Beta reading offers less in-depth (and therefore less expensive) feedback on your manuscript or writing. It's a good place to start when you have done a few personal edits and know it may still need some work, but don't exactly know where that work is needed.
Ideally, you should try to get several beta readers to look at your work so that you don't just get one person's opinion and start making changes based on that. Beta readers provide 'big-picture' feedback but don't necessarily offer (and shouldn't necessarily offer) possible solutions to any problems they find.
A beta read looks at how well the story hangs together, whether the characters are likeable or engaging, whether the ending is satisfying, if there are any plot holes or unresolved threads, whether the story is believable, and if there are any problems with continuity. It will also give you an idea of whether your writing itself needs improvement and whether you have a clear voice.
A beta read is about giving you an idea of what the initial response from a reader would be just for the story.
A manuscript appraisal or assessment is a way of receiving in-depth and honest feedback on your work including where your strengths are and where your manuscript may have some weaknesses. An appraisal will cover things like the style of your writing, the structure, character development and plot development, as well as providing comments on the bigger picture like where it fits in the market.
This is an analysis of the manuscript as it currently stands, including a breakdown of the storylines and an assessment as to whether the manuscript is ready to be sent to an agent or publisher. Appraisals are made by looking at your story within context. How does your book fit within its genre? Is the writing style suitable for the age of the audience? It is presented entirely as a report write-up and does not include any manuscript mark-up, although the report may reference page numbers to help you identify problematic areas. It should highlight any holes in the story or any elements of the manuscript that may prevent a publisher or agent from taking interest.
A manuscript appraisal can also help you identify what level of editing you need next - structural or copy editing.
A structural edit (also known as a developmental edit) is an even more in-depth version of a manuscript assessment that concentrates on the overall structure of the manuscript. While it may include some manuscript mark-up, a developmental edit focuses heavily on big-picture elements that are more likely to require rewrites or reorganisation of the manuscript.
Structural editing looks at things such as the overall narrative structure and character development. Are the characters authentic to the world in the story? Does the plot or narrative arc work? Is the conflict believable and are the obstacles facing the protagonists credible? Are the characters three-dimensional? Do they stand out from one another? Do they have recognisable motivations so that the reader can understand why they make certain decisions? Does the point of view work? Is the 'voice' consistent or not?
This may all sound very critical but it's also very positive. Your assessment will also provide suggestions for how you might address any problems with the manuscript. It doesn't just point out what isn't working, but helps you work through any problematic elements. And of course, it highlights where your strengths are and where the story really works!
A copy edit focuses on grammar, spelling, punctuation and word use. The aim of a copy edit is to improve clarity, coherency and consistency within your manuscript. It involves fixing any definite errors, but also includes recommendations where the word use may be redundant, out of character, jarring or verbose.
Copy editing is marked up on the manuscript using Track Changes in Word. It can include comments for questioning or clarifying what you are trying to say, and a final report may include the overuse of certain words or where your voice is getting lost.
The idea of a copy edit is to improve the flow of your manuscript without impacting on your tone or voice, but it does not include any in-depth feedback on the overall story. For this reason, I do not recommend a copy edit unless you have already undertaken a manuscript appraisal or a structural edit (either with myself or with someone else).
Proofreading is done after your book has been typeset and is a final check for errors before your book goes to print or goes live.
Proofreading picks up errors that may have been missed in the previous stages or introduced during the typesetting process. It also checks for layout features that may be impacting your work such as whether your margins are straight and uniform on every page, whether the fonts are used consistently throughout the book, if the page numbers are correct, if the table of contents is correct, whether the figure numbers for images and tables are correct, if you have unintentionally blank pages in the book, and if the letter or word spacing impacts the readability of the text at any point.
This is the last important stage of editing before your book goes live and can prevent your book from looking unprofessional.
A note on editing
While I will always do my absolute best, no editor can ever get it 100% right. I am still human after all. I will however always strive for perfection and I guarantee that by the end of an edit, your manuscript will be in a much better condition than when I received it.
My beta reading service starts at AUD$2.50 per 1,000 words. So an 80,000 word-manuscript would be $200.
Please note that a minimum charge of $100 applies.
I provide manuscript assessments starting at AUD$100 per 10,000 words. So an 80,000-word manuscript would be $800.
Please note that a minimum charge of $500 applies.
Developmental and Copy Editing
Without seeing your manuscript, it's very hard to give you a quote as the amount of work it may need can change from writer to writer.
If you'd like a quote for your editing job, please head to my contact form and attach the first three chapters of your work so that I can provide you with a quote.
Please note that I charge for sample edits but this amount will come off the total if you decide to go ahead with a full edit. I charge AUD$75 for a 1,000-word sample edit. Please let me know in the contact form if you would like me to undertake a sample edit so that I can quote you appropriately.
I charge AUD$65 per hour for proofreading. On average, I can cover four to six pages per hour. Please note that this estimate is based on the assumption that you have undertaken a copy edit prior to typesetting. If you have not, it may take longer to proofread.
Please note that typeset layouts for proofreading should be supplied in a PDF format and mark-ups will be made on the page.