Morgan Worth, Editor, Beta Reader, Proofreader

Morgan and I bumped into each other on social media. Since she offers services for beta reading and proofreading I thought it would be wonderful to have a description of what these two things are and how they work if you hire someone.

Tell us a little about yourself

I get paid to read books! I am a freelance beta reader, proofreader, and editor.

What is your background for being a beta reader and proofreader?

I have a B.A. in English, and I minored in Printing and Publishing Arts. That minor heavily emphasized editing techniques. Just as importantly, I’ve been a devourer of books for as long as I can remember! I love words and stories and I’m fascinated with how they work. I have also been teaching for eighteen years, so I’ve read and curated books for kids and teens of all ages and I have lots of experience evaluating writing and giving constructive criticism.

Please explain what a beta reader does?  

A beta reader reads a manuscript before it’s published, and usually before it goes through any editing. Beta readers provide feedback from a reader’s perspective. Many authors exchange manuscripts with other authors or try to recruit readers to give them feedback. Sometimes this works out great, but often other writers are busy and have a hard time getting to critiquing someone else’s book right away. Readers are often busy, too, and they tend to have a hard time giving the kind of detailed, honest feedback that a writer can use to make her book better.

As a beta reader, I read unpublished manuscripts just as a reader would, but as I go, I make notes of my thoughts. What do I think is going to happen next? What made me laugh out loud? What grossed me out or confused me? Then, I look at the book as a professional, with a critical eye. I consider the intended audience and genre expectations, and I give constructive feedback on the book as a whole.

And a proofreader 

Proofreaders find errors after the copyediting process. Sometimes when the author makes changes called for by the copyeditor, she accidentally introduces mistakes such as duplicate words or misspellings. Suggesting changes to sentence structure, pointing out passages that lack clarity, addressing widespread punctuation and grammar issues, etc. are beyond the scope of proofreading. This is copyediting, a much more time-consuming task.

Do you have genres you prefer?  Or ones you won’t work in?

I’m always thrilled when I get my hands on a cozy mystery! I read a wide range of genres, and fantasy is another one of my favorites. I also enjoy sweet romance and historical romance. Those who write for kids and teens will be happy to know that I have experience with the unique characteristics of kidlit and YA and am also currently working with kids on a regular basis.

I’m not the right reader for erotica, erotic romance, steamy romance, or horror. I’ve just never gravitated toward them and I wouldn’t be able to give good feedback.

What’s the number one thing you hate to see in a manuscript?

Preaching! I’ve spent many hours with manuscripts that were all message and no plot. The author had something to say, and she was so focused on saying it that she forgot to tell a story. No matter what your philosophy is, the best way to convey it is through a great story. The story must come first!

What is something which has totally taken you by surprise when reading?

I’ve been surprised by many fun plot twists, but I won’t give those away here. I’ve also had a few experiences with books that suddenly changed in tone halfway through. That’s a much less pleasant surprise!

What can authors do to better prepare their manuscripts for a beta or proofreader?

Study your craft. Sure, you’re hiring a professional, but how will you know whether she did a good job if you don’t know how to use an apostrophe with a plural possessive or if you’re not a reader yourself?

When hiring a beta reader, it’s okay to leave spelling and punctuation errors unchecked, but the manuscript should be clean enough that a reader can make sense of it. If you’re hiring a proofreader, remember that her job is to catch mistakes that remain after copyediting has already taken place. In general, the better shape your manuscript is in, the more the pros can help you put a finer polish on it.

What format do you prefer?

I prefer using track changes in Microsoft Word, but I can work with PDF as well.

What advice do you have for authors?

Read! Read widely, and read in your genre. I believe that most writers absorb some of the elements that make up a strong plot and compelling characters as well as genre expectations if they read a lot. Your experience as a reader is what gives you that gut feeling that something is off with a certain part of your story. Sure, it often takes someone else (such as a beta reader) to reaffirm those suspicions, but the more your writerly senses are honed, the better your manuscript will be to begin with, and the better able you’ll be to consider that feedback and decide whether or not it’s on point.

Links to find Morgan Worth

Please visit my website for more details on my rates and how to hire me!

I also have a Facebook page:

A Fresh Pair of Eyes

Barbara Ardinger is an editor I’ve used and trust. When I edit, she’s my go to person for questions because of her background and her extensive knowledge. I asked her to share some of her knowledge in a post. Here is one snippet of what she does.

Trying to finish your book or magazine article?

And you’re tired of staring at that blank screen?

Let Me Be Your Editor

When you ask me to be your editor, how can I help you? I’ve been working with smart people like you since the turn of the century. These are smart people who often have good ideas, but they are not (alas) very good writers. I’ve helped nearly all of them succeed.

I’ve edited more than 300 manuscripts. Most of these were for authors going to literary agents or to small, vanity, or on-demand presses. Nonfiction projects include memoirs and biographies, mind/body/spirit (mostly mainstream metaphysics and a lot of New Age), holistic health, science and technology, political tracts, business topics, Calvinist and Islamic theology and history, and ghost hunting. This is one reason I love my job! I learn something new with everything I edit. Fiction includes romance, action-adventure, science fiction, western, mystery, historical, speculative, noir, and horror novels. Other projects I’ve edited include screenplays (film and TV), children’s books, academic discourse (textbooks, doctoral and master’s theses in the U.S. and the UK), website text, and poetry. (Because poetry is so personal, I edit it very carefully.) I have also taught university classes in writing and public speaking and worked as a technical writer/editor in five different industries. And I earned my Ph.D. in English with straight A’s, which means I know what I’m talking about.

I can help you, too! As your editor, I’ll look at what you wrote with fresh eyes. I can improve your spelling, grammar, punctuation, English usage, sentence structure, and word choice. I know what “gooder English” is. I know how to punctuate dialogue. I know how to help you not write Tom Swifties or make other common errors like purple prose and just plain wrong words—like “a house built of troglodyte” (look it up)—that often lead to unintended humor and may inspire your reader to throw your book across the room. I know how to call out unsupported generalizations and lame exaggeration. I know about history and can correct cultural misconceptions. I also do a lot of fact-checking as I edit. What does this kind of work on my part add up to? You’re less likely to embarrass yourself in print. Together, we can also brainstorm for ideas and structure and then outline your chapters. I’ll help you prewrite, write, and rewrite. And I’ll hold your hand till the very end.

Why “fresh eyes” can help you. Because my fresh eyes have not seen the same sentences umpteen times, they read what is really there, not what is remembered or expected of what you thought you wrote. Fresh eyes catch simple, stupid mistakes that weary eyes swan right over. Fresh eyes see leaps of logic where weary eyes have blinked.

Yes, I’ll be your fresh eyes. That means I’ll see the details you miss simply because you wrote the sentences and paragraphs and think you already know what they say. In other words, I’m likely to catch things you and your spouse and your friends and your critique group missed and correct those often dumb mistakes for you. Especially if what you wrote is not quite what you intended. As I am forever telling my authors—most of whom become my friends—it’s important to remember that our readers don’t live in our heads with us. We have to show them stuff. We need to remember that clarity is everything.

That’s my goal: to help every author I work with write more clearly and more meaningfully.

Send me an email now or call me, and we’ll talk about your ideas and ways I can help you manifest your good ideas on paper……….or at least on your screen. Cheers!

Barbara Ardinger, Ph.D.

And you can find some of my books on Amazon:

Done… Over… Complete…

I took my last final today – think I bombed it.  Regardless, I am done.  So long as I didn’t fail the class (which I didn’t) I have finished my second degree – officially.  Five semesters (2 1/2 years) and I’ve now got three degrees – Associate Degree in Business Machines (from Blackhawk Technical Institute), Bachelor of Business Administration and Bachelor of Science (both from UW-Whitewater). 

My faculty in my department have all been very supportive and helpful. The student workers who have covered the office have been wonderful. My family has been supportive, encouraging and helpful. It has been an interesting journey to this degree and to those who have helped – Thank you. I couldn’t have accomplished what I have without you.

My two business degrees got me through a career in business and public service.  My public service career will continue (until I get my best sellers out there).  My Bachelor of Science is misleading because there was as little science in what I did as I could get away with.  My degree is actually English Professional Writing and Book Editing.  I’m very proud of all my degrees but this one is near and dear to my heart.  The business degrees are just that – business to make sure I can support myself.  The English degree is to move me along my writing career. 

Writing is what keeps me sane (or as sane as I get).  It takes all the images and words in my head and makes it into stories, poems, and other various things.  Whether others end up reading them or not is a different issue but I’m hoping more will be reading them. 

Now that I’ve finished I have plans.  I didn’t get the grant I applied for but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to write.  It just means I have to find alternative ways to support my writing.  Moving forward, I need to clean my office.  I have to put away all the school stuff.  Then I have to organize the entire office.  My office has to accommodate all the genealogy stuff, writing stuff, and personal business stuff.  I need to get things organized so all of that will fit and play nice together. 

After I get organized, I will work on self publishing, submissions, completing a manuscript that has been floating for three years.  It is a matter of moving forward to getting published – hopefully paid for my work at the same time. 


I wish this was a cry of completion but it isn’t.  I’m just tired of working on homework.  For Fiction Writing, I’ve read, done the critique and written a letter for each of the three stories we had to read.  I realized that the letters we have to write are very similar to the letters in Book Editing we have to write – only in Book editing it is only one (thankfully). 

I helped a class mate out by editing her paper, a sister out by discussing her paper, and I’ve played on Facebook – had to or go insane.  I still have an assignment for Book editing to do, read the rest of Chapter 9 which was due last week, and edit my two stories for Fiction Writing that I have to turn in for the final.  One of them is nearly there I think.  The other one is not. 
Today while it is a beautiful record high temperature outside with beautiful blue skies with puffy white clouds, I’ve been sitting at my laptop in my office working on homework.  I have transcribing to do and numbers to work on for budget stuff.  All I really want to do is take a nap. 
I got a rejection and an acceptance this week for my writing.  It is nice that it balanced out.  Usually it’s just rejections.  I have to get those noted on my spreadsheet. 
Ken has been VERY busy in the kitchen working on a project.  I can’t wait till it is done as I think it will improve the storage in the kitchen / dining room.  Vicki has been busy too.  Sasha has been napping and I just punished her by waking her up and rubbing her belly.  She didn’t seem overly punished though as she grabbed on to my hand and licked it while I rubbed…


This semester has been kicking my butt.  I’ve whined here on my blog and in real life about how tired I am.  My classes are good.  I’m enjoying the challenge of them.  The schedule is just beating me up.  Monday I am at work by 7:45 am and I am in class until 8:45 pm.  This means my day typically lasts from 6:00 am to about 12:00 am. 
Every week I’ve struggled going to work on Tuesday and feeling like I’m the walking dead.  By Wednesday evening I’m ready for the week to be done.  It has been exhausting.  This is the first week I’ve not felt completely wiped out.  It’s only taken six weeks and it might just be a fluke.  I’ll have to see how next week goes.
My classes are better this semester.  I’m not doing as much writing as I would like but I think I could have a writing assignment every day and still want more.  My Book Editing class is great.  I’m learning a lot about the publishing process.  I did an interview with Barbara Ardinger (great author and editor) to discuss why she switched from traditional publishers to self-publishing.  I’ll be turning that assignment in soon.  You should check out Barbara’s books – they are wonderful!
With the work from my editing business I’m starting to get and all the other things in my life, I’m lucky to get to bed before midnight.  How sad is it that I consider 11 pm an early night?  I am excited to have five hours of sleep a night.
While my schedule is kicking my butt, I’m still loving what I’m doing.  I am enjoying the challenge of my classes.  I’m content at my day job.  I’m thrilled to be making money with my new business.  I just have to find time to write.  I still manage to do some submissions but at some point I need to finish some projects.  If only I could figure out a way to not sleep I could do more.

Done… mostly

Well I had a lot on my to do list and most of it is done or at least in a better place than I was on Friday.  Alex’s 30th birthday party was yesterday and I think we had a good time with everyone who showed up.  At one point we were segregated by gender which I found amusing – no matter how far we progress we still can’t get away from the stereotypes.
My paper which is due on Friday is going – I think I have a good rough draft for it.  Tomorrow instead of book editing class I have a meeting with the professor to discuss the project.  I’ll have to see how that goes.  I’ll be interested to hear what she has to say about my stuff so far.
For fiction writing I managed to get all the stuff done that needs to be done for tomorrow but I need to take some time to review the critiques I got from both the professor and the other students.  At least I think I should – though part of me thinks I should just write the story the way I wanted to in the first place.  I think if I hadn’t edited it down for a publication requirement it would be a stronger story.  Anyways I need time to do this – now it is just a matter of finding the time.
I also got a side job of transcribing.  I worked on that this weekend too.  I still have about 9 minutes left to do.  This has to be done before Friday.  I have a few things due all at once – isn’t that how it usually goes?

Here it is almost midnight on a Sunday night and I’m still up.  Vicki was a sweetheart and packed up my lunch/supper for me tonight – it is waiting in the fridge and on the counter so all I have to do in the morning is grab it – thank goodness.  One more thing after this blog posting and then I’m off to bed with things mostly done that I needed to get done… mostly…


I think I’ve earned a doctorate in this.  Yesterday I worked on organizing, cleaning, and clearing out some of my office.  It was completely a procrastination attempt for doing my paper.  It always takes me a bit to settle into homework but this weekend I was off the charts with procrastinating. 
The good thing about that is I got my office picked up and organized a bit more.  I sorted through paperwork.  I filed, created files, threw out, and took care of a large amount of paper.  It was a very productive morning.  I got a bunch of tax stuff organized (yup it is nearly that time of year again).  I even found more articles for my paper.
Finally I settled down to reading.  For a two page paper I have ten articles.  I discarded fifteen other articles.  I have six pages of notes.  I worked most of the day with the procrastinating cleaning and working on homework.  Still no paper yesterday.
I spent the evening (after 7) with Vicki watching stuff on the DVR and crocheting.  I’m currently working on Stephanie’s afghan.  It is star shaped and takes me an hour to do one round.  I’m also working on a wrap for Vicki.  It is made with a large hook and simple pattern so I get a lot of progress with little effort. 
At midnight I came back to my desk with the intention of reading the final article and starting to write.  That didn’t happen.  I played on the computer.  I’m loving Rummy 500 in the Hoyle games right now.  However, I did send my professor for Fiction Writing my short story.  I have no idea how she will take it.  It isn’t due for a while so this gives me a chance to change it if need be.
This morning I finally sat down and wrote my paper.  I had to stop at one point to email my professor because it ended up being just slightly longer than three pages.  Fortunately she was quick about the turn around and told me that was just fine. 

All that’s left is editing it one more time.  I’ve read it through once and so has Vicki.  I will go through it one more time before I submit it.  My mini to do list is almost all done.  That is somewhat shocking.  I even added things to it as the weekend has progressed and most of those are done too.  I guess I did procrastinate but in a good productive way – if that is possible.

First Full Week

I’ve had my first full week of classes.  I’m exhausted (and feel somewhat old), overwhelmed, and a bit excited. 
My fiction writing class seems like it will be a lot of fun.  I am looking forward to the critiques of my fellow students.  We will be turning in two short stories for the class and she wants literary rather than genre driven so that will be interesting.  I’m not sure what type of story that entails.  I’ve got tons of ideas for what I want to do so I have to narrow it down.
My book editing class I feel very overwhelmed in and yet at the same time I feel very intellectually stimulated by it.  I think that I’m going to learn a lot about the business end of the publishing field.  While I may not want to enter that field, I believe it will help me develop a better package if I opt to go with traditional publishing for my books. It will be a good reminder that publishing is a business and that means authors have to approach it as such.  Most authors I know are more artsy about this so it is the balance I’m going to have to work to maintain.

I’ve got a bunch of homework to do this weekend.  I’ve got 14 short stories to read (not all this weekend) and I need to decide on what I will submit for my first one or start writing a new one.  I’ve got a research project to get done, two page paper, and a bunch of articles to read.  Plus it is a pay week so there is a lot to do.  It will be jam packed and busy I’m sure.

New Semester

Classes started this week.  I have one assignment of reading which I’ll tackle this weekend I think.  I also have a few other things I want to get done before the semester gets into full swing.  My to do list include finishing a few sewing projects, making fake blood to redo my cover shot for my book, and a few other things.  Well in reality there are about two dozen other things but I know I won’t get it all done.  I did spend some time organizing my desk.  I have things in piles.  I might have to actually write up a to-do list and see how it comes out. 
I enjoyed my Book Editing class.  My instructor is sarcastic and ironic.  I like that.  First impressions are good.  Now I’ll just have to see how the semester plays out.  I didn’t have my Monday night class yet because of course this last Monday was a holiday.  I’m looking forward to finding out about that class. 

The Fiction Writing class I hope will be a challenge so I end up with expanding my writing muscles.  I also hope I come out with product I can submit for publication.  I am most apprehensive about this class as my last writing class was such a debacle.  Time will tell I guess…

Spring Classes

I was a bit bummed today when one of my classes was cancelled.  I was looking forward to it and they didn’t get enough students enrolled in it.  No playwriting class for me next semester.  I figured I’d end up with some weird class. 
Instead I got (drum roll please) the book editing class I originally wanted.  I don’t have the pre-reqs for the class but it would be great timing for me to have the class as I’m neck deep in editing my poetry book (and romance novel and on the horizon is my magic book).  If I could get some in depth knowledge on the editing process for books that would refine my skills and help me produce a better book. 
I emailed the professor today and she immediately came back with – yes you can be in the class.  I was enrolled by the end of the day.  Next semester looks like an interesting semester as I’m taking Fiction Writing in a night course and then the book editing in a late afternoon class. 
Another bonus for my schedule, I’ll actually have time to go to the pool on Monday and Wednesday.  I’ll have time between the two classes on Monday to go to the aquatic center for an hour and still make it back for my night class.  Wednesday I’ll be out of class early enough that I’ll be able to go and get not quite an hour for a work out.