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Horse before cart

Today I have been handed a 107,000-word manuscript for assessment … and it provides an object lesson for so many would-be writers.

It comes to me as a PDF. Why? At this early stage, a simple text document is all that is required. Why go to the trouble of creating a format that is impractical and unworkable for the next stage – editing?

A quick bit of Googling revealed the author had already gone to the trouble (and expense) of obtaining an ISBN. Again, why? It is something else that comes much later – if the manuscript is assessed as worthy of publication.

Google also provided a listing for the “book”, giving every indication that it was published and available, although its creator claimed this was not so despite it having been registered in all the official sources.

Once past all these obstructive preliminaries it soon became clear that this was a work very much in progress, rough and incomplete . The usual wandering apostrophes were everywhere, paragraphing was non-existent, style was inconsistent to the extent that there was no style. As a document purporting to throw new light on a well-known historical event, it ignored the timeline helpfully provided at the start. It rambled and lacked structure.

An assessment could therefore be provided in a few words without going into all the usual specifics. It would state  rewrite, revise, proofread and re-submit.

The simple lesson provided by this request for assessment is to get the priorities right. Those are to complete your manuscript, revise your manuscript, have your manuscript thoroughly proofread and then, and only then, submit it for assessment/consideration/editing.

Once all that has been done, then is the time to think of ISBNs, PDFs, national library registration and uploading details to the web. Remember, it is the horse that always comes first; not the cart.



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