What is professional reading?

Apr 29, 2019 | Blog

A professional reader is an obscured profession in the publishing world, but necessary within the process of book publication. In this entry, I will talk about this profession and service that I offer professionally as a linguist and avid reader. 

A reading, literary or analytical report is a document produced by professional, publishing or “first” readers which gives an opinion on a literary work. Positive and negative characteristics of a literary work are analyzed, exemplified and explained. The publishing report is sent to the publisher or publishing company so they can get a clearer picture of the literary work at hand.  Publishers hire people, usually avid readers or professionals specialized in language studies to read manuscripts and prove its legibility, look for grammatical errors, misspellings, etc., as well as see specific publishing issues. This is the reason why they look for linguists who have had extensive experience in the revision of texts, have read many quantities of words and have special attention, patience and love for the written word, as well as for reading; a hobby that is only built through practice.

The report contains no more than six pages and summarizes the argument of the book, includes a quality rating, a score of the work, and places it within an editorial line. The elements of a publishing report are the following:

  1. General information: title, author, genre, publisher or original agency, language or original language
  2. Brief outline: general impression of the work, characters, and primary and secondary themes
  3. Literary analysis: language, literary technique and style
  4. Commercial valuation
  5. Audience
  6. Positive and negative factors

Some reports are mandated by writers themselves, who want to see last hour if mistakes were made in the argument construction, or if they had deficiencies in the wording or the plot. Any text can be read by a professional reader- poetry, novels, essays, short-story collections, etc. If the report has a positive result, it is possible that the publisher decides to read it and they assign the manuscript to be read by other readers as well. The result of the reading report determines whether a work will be worthy of publication. But this also depends on the publishers’ rationale, which does not always follow a strict criterion. Many times, this is directly related to trends and the market. Other publishing companies just want to know if a manuscript has a place or not in their collections or if they are in line with their editorial line.

The role of the professional reader is to be critical and neutral. The reader should perform their work with attention and impartiality, in a comprehensive and professional manner, avoiding personal judgment. Rates vary according to the length of the text and delivery time. Professional readers do not make as much money as publishers, but some people take this work as a way to enter the publishing industry. Others simply do it for pleasure.

Personally, reading in exchange for money seems like a very good idea. What do you think?