FAQs for writers – beta reading, manuscript assessment, and structural or developmental editing

FAQs about beta reading, manuscript assessment, and structural or developmental editing

1. What is the most helpful – (A) a beta read, or (B) a manuscript assessment, or developmental or structural edit?

(a) 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. So after you have applied what you have learned from the beta reading stage, you may then need to seek the services of an editor to help you work out how to address the remaining problems or improve the structure, of your manuscript.

(B) A manuscript assessment, or a structural or developmental edit…

Compared to a beta reader’s report, an editor’s manuscript assessment, or structural or developmental edit, 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 will offer you suggestions and options for improving specific issues in the manuscript.

Read about the difference between a beta read and a manuscript assessment here.

Read about a structural or developmental edit here.

And remember, it is not the editor’s role at this stage to edit the manuscript for you: that is your job, as the writer.

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

Prior to requesting a beta read, manuscript assessment, or structural or developmental edit for your manuscript, it’s a good idea to

  • make sure your manuscript is finished, and
  • self-edit (including rewriting sections if necessary) it as well as you can.

Then, you will need to decide whether to go down the route of beta reading, manuscript assessment or a structural/developmental edit.

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

The difference in these costs reflect the level of qualifications and editing experience of the person you are hiring to do the job, as well as the time it takes to do the task. Beta reading is usually done by people who are not editors, and costs far less than a manuscript assessment or a structural/developmental edit which are more time consuming and also need to be done by a professional editor.

How much it costs for any of these tasks depends on the wordcount of your manuscript. Note: a beta reader can usually give you a fixed quote prior to viewing your manuscript, whereas an editor may need to view your manuscript prior to submitting a fixed quotation for a manuscript assessment or structural/developmental edit.

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

Before you hire a  beta reader, make sure you have verified they are experienced in a relevant genre, and confirm what you will be getting for your money. Whether the beta reader provides a verbal or written report, or both, depends on the beta reader or beta reading business.

Before you hire an editor to conduct a manuscript assessment, or structural or developmental edit, make sure they are a full member of Institute of Professional Editors (IPEd), and experienced in the specific genre of your manuscript. Make sure the brief (or ‘scope’) of what the editor will be doing is very clear so you know exactly what to expect.

For beta reading services, we recommend: AJ Collins – Australian beta readers.

For editing (including manuscript assessments, and structural or developmental editing) we recommend: On Time Typing, Editing and  Proofreading.

Image: thank you to Pixabay – Alexis Photos


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