Manuscript Evaluation – what to expect

Manuscript evaluation is the art and science of giving tough, constructive advice on a draft manuscript (typically, but not always, a novel). What you should expect is:

  • an expert reviewer. In our view the only reviewers worth their salt are (a) professional authors who have published with major publishers, or (b) commissioning editors at major publishing houses (typically fully or semi-retired, as they won’t have time otherwise).
  • a long, diligent editorial report. At the Writers’ Workshop, we guarantee a minimum of a 3000 word long report, but our reports can easily be double that length where necessary. What matters is that the evaluation of your manuscript is thorough, honest and constructive.
  • a willingness to be brutal. There’s just no point paying for a service where your editor will shield you from harsh truths. Sure, it’s nice for the ego to be flattered, but it’ll do nothing for your publishing career. So you want to make sure you work with people who are prepared to be tough.
  • knowledge of your market. If you’re writing Young Adult Urban Fantasy, then you don’t want a reviewer who only writes literary fiction. Obviously.
  • an expectation of dialogue. You need to be able to talk with or email with your editor to follow up on their manuscript evaluation. What did they mean by X? Would it be all right if you addressed point Y by doing Z? That kind of thing. There shouldn’t really be any preset time limit on that discussion. It just needs to be done right.
  • links with literary agents. No, don’t get all excited. Those links with agents are only going to matter IF and WHEN your work is strong enough to sell. That point may not happen in this lifetime … but if it does, then you want to work with a consultancy that can deliver the goods. That means strong, demonstrable links with leading agents.

The Writers’ Workshop is the leading purveyor of manuscript evaluations in the UK, and probably in the world. You can review some sample editorial reports here. You can check out what we do and how we do it here. And if you have any questions, then just ask.

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