1. tomwritstuff
    Offline

    tomwritstuff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2008
    Messages:
    37
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Morayshire,Scotland

    Finally sent my manuscript for proofreading

    Discussion in 'The Art of Critique' started by tomwritstuff, Apr 2, 2011.

    Rather than spending another 10 years on my Manuscript, I finally decided to stop and send it for Proofreading.
    I researched many different Proofreading sites on the Internet until I came across one that I liked (not the cheapest!).
    I felt it was time to stop otherwise I would be blinded by the hidden mistakes. Time to give it to a professional.
    I'm kind of going cold with the idea of Self publishing and I'm going to concentrate on searching for an Agent once I get my manuscript review back.
     
  2. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    If you're going to take that approach, I'd suggest only doing so as a one-shot. Use it to find your poor writing habits - but don't take every suggestion they give you as gospel. You'll have to determine which ones are truly mistakes on your part, and which are merely different stylistic choices.

    What you do not want to do is develop the habit of leaning on others to do your proofreading. It can become a costly habit, and it also stunts your development as a writer. You have to develop your own writer's voice, not absorb someone else's. Worse yet, unless you use the same proofreader every single time, your writing voice will be a blur of several styles - your own nascent style blended with the styles of all your editors.
     
    1 person likes this.
  3. funkybassmannick
    Offline

    funkybassmannick Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2011
    Messages:
    836
    Likes Received:
    30
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    How much is it got a manuscript proofread?
     
  4. VM80
    Offline

    VM80 Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2010
    Messages:
    1,211
    Likes Received:
    43
    Location:
    UK
    I did the same once and feel it was a very good decision.

    Although I had written for years at the time, I wanted a professional to give me an overview of my work, and some outsider feedback.

    It wasn't a case of laziness, or getting someone to point out spelling or grammar errors. My draft was pretty 'clean' in that respect already.
    But I learned so much from her comments and suggestions, many of which I implemented, although not all.
     
  5. tomwritstuff
    Offline

    tomwritstuff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2008
    Messages:
    37
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Morayshire,Scotland
    I chose <deleted> to proofread my Manuscript. The price depends on your word count and also what you want read. Its just a case of shopping around, I felt.

    I'm hoping the proofreading will give me pointers that I may have missed within the Manuscript.

    I've had a few people read it, two of which are teachers. I was glad for there help but they aren't as impartial as a professional might be.

    I'm wanting that overview and outsider feedback also.
     
  6. Elgaisma
    Offline

    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2010
    Messages:
    5,337
    Likes Received:
    92
    I would be really interested to hear how you get on with this. I am seriously considering self publishing in a couple of years time and have been wondering about getting a proof reader and how it worked.
     
  7. marina
    Offline

    marina Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2008
    Messages:
    1,280
    Likes Received:
    55
    Location:
    Seattle
    You know, there's a difference between proofreading (checking for grammar, spelling, etc.) and editing. If you hire someone for both, make sure they're capable of doing both and not just one or the other. Also, you could check with universities in your area and see if they might recommend graduate students who do proof/edit work. I know of someone who got a manuscript done for $2-$3 a page--not sure how many pages it was.
     
  8. tomwritstuff
    Offline

    tomwritstuff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2008
    Messages:
    37
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Morayshire,Scotland
    Hopefully the service they provide is going to be good. Going by the Sites write up, it seems like the real deal.

    I'll be happy (Ecstatic!) if the final result from there service is positive and gets me that step closer to fulfilling my goal and gets my manuscript into print.
     
  9. MidnightPhoenix
    Offline

    MidnightPhoenix Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2011
    Messages:
    281
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    England
    How much did it cost you?
    And congrats and I hope it all goes well for you:)
     
  10. tomwritstuff
    Offline

    tomwritstuff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2008
    Messages:
    37
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Morayshire,Scotland
    It was under £300 for a 55867 word document.

    I've given them over a week to get back to me with their response. I thought that if they only take a few days then vital points might be missed or overlooked.

    I'm chomping at the bit to get a response though. I feel like a kid again, I want I want!

    Cheers for all the support.
     
  11. MidnightPhoenix
    Offline

    MidnightPhoenix Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2011
    Messages:
    281
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    England
    Thanks
    Keep me post how it when, looking forward in hearing from you:)
     
  12. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    that's way too short for an adult market novel... is it meant for the YA market?...

    and do you realize that it's most likely all money down the drain, as first novels rarely get published?... which is why i have to echo cog's advice to not let this become a habit...
     
  13. flanneryohello
    Offline

    flanneryohello Member

    Joined:
    May 21, 2010
    Messages:
    81
    Likes Received:
    8
    My first novel got published. ;) After I rewrote it in its entirety, of course, under the direction of an excellent editor.

    I think having a competent editor look over your work can be a very valuable experience, but I also think that writers need to be careful. There are a lot of unscrupulous folks out there who target newbie writers with big publishing dreams, take their money, and offer very little in return. The best way to find a good editor is via personal recommendation.

    Of course, you said "proofreader". If you truly mean "proofreader", then really the only thing this person will tell you is that you've got a missing word here, a typo there, and perhaps, if they've got solid grammar skills, they'll also identify and explain any grammatical shortcomings. What a "proofreader" will not do is find story problems, inconsistencies, or offer other sustantive feedback on the actual story or the way you told it.

    In that sense, I question how useful a "proofreader" will be as far as improving your writing skills. They're pretty much just there to catch errors.

    I'll third the recommendation not to spend a lot of money on this type of thing, though. The editor I worked with was awesome--she was also provided by my publisher, so I paid nothing to work with her. It's more important that you develop your craft skills on your own, as a part of a writing group, or via feedback from readers/other authors, than to pay a service.
     
  14. tomwritstuff
    Offline

    tomwritstuff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2008
    Messages:
    37
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Morayshire,Scotland
    I decided to use the service of a proofreader because I've been writing it for the past 10 years. My styles have more than likely changed and I need someone to check over and bring the styles back into line. So my message is put across in a coherent manner without too much confusion.

    OK so I only have 55867 words. Hopefully the proofreading will help me and guide me where I need to improve my manuscript. I don't feel its a waste of money. I need that help to give me the final push so an Agent or Publisher will take me on seriously.

    Who actually decides how long a novel or novella should be? Is it not only a guide i.e. a Novella being more than 45000 words and a Novel being about 60000 or more?

    If I wanted to pour money down the drain, its far easier to waste it on alcohol. I feel its something I need especially seeing its taken me so long to get to this point.

    Hopefully the advice I get from them will help me with my other works and I wont need them proofread!

    I'm not aiming for the Adult market, its no Mills and Boon. I'm aiming for the market interested in the Gothic/ Vampire stories but its no Twilight Saga.

    Its a cross between Lost Boys meets Highlander meets Blade meets Sharpe. I wouldn't think an old man in his pipe and slippers will enjoy my story. I could be wrong!
     
  15. VM80
    Offline

    VM80 Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2010
    Messages:
    1,211
    Likes Received:
    43
    Location:
    UK
    Well I guess these are industry standards re. the word count.

    I was told by someone I know in publishing they like at least 80,000 words for a first novel, and 90,000 would be better.

    As for the 'money down the drain', I completely agree with you. It's your business.

    It wasn't a waste of money for me, because I got some very good advice and grew from it. Even if I don't recoup that money, so be it.
     
  16. popsicledeath
    Offline

    popsicledeath Banned

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2010
    Messages:
    1,037
    Likes Received:
    71
    Word counts are good general guidelines, but it's also amazing how irrelevant a word count becomes if your work is good (or marketable) enough.

    In regards to paying for a proofreader, I wouldn't personally do it, but don't see why someone else shouldn't if they wish. If you're smart about it, know what you're getting into and have reasonable expectations, and most importantly can afford it, then shrug.

    One thing I wonder about is how people approach agents after a manuscript has be sent to third party editors. Do you tell them? And if not, couldn't there be issues where your first manuscript, the one they sign a contract based on, is then a higher quality than they can actually expect compared to future work.

    I ask because this is an issue already, in general. People get accepted to writing programs, by an agent or to conferences often based on a piece of work they've been polishing for years, and the minute they're expected to produce something new, not having the luxury of all the time in the world, their writing skills pale in comparison to the over-polished draft.

    I don't know if there are any standards for handling this, but I personally will inform agents/editors/committees in such scenarios as above generally how long I've been working on a draft, and how long it takes me to produce work. Then again, aside from procrastination and issues like that, I can produce things pretty fast, to a pretty high initial quality, so am not too worried about it personally, but wonder about it in a general sense and what others think or have experienced.
     
  17. flanneryohello
    Offline

    flanneryohello Member

    Joined:
    May 21, 2010
    Messages:
    81
    Likes Received:
    8
    If you're submitting to agents (or even writing programs), I would expect that you'd only do so with work that has been highly polished. Let's face it, competition is fierce, there are a lot of people trying to be published out there, and putting anything other than your best foot forward would be foolish. Nobody should submit or query a novel that hasn't been edited/revised/proofread/etc. That's not to say that hiring a proofreading service is necessarily the way to go--there are ways to polish a manuscript that don't involve paying people. But the goal is not to be able to produce a perfect manuscript without any outside editing, because that's very unlikely even for a seasoned author (and especially for a newbie unpublished author!) One pair of eyes is never enough, particularly when those eyes belong to someone as non-objective as the author.

    When a publisher takes on your book, you'd better believe that it'll be looked at by an editor before it goes to the printer (if they're a decent publisher, at least). So you're not going to be judged harshly for using a third-party to help polish your manuscript--they expect that you're not writing in a total vacuum.

    I do think that if it has taken someone 10 years to produce 55k words, he'll need to learn to write a lot faster if his goal is to have any type of career as an author. I think the "average" working, published author produces one book per year. And by "book", I mean a novel of typical length, which tends to be closer to 80k words. Over the past year, I wrote one 105k word novel (which is being published this summer), and a 140k word novel that's still in rough draft form. And I'm hardly the most prolific writer out there, especially since I have a day job!

    That said, I don't think it's necessary to tell an agent and/or publisher how long it took you to produce your submitted draft of a novel, nor that you had it professionally proofread. Honestly, I think it's just sort of expected that your manuscript has undergone some type of editing. If it hadn't, why in the world would you be submitting it for publication?
     
  18. popsicledeath
    Offline

    popsicledeath Banned

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2010
    Messages:
    1,037
    Likes Received:
    71
    Wow, communication failure, lol.

    I'm not talking about submitting a manuscript that isn't polished, I'm talking about the potential or perceived differences between a writer that can produce a fully polished first manuscript after say, a year, as opposed to a writer who's fully polished first manuscript took multiple years, many readers, professional proofreading and editing, etc.

    And I understand how the publishing world works (all too well, perhaps unfortunately), and understand how editing works (though increasingly agents or the writers themselves are expected to act as editors, as profit margins are scares and even many big publishers aren't shelling out for professional editing, especially for new writers).

    My point, as we both agree, is that manuscripts should be highly polished, and it's assumed that took serious proofreading and editing, but I still contend there may be a huge difference (from the perspective of an agent) from someone who relied on outside resources as opposed to someone who learned to edit themselves (which actual, real editing is a separate skill and every writer won't be good at it, even self-editing or perhaps especially).

    But yeah, we agree manuscripts should be highly polished, and that that takes effort and a particular skill set... which is why I find the question so compelling, because if I'm an agent (and I'm not, granted), to me there's a pretty big difference between a writer that can themselves produce that high quality manuscript, and a writer who will require outside, often very expensive, services or will have to learn, which may slow down their production rate.

    And I don't think it's wrong or bad what the OP is doing (in fact, it seems good in this case, perhaps). Maybe I should have started a new thread, or these can be moved, so it doesn't seem like I'm giving commentary on the OP, when really it's just general.
     
  19. flanneryohello
    Offline

    flanneryohello Member

    Joined:
    May 21, 2010
    Messages:
    81
    Likes Received:
    8
    I understand what you're saying. From a writer's point of view, I wouldn't want to tell a publisher that it took me years to produce a manuscript, and then only with outside paid assistance, because I agree, that could be seen as a detriment. From a publisher's point of view, such considerations might factor in to whether I want to establish a relationship with a certain author. I have a relationship with my current publisher--just signed a contract for the fourth novel of mine they're publishing--and I know they prefer when they're able to work with authors who will produce work regularly (again, at least a book a year), and I know that they probably appreciate that my editing experiences are relatively quick and easy at this point. As a new author I was prolific, but my work was a lot more overwritten and not at all tight. Plus I had some pretty bad habits, which my first editor worked hard to break. The process of editing my first novel was way more intensive than, say, my most recent novel. It took more time and manpower, especially on the part of the editor. I believe my publisher invested that time in me because they hoped I'd produce more work for them, and get better at it, to mutual benefit.

    The manuscripts I produce now are much more polished and I've learned a ton in terms of self-editing. I still think that no matter how good I am at self-editing, I need another pair of eyes to really ensure that the work is the best it could be. No author is an island, in other words. So simply seeking outside help is not a bad thing, it's an expected and necessary thing, but if the outside help is doing most of the heavy lifting, then yeah, it's a problem.

    At any rate, I don't think publishers are all that keen on the idea of building a long-term relationship with and pouring time and money into an author who can't produce more work to reap the benefits of all that's been invested. So I understand and agree with your general concern.

    Again, as an author, I probably wouldn't want to tip a publisher off that it took me years and a lot of outside assistance to produce a manuscript. As a publisher, yeah, I'd probably want to know.
     
  20. tomwritstuff
    Offline

    tomwritstuff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2008
    Messages:
    37
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Morayshire,Scotland
    Just to clarify any confusion.
    It took me 10 years to get where I am because I served in the Armed Forces, then I left for a 8 to 5 job. Now I have a nine month old daughter I hardly have time to write.

    When my mind has gone stale over the years, I have tried writing other stories until I got that second wind to write some more on the one that I sent for proofreading. I'm hoping it will give me that kick up the backside to get over the teething problems.

    I haven't said for definite that I'm going to chose an Agent or Publisher. If I self-publish then I don't think 55k words matters. I'm keeping all options open and hopefully this proofread will give me that final push. It not a competition on who writes the most. I'd sooner use a book of substantial length to prop up the corner of a crooked bed, than spend weeks trying to read it.

    Since sending it I have had more ideas and twists etc to put into it, but not until I get their feedback.

    I don't plan to submit it unfinished, that would be like going to war without ammunition. Totally disastrous!

    If I ever get more than an hour to myself, I'd happily sit down to my manuscript or one of my many planned works. My fiancee and daughter don't let me!

    This isn't a career of mine yet! I don't think I'm the next Dan Brown or James Patterson. I still need to be paying the Bills first and working my job as best I can before I let my writings loose for the world to enjoy.

    I'm not on here to cause arguments amongst the masses. I am just telling what I've done, in my run up to manuscript completion. Whether I get an Agent or Publisher. Whether I decide to self-publish at 55k words or more!
    I was just after hints and tips of what other people have achieved in their goal to getting published. Whichever route you chose!

    I'm not on here to be ridiculed and slated for the way I have done things so far. I am not a university graduate. I have very little qualifications other than the ones of my trade. I never came off a production line to be the best writer in the world.

    Thanks VM80, 4 and a bit lines of help and encouragement, I appreciate that.
     
  21. flanneryohello
    Offline

    flanneryohello Member

    Joined:
    May 21, 2010
    Messages:
    81
    Likes Received:
    8
    I understand not having much time to write. I have a five-year-old and a full-time job...need I say more. :)

    I wasn't trying to put you down for taking a long time to complete a manuscript. As I said, I wouldn't mention it to a publisher. It doesn't necessarily have any bearing on what you can do in the future.

    Also, you're right, if you self-publish, length becomes a lot less important. Having said that, I think self-publishers of novellas or short novels need to be very clear within their product description that their book is on the short side, if only to avoid bad reviews from people who had incorrect expectations. Readers do have an idea of how long a "typical" novel is for a particular genre, and can feel disappointed if they pick up something that feels "too short" relative to other books in that genre. I've definitely seen it happen.

    Good luck, thank you for your service, and I do sincerely hope it works out for you.
     
  22. popsicledeath
    Offline

    popsicledeath Banned

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2010
    Messages:
    1,037
    Likes Received:
    71
    Hope you haven't thought any one is. I'm certainly not. As I've mentioned, I don't think the route you're taking is bad. Especially with more context, I think it's even better for you. As you say, it may be that extra push you need to get this manuscript finalized, and I'm willing to bet you'll learn a ton in the process and the next manuscript comes remarkably fast (that's usually how it works, the first one feels impossible, and they get progressively easier).

    I also think there's some merit in waiting until you're ready to commit full time, if you can. What happens if this manuscript gets sent out, and 5 months from now you have an agent ready to sign a deal, already asking about your next novel and how ready it is? Sometimes people only get one shot, even after getting an agent, and if you can't keep that agent and keep work coming, you may be dropped and lose all momentum.

    I personally don't ever plan on submitting a novel to an agent or publisher until my second novel is pretty near done. This is so I know how long it takes me after that first learning-novel, and also because if you do get lucky and get interest on the first, you don't want the opportunity to slip away when your agent gets nervous you can't keep producing with a team and many years.

    Publishing is a series of harsh realities, and few chances, and one really has to be ready for it or it could slip from their grasp.

    I also notice you say in your OP that you felt it was time to send it to a professional. I guess my main point/concern/commentary is that the publishing world is so competitive and cutthroat, that I don't personally think it's worth even submitting to agents until one is ready to work as a professional (though, usually, not with the pay of one, unfortunately). In fact, I'd say the way most people get agent interest at all is in this way, by showing they can produce like a professional before ever being paid as one or even treated like one.

    I guess the danger is that right now, you have another 10 years to work on a new manuscript, or continue work on this one, if you really want. But, if you send it out, you may not have that luxury. Your agent will want results, and relatively fast. If you aren't ready for that, I'd say keep working at your own pace until you are.
     
  23. psychotick
    Offline

    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2011
    Messages:
    1,374
    Likes Received:
    313
    Location:
    Rotorua, New Zealand
    Hi Tom,

    I think a well done is in order, first for completing your work to the point where you're ready to get it looked over by a professional (and I do hope he's an editor as well as a proof reader), and second for actually biting the bullet and doing it. It may not pay off, you may hate what you get back, but still I think a lot of people never take the step and end up with unfinished / unpublished works that never leave their computer.

    I wish you luck.

    Cheers.
     
  24. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    a 'proofreader' won't help you fix up your ms, or tell you what it needs storywise... they only check for typos and major grammar goofs... nothing more...
     
  25. tomwritstuff
    Offline

    tomwritstuff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2008
    Messages:
    37
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Morayshire,Scotland
    I'd like to thank everyone that has posted. Maybe I was so wound up I was taking some of the comments to heart. For that I apologise.

    Once I've received my returned manuscript, hopefully it should tell me where I have been going off on a tangent. With the corrected typos,grammar etc, I'm hoping to regain the flow of things. I have put too much into it to let it end up in my computer recycle bin. I need to learn from my mistakes to be able to improve.

    I do have a lot of information crammed within my story. Enough maybe to split into a 3 part Saga. Then work on each part individually (as suggested by my brother who has read it already). I have been thinking even harder about areas within it to expand on, since I sent it away.

    I do have plenty of other works to carry on with but I need this one finished as my priority. So if I get lucky and they want more of my work, I have plenty of templates to work with. Some are modern day adaptations of classics and others I have are within a similar field to what I sent away.
     

Share This Page