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Janey Burton

PUBLISHING CONSULTANT

Editor & Contracts Negotiator

What is a manuscript assessment?

Who is the manuscript assessment service for?

Which book categories do you work with?

What additional information do you need?

How long will the manuscript assessment report be?

What will be in the report? Do you follow a manuscript assessment template?

Can we have a follow-up session afterwards?

Can I see a sample section from a manuscript assessment report?

How much does a manuscript evaluation cost?

How long will the manuscript evaluation take?

Do you offer a partial manuscript evaluation?

How to book a manuscript assessment.

Any other questions?

‘Turning a manuscript into a book is easy; getting the manuscript ready to become a book is hard.’
A.P. Fuchs

What is a manuscript assessment?

Also known as a manuscript appraisal, manuscript evaluation, manuscript critique, or a structural report, a manuscript assessment is a service that evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of a manuscript and provides feedback from an objective point of view.

The assessment will consider all aspects of the manuscript, its place in its category and its market potential.

A manuscript assessment’s basic ingredients are: What is working, what is not working, and what the author can do to improve the work. Within this structure, elements such as narrative arc, pace, voice, characters, plot, and dialogue will be considered and critiqued.

Who is the manuscript assessment service for?

A few types of writer might benefit from a manuscript assessment:

  • Writers who are wondering if their manuscript is ready or nearly ready for publication, who therefore want an assessment in order to do any final polishing to prepare for submission to agents and publishers.
  • Writers who are getting vague or conflicting feedback from readers, who would benefit from a clear and objective view from a publishing professional.
  • Writers who are stuck: They know work still needs to be done but are not sure what work to do or how to go about it.
  • Writers who want to assure themselves that their book meets its objectives: For example, that it’s suitable and appropriate for its intended audience, and they have positioned it correctly for its market.

Which book categories do you work with?

I work with general and popular non-fiction and commercial fiction in all categories for adults.

In non-fiction, I particularly enjoy memoir, biography, careers, and self-help books, and in fiction I’m most comfortable with mysteries, thrillers, comic fantasy and women’s fiction including romance and cosy mystery.

I don’t work with poetry or children’s books.

What additional information do you need?

I will need to know the book’s word count, category or genre, and its intended audience. It’s also useful to know the author’s goals for the book: for instance, are you aiming to get traditionally published or self-published?

Please tell me about your areas of concern, questions you want me to answer, and send me any relevant additional documents, such as your synopsis and pitch letter.

How long will the manuscript assessment report be?

This depends on the individual book and what needs to be said about it. Previous reports have ranged from around 2000 words up to 6000 words.

What will be in the report? Do you follow a manuscript assessment template?

I don’t follow a template, but I will broadly divide the report into sections that discuss what elements are working, anything that is not working, and what you can do to improve the manuscript.

Within this structure, I will focus in on elements such as narrative arc, pace, voice, characters, plot, and dialogue. I will often refer to particular chapters, scenes, or pages, and may pull out quotes from the manuscript to discuss. I will usually offer suggestions for further reading as well.

Can we have a follow-up session afterwards?

If desired, we can have a follow-up call to discuss any clarifying questions. My mini consultation service is also available for clients who want further advice and encouragement while they are rewriting and editing the manuscript.

Can I see a sample section from a manuscript assessment report?

Yes. When you contact me, ask to see a sample from a Romance, Thriller or Memoir manuscript assessment. These examples have been anonymised and are therefore partial.

How much does a manuscript evaluation cost?

£350 for manuscripts up to 50,000 words.

For manuscripts between 50,000 words and 100,000 words: £350 for the first 50,000 words, then £6 per 1000 words thereafter.

If your manuscript is longer than 100,000 words, please contact me for a quote.

How long will the manuscript evaluation take?

3-5 weeks. I will confirm the date on which I aim to deliver the report once I receive the deposit, manuscript and any additional material.

I need this length of time to turn around the report in order to fit the assessment around my other work, as well as to allow time for me to mull over and digest the manuscript. Mulling time is an essential element of an effective manuscript assessment.

Do you offer a partial manuscript evaluation?

Yes. If you want to know if a draft is working so far and is worth continuing with, you can send me up to 30,000 words, as well as an outline of the remaining chapters. A partial manuscript evaluation costs £210 and will take 2-3 weeks to turn around.

How to book a manuscript assessment.

There are two ways.

You can fill in the contact form and select Manuscript assessment. Or you can email me and put ‘Manuscript assessment booking’ in the subject line.

Either way, please tell me a bit about the book, including its category, word count, and what leads you to request an assessment.

Any other questions?

You’re welcome to email me with any further questions.