Non-Fiction Book Critiques

books are dreams made reality
Books are dreams made into reality.

If you are an author, self-publishing or being traditionally published, you probably know that a critique is far more than someone looking at your manuscript and telling you that a character’s eye colour has changed halfway through the book, or that you have a saggy middle (the book, not you, although it is an occupational hazard among those of us attached to a keyboard every day).

A book critique can:

  • help you tighten up your story,
  • make the flow better,
  • highlight strengths and weaknesses,
  • and show any problems that need to be addressed before you move forward.

A professional book critique, or manuscript assessment, is an impartial analysis and assessment of your book that you just can’t get from family and friends.

But did you realise that if you are a non-fiction author critiques are just as valid?

Generally a non-fiction critique will still address flow of the text but it will address the following:

Content:

  • does it capture the reader’s attention
  • is the idea a good one
  • are there things that need adding or deleting
  • are there references, social proof or other things that back up your argument
  • and does it make sense?

Presentation and Format:

  • is it arranged logically
  • is the style appropriate
  • should there be illustrations or photographs (and do you have permissions agreed)

Pace:

  • is the book paced correctly
  • is it too fast
  • or too slow?

Voice:

  • is the voice appropriate for the intended audience?

Marketability:

  • is the market saturated or not
  • does the book fit well within the intended market
  • will anyone actually buy the book?

Writing:

  • is the spelling, punctuation, grammar, and language correct
  • is the structure and overall writing of the book in order or does it need attention?
glasses highlighting a book
A professionally trained editor will pick up things you won’t.

Of course, this isn’t everything that a critique involves, but you get the idea. Non-fiction books need love and attention too. Just because you have a brilliant premise, it doesn’t mean that you can write the next best-selling non-fiction tome. There’s just as much competition for capturing a non-fiction audience as there is a fiction one.

But isn’t a critique a waste of money? Can’t you just get your friends to read your book and comment on it?

Well, no and no. When you give friends, family and acquaintances your book to read it can be scary, but most people will tell you what you want to hear. For one thing, they’re not trained to objectively dissect a manuscript, or know what to look out for. Friends don’t want to hurt your feelings, and while editors don’t want to do that either, we will tell you what is best for your book.

It’s not cheap but a professional book assessment could actually save you money.

Here’s how:

  1. A critique will highlight those areas that need attention, and will offer you ways to address them.
  2. It will allow you to look at your work through the eyes of a reader before you hire a developmental editor, copyeditor and proofreader. In this first stage of editing you may find that there is more work to be done.
  3. By addressing the problems brought up in a non-fiction manuscript critique you can do the work necessary to move onto that second step in the publishing process. The less work the editor has to do on your manuscript the cheaper it will be for you.

So when you have that book written and you’re not sure whether to hire a developmental editor, a copyeditor, or you think it’s perfect and you want to rush into hiring a proofreader, take a step back and ask yourself whether you are really ready.

By arranging a critique you can look at the whole picture and address the issues raised before hiring an editor to carry out a more in-depth edit. And it might just save you money.

******

If you would like to hire me to critique your book, contact me and we can chat.

2 Comments on “Non-Fiction Book Critiques

  1. This is something I’ve been seeing all through my editing and book indexing practice. I call it manuscript evaluation, and my clients find it extremely valuable, not only for the mechanics of good writing, but for feedback on the emotional impact of fictional or inspirational nonfiction stories. Thanks so much for highlighting this, Sara!

    • Thanks Joanne, I guess I should have used the words Manuscript Evaluation in there somewhere! I think it’s really important and useful for an author to get an unbiased view before spending money on a ‘proper’ edit.

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