To understand book doctoring, you must first understand what developmental editing is. In short, developmental, also known as content or substantial editing, deals with the actual story. [Click here for a longer explanation.] An editor will make comments about the characters, the settings, the plot, and more, helping you to achieve the best work you can. Book doctoring is a lot like that but on a much larger scale. You can think of it as Developmental Editing Level 4, in which the editor will offer comments and suggestions, but also massive section rewrites and perhaps even full-scene writing. In this case, I’d say it is a mix between developmental editing and ghostwriting (in which the client dictates what they want their story to be, and the ghostwriter writes it).
A book doctor won’t be able to turn every book into a bestseller, nor can they guarantee publication, but their services are invaluable in polishing up your manuscript. First and foremost, a paid editor will have a more critical eye than any teacher, mentor, writing group member, or friend.
Unlike with ghostwriting, book doctoring falls primarily under the umbrella of “editing” because the book doctor is reading previously written work and making rewrite suggestions. They require you to write the first draft, whereas a ghostwriter is most likely writing from scratch. The book doctor will play with your manuscript, doing whatever it takes to make it shine. They may reorder things, pull things out, put things in—everything to improve the quality of your work.
That being said, book doctoring doesn’t come cheap. Your budget is very important when it comes to deciding what you need, and the second qualifier is your own writing ability. Do you have the time, skill, and/or interest in writing the first draft of your own book? If the answer is ‘no’, you need a ghostwriter. [If so, learn more about that here.] If you think you can write your own book’s first draft, do so.
The cost of book doctoring is less than ghostwriting, but depending on the state of the manuscript, the ‘patient,’ it can get upwards of $25,000.00. Some professionals even charge up to $40,000.00 for a project, but this is of course all dependent on the size of the manuscript and the amount of work needed for it. For an hourly rate, book doctors can charge upwards of $72/hour.
That being said, it’s not a common service, as most writers are passionate about honing their craft and working with regular editors, or they don’t have the money to spare. Make sure you’re always thinking critically about the steps you want to take in your writing journey.
I won’t share much more than that, since I only offer this service to longstanding clients of mine, but you can find out more about it here:
1 example of Book Doctoring Services
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