Friday, October 26, 2012

5 Tips for Reviewing Manuscript for a Health Care Textbook

People who can review drafts of a manuscript and provide cogent, reasoned, and intelligent feeback are considered gold by us publisher types. Gold, I tell ya.

If you're a subject matter expert and have been asked to review someone's manuscript, here are some tips and guidelines for turning yourself into gold.

#1 Be fierce.

Publishers don't want their manuscript reviewers to tell them what they want to hear. They want reviewers to tell them the truth.

If a chapter's organization doesn't work, say so. If a description doesn't make sense, say so. If an illustration is inaccurate, say so.

And don't sugarcoat it. Don't dance around it. Come right out and say it.

#2 Be vigilant.

Look at everything. Simple definitions can look simple but be wrong.

Here's an example. The manuscript defines diabetes as "a disease in which there's too much sugar in the blood." Simple, yes, but wrong.

Diabetes is a disorder, not a disease, and it's not sugar that's too high, it's glucose. "Sugar" implies sucrose, a compound consisting of glucose and fructose. I can understand using "sugar" when writing for children, but certainly not when writing a textbook for students in a health care program.

#3 Be flexible.

Know that the content you're reviewing hasn't been edited by a copyeditor, so you will almost certainly come across misspellings, punctuation errors, and grammatical faux pas. Resist all editing urges and pay them no mind.


Don't waste your time pointing out errors we'll catch in a later phase of the project. Overlook those issues and focus on the content itself.

If you subsequently review page proofs, then point out all errors you find, because that content will have already gone through the copyedit stage. If you find an error then, let us know.

#4 Be professional.

Maintain the same level of professionalism in your comments as you would in any other endeavor. Harsh comments about the writing style or knowledge of the author don't help anyone.

If the author has stated something inaccurately, just say that. Don't say, "This author doesn't know what she's talking about."

Just, you know, be nice. Truthful, but nice.

#5 Be prompt.

When you agreed to review manuscript for a project, the editor most likely set a deadline for when the review should be finished. Do everything you can to meet that deadline.

If you can't meet it, let the editor know so she can find someone else. It's not the end of the world if you can't finish a manuscript review in the time allotted, so don't fret none, but you gotta let us know.

Good luck!