RE: Reviewing a book manuscript

Subject: RE: Reviewing a book manuscript
From: "Sella Rush" <srush -at- MusicNet -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 20 Feb 2002 11:54:32 -0800

I'm assuming you are not writing a review of this book but rather providing feedback to the author. Here are some things to look at:

1. Organization of material. Look at this on all levels. Do the chapters seem logical and do they chunk information effectively. Within each chapter is there a logical flow. For example, notice if a topic would fit better in an earlier chapter, or if advanced material might work better separated an placed in a later chapter.

Related to this: is the content of each section cohesive, is it all related to the section heading. For example, sometimes a section will have a little info related to the heading, but then hares off on a tangent unrelated to the central message of the section.

2. Structure. Are there obvious and consistent structure and navigational cues within the manuscript. Are there useful inner-chapter headings? Is there any kind of overview at the beginning of each chapter? Possibly a list of chapter topics or a section like "At the end of this chapter you will be able to..." or at the end a summary or list of questions or assignments. An author may choose to use varying degrees of structural devices, your job is to analyze whether they are useful, and whether they are used consistently.

3. Graphics. Are they effective? Are they used consistently? Are there places where a good graphic could replace a page of inadequate text? What is their visual effect--are they gratuitous (like clipart--don't illustrate anything, are used to create a tone) and if so do they accomplish what the author wants them to or are they obtrusive.

For more pointers, look up information "substantive" or "developmental" editing.

Good luck! This can be a very rewarding but (depending on the manuscript quality) overwhelming task.

Sella Rush
technical writer
srush -at- musicnet -dot- com

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