The Importance Of A Manuscript Assessment

No matter the type of book you are writing, there will come a point when you’ll wonder if you are on the right track. Before you send out your book to potential publishers or agents, you should get a book manuscript assessment from a professional editor.

Book manuscript assessment

Depending on where you are in the process, you can get a book manuscript assessment. This can give you an overview of your book topic and what’s working. While it’s not as detailed as a developmental edit or manuscript proofreading, it can help you polish your work.

What is a book manuscript assessment?

It provides a holistic look at a novel, nonfiction book, or collection of essays. Instead of providing detailed copy editing and developmental feedback, a manuscript assessment will tell you what’s working and what isn’t.

With this approach, an editor will read your work as a whole. They will give you a written report on what to keep, what to work on, and what to remove.

It’s a paid service that gives you a high-level analysis. It can help you know if your book is taking shape or if you need to rework some areas of your manuscript.

Who needs a manuscript assessment?

With nearly 50,000 writers in the U.S. and probably even more who want to become published authors, there is a lot of competition. A book manuscript assessment can help writers as they work on their books. Writers who can benefit from this include:

Writers with an unfinished manuscript

If you have an unfinished manuscript and can’t figure out how to finish it, a book manuscript appraisal can give you feedback on how to end your novel.

A book editor can give you input on whether your book is too long or too short. Or maybe your book is actually finished and you need to scale back a bit.

Writers with vague feedback

A manuscript appraisal can also benefit writers who have been getting random feedback that lacks detail from those who've read the book.

It might be that what you think your audience wants doesn’t align with what you are writing. In that case, an appraisal can help you figure out exactly what it is that people do and don’t like about your work and where you can improve.

Writers who are stuck

If you are stuck with how to end your novel or have writer’s block, getting an assessment will help you figure out where to take the story next. Because an editor will look at both the structure and story, they can give you feedback on where to focus next.

An assessment is less complex than a developmental edit. You won’t get specific questions answered. And the editor won't rewrite specific sections.

Instead, they will point you to resources and things to think about as you continue writing.

Why does this matter?

Manuscript assessments can help you figure out what is working with your book and what isn’t. It’s a great tool to use if you’re not ready for an in-depth development edit but want to get some feedback from a professional.

As a result, it may also be much cheaper than a developmental edit so it’s worth considering if you’re on a tight budget. While it can’t replace an in-depth edit, it can help you get feedback and continue to work on your novel.

What should a book manuscript assessment include?

This is not the same thing as manuscript proofreading. You won’t get a grammar check or input on what to change, rewrite or expand on. Instead, a book manuscript assessment should include a written report with feedback on:

What’s working and what isn’t

A manuscript appraisal will include an overview of what is working and what isn’t. You can expect to get feedback on whether or not the story makes sense. And your editor will tell you if your characters are falling flat.

Guidance for the setting of the story

An editor will also give you input on the setting of your story. Does it fit the overall tone? Does the setting make sense for the story you are trying to tell?

Maybe you’re writing a love story set in medieval times but it would actually make more sense if it was told in WW2.

If the characters are working well

Manuscript editing also will take into account the characters in the novel. You'll get feedback on if you have too many characters if you need more characters, or whether or not the characters grow throughout the novel.

Advice about the plot

Your editor will give you advice on whether your plot makes sense. You should get input on any gaps in your plot or if your plot twist in the middle actually worked or was easy to spot from the get-go.

Whether the voice is correct

During the process, the editor will also look at the voice throughout the book and comment on whether it works or if you should tell the story from a different perspective. You’ll get insight into your word choice and the rhythm and if it fits the story.

Insight about the pacing

A manuscript appraisal should also consider the pacing of the book. You should get insight into if you are writing too many detailed paragraphs or if you are skimming through the important bits. Maybe your work is too long or maybe you need to expand your manuscript by a few chapters.

If the market fit is right

Getting manuscript editing will also help you figure out if your book fits with the market and genre you are trying to write for.

You may think you’re writing for a specific audience only to get told that it works better for a completely different type of reader.

Where can you get manuscript assessments?

You can get a book manuscript assessment from any editor offering the service.

There are freelance editors who focus just on working with novelists and offer manuscript assessments as part of their services.

There are also agencies that focus on helping writers and offer different types of services. This can include manuscript proofreading, assessments, developmental editing, and more.

The Oxford Editors

The Oxford Editors is a team of professionals who are able to help you with your manuscript assessment. They offer other editing services, as well. They review many different types of work, including fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and more.


Reedsy is a platform where you can find independent editors to help you with your manuscript assessment. You can find editors all over the world and look for one who is near you.


Upwork is another platform where you can find freelance editors to help you with your manuscript regardless of your writing niche. You can determine your pricing upfront and contracts and feedback are handled directly on the platform.

Related articles on getting published

Are you ready to publish your book? Check out these related articles.

Get your book ready for publishing with a manuscript assessment!

Getting a book manuscript assessment can help you take your book to the next level.

With an overview of what is working and what isn’t, you can prepare your novel, nonfiction book, or poetry book for publication.

Whether you’re an established writer, looking to self-publish, or just writing for fun, manuscript editing that focuses on an assessment can help you get extra guidance and input to make your writing better.

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