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Advice for unpublished writers: Book doctors

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.

Use caution! For information about scams visited on writers, visit Writer Beware or the Preditors & Editors site.

Advice for unpublished writers

About Sandra K. Williams

Sandra K. Williams loves books, both printed and digital. Since 1996 she has worked with authors and independent publishers, editing and designing books for print. Since 1999 she has built easy-to-use, accessible websites, and she uses her HTML and CSS skills to design reader-friendly e-books.

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