Manuscript Assessment for Self-Publishers
Ideal for: authors who want in-depth feedback on how to improve their book prior to copy editing and proofreading.
Price: £475 (up to 80,000 words)
A Manuscript Assessment (also known as a Structural Edit) is for authors who have finished their novel or non-fiction book but are aware that it needs further work and requires some professional, unbiased feedback prior to Copy Editing. I will read through the manuscript and examine its overall tone, structure and readability. Then I will make suggestions on parts that need to be extensively rewritten, developed or researched. For novels, this also includes characterisation, themes and plot. Authors have come to me with various concerns, ranging from the fear that one of their characters wasn’t convincing enough to feeling they had gone into too much detail regarding one area of their book while brushing over another entirely. This is perfectly natural, and sometimes you simply need to take a step back and let someone else take a look.
A note on how I work
I tailor each of my services to the specific requirements of my clients, but I usually write my feedback in the form of an overall report, using Track Changes within the manuscript to mark-up smaller points. Once the author has made the appropriate changes, and we are both happy with them, I usually Copy Edit their manuscript for them.
As a Manuscript Assessment is my most in-depth service, I only take on work that I feel a genuine connection with, and where I fully believe that my advice will help the author move forward with their work. I usually read the first three chapters before deciding, which I do with no obligation on the author’s part. Below is an example of some of the feedback I provided to the author B.T. Fisher (redacted in places to avoid any plot spoilers!). Her book A Week in the Pennines was published by Wrate’s Publishing in 2022 and is available in bookstores and via Amazon.
I enjoyed this story very much. I was charmed by the characters and enjoyed learning about farm life. I loved the gentle humour too. I feel you could work on fleshing out the characters and strengthening the plot.
Taby (incidentally, I think it should be spelt Tabby)
It was a joy to witness her transformation, however, I did wonder why she was so overprotected at the age of 26. Could you explore that a little more at the beginning, when you are setting the story up? Is she shy, or is it simply that her mother refuses to let her go? I got a better sense of her father’s character and Taby’s relationship with him. Her mother remained a bit of a mystery. Is there a backstory there? Taby being an only child? A sickly child?
I would have liked to have heard a bit more from Taby herself. For instance, what does she make of doing all this farm work on what should have been a holiday? She just seems to get on with it without really questioning it. However, I did get a good sense of the transformation and the elation and freedom she felt inside.
I got a real sense of his character, and I enjoyed the interplay between him and Taby. I did suspect there was a bit of a flirtation going on, but with no sense of Giff’s age, I couldn’t be sure. It’s a great twist at the end… (removed to avoid spoilers),… but I think you could set this up better.
Some of them, such as Alun and the three New Zealand workers, are a little forgettable as you don’t describe them. I think it’s worth giving some sort of description to even minor characters. I thought Hazel and Jeff (especially Hazel) were well described but they seem to disappear part way through the story. Could they reappear again at the 40th birthday party? Similarly, I liked the dog’s place in the story, but you don’t give it a name or description.
Descriptions in general
Some of your details are lovely. For instance, when you describe Hazel as wearing a lime kaftan with matching green hair. This is a small detail but it’s enough to create a picture in the reader’s mind. A good exercise would be to go through the story and see where else you could add these extra details. For instance, every time you mention a meal, it would be good to know what they are eating. Also, I take it that the farm is a sheep farm only. Could you mention this early on, so the reader is aware of it from the outset? Do you ever mention how many sheep there are (on average)?
Here’s what B.T. Fisher said about the service I provided
“Danielle made me feel optimistic”
“This was my first novel, and I was unsure about its quality. Danielle made me feel optimistic about what I’d written while also pointing out the parts that needed work. These were all things that had been lurking in the back of my mind, so I knew we were on the same wavelength. I’ve really enjoyed the process of polishing and publishing my novel, and as well as being on sale on Amazon, it’s also stocked in The Book Case, an independent bookstore in Hebden Bridge, close to where I live. I’m currently working on my second novel, which will be going straight to Danielle.”
Author of A Week in the Pennines
Assisting authors from draft to publication.
Your MS, Professionally Assessed
Please tell me about your project, and I will be in touch with you soon. Please submit the first three chapters of your book, plus the full word count.