Never judge a book by its cover

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Last week I spend reading the first 15 pages of many manuscripts of my fellow writers. The reason was a raffle I had at my speech on “How to overcome self-doubt” at the DFW Writers Conference. The prize of said raffle was a detailed review for the first 15 pages of the person’s manuscript I’d draw. As it turned out, I wasn’t able to reject all the ones I didn’t pick, so I decided to give an overall review to every not-winning participant as well.

I still have one manuscript left, but I can already say: This was a very interesting experience. First of all, I was impressed. It’s a well-known fact within the writer community that it’s very difficult to get published. It’s difficult to get an agent, it’s difficult to get a publisher, difficult to interest readers to buy not just any, but your book, but the reason is not the missing quality, good books are out there, waiting to be published. Most of the manuscripts I read were truly amazing. Great story, written well, often I was sad when the first 15 pages were read, I wanted at least 50 more.

Then I was surprised how every manuscript I read was different. Of course, you kind of expect every book to be different, but knowing the people behind those stories, having seen their faces, heard them talk, having seen that we all have a lot in common, it surprised me. We all live in the same area, we all came to the same conference, all of us were friendly people, eager to connect with others and eager to learn more about writing and still, our stories are as different as night and day. Reading those stories, I would have never been able to pinpoint their writers.

We might all be writers, get inspired by the same success stories, laugh about the same jokes, and have similar dreams but under the surface we are all different. Some of us fall in love with love-stories, some love to see into the future, some want to read about what really happened and some need body parts flying around to keep reading, and still we are all writers. We are all people. Never judge a book by its cover. Or a person.

I’m thinking to offer review services for authors in the future. Test-reading manuscripts, giving feedback which parts moved me, which can be shorter, which hero is too perfect, which one stumbles too often, what facts confused me, and where a context error sneaked in – stuff like this. Obviously I’m not an editor. My English isn’t anywhere close to be perfect, my German neither by the way, but I’m a very critical reader with an eye for detail. To all the authors out there, please let me know if you think there is an interest for this kind of service.

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