. Prices for paid options are scalable and reasonable, though. I like that it actually has over 20 reports that analyze your writing from different perspectives; you can really get a sense of what you are doing right and what you need to work on! Each suggested change still needs thought–whichever program you use–as no software-driven checker will be as good as the human mind. Unsure of a grammar checker change? Leave it to me to figure out.

Writing Improvement Software



If you desire an editorial evaluation of your manuscript, has that been done?

If you plan on having a manuscript evaluation–of course, you are not required to–do that NOW before paying for line editing or copyediting. I certainly do not require that you have your manuscript evaluated before I will copyedit or line edit your work. Rather, if you plan to go through this step, save yourself time and money by having the evaluation completed first and doing any rewrites you think are necessary before contracting for further editing services. 

Proofreading

Back in the old days, proofreaders actually compared the source document to galleys or page proofs of books–I know because I did it! These days, proofreading is often seen more as a very light copyedit done just before publication to assure there are no glaring grammar, punctuation, syntax, or usage errors as well as potential formatting issues. I call this editorial proofreading to distinguish it from what true proofreading is. A proofreader will not specifically look for consistency errors or flow–as these are the domains of the copy editor and line editor–though if noticed, a good proofreader will point out issues that are beyond the proofreading’s scope.

If you can answer YES to the following questions, you are ready for proofreading.

Have you self-edited the book, looking for grammar and punctuation errors?

Don’t rely on your proofreader to find everything! The more sets of eyes your manuscript has on it, the better the final draft will be.

Have you used grammar and spell checkers on the text?

I always ask my clients to run their manuscript through Grammarly, Pro Writing Aid, or other grammar and spell checkers. I recommend Grammarly because they have a fairly robust FREE option that you can actually install in Word as an add-in. Right within your document, Grammarly can do both a grammar and spell check. I also like Pro Writing Aid; they actually have a free web-based option that feels somewhat limited. Prices for paid options are scalable and reasonable, though. I like that it actually has over 20 reports that analyze your writing from different perspectives; you can really get a sense of what you are doing right and what you need to work on! Each suggested change still needs thought–whichever program you use–as no software-driven checker will be as good as the human mind. Unsure of a grammar checker change? Leave it to me to figure out.

Writing Improvement Software

Are you really, really sure that you're done?

Don’t go to the time and expense if your manuscript is not at its final draft.

Here’s a tip: Use Word’s Read Aloud feature on the Review tab for one of your self-editing passes.
You’ll be amazed at what your ear can hear, but your eye can’t see!

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