Do You Need a Manuscript Assessment?

(And let me tell you about that time I had to ditch 50,000 words of my novel….)

If you’re a beginning or emerging writer (or even an established one), you might be in need a manuscript assessment.

The very first memoir I wrote was shortlisted for a publishing award. Looking back, though, the manuscript didn’t have what it needed to get through a publisher at that time. But I didn’t know that then because I didn’t have enough experience yet; however, if I’d had a manuscript assessment, I think an astute assessor could have directed that manuscript into a publishable piece of work.

Then, while writing my fourth book (which was contracted and an advance had been paid), I got halfway through and realised I needed help. I paid for a manuscript assessment with a trusted editor and it shed so much light on the ways I had written myself into a corner. It was so valuable.

Here are a few of the reasons you might find yourself wondering if you need an assessment and why you might be right.

This is An Excellent Time to Get an Appraisal

Getting an appraisal earlier rather than later can save you from taking your story into directions that aren’t helpful. An appraisal can help show you where the gold is among the rubble, allowing you to ditch the rubble and let that treasure through. In our first drafts, we often can’t see the wood for the trees. We are ‘word blind’ to our own work because we’ve been staring at it for so long. We need fresh, expert eyes to see what’s really going on. (And that’s all of us… beginners or multiply published writers.)

If They’re Not ‘In The Arena’…

I’m sorry to say that they are unlikely to be able to give you what you need. Think of it this way. Your mum could probably do a fair bit of skilful first aid when you came off your bike, but if you had bones exposed and wounds of gravel, you needed a doctor! Family and friends can give amazing support. (They can also do the opposite. If so, we need to talk.) Usually,
friends & family’s best support is spent in practical ways (… childcare, cash, coffee, study time, a room of one’s own) and emotional support. But if it’s hard core writing craft you want, you need an expert in the field (in ‘the arena’).

You Are Correct!

Agents and publishers will rarely (if ever) look twice at something you’ve pitched. I know it is hard to wait. I know it’s hard to do yet another draft of your story. Everything moves so slowly in the publishing world. But… the upside of that is that because everything moves so slowly, you have time. You have time to do another draft. You have time to rework your manuscript, but only if you are taking it in the right direction! Trust me, as someone who has ditched 50,000 words of a manuscript that was going in the wrong direction… it HURTS! Don’t spend years going in the wrong direction. The sooner you know, the sooner you can turn around and get back on track. Or, as happened to me, clear the deck for the right story to arrive instead.

If you are ready for a manuscript assessment, you can contact me here.