Two questions that authors rarely stop and ask themselves before self-publishing a book are:
- Is there a market for my book?
- Is my book ready for market?
Authors who are publishing a book as a hobby—perhaps a memoir meant only for family members—may not find these questions to be pertinent. Such an author is ready to put in the money for a nice book that will be passed down through the generations (one hopes), but is rarely concerned with how the cover might appear on Amazon or whether or not the book might garner bad reviews.
However, most authors are publishing with the hope of actually selling their books. As with any product, the answers to the above questions can make or break sales. Imagine developing a new gadget without doing the research into whether or not there is a market for it, or releasing the product before it’s been fully developed!
The Answer to These Questions Lies in the Editorial Evaluation
Authors who move ahead with self-publishing without knowing if there is a market—or if indeed the book is ready to be published—run the risk of spending hundreds, if not thousands of dollars with little return. Book sales are never guaranteed, and reviews are everything. Less than favorable reviews of a book that readers find to be incoherent, illogical, filled with errors, or that just completely loses the plot can quickly kill sales momentum. And sales momentum won’t happen if there is no market for the book in the first place.
An editorial evaluation gives an author some preliminary feedback from a professional editor before moving ahead in the self-publishing process. The editorial evaluation helps authors answer questions pertaining to marketability before laying out a cent for cover design, interior page design, or editing.
What Happens in an Editorial Evaluation?
Typically the editor will read the first seventy-five pages of the manuscript. The editor will comment on the book’s overall concept, and whether or not the book carries out the author’s vision as written. By showing some examples of how sentences and paragraphs might be rewritten, the editor may demonstrate some ideas on how the book can be shaped to insure it can meet the author’s goals.
The editor will also make an evaluation of how much copyediting is required, and again show examples of the types of edits that are required and how sentences might be rewritten to eliminate the issues. Issues might include illogical and run-on sentences and paragraphs, unclear writing, grammar, and more. Finally, the editor will assess the book’s marketability (and comment on whether indeed there might be a market), and make recommendations on what needs to happen to bring the book in line with the expectations of book buyers.
Essentially, the editorial evaluation is meant to save the author from him or herself. An evaluation gives the author reassurance that the book can move ahead to publishing (cover design, page layout, copyediting, proofreading, printing and distribution) or gives the author cause to step back and fix the book prior to spending money on publishing services. A good editorial evaluation will set out a clear path for the author to follow to prepare the manuscript for publication and may recommend substantive or developmental editing if the book does not fulfill the author’s vision.
I Hate Criticism…
For sure, authors need a thick skin to undergo an editorial evaluation. You may learn some things about your book that you didn’t realize. You may have known in your gut that there were major issues with your book; even so, hearing confirmation of these issues from a third party can be difficult to hear. Or, you may feel that your book is fabulous (reinforced by positive comments from well-meaning family members), only to have it completely slammed by someone you’ve never even met.
But It’s Worth It In the End
It takes guts to hear criticism, and it’s our instinct to protect ourselves by not showing our creative work to anyone, to keep it private until the very last minute. Doing so, however, could end up being a costly mistake and cause you to lose face over and over as the poor reviews for your book are posted publicly on Amazon and Goodreads. Yes, an honest editorial evaluation might not say anything that you want to hear. Carrying out its recommendations may mean putting your dream on hold for yet another few months. However, in the end, the small investment you make in time, money, and ego is worth it to have a book that people will appreciate and recommend to others.
1106 Design starts every editing job with a free editorial evaluation! Click here to learn more.