I can’t believe that it has been just over a year since I made the decision to self publish Diary of Penguin-napper. It has been such an amazing/full on/stressful/engaging/rewarding/bewildering/exciting adventure and I’m really excited to be able to do it all over again this year.
Right, so where to start? Well, Step One is finish your manuscript! There are lots of things that I can help you with, but writing your book for you isn’t one of them.
Right, so where to start after that? Well, after I finished writing Penguin-napper, I really wasn’t sure if it was a good first draft or if it was downright awful. (Truth be told, it wasn’t my first attempt at writing a book and after I wrote the first one, I left it for a few months before I looked over it with fresh eyes. And, when I finally did, it stunk! Yep, it was truly awful.)
Anyway, I decided that wanted a second opinion and not just from my mother who would mostly only say nice things about it. That’s where a manuscript assessment came in.
A manuscript assessment is essentially paying someone to go through your manuscript and point out all of the flaws/potential problems/gaps in the plot. A manuscript assessor isn’t like an editor or a proofreader. They don’t actually touch your writing. They just read it, think about it, perhaps read it again and then send you a report pointing out the positives and negatives of your story.
What are the pros of a getting a manuscript assessment?
The Diary of a Penguin-napper manuscript assessment was done by The Literary Consultancy in the UK. At the time it was completed (back in 2010) and for the length of the manuscript, this was the best deal that I could find. They did a fantastic job. The final report back from them was detailed, lengthy and, best of all, really useful! It both highlighted points in my manuscript that need clarifying and confirmed that my manuscript was on the right track.
Fast forward two years and when I finished writing my new manuscript in June, I knew right away that I would definitely be booking in another manuscript assessment. This time, the best deal I could find for Ruby Marvellous was with the Writers’ Centre of Victoria, right here in Melbourne. Whilst their final report was much shorter than the TLC report, they still made some valid points and gave some positive feedback too.
Plus, if you’re keen to get on with taking your manuscript through to being published, a manuscript assessment can also save you some time. The moment I finished both my manuscripts, I sent them both off to be assessed. Three t0 six weeks went by before I received the report back and that was a good amount of time to get some distance before tackling future drafts.
And what’s the downside?
In short, the cost. Manuscript assessments can be pricey. I’ve been quite lucky because I write for children and my manuscripts have both been just under the 25 000 word mark, which makes an assessment affordable. I have also found combining a manuscript assessment with some really nitpicky beta readers and then a paid proofreader to be a great way of preparing a manuscript for self publishing.
And that’s my first step towards publication. It’s only 10 weeks until my new book is coming out and each week I’m going to share a new step that I take when trying to get my book to a place that means it is the best possible book I can produce!
In the meantime, have you used a manuscript assessment before? Would you? Or have you got any other recommendations to share?