One of the biggest mistakes that writers make is they are not getting their manuscript read by a qualified reader or readers before they’re submitting it to an agent or a publisher.
Not finding a qualified reader is a huge mistake because as writers, we are not objective enough with our writing. It’s important to know where your reader might get stuck with your story, or where they might want more information. So today we are going to go over what a qualified reader is and 5 places to find one.
What makes somebody a qualified reader?
Whilst family and friends are lovely, they are not necessarily the best people to give you constructive criticism. And by that I mean, they are likely to say, “Oh, this is really great!” They might be surprised and impressed at what you’ve written, but they’re not going to be able to tell you about any holes found in your manuscript that an agent or a publisher will find straightaway.
Likewise, there are other people you can give your manuscript to that are hyper-critical, and will only read it through the eyes of their own writing style or writing voice. And we don’t want that either.
Five places to source a qualified reader
Manuscript assessment organizations – These are places that will read your manuscript once it’s complete and tell you where there are any problems. Do your research on Google for manuscript assessment, and see where you feel comfortable with price. Specifically look at if they have done assessments for manuscripts that are like the one you’re sending them and how qualified are their readers (how long they have been doing this). If you can get a personal recommendation from somebody that you know, so much the better.
An actual editor – there are plenty of freelance editors out there and, oftentimes, these are editors who have actually worked for publishers. Those are fantastic people to go to to read through your manuscript. Not only can they tell you how much editing work needs to take place, but they can tell you, overall, what is the state of your manuscript now. Some freelance editors aren’t going to offer this. That’s okay. Just keep those ones on tap, especially if they seem to be a good fit for your manuscript. Keep them ready for when or if you would like to have your manuscript professionally edited. Which, by the way, I recommend. But look for those editors who are willing to read through your manuscript first and give you a few notes on what they are taking away initially.
Beta readers – Professional beta readers are fabulous because, depending on their experience, they can get into the head of your target audience. And that’s what we’re looking for.
Join a writing group – I am really particular about being discerning about who you present your writing to. I don’t want you to take your manuscript and send it out to just anyone. That said, some of the groups I have seen have been like a tank of piranha so get a sense of what feedback they are giving other people first. Get a sense about them before you let them read your work. Make sure you have a good fit before you share your writing.
Your tribe – If you’ve built a platform, you have a tribe of people who are your target audience. Go out and cherry pick some of those people to read your manuscript. You’re looking for readers who you can give some direction to so give them a breakdown of the type of feedback you’re looking for. When you go to your tribe, oftentimes, you’ve got a raving fan. They’re a little bit like family and friends. But if you’re very specific with them about the feedback that you’re looking for, then they can be a beautiful sounding board for you before you approach agents and publishers.
It’s so important to have someone outside of yourself to read your manuscript before sending it to agents and publishers. Doing so will let you know if your manuscript is working and what’s not, leaving the reader confused. All sorts of things come up when you have a qualified reader read your work. If you have any questions about where to get your qualified readers from, leave your question in a comment below or contact me.
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