If you've completed a first draft (or second or third), and you know that something is not quite right but you're not sure what, a manuscript assessment is a good place to start.
I'll read the entire manuscript and provide you with a succinct assessment (~1,500 words) and professional guidance for revision. I don't offer partial assessments (say, the first 5 or 50 pages), because to fully understand your work and what you're trying to do, I need to read the full manuscript.
A manuscript assessment, also called a critique or evaluation, will give you insight into the greatest strengths and weaknesses of your manuscript. I'll identify the five or six "big picture" elements that would benefit the most from more work, and I'll make suggestions for revision. Big picture elements include things like audience, premise or purpose, structure, themes, organization into chapters or sections, beginnings and endings, narrative pace, chronology or moving around in time, characters, scenes, setting, and voice. The assessment concludes with recommendations for next steps.
Is a manuscript assessment the best choice for me?
A manuscript assessment is a budget-friendly option. You'll get professional feedback on an early stage of your draft that will give you direction and could save you time and money down the road.
What does it cost?
$10/1,000 words. For example, an assessment of a 60,000-word manuscript costs $600.
Ellie Barton "got" me and my "voice" from the get-go. She shared her suggested changes with me in a professional yet delicate manner. I was impressed by her microscopic attention to the details, most notably continuity details that earlier editors had missed entirely. Ellie also helped to boost the confidence of a first-time author. I sincerely hope that I will be calling on her to work with me again someday.
Comprehensive Structural Edit
Structural editing, also called developmental editing, is a deep dive into your memoir or nonfiction story. You'll receive a lengthy editorial letter (~4,000 words) that delves into all structural aspects of your manuscript, points out the fantastic parts, explains what could be improved and why, demonstrates how to revise using excerpts from your story, coaches you on elements of craft as needed, and provides a roadmap for revision.
An editorial letter presents my analyses and comments in one place, organized by headings. You won’t have to hunt through emails or comments in the margins. You can read the letter at leisure and refer back to it as you revise. You'll receive concrete suggestions -- solutions you can apply -- and encouraging advice on how to develop your craft.
Most manuscripts benefit from a comprehensive structural edit. Maybe you've shown your book to few close friends and family members, or to beta readers, and you've revised it based on their feedback. Now you're ready for professional, objective feedback on the key elements you'll want to address before submitting your book to an agent or publisher, or going ahead with self-publishing.
An editorial letter addresses crucial questions:
- Who are your ideal readers? What do you want them to come away with?
- What is the story about?
- What is the premise or your purpose in writing?
- Is the point of view right for this story?
- Is the voice honest and authentic?
- Does the beginning captivate the reader's attention and raise questions?
- Are the chapters well organized?
- Is the story interesting and well-paced? Will readers be eager to turn the page?
- Do the characters come alive?
- What does the main character or narrator want? What stands in their way?
- Are dramatic events shown in scenes or dramatized through vivid writing?
- Can we visualize the setting?
- Is the backstory (what happened before the main story) woven in where readers are curious to know about it?
- Is there enough explanation and descriptive detail? too much?
- If you are writing a memoir, does the narrator reflect on the meaning of events?
- If you are presenting an argument, is it persuasive? Are the sources documented?
- Are permissions needed, say for song lyrics, illustrations, or long quotations?
- Is the conclusion satisfying?
- Does the writing style enliven the story?
Is a comprehensive structural edit the best choice for me?
A structural edit is a good choice if you have a completed manuscript that you've taken as far as you can on you own, but you know that some aspects of the structure still need work. To get the most from this service, you should be willing to revise your story using the guidance and examples from the editorial letter. If you prefer more hands-on help, an editorial letter plus comments in the margins, or a stylistic edit, might be a better fit.
What does it cost?
$20 per 1,000 words. For example, a comprehensive assessment of a 60,000 word manuscript would cost $1,200.
Structural Edit + Comments in the Margins
You'll receive the same comprehensive assessment described above, plus comments in the margins using the Comment function in Microsoft Word. The comments supplement the editorial letter by drawing your attention to specific passages, asking questions about clarity and meaning, affirming moments that are funny or moving, and making more specific suggestions for cuts, additions, and revisions. This granular edit will energize your creativity.
Is a structural edit plus embedded comments the best choice for me?
Yes, if the overall structure of your manuscript is working fairly well. At this stage, you'll likely have revised your manuscript a few times in response to feedback from family, friends or beta readers. There are still some structural issues to deal with, but you won't have to rewrite entire sections or scenes.
What does it cost?
$25 per $1,000 words. For example, an editorial letter and comments for a 60,000-word manuscript costs $1,500.
I wanted to work with an editor who could help me produce a solid manuscript to submit to my publisher. I feel very fortunate to have found Ellie Barton. She is thorough, creative, and extremely knowledgeable. I recommend her services most highly.
– Robert Mundle, On Becoming a Better Listener: A Practical Spiritual Guide for Hospice Palliative Care Volunteers