I recently participated in a panel discussion on alternatives to traditional publishing, such as the hybrid publishing service offered by Somewhat Grumpy Press. The questions showed many authors want more information about all steps of the independent publishing process. We have some information on our Publishing Services page, but over the new few blog posts I’m going to provide more information about what’s involved in self-publishing, tips, and how Somewhat Grumpy Press can help you publish. I’m starting with manuscript review, which can be the first step in the process.
Congratulations! You’ve finished a book, and it’s ready to publish. Or is it? Most writers understand that a book should be edited before publication. However, a manuscript review or critique can identify concerns with the plot, characterizations, or structure, before editing – saving you time and money.
A manuscript review provides a summary of a book’s strengths and weaknesses. It’s like a review, but before publication. This is particularly useful if the book is your first, or your first in a new genre. If you have developed the book with a critique group or shared the work with beta readers, you may have already addressed much of what a manuscript review might catch, but a manuscript review is never a waste. Even if there are no major concerns, the reviewer will suggest possible improvements to make the book better.
How does a manuscript review save time and money? A manuscript review, depending on length and subject, will likely cost between $100 and $300. It’s relatively inexpensive as the reviewer typically reads the book once, then writes a page or two highlighting strengths and weaknesses. The reviewer identifies areas of your book that need or would benefit from revising, and makes general suggestions, but leaves the work of making any changes up to you.
If you skip a manuscript review and go directly to editing with a book that has significant plot, character, or structural issues, you may end up paying for developmental editing. This can be quite expensive – potentially the most costly part of the editing. That’s fine if you want or need assistance with these issues, but having issues brought to your attention might be all you need.
Another possible outcome is that an editor may do a line and copy edit without addressing larger concerns in the work. Those concerns may come to light later in the publishing process, such as when advance copies are distributed.
Some editing services may use manuscript review to encourage authors to purchase developmental editing. Again, if you want or need assistance, that could be useful, but a reputable manuscript reviewer will provide information you can use to improve your work without asking you to spend more money. One way to avoid a sales pitch for extensive editing is to use a dedicated manuscript review service, such as offered by the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia. Another way is to let the reviewer know ahead of time that you will be using a different service for editing.
If you skip a manuscript review, be sure to confirm with your editor that they will review plot, characterizations, and structure, and understand whether the editor will make broad suggestions or provide full developmental editing services.
Somewhat Grumpy Press is happy to provide manuscript reviews for all types of fiction manuscripts, and non-fiction in several subject areas. Our pool of reviewers includes writers with backgrounds in film studies, law, health sciences, and small business. We’ll provide a quote based on word count and subject or genre. If, after the manuscript review, you’d like us to edit your work, we’d be happy to quote on that, but there is no obligation. We’re happy to provide a manuscript review for work that will be edited elsewhere (or edit work that has received a manuscript review elsewhere).
If you have any questions about manuscript review, or questions about hybrid publishing that you would like us to address in a future blog post, please contact us or comment below.