Friday, August 08, 2008

Why Your Book Should be Evaluated Before Going to Market

By Yvonne Perry

Have you ever purchased a product that didn’t live up to its promise? You probably felt disappointed and wanted your money back. A book is a product, and I have read a few that left me feeling frustrated.

If you own a store, you want to sell quality products to satisfied customers. If you ask a store to sell your product, you would not ask them to sell something that is broken or missing parts. It is the same way with bookstores. They do not want their shelves filled with books that are of poor quality. While many POD (publish on demand) outlets produce a nice cover and quality binding, they probably won’t require you to hire an editor to improve your book. In fact, most don’t even offer editorial services. Many PODs will accept any manuscript from anyone. They don’t ask the author for a marketing plan because they know that the money they make on a book is not from book sales; it is from the fee they charge up front to publish your book. Most books sell less than 100 copies.

Having an unedited book is the mark of an amateur and may prevent your book from being accepted by a conventional publisher. Publishers want manuscripts that are ready to publish. They don’t have time or money to invest in your manuscript in order to bring it to a marketable level. Yes, marketable within the publishing company, not to readers or bookstores. When your book comes to the acquisitions editor of one of the major publishing houses, someone has to believe in your product enough to move it up the line to the person or committee that will be reviewing the book for its sales potential and overall quality. If an editor can’t “sell” your book to her boss, your book will not be chosen for publication. A manuscript that lacks literary quality has: numerous typos, grammatical, spelling, and other mechanical errors such as verb agreement, shifts in tense, inconsistent voice, and poor sentence structure. It may need more development of characters, better set up of plot, improved transitional paragraphs, or a more logical flow of information. Manuscripts like these are not likely to reach an editor’s publishing list.

Most mechanical errors are caused by the author's lack of knowledge about correct usage rather than a lack of concern for correctness. Correct usage is very important and goes a long way to help a reader make sense of a writer's work. Even if you got all As in English, and are good at grammar and spelling, it does not make you a qualified editor. Did you notice I used As and not A’s in the above sentence? Using an apostrophe would make the word possessive rather than plural. A professional editor knows these things and also understands formatting, front and back matter, book structure, indexing, and is able to see your manuscript in a fresh, new way.

Let’s say you published your book through a POD, or perhaps you self-published and did not hire an editor before you released it. You have sent out hundreds of copies asking people to review the book, but you can’t figure out why no one is responding. It could be that the way the story was told was confusing or didn’t flow well. Perhaps the book contained so many mechanical errors that the reader was too frustrated to continue reading it. Even if they know enough about writing to critique a book, your friends don’t want to hurt your feelings. If they didn’t like your book well enough to write a review, they don’t want to lie about liking it. They will probably hope you avoid mentioning the book when they are with you. You have a better chance of getting reviews on a well-written, entertaining book that has wide market appeal, and reviews sell books.

Hiring an editor or getting an evaluation of your book before you publish will save you money in the long run. There is no guarantee that you will sell enough books to substantiate the time and money required to market a book. Having an inferior product lessens this opportunity even more.

Why not have a professional editor assist you with your book? Writers in the Sky Creative Writing Services offers a plan that includes a thorough reading of your book or manuscript and a written assessment of its commercial potential. A kind (but honest) opinion of the author's strengths and weaknesses are given along with tips for improving the overall quality of writing. The evaluation includes an assessment of the manuscript's publishing condition and what it would take to get it ready to submit to an agent or publisher. The knowledge gained from this type of book evaluation helps an author become a better writer as he applies this feedback to future works. This money is well spent if you consider how much you will save by not trying to market an inferior product.

Yvonne Perry is a freelance writer and the owner of Writers in the Sky Creative Writing Services. She and her team of ghostwriters and editors service clients all over the world by offering quality writing and editing at an affordable price. If you need a brochure, web text, business document, résumé, bio, article, or book, visit

Do you agree or disagree? Please leave your feedback as a comment on this post.

1 comment:

L.J. Sellers said...

I agree! Every book (fiction and non) needs to be edited by a professional before going to print. In fact, it needs several rounds of editing: content, syntax, then proofing. I'm a journalist, novelist, and editor, but I never assume I can edit or proofread my own work. I pay other professionals to do it.

L.J. Sellers
author of The Sex Club