Part 3 of a series first written in 2003 and updated for 2011. Although I make my living by copyediting (and designing books and websites), often a writer will approach me for services they just don’t need yet. The manuscript has to be ready for copyediting before I can take it on.
Book doctoring goes beyond grammar and punctuation to address pacing, characterization, story arc, plot, language, theme — the same issues addressed by a good critique group.
While book doctors can’t guarantee your manuscript will be published, they can advise whether you have a saleable manuscript and suggest revisions that will improve your manuscript’s chance of publication. The services provided by book doctors vary; some will give you a written critique while others will work with you to fix the manuscript.
Their fees aren’t cheap; they offer professional services. If you plan to make a career out of writing, you’re much better off attending writing workshops and joining a critique group. Book doctors are most useful for single-book writers or persons who are using the book to promote other endeavors.
If you decide you need a book doctor, select one with care. Ask prospects if they have been published themselves, what books they’ve worked on that have been published, if they’ve ever worked for a publisher, and how they evaluate manuscripts.