A Manuscript Assessment considers the structure, content and style of your manuscript. It is sometimes known as a ‘structural’ or ‘substantive’ edit. It may include matters such as plot, character, point of view, pace, writing style, narrative, dialogue, presentation, length, use of research, readership, and even marketing or publishing possibilities.
Manuscript Assessments differ from copy editing or proofreading. The latter tend to look in detail at the accuracy of things like spelling, grammar and punctuation, while a Manuscript Assessment will give you professional advice on the big picture. A manuscript assessment may tell you that your work needs some editing or proofreading, but it won’t provide this service for you. Its purpose is to give you an objective and comprehensive assessment of your work from an experienced professional. Literary Agents or Publishers will usually insist that you get a Manuscript Assessment done before they will consider representing you. Even if you decide to go down the ‘indie’ route and self-publish, an assessment of this nature is critical. You want to ensure that what goes out under your name is as professional as you can make it.
What you can expect.
We will provide you with a written report. Our assessor will also be available to discuss the report either person-to-person if you are in the local region, or by phone, Facetime, Skype, Zoom or some similar service, should you require it.
The length may vary depending upon the length and the complexity of the material we are assessing. As a rule of thumb, most assessments fall within the 12 to 20-page range, though they may be shorter or longer in some instances.
We do not base our manuscript assessments on a standard template. They are written to address the specific nature of the work we are assessing.
What we need to know about your requirements
To help us tailor our assessment to your specific needs, and your work, there are several things we will ask before we reach an agreement to proceed.
First and foremost, we need to know what format your manuscript will be in. While hard copy is fine, most people submit their material in electronic form. Microsoft Word, Google Docs and PDF are the formats most commonly used, but there are, of course, a myriad of other types available. Although we can cope with almost all of these, we need to know in advance which format you intend to submit your work in so that we can let you know if this presents any problems for us.
We will want to know what whether your work is fiction or non-fiction and what genre it fits within. It will also help us if you can identify the audience you had in mind when you wrote it. Is it targeted at Young Adults, for example, or some other specific age group? Have you written it with a primarily male or female readership in mind? What are your aspirations for the material you are submitting? Is it primarily written as a family record, or do you have self-publishing or commercial publishing in mind?
You may not know the answers to all of these questions or you may have steadfast views on all of them. Whatever you can tell us will help us assess your material in the correct context.