What’s the VALUE of a Manuscript Evaluation?
The VALUE of a manuscript evaluation is very significant. Think of it in terms of getting your house appraised, or better yet, assessed for home staging improvements prior to selling. Why would you do that? So it would show well, and you would get the best price, correct? Although this is a bit of an oversimplification, it should give you a sense of why you would want to invest in getting a manuscript evaluation completed on your next book. The quality of your book, including how well it is written, your attention to detail, and of course, its actual content, speaks volumes about you.
Depending on what phase of the project the author is at (and the condition of the manuscript), at I C Publishing we usually prefer to do evaluations as early in the process as possible, and also separate of the editing stages. That said, some editors will incorporate this as a beginning of their process, and for the most part, either works. We believe that starting with the manuscript evaluation is a very efficient way in which we can assist the author, outlining the strengths and pluses of their work, as well as where there may be areas that need a little more attention. Our ultimate goal is to support them creatively, and guide them in the right direction.
Here are five areas you should receive feedback on:
Overall Feel and Flow
– Engaging writing style
– Easy to read
– Highly useful, well researched information
– In line with publisher’s mandate
Here’s an excerpt from an actual manuscript evaluation: “This manuscript, in its storytelling, addresses some of life’s most challenging issues, and does so with great sensitivity. The writing is thoughtful, poetic, courageous, honest . . . hard to put down. We particularly love the quotes throughout and at the end of each chapter, as well as the meaningful use of metaphors and phraseology. Use of language is effective, poignant . . . a most interesting and refreshing read.”
This comes very natural to some, and not to others. Regardless, assuming you have great content, there are ways to enhance one’s writing style; and at the same time pass on a skill that will help with future projects, if practiced. It can be as simple as recognizing the mindset and place in which you do your best writing / creating, and being in tune with that when you are working on your manuscript.
Do you write with little emotion, too much, or just the right amount? Do your words engage and move the reader? Sometimes it helps to “talk out” parts of your message that might be missing from your book.
Here’s another example from one of our reviews of a real book in the making: “We found your style of writing was excellent at pulling the reader in and conveying your emotions at all stages of your story. The words also created images and feelings that were quickly seen and felt.”
– Word tense
– Word duplication
– Use of brand names
– Sentence and paragraph structure
– Proper dialogue structure
– Canadian or U.S. spelling
– Consistent with style guide (Chicago Manual of Style)
Bibliography, References, and Permissions
If for no other reason than professional courtesy and your own integrity, it’s of the utmost importance that you properly cite/reference your work, and obtain permission for any quotes/sections of books or websites you wish to use to add more credibility and/or inspiration to your book. There are many quotes that are considered fair use, but you do need to check (or we can assist).
Additional Recommendations / Points of Clarification / or Final Thoughts
Occasionally, it might be suggested that you add more substance to certain parts of your story or teaching, or provide further clarity to specific areas. It could be also recommended that another chapter or two would work well in completing the overall message, or that an existing section detracts from the goal of the book.
In closing, keep in mind that, just like editing and proofreading, a manuscript evaluation doesn’t have to be a painful experience. In fact, in my opinion, it should actually be the opposite—positive, freeing, affirming, helpful, exciting, and yes, constructive—you get the picture.
Seek out and partner with those who believe in your work and your vision as much as you do. Ask questions, read, research, and have courage to take those next steps! You will be glad you did.
Publisher, Author, Mentor
Note: As of Feb 15, 2018, our evaluation fee starts at $300 plus HST; this would include up to a 15,000-word manuscript. For larger manuscript evaluation fees, simply add $100 (plus HST) for every 15,000 words over 20,000 words. Subject to change. To be confirmed by I C Publishing at time of review. Should this be of interest to you, please begin by filling out the Manuscript Submission form details, and we will get back to you as soon as we can.