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FAQs for writers – beta reading, manuscript assessment, structural editing

FAQs about beta reading, manuscript assessments and structural editing

1. At what stage should I look at having my manuscript beta read, assessed or edited?

Prior to requesting beta reading, a manuscript appraisal (or manuscript assessment, or structural review) or structural editing: self-edit your manuscript as well as you can.

2. How do the costs of beta reading, manuscript appraisal or a structural edit compare?

Beta reading costs far less than a manuscript appraisal, and a manuscript appraisal costs less than a structural edit. These costs reflect the qualifications and editing experience of the person you are hiring. For example, a beta reader does not need qualifications or experience in editing, whereas an editor who conducts either a manuscript appraisal or a structural edit should be a qualified and experienced editor. Beta reading also takes far less time than assessing or editing a manuscript.

Quotes for a beta read are usually based on the length of your manuscript.

Quotes for a manuscript appraisal (or manuscript assessment, or structural review), or for a structural edit, are usually based on the length of your manuscript.  Editors may need to view your manuscript prior to submitting a fixed quotation for a manuscript appraisal or structural edit.

Arguably, the more experienced the editor in the specific genre of your manuscript, the more they can and should charge per hour, because they work more efficiently and produce a better result than less experienced editors.

3. What will be the most helpful – a beta read, a manuscript assessment, or a structural edit?

A beta read… Beta reading can be helpful in assisting you to know the flaws or areas for improvement in manuscript so that you can repair those flaws or make those improvements, prior to handing your manuscript over to an editor for the final editing stages. However, beta readers are not qualified editors and it is not their job to explain to you how to fix or improve your manuscript.

A manuscript assessment (or manuscript appraisal, or structural review)… Compared to a beta reader’s report, an editor’s manuscript assessment will be far more specific and more helpful in assisting you to understand any problems in your manuscript, and how to improve/correct your manuscript. The editor may also offer you some suggestions and options for improving specific issues in the manuscript.

A structural edit… The editor, when undertaking a structural edit, will not merely highlight and explain any problems or issues in your manuscript, but will also either advise you exactly how to fix those problems or make those structural corrections to your manuscript (using Track Changes).

4. How will I know my beta reader, manuscript assessor or structural editor has the skills to do the job?

If you hire a  beta reader, make sure you have verified they are experienced in the genre of your manuscript. Beta readers don’t usually have formal qualifications as either a beta reader or an editor. Whether the beta reader provides a verbal or written report, or both, about your manuscript, depends on what is offered by that particular beta reader or business, so before you pay for a beta read, make sure the beta reader, or beta reading business, has been very clear about what you will get for your money.

We recommend: AJ Collins – Australian beta readers.

If you hire an editor to conduct a manuscript assessment, or a structural edit, make sure they are a full member of Institute of Professional Editors (IPEd), and have experience in editing in the genre of your manuscript. This ensures they are a qualified, suitably experienced professional editor. Before you confirm your booking with the editor, make sure the agreed scope is very clear so the editor knows what is required and you know exactly what to expect.

Go to: On Time Typing, Editing and Proofreading

Image: thank you to Pixabay – Alexis Photos

This article has been proofread by Dee Sansom, On Time Typing, Editing and Proofreading


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