What’s the difference between beta reading and a manuscript appraisal?

The differences between beta reading and a manuscript appraisal are…

Beta readers come from all walks of life and industries. They need to be well-read but are not usually editors. The level of detail in their assessment of your manuscript (MS), and whether they provide a written report or only verbal feedback, will depend on the beta reading business or individual.

On the other hand, manuscript appraisals (or manuscript assessments) are conducted by suitably qualified editors. The manuscript appraisal will be detailed, and will address all the structural issues required in such an appraisal.

The difference between a beta reading report and a manuscript appraisal report

The beta reading report (written or verbal) is provided by a beta reader. It reflects the beta reader’s views about the MS, based on their experience and the types of books they have read. Different beta readers are likely to have different views because they have different experiences and levels of comprehension.

The manuscript appraisal report is provided by a qualified editor. It is a thorough and detailed assessments of all aspects of the structure of the MS such as plot, character, dialogue etc. An MS appraisal report is a professional assessment of the MS. As long as they are all experienced in editing novels, different editors who conduct a manuscript appraisal are likely to have relatively similar views about the structural issues that need to be addressed.

Note: the manuscript appraisal may be called a ‘manuscript assessment’ – or if focused on the structure of the manuscript, a ‘structural review’.

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