Choosing a service
Do you want some help with your writing but don’t quite know what you want? Are you a bit puzzled by the various services on offer, and not sure what to go for? Chris HolifieldManaging director of WritersServices; spent working life in publishing,employed by everything from global corporations to start-ups; track record includes: editorial director of Sphere Books, publishing director of The Bodley Head, publishing director for start-up of upmarket book club, The Softback Preview, editorial director of Britain’s biggest book club group, BCA, and, most recently, deputy MD and publisher of Cassell & Co. She is also currently the Director of the Poetry Book Society; During all of this time aware of problems faced by writers, as publishing changed from idiosyncratic cottage industry, 'occupation for gentlemen', into corporate business of today. Writers encountered increasing difficulty in getting books edited or published. Authors create the books which are the raw material for the whole business. She believes it is time to bring them back to centre stage. can help you work out which service is right for you.
A shorter version of this article, Which service? is also available.
We also have a page on Services for Self-publishers, which may be a quicker way of finding what you're looking for.
If you have finished writing your manuscript and don’t know how to proceed, I would strongly recommend thinking about having a report done on it first. Most writers need to do further work on their manuscripts before submitting or publishing them.
It’s really best to do as many drafts as you need to before trying to find a publisher or agent, or deciding to self-publish, as you could be wasting your time with submitting your work before it is ready. In this very competitive market, you need to make sure that you are giving it its very best chance when you send it out.
WritersServices offer a Reader’s Report, which is a fairly straightforward short first report, and an Editor’s Report, which is more substantial and will give you a framework for further work. I would advise you to think hard about going for the Editor’s Report if you can, especially if you think you may need to do some substantial further work on your manuscript, as it will provide more help with this.
Our Editing service is for anyone who feels that they need more help than these two reports offer. The editor will assess the manuscript first and then we will give you a quote for a longer report which is presented in a chapter-by-chapter format. Please note that this service does not involve the editor working on the text but takes the form of a more detailed report.
Copy editing is a service which involves correcting the grammar and spelling, and preparing the work for publication. It is distinct from Proof-reading, which is just a final check on the proofs and assumes that the text has already been copy edited. This page explains the difference.
If you are an author planning to self-publish, then I would recommend having your manuscript professionally copy edited first, to make sure that your finished book is something you can be proud of and that it is not riddled with errors. It’s hard to accept this, but most writers cannot spot their own mistakes and they need the help of an experienced copy editor to make sure their text is in good shape for publication.
If you are intending to submit your book to agents or publishers, having it copy edited will certainly improve its chances, as no-one in publishing enjoys reading really messy manuscripts. Strictly speaking though, copy editing is something your publisher will be responsible for, once you get to the stage of having a publisher interested in publishing your work.
It can be a major waste of time and money to have your manuscript copy edited until it is in the best shape you can manage. I would always recommend having a report done first, so that you can undertake any further work before the copy editing is done. Copy editing a manuscript takes many hours of an experienced editor’s time, so it is never cheap, and you need to make sure that you are doing it at the right stage.
If you are preparing your PhD for submission, you might feel you need our PhD editing service.
Proof-reading is a check of the final proofs and should not be confused with copy editing, which should come first. Authors have traditionally checked their proofs once they are set up in pages, but publishers also get a skilled proof-reader to read through the proofs at this stage, as it is amazing how many errors can creep in (as any reader will know!)
Indexing is useful if you have a non-fiction book and want to use the services of a professional indexer to make sure your index is properly prepared. You may need to organise this because you are self-publishing, or because your publishing contract says that you should provide the index.
Rewriting is a service which requires a highly experienced editor and we would recommend having an Editor’s Report first, before proceeding with this major and comprehensive service. In this case the report will lay out what work needs doing and will enable us to give you a quote for Rewriting, which is a major task and therefore both time-consuming and quite expensive.
If you are an author for whom English is not your native language, then you should consider whether the work you need to have done on your manuscript might involve rendering it into correct and idiomatic English. We call this service Manuscript Polishing. The editor will copy edit the work at the same time and you will end up with a manuscript which is ready to go to a publisher, or to submit, if it is a dissertation, or to self-publish.
As well as all this work on full-length manuscripts, we also offer the Submission Critique, which provides a commentary on the material you have prepared as a submission package. It is vital to present your work in the best possible way and this service provides advice to help you give it its best chance.
As well as this we have specialist services for Scriptwriting, which encompasses writing for the stage and screen, and for TV. Our range of Children’s Services uses skilled children’s editors, recognising the importance of specific advice on material intended for this market.
Our Poetry Critique Are you ready to show your poetry to magazines and publishers, but worried about rejection from the people you most admire? Or do you just want an expert opinion on your poetry? Our new Poetry Collection Editing service is for poets who want their poetry collection prepared for self-publishing or submission to publishers.
We can even help with writing your Synopsis, if you’re finding this difficult. We've also just introduced a new service called Blurb-writing, to help writers prepare the back cover copy for their book.
Then, if you have decided to self-publish, our WritersServices Self-publishing will definitely be able to help you with getting your own book into print.
Email us if you’re still not sure which service you should choose.
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