Joanna Booth

Joanna Booth

Click here to open an infographic with a little about me.

You can email me at

I’ve been a book editor and reviewer for the past five years; data analyst and social researcher for nine years; software tester and documentation professional for three years; and I have undergraduate and graduate studies in law, politics, statistics, ICT, web apps, and programming.

I specialise in academic work and have worked on PhDs that include statistics and social research. I offer copy editing and feedback on your work, and can format your references and footnotes.

As an editor, the biggest problems I have encountered include the following:

Non-Fiction / Academic

  • Mistakes in the text – whether spelling or grammar
  • English by non-native speakers


  • Holes in the plot
  • Weak and inconsistent characters
  • Incoherent and irrational structures
  • Dialogue that isn’t believable and isn’t consistent
  • Police and other services’ procedures that aren’t accurate

I can help fix all the above or find you someone who will.

For a professional editing service, I offer the following:


I will check your text for spelling, grammar, understanding, and consistency.


Whether you are working on a fiction or a non-fiction manuscript, I can provide feedback on what will make your work even better. Before you send anything to a publisher why not have a professional pair of eyes check that everything is in order.

Email me at to ask for a sample edit and a quote.

Typical cost is £100 for 20,000 words.

Sample edits are free.

Continue Reading

Communicating, not illustrating

Communicate don't illustrate

Browsing through Instagram from my new account, the other day, I came across a book that was being promoted by its publishing company. I went to Goodreads and the reviews were not as positive as the heavily promoted ones suggested. There was a lot of scorn for frilly and overdone writing and descriptions that didn’t seem to have a point.

I quickly took the book off my TBR pile.

It got me thinking about what the point of having this pretty language that did not progress the story was and why were these books getting such heavy promotion.

Traditional publishers spend a lot of money on new books and they have the contacts to get the word out. When you’re a self-published writer, you need to have a great story. You can’t rely on the amount of promotion dedicated to mediocre and terrible writers and a hell of a lot of them get published because they are dressed up in what will sell.

Ignore those for now and work on the writing.

I’m not suggesting that flowery writing doesn’t have a place in literature or a good story; it certainly does. It does however need to achieve two things:

  1. The writing and style must progress the story;
  2. The flowery writing needs to serve a purpose.

So go through your writing and see what your writing style adds to your story. Are there parts that seem irrelevant but you’ve kept them in because they’re pretty and flowery? Then either cut them out or give them a purpose. In this way, all the elements of your style will help you communicate your novel’s purpose.

Don’t just make something pretty; illustrations need to be on the cover, not in the text.

Continue Reading

The 7 things I learnt from reading a badly written book

Last night, I was up at 4am reading a terrible book on how to be a successful Etsy seller. It was so badly written that I tried to find the author and offer them my services but they had no obvious social presence and I think the book was not something anyone had spent too much time on. It was one in a long line of marketing books that are priced low and designed for a quick sale.

I also read one or two very well written books by people who genuinely had experience in selling and wanted to share it with others. 
The well-written books inspired me to share with you some things I would have told the badly-written book’s author if they’d been around. If it helps anyone then it will have been worth it.

So here they are:

The seven things I learnt from badly written books
1. With a good / professional book cover, you’ll get some readers even if your book is terrible. If your book and cover are both good then you’ll have a much better chance of keeping those readers.

2. Make sure your chapters are numbered consecutively. 
The chapters of the bad book went from 12 to 14 with no 13. It didn’t inspire me with confidence and it wasn’t even the worst thing about it. There were also numbered sections interspersed throughout the book and not confined to the chapters. I was very confused.

3. Website names are proper nouns so you don’t need to use ‘the’ in front of them. 
The Facebook or the Etsy is just wrong.

4. If you’re going to copy and use text straight from a website you’re writing about, make sure you format it so that it’s obvious it is not your writing; indent and leave space above and below, or use quotation marks at the beginning and end of the text.

5. Use specific examples rather than general talk around an issue. For example, if you’re writing to tell people about how to promote their shops on etsy, give examples and directions.

Bad example from a book that shall remain nameless – I have not skipped any content, the following is the entirety of what was written in that section. I read the whole book and there was no better advice:

“The Etsy has millions of buyers and a variety of business stores with them; therefore, you will get lots of opportunities to sell your products. You can work without prior experience because the experts in the team and online labs will help you to grow your business.”

Good example from a helpful book:

“The Etsy Blogs should be your last stop, because it is going to be important to remember what you learn there. Under the Blogs tab are links to the Etsy Blog, Etsy News Blog and the Seller Handbook.

You may wish to scan the News Blog and see what is going on, but the Seller handbook is the real reason that we are looking at this tab. The handbook contains dozens of outstanding articles for both beginning and experienced Etsians. The articles are provided by the Etsy staff. They focus on providing tips to organize your business, price goods and develop your brand.

Before I built my shop, I read all of the applicable posts in the Handbook. There is a lot of information that can help you to develop a profitable business on Etsy. There are two final pages to visit: 1) Etsy Seller Guidelines at https:// help/ article/ 4507 2) Etsy Seller FAQs at https:// help/ topics? ref = help_faq_suggestion”

(From – Etsy Empire by Eric Michael)

6. Make sure your first page (at least!) makes sense. Get someone else to read your work for you. There’s a lot of talk about beta readers these days, which is just a way of saying people who will give you feedback. Don’t ask family and friends unless they like your genre or style of writing. They’re bound to be biased.

But who else can you ask because for most of us, we only know and stay in touch with family and friends? Maybe ask your friends then but try to ensure they like the kind of thing you are writing about and are able to provide useful feedback. If not completely unbiased, they could at least provide a sense check on your writing.

7. Remember to provide your contact details such as your social media accounts and any website details. Don’t use URL shortcuts because they might stop working.

I hope these are helpful in some way. It would be nice to think that my 4am frustrations with books that aren’t great, weren’t for nothing.

Some other helpful tips can be found in this Book Helpline ebook.

Continue Reading

Opening scenes: Yippi-kai-yay story lovers – lessons from Die Hard

Die Hard may seem an unlikely way to learn what makes a great introduction but you would be amazed. There is a reason why this movie is a classic and has an 8.2 rating on IMDB.

Everything you need to know about the protagonist and his biggest flaw are revealed before the credits even say DIE HARD.


A plane touches down.
A man is gripping the arm rest of his aeroplane seat and the passenger next to him gives him some advice on how to “survive air travel”: walk around barefoot and make fists with your feet. He says,”Trust me, I’ve been doing this for nine years.”

The advisor looks up at John McClane as the latter gets his baggage from the compartment above and is horrified at the gun in his holster.

“It’s ok, I’m a cop. Trust me, I’ve been doing this for 11 years.”

John takes down a huge teddy bear from the compartment.

As he moves past a flight attendants, she keeps his glance longer than she should. He looks back. Then looks after her.

The credits say DIE HARD.

In the two minutes before the credits, you have just been given all the information you need about the movie:

  • The main character is a cop. He carries a gun.
  • He is taking a big present which is the clue to the fact he hasn’t seen his children in a while
  • He is taking this flight despite not wanting to – he doesn’t like flying
  • He finds other women attractive so his marriage is in trouble, and
  • At some stage he is going to take his shoes off and be barefoot

If you’ve seen Die Hard then you know that his bare feet are his achilles heel, as such. Once the bad guys realise that he’s not wearing any shoes they can take advantage of it and cause him a lot of pain.

All this foreshadowing and introduction took two minutes. Most people watching won’t realise how detailed the opening scene has been because it is interesting. We want to know more about John McCain. This is tough guy Bruce Willis carrying a gun and a teddy bear and not liking being on a plane. Where is he going? What is he doing?


So how can Die Hard help you with your opening scene. Here are the tips:

  • How can your scene be made compelling?
  • What does it say about your story?
  • How does it progress your story?
  • It’s a setting, a scene in its own right and a potential mirror of the ending.

Die Hard is based on the 1979 book by Roderick Thorp, Nothing Lasts Forever. The opening scene in the book however starts in a taxi that gets rear-ended. The Black driver has to get our protagonist to the terminal in 20 minutes but the guy who hit them is a maniac who is not letting them go. Leland, the protagonist, then tells the driver that he is an ex-cop, current security consultant. In this way we find out what the protagonist is willing to do, what he’s about, and the taxi driver gets set up to appear later in the story as well, just like in the movie.

The introduction is a bit longer than in the movie, which screenwriter Jeb Stuart changed to him already landing in the plane. Stuart knows a thing or two about action and suspense and he also wrote the screenplays for Lock UP featuring Sylvester Stallone, and the Fugitive with Harrison Ford.

He is excellent at knowing how to make the opening scene interesting, compelling, informative and useful. The useful part is the foreshadowing that you won’t realise is a vital bit of information but your subconscious will remember it and when it happens it will make even more of an impact.

You don’t need an action novel to use all these elements. Try it out on your opening scene and let me know how it goes. I’ll happily provide feedback.

Continue Reading