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Donna L Quesinberry

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Is a manuscript evaluation a good idea?
By Donna L Quesinberry   
Rated "G" by the Author.
Last edited: Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Posted: Wednesday, May 19, 2010

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For the author who elects to self publish, use print-on-demand (POD) or has had little success in marketing their manuscript - an evaluation and critique might be just what the doctor ordered.

by Donna L. Quesinberry
National Writing Examiner (NWE)

For the author who elects to self publish, use print-on-demand (POD) or has had little success in marketing their manuscript - an evaluation and critique might be just what the doctor ordered.

While the writing industry is swamped with warnings about unscrupulous individuals who want to take the hard-earned cash of the would be author, the truth is - many writers need a little help with their manuscripts. Not every "writer" is a copyeditor, desktop publisher or Word processing wizard. Every author may have a little exposure to each of these, but a fine tooth proofread and classic editorial that also recognizes impact, marketability, plot and premise is essential to gaining agent or publisher buy-in.

The writing market has changed

The ideal of securing an agent for a book - whether technical non-fiction or creative fiction and then selling your manuscript for hundreds of thousands of dollars with rich advances - is really a movie plot - it just doesn't happen like that very often. While this sort of thing "has occurred for some very 'gifted' authors, who were in the right place at the right time" the fact is that is a rare event. Even where it has happened, most of those authors had their fair share of rejection slips. They also developed a byline through "unknown or little known" publications prior to a "big sell."

So what happens between the little known rejected works and the big sell? Well, the author might have attended a few writing courses, they may have attended some writer conferences and developed some connections, perhaps they paid for quality heavy (line-by-line) editorials, and even "paid for" an evaluation and critique. The business of writing is just that - a business. Where writers are weak they need to compliment their weakness with strength.

Do authors that excel pay for writer service support?

The short answer is, "yes." For instance, authors who excel today have writing and marketing skills. If not, they hire add-on services to aid them in marketing their work while writers are continuously told to be "careful" in using writer services, for many writers those services are beyond essential - they are absolutely necessary. And, not every service is out to rake a hopeful authors bank account. What about the publishing house or agent that wishes to represent a title, but due to the current state of the manuscript, too much money is required up front to resolve issues - a rejection is necessary.

What is included in an evaluation and critique?

An evaluation and critique is altogether different than basic editing (e.g., spelling, grammar, punctuation, and etc.) medium editing or line editing (e.g., structure, outline follow-through, word use, and overall story-line character development) or extensive | comprehensive editing (e.g., organization of your work, functionality, reader interest, clarity, and comprehension analysis for potential correction and revision).

Typically, an evaluation and critique provides an essential marketability assessment of the following:

·         Accuracy of details (e.g., target audience, character development, dialogue, decision-making and emotional impact, grammar)

·         Characterization (e.g., believability and purpose or primary and secondary characters) 

·         Dialogue (e.g., authenticity and effectiveness)

·         Grammar and Punctuation 

·         Impact and mechanics

·         Manuscript marketability (e.g., marketing hooks, mood, methodology, plot, progression, redundancies, grammar, current form without revision and audience)

·         Plot and Structure 

·         Premise 

·         Resolution

·         Rewrite or revision recommendations

These are all dynamics that have to be addressed before sending a manuscript to an agent or publisher. If you cannot perform these activities independently - find and secure an evaluator and process your manuscript to refine and hone it for presentation.


The NWE hopes you tap into a good manuscript evaluation service and that we read your final product in the near future.

The National Writing Examiner welcomes questions, ideas and interviews or event announcements - through the comments section below, or by e-mailing Donna Quesinberry.

Subscribe: The National Writing Examiner has a subscription link located in the toolbar at the onset of this article - you can also access it here: subscribe to the National Writing Examiner column.

Quote of the day: When I only begin to read, I forget I'm on this world. It lifts me on wings with high thoughts. Anzia Yezierska

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