What is the evaluation of the manuscript? Why is a review by a skilled editor useful? Learn about this editorial service (plus ideas gleaned from writing reader reports):
What is the evaluation of the manuscript?
A manuscript evaluation (also known as an evaluation or evaluation) is an editing service where a professional editor reads your manuscript and provides high-level feedback (an overview).
Your editor usually covers the manuscript’s strengths and areas that require further review.
It’s a structured report, like a custom writing guide, tailored to your story.
Our report format includes general notes about:
- General strengths and areas for further improvement
- Narrative structure
- characterization and character development
- speed and tension
- SPAG (spelling, punctuation, grammar) and style
- Setting / building the world
- Marketing / Next Steps
Plus more. Some editors (including myself) have also commented on the submitted draft with periodic comments.
Reasons to include an inline comment include:
- Identification of specific issues or weaknesses raised in the manuscript evaluation
- Share relevant writing craft resources that explain the concepts raised in the report where useful
- Note what works in the manuscript to draw attention to the distinct exemplary passages
- Help with the writing process: Commentary searchable with shorthand is useful for cross-referencing story details to help overall and broad comments (eg comments about your character’s development/arcs)
When do you get a manuscript evaluation?
Obtaining a manuscript evaluation is useful at two specific stages in the writing process:
- You’ve written your full draft and want to know what works and where any elements of the story fall apart
- You have written some/most of the draft and want feedback to check or recalibrate your course
Why should you get one?
5 reasons to get a manuscript evaluation
- Find out what works and what doesn’t (so far).
- Stay away from the text (objective analysis).
- Prioritize next steps in the review.
- You get to make the changes yourself (instead of editing the font).
- Manuscript evaluations cost less than evolutionary editing.
Preparing for manuscript evaluation: what to expect
Editors, like authors, have different styles. Some are explicit about how they give feedback, while others use comments in gentle or rather suggestive language: “Maybe” or “You can also…”.
A good editor is in some ways like an improv partner, in that they say, “Yeah, and…?” And not just “no”.
If you are going to submit your manuscript, prepare for the following:
Honest editorial notes
There is a simplified version of what the editor does – it “corrects” and/or “fixes” the language.
Sure, there are times when editing is primarily therapeutic. If the errors are mainly in the SPAG category, eg.
However, editing is often more subtle than that. It also adds value. checker Serve your text Through careful analysis and advice to you until it becomes better possible version of the same. Sometimes the “fix” is straightforward and objective. Sometimes it’s more open to style and taste, and there are trade-offs between aesthetic purpose and story purpose.
It is a dance between rigor with the “grammar” of language and communication with purpose and influence, on the one hand, and the freedom to play and maintain your individual voice on the other.
As Joe, a Now Novel MS evaluation client says, honest and thoughtful feedback ultimately builds your writing confidence.
I really liked that he not only told me what I wanted to hear, which boosted my confidence in my writing.
Joe Z, Now Novel review via TrustSpot
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Opportunity to edit consultation
In the traditional publishing world, you often have No Direct contact with the editors. For example, when an agent does the query on your behalf.
One real advantage of working privately with an editor is the opportunity for attentive, purpose-oriented counseling.
As editorial client Rob says, a good ongoing relationship with an editor based on trust helps you build trust in your own process as well:
This is the second time I have used this service. NOWNOVEL completed manuscript evaluation and tag modification. I cannot praise them enough. Not only did they direct comments about millisecond inefficiencies, they gave credit where it was due. This is important because writers learn what they do well, remember comments, and relax moving forward.
Rob, now comments the evaluation of the new manuscript via TrustSpot.
Broader responses from evolutionary editing
Developmental editing and transcription editing go into the details, in the deposits of language and structure. Your editor might rewrite a paragraph to give an example of a different phrasing, or follow the cut-outs with an explanation of how this benefits the story’s pace and tension.
This makes developmental editing more labor intensive than manuscript evaluations, which is why it often costs nearly twice as much per word (although it’s worth it if you want to help fix a more backward story).
This is useful if you are on a budget but still want detailed written notes.
5 insights from writing manuscript reviews
- Share your vision in advance
- Book further consultations if needed
- Get a sample modification to check fit
- Maintain realistic expectations
- Ask questions for clarification
More on all of the above:
Share your vision in advance
It helps the editor to know a little more about what you’re aiming for. How you currently see your business versus where you want it to be.
When an editorial client says, for example, “I’m not sure if my main character’s arc is too flat” (in filling out the section titled “Key Challenges” on our editorial quotation form), it helps us ensure that the report is given more careful attention for this “problem” area.
Book further consultations if needed
Editing clients often wish to discuss the project further after receiving the manuscript’s evaluation.
Either the evaluation itself has sparked more ideas, or the client is at a crossroads and has creative decisions to make and desires an ongoing soundboard.
Since editing is a personalized/custom service, it’s easy to add to a Skype/Zoom call (if your editor offers) for a more free discussion.
If your editor has the ability, send a brief list of questions you want to explore with them before your call. This way they can prepare and present their most considered ideas to you.
Get a sample modification to check fit
The editing form is a free edit of a few pages as an initial evaluation. This is useful for seeing if there is a “fit” for your editor.
If you don’t like the style of potential editor’s notes, it’s best to find out before you make a bigger financial commitment.
Maintain realistic expectations
There are occasions when authors hold unrealistic expectations for the editing process.
For example, the author might write “I want you to make my novel a The New York Times Best seller’.
While the editor can help you make your manuscript more marketable By helping you give it more refinement and identify, for example, where it deviates from genre standards in a way that confuses reader expectations, many factors go into the success of a book’s publication (marketing, platform size, quantity, content, status of reviews and more).
So keep the expectations realistic: the editor facilitates the hike, but your continued walk will eventually get you to your version of “the top”.
Ask questions for clarification
Ideally, in the manuscript evaluation or evaluation, notes that require clarification or justification will be adequately explained in context.
There may be instances where you are still somewhat unsure.
A good and patient editor will invite inquiries you may have in response to your assessment and answer them.
What is your experience working with editors, or what is one area of your writing in which you would like the editor to help you? Comment below.
Get a free editing sample when you receive a non-binding editing quote for Now Novel’s editing services.