Why Your Friends Shouldn’t Fix Your Manuscript

Imagine thinking a quick once-over by your eagle-eyed mate is enough to get your manuscript publication-ready. Spoiler: It’s not. While roping in friends or family for a bit of proofreading might seem like a savvy shortcut, it’s a path littered with missed opportunities and accidental bloopers.

The Limits of “Eagle-Eyed” Friends

We’ve all been there, leaning on our pals for honest feedback on a document, comforted by the thought that their keen eyes will catch every slip-up. With an email or a letter, that’s a great idea. But here’s the rub: book editing is more than spotting typos. It’s about consistency, cross-referencing, considering overall structure, and more. Copyediting and editing for style is a learned skill not taught in English classes. Most mates, bless them, wouldn’t know a house style if it knocked on their door and introduced itself. (You can go and ask your buddy if you need your book editing to a set ‘house style’ and see what they say if you think I’ve got this wrong. This is a great litmus test for recruiting the right helper.)

Options for Applying the ‘Professional Touch’ to your draft

When you have the budget, this is where the pros come in, wielding their red pens like Excalibur, ready to pierce your manuscript’s soul and open it up for inspection. They’re the ones who’ll notice that you promised four techniques but only explained three. When you have the budget, this is where the pros come in, wielding their red pens like Excalibur, ready to pierce your manuscript’s soul and open it up for inspection. They’re the ones who’ll notice that you promised four techniques but only explained three. Grammarly’s great for a grammar check, and checking for awkward sentences and inconsistencies, but it won’t question your logic or your book’s structural integrity. That needs a savvy brain, or an eager brain and a good checklist to follow.

Affordable Alternatives

The advice to hire a pro is all well and good… but what if you can’t stretch to hiring that pro? And if your friend looked a bit baffled by your house style question, then what?

Let’s get down to brass tacks. Professional editing can cost a pretty penny, but don’t despair. Crowdfunding isn’t just for inventors and startups; it can be your ticket to editing excellence. Offering some coaching sessions or cool launch bonuses can bring in cash before you get any royalities.

Or consider the DIY route with a twist, a team of software helpers. Use your word processor’s audio feature to read your book back to you. This helps you catch clunky sentences and missing or duplicated words. Get a paid subscription to Grammarly for a month and take your time doing one chapter at a time. And about those friends? Educate them. A little guidance on what to look out beyond that rogue double space after a full stop, can transform their feedback from “negligible” to “nifty.”

Worried there’s more to editing than you thought?

If you didn’t realise editing involves:

  • developmental editing to look at the structure, relevance and pacing
  • copyediting to look at factual accuracy and clarity
  • proofreading to remove the itty-bitty lingering mistakes
  • typesetting to add visual meaning and clarity to your words

…then it’s time to get some help. Book editing is incredibly mentally taxing, especially for the first time. There are a lot of moving parts and a lot of detailed work, which is incredibly tough when you’ve seen your document so much you’ve started to imagine the words on the page and no longer see them. So, if you know there’s probably problems, but you can’t outsource, and you’re not really sure what you’re doing, how do you know how to focus your limited skills, time, and resources?

Get a free book editing assessment

Now, for the pièce de résistance: my Assured Editing Assessment. Think of it as your personalised roadmap through the editing jungle, offering clear, concise feedback across the board – from structural development to market appeal of your cover and blurb. It’s the helping hand you need to ensure you’re fully aware of what to do so your manuscript isn’t just good, but great.

Heres what it looks at

  • Concept strength: Evaluate your book’s premise for genuine market appeal to double-check it meets a specific, sought-after reader need in your area of expertise.
  • Structural development: Assess how your chapters enrich teaching, ensuring your raw expertise is transformed into flowing, engaging, result-driven principles that captivates.
  • Collaborative editing: Explore options from DIY software, calling on friends, to paid professional edits, ensuring your draft meets publishing industry standards.
  • Flow and clarity: Copyediting to check hidden flaws: factual mistakes, mismatched cross-references, rookie inconsistencies (eg e-mail or email?) and choppy phrasing.
  • Proofreading: Spot subtle slip-ups that distract readers and detract from your message, to produce a final draft that’s both polished and error-free.
  • Formatting: Boost learning and create an enjoyable reader experience with appropriate visual interest and typesetting to enhance legibility.
  • Reader appeal: Assess if your title, subtitle, blurb, and cover design plans will spark curiosity and convert cold book browsers into eager buyers.
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