I must tell you I am in the middle of reading your novel. You have very often a simply beastly style, indirect and roundabout and stiff-kneed and stupid. And your stuff is abominably muddled – you’ll simply have to write it all again.
D H Lawrence to Catherine Carswell on her first novel.
What you don’t want in a manuscript appraisal 🙂 I couldn’t help sharing it with you.
Who Needs a Manuscript Appraisal?
In the old days, when we had to get past the gatekeepers in traditional publishing, it made sense to have your novel professionally assessed. Some publishing houses in Australia actually made it a condition of submission that the writer attach an appraisal from a reputable manuscript assessment agency. These days, you might be wondering if the need for an appraisal still exists, especially if you’ve done many drafts of the work and been careful in your editing — or if you are an e-book author. I can learn a bit of formatting, you think; enough to put an e-book up on the net. Maybe someone out there will like it. Maybe I’ll even make some money.
Almost everyone can benefit from an informed opinion about their work: about the appeal of its plot line, the strength of its characters, whether it needs editing, etc. etc. In these days of indie digital publishing, most savvy writers have a few faithful beta readers who read their books before publication and report back any anomalies they might find. This is a step in the right direction, but it’s not enough if you want to make your book the very best it can be. And why wouldn’t you? That book is going to outlive you.
Assessors Come in Many Shapes and Forms
Some assessors return manuscripts without a mark on them, leaving the writer to wonder if the work was ever read at all — though they can see from their bank accounts that the cheque was cashed very promptly. I read every manuscript twice, circle spelling mistakes, comment in the margins when I particularly like (or dislike) something, edit dialogue I feel is going on too long; none of which is in the job description. When a manuscript comes back from me, you’ll know I’ve read it. More than that, you’ll know what your beta readers, good faithful friends/relies/other indie writers won’t tell you: and that is, whether you have succeeded in what you set out to do.
What You Get in an Appraisal
I provide a report of at least 5 pages, dealing in depth with plot, characterisation, story structure, spelling, dialogue, and more. If the work has problems, I make suggestions for how these might be fixed. Where editing is recommended, I edit 5 pages of the manuscript free of charge to show how the work might be improved. Because I’m a writer myself, I can do this without friends and loved ones having to scrape the remains of your shattered ego off the floor.
Email Me First!
If any of the above takes your fancy, please email me first at firstname.lastname@example.org before sending off a manuscript, or fill out the form below. That way, we can discuss your aims and goals for the work and you can get an accurate quote.
A Word of Warning
Because I’m an old manuscript assessor, I work on print copies. I firmly believe a better job can be done on a print copy than on an e. That means you need to post me a printed copy of the manuscript — or you can email it to me, and I will print it out. If you choose the second option, printing charges apply on top of the assessment charges. See Fees and Charges in the bar menu above.
If you’re a writer working outside Australia, it’s sometimes cheaper to take the email-and-print option, depending on the size of the work and where you are posting from.
I leave you with a quote by Hemingway: