Manuscript assessment

Unbound stack of papers tied with a red cord, with MANUSCRIPT and COPYRIGHT typed on top page

All writers need feedback on their work being they submit it for publishing. While feedback from other writers, friends and family can be useful for your early drafts, a professional editor can provide an independent industry perspective on the near final draft. A manuscript assessment is recommended when you think the work might be ready to send to a publisher or agent, or to publish it yourself, but you need a professional opinion on its readiness as well as ways to improve it.

What’s involved in a manuscript assessment

Manuscript assessment looks at the ‘big picture’ aspects of your work, not the detail such as grammar, spelling or punctuation, nor continuity for fiction (though it may make general comments if these are problem areas). In other words, it is not an edit of any kind, even though it draws on editing skills.

The assessment work involves two readings of your manuscript, in hard copy, from start to finish: an initial quick read to gain a ‘feel’ for the work, followed by a second, slower read while making notes with a critical eye.

The notes are then developed into a written report that provides a constructive critique of your manuscript, particularly its strengths and its weaknesses, suggestions for how you might improve it, and its readiness and suitability for publication. The report may address matters of length, genre, voice, syntax, grammar and other stylistic and structural aspects of your writing. If your manuscript is fiction, the report will also include feedback on plot, pace, characterisation and setting. For non-fiction manuscripts, the report may address matters of content, structure, illustrations, references, and overall completeness.

Depending on the length of the manuscript, an assessment can take anywhere from 20 to 50 hours to complete.

What we do and don’t assess

We assess manuscripts for adults and young adults in commercial, genre and literary fiction, general trade non-fiction and some technical and specialist non-fiction.

We do not assess children’s fiction or non-fiction, graphic novels, memoir or self-help.

Assessment rates and quotes

Manuscript assessment rates depend on the length and complexity of the work. All manuscripts need to be sighted before quoting. As an indication, fiction manuscripts of 40,000–60,000 words are assessed for around $500 plus GST.

To obtain a quote, please email us your manuscript, or at least a representative sample of it, along with the total word count (not page count), the genre and the target readership. We handle all files received with utmost confidentiality and security.

If you accept the quote, you will need to provide both digital and hard copy of the work in a legible font of at least 12 point. The hard copy needs to have good margins (at least 2cm) and page numbering, but lines do not need to be double-spaced and the printing may be on both sides. On completion, the hard copy will be shredded, unless you provide a stamped self-addressed envelope for its return.