19. Getting Professional Help

In the previous lesson we examined the role of beta readers in helping you to assess and improve your novel. We now turn our attention to the idea of paying for professional help and consider the potential benefits for your book proposal.

When consider paying a professional to assess your novel you have three alternatives. These alternatives each have their own advantages and disadvantages and this lesson sets these out in a fashion that will allow you to make a decision with regards to which will be most suitable for your novel.

Copy Editing

Copy editing is an essential part of any writer’s life. Whether a writer is self-publishing or preparing their book for submission to an agent or publisher, they will at some point, consider employing a professional copy editor.

The single most important aspect of BubbleCow’s editing service is that it is designed to look at each line and word of your book, and then provide the advice, feedback and guidance you need to correct errors both big and small. The goal of the copy edit is to provide editorial feedback that, when applied to your extract, will bring it to a publishable standard.

BubbleCow’s copy-editing service has been designed to provide a ‘publisher’-style edit, which leaves your manuscript as close to ‘print-ready’ as possible. This means that our copy edit will leave you confident that your manuscript is ready to move to the next stage.

If your book was being prepared for publication by a publishing house, it would pass through a four-step editing process - structural editing, stylistic editing, copy editing and proofreading. Our service combines the three types of edit (structural, stylistic and copy) to provide you with a ‘publisher’ standard in-depth line edit. The edit involves one of our professional and experienced editors reading through your work, line by line, and asking themselves the following questions:

  • Is the book’s organisation and content suitable for the intended audience, medium, market, and purpose? [Structural]
  • How can the book’s meaning be clarified, the flow improved and the language smoothed?[Stylistic]
  • Have you ensured the correctness, consistency, accuracy, and completeness of the document? [Copy]

In reality this means that we will not only be looking to correct grammar and punctuation, but also paying attention to the narrative flow, potential plot holes and the overall ‘feel’ of the book in relation to its genre and readership.

If you wish to see the guidelines we use when line editing then this document will help you to understand the internal process in more detail. We have built our line-editing process around the professionally recognised line-editing standards and processes used by all major publishing companies worldwide (example here).

What can you expect to pay? We charge $10/1000 words (or £7/1000).


The aim of proofreading is simple and that is to correct your grammar and punctuation. A proofreader will examine each word of your manuscript and apply a set of agreed rules. These rules will vary depending on the country of submission. This is important. If you are submitting to a US agent, then you need to make sure that the proofreader is applying American grammar and punctuation rules. A good proofreader will be able to switch between different ‘house’ styles. As an example, BubbleCow’s internal proofreader is equally proficient working with documents destined for the US and UK markets.

What proofreading will not do is fix structural issues. Though they may identify potential problems and plot holes (though this is not part of their job), they will not suggest ways in which they can be corrected.

What can you expect to pay? We charge $6/1000 words (or £4/1000).

Reader’s Report

The final type of editorial feedback is the reader’s report. This sees an editor (though probably not a copy editor) reading your work and providing general feedback regarding your novel. These types of reports tend to focus on bigger issues and will give you a good indication of what is, and is not, working in your novel. This can be useful and as a general rule this type of feedback is cheaper than a copy edit. However, I would add a word of warning. The biggest issue for me is that reader’s reports tend not to tell you how to fix the problems they highlight. They may make suggestions, but it is left very much to the writer to fix these problems.

As with all the services listed in this lesson, it is essential that you make an effort to find the right company for you. This is a combination of price, experience of the editor/proofreader with your genre and desired outcome.

What can you expect to pay? Somewhere between $500 and $800 (£300 - £500).

Can I help?

If you have written your query letter and synopsis BUT you still want a bit of advice and guidance then I can help.

For $20 I will read through your query letter and synopsis. I will then provide my thoughts on how you can make it better.


Just because I care.

I will even read your revised query letter and synopsis and provide even more feedback.

For just $20.

This offer is ONLY open to people signed up for this course.

So, if you want to pick my brains just complete the form below.

I will then send you an online invoice that will allow you pay via our secure PayPal server.

I will then work my magic and give your book proposal the best possible chance of success.

Alternatively, you can email me using [email protected] Please make sure you have attached your query letter and synopsis.