pathways to publishing > services > assessment

 

 

THE WRITING JOURNEY

Laurel Cohn's Manuscript Development Services offers detailed feedback and meaningful engagement with your work, guiding you on the next steps towards publication.

 

Brad Cooper, one of Laurel Cohn's clients

Brad Cooper
The Finest Gold
Scribe 2018

'Laurel was among the first to offer constructive feedback on my early attempts at the manuscript which would (7 years later!) become The Finest Gold a memoir of my competitive swimming career. Writing is a mercurial act, and the sooner you get help pushing it around, the sooner it takes shape. Thanks Laurel.'

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'I have learnt a great deal in the short time I have been writing fiction, mostly by reading, trial and error, as well as taking a few workshops. Nothing, however, beats a professional critiquing of one's own work such as you have given. I am grateful for your input and you have inspired further effort to bring the work up to a publishable level. Thanks again Laurel. I will have no hesitation recommending your expertise to other aspiring writers.'

Robyn Haynes
(assessment of full manuscript)

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'I just wanted to say that I am most impressed with the assessment that you have provided for my work. It is comprehensive; it made me think about things that I hadn't considered before and it is written in such a compassionate way that I feel understood yet I have a clear direction on how to do my next version.'

Ruby Usman
(assessment of a partial draft)

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'Thank you for the report. The detail and analysis was fantastic – it was exactly what I was looking for. Your comments and observations made a lot of sense.  I've been thinking about how to go about the changes and will start on them now!'

Aaron Amavisca
(assessment of picture book manuscript)

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Manuscript Assessment and Development

MANUSCRIPT ASSESSMENT

A manuscript assessment (or editorial report) provides an independent, professional appraisal of your work. You could think of it as a health check, or a reality check.

Whether you are wanting to submit your work to a publisher or agent, or are intending to self-publish, a professional assessment is an important part of the process of making sure your book will serve your intentions appropriately, and be of the highest standard.

We are experienced in working with fiction (literary and popular), narrative non-fiction (e.g. memoir, travel), general non-fiction (e.g. reference, educational, how-to books) and children's books. We are happy to answer any questions you may have about the genre of your manuscript.

We prepare a written report (3,000–5,000 words) outlining the strengths and weaknesses of your work in terms of structure, pacing, story line and character development, genre, style, language usage, consistency and continuity, and any other issues that may be pertinent to a particular genre and a particular manuscript, such as ethical and legal questions.

The report is designed to guide you through the next level of manuscript development. It will address issues of the 'publishability' of the manuscript and offer suggestions on how to work on the next draft. We have not encountered a manuscript yet that hasn't required at least a little reworking, even those that have gone on to be best-sellers.

There are some basic conventions about writing in terms of the elements listed above — plot, character development, structure, language usage, etc. We consider all these areas and how they are working to achieve the writer's intention. Sometimes this process is important simply to help you clarify what your intention is. Writers can break rules, of course, and if they do it well it can be magnificently successful. But it takes considerable skill to be able to pull it off.

Apart from the basic elements, what do we look for in a manuscript? What makes a manuscript successful in our eyes? At the most fundamental level, the answer is simple and not at all mysterious. 'Do we want to turn the page? Do we want to keep reading?' We approach the manuscript with an open mind and an eye for problem solving. If we stumble over something, or something feels not right, we unpick why. Clearly there is an element of subjectivity in an assessment, just as there is in a publisher's decision to publish, or an agent's decision to represent an author. However, as a professional service with wide experience across a range of genres, we are able to consider the manuscript on its own terms, assessing whether you have succeeded in writing the book you want to write.

ASSESSMENT OF A PARTIAL DRAFT

We offer assessments on an excerpt of your work, such as the first three chapters plus a synopsis, and, where appropriate, a chapter outline. An assessment on a partial draft can help you understand what is working well, and what may need further development in order to capture the curiosity and attention of a publisher/agent or general reader. While we are unable in these circumstances to offer a detailed critique on how the story unfolds over the course of the entire work, the report can provide valuable feedback on the direction your work might take.