We stumbled across this article written by one of our clients about their experience of getting their manuscript appraised through The Manuscript Agency. We are sharing it here with her permission: https://writersedit.com/fiction-writing/7-must-know-facts-manuscript-appraisals/writersedit.com/fiction-writing/7-must-know-facts-manuscript-appraisals/
Sanity or vanity? Like many virgin authors, I wondered which of these
two categories my work fell into. Kit & Co reassured me that it was the former. They provided a forensic examination of my manuscript that resulted in a moment of wounded pride followed by weeks of top-to-bottom corrective surgery. The result? A new, improved draft of The Scoop bagged a three-book deal. And that simply would not have happened without the TLC provided by MAA.
Terrence J. Quinn
Author, The Scoop
(Simon & Schuster Australia)
The Manuscript Agency are a brilliant editorial “one stop shop” solution. I have worked with them closely across a number of varied projects and they handle everything with expertise, sensitivity and a high level duty of care. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them.
Publishing Director Murdoch Books
Co-Founder, The Author People
The services offered by MAA can be extremely useful and beneficial for the developing writer. I am very comfortable in referring writers to their services which are varied and many. They have access to an extensive range of skilled and experienced editors who are able to offer a considered and objective response to a client’s work in a timely manner. Investing in an appraisal from MAA can be the best investment a writer can make in themselves.
Brian Cook, The Authors’ Agent
Kit and I met in 2016 as co-panellists on the first of several Sydney Writers’ Festival publishing events we’ve spoken at together. Since that time, IndieMosh has referred many clients to the MAA for manuscript development in preparation for publishing through our services. Where we help writers with the production side of publishing, the MAA provides the content development and polishing side of things. Kit and her team do a great job of helping authors see what needs to be done with their manuscript to help ensure that their words ‘read like a book’ and so that it can reach its full potential. We know that when our clients have used the MAA’s services, they’ll be releasing a much better book. We have no hesitation in recommending our authors to the MAA for appraisal, editing or proofreading services.
I am stunned by the generosity of your effort in this feedback and how incisive you are. You truly are talented how you can respond on such a micro level but also keep track of the larger thread. It is all just so helpful – I’m lost for words!! You were more thorough than I ever could have imagined. I loved all of it: your constructive feedback as a professional but also what resonated (or didn’t) on a more personal level. It was great reading a summary from someone else’s view point too. I found it incredibly affirming. I can now be sure that this is a piece worthy of more work but your feedback also affirmed me as a creative writer. Seeing your heartfelt responses to phrases that I also am a little fond of was very touching. I will be sure to recommend you to anyone wanting to lift their manuscript to greater heights. Thank you so much once again!
Manuscript Appraisal Testimony
Despite intense practice and consulting dozens of writing manuals, my writing was not reaching the potential that I felt it had. I availed myself to The MAA to get a fresh perspective on my work, from people who know the business, and I was not disappointed. Through heeding the advice given in my appraisal reports I have improved far more in the past two years than I have in the last decade and am now reaching publish-worthy quality. There is only so much one can learn on their own, and so long as a writer views their works objectively, they should find great value in the comments and recommendations in the appraisals The MAA provides. I would recommend the service to any aspiring author.
Synopsis / Cover Letter Editing Testimonial
Completing a manuscript wasn’t such a chore for me – I love writing and binding a hundred thousand words or more in a tight plot was merely a question of time. Condensing those hundred thousand words into a concise, single page summary proved to require a different set of skills entirely – none of which I found I possessed. Fortunately, The MAA came to my aid, and through an exchange of drafts, assisted me in distilling my several hundred pages into one – a valuable document to have when submitting to publishers. I recommend the service to any who want to have the best chance of giving a good first impression on the road to publication.
Thank you so much for this very prompt feedback. I have had a look through the appraisal and just wanted to thank you and your reviewer for the incredibly constructive and helpful suggestions for the next steps in this writing project.
I’ve just read through the appraisal email from my book. Thank you for the service you offer, it came at the right time for me, and I thinks it’s awesome for writers starting out. The comments and suggestions/criticisms were right on point, and have given me some fresh perspectives and ideas to work on. I’ll definitely be recommending your agency and I’m sure we’ll cross paths again.
Thank you very much for the assessment, which arrived much sooner than I had expected. Running to 32 pages, it was also much more comprehensive than I could have hoped for. The comments and observations will be very useful indeed, and I will go through them carefully. I am very happy with both the assessment itself and with your company’s prompt and efficient services. Consulting you was well worth the expense, and no doubt I will again use the Manuscript Agency to provide an assessment of my next writing project.
Thank you for the terrific appraisal on my manuscript. It’s a very thoughtful and considered appraisal – and one which will help me enormously. I’m afraid to have to say that on initial reading of the appraisal, all I saw was criticism. It’s a curious thing! I do it all the time. And it’s not until after numerous readings over time, that it begins to sink in that: ‘Yep, this is a great appraisal and that the appraiser has nothing but the best of intentions for the development of my manuscript’.
Just this morning I was going over suggestions from the earlier appraisal I had with you in May. And likewise with this most recent of appraisals, I’ll be going over and over it in the months – and years – to come. I’d love to use your services again in the future, perhaps mid 2015? Again, my thanks and gratitude.
Thank you for providing such a valuable service and allowing debut writers such as myself to have professionals read, pull apart and give the much needed critical point of view. I read the appraisal and cried, and these were tears of joy. Having someone take the time to really look at my work and say ‘this works and this needs more work’, is like finding a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow and seeing lightning in a bottle all at the same time.
Please pass on a simple ‘thank you’ to the appraiser, for whomever they may be, ‘Thank you, thank you, thank you’. This writer is indebted to you and your wonderful words, your objective guidance and suggestions. And to you Kit, thank you again for having this service in place. Writers do need assistance, they do need the professional edge and you provide this. I have some work to do on this novel, and I will let you know how I go.
Ian R. Grace
Over the years I have had five formal appraisals of full length novels from the Manuscript Appraisal Agency. In all cases the appraisals helped identify weaknesses in structure and characterisation. They pointed out where the tension and pace flagged, or when the plot became implausible. The two appraisers who read and prepared reports on my manuscripts were, I felt, working conscientiously to help me improve. Their reports were both exhaustive and thoughtful, using point form where necessary so I was left in no doubt as to what needed to be done. The work performed by the MAA was, I feel, so important in the process that led to the publication of my work that I singled one of the appraisers out for mention in the acknowledgements of my book, Rotten Gods, published by HarperCollins 2012, and the first in a three book deal with them.
As writers we do get too close to the work, unable to see the forest for the trees. We write from emotion and instinct when often a cold, clear head is needed. I cannot recommend the Manuscript Appraisal Agency highly enough. It offers services that are second to none in the Australian publishing industry.
Author of ‘Rotten Gods’ (HarperCollins)
The first appraisal was a real shock! I naïvely believed my book was about as perfect as I could get it. I expected a few criticisms, but not four pages worth! The appraiser enjoyed reading the manuscript, but went on to detail all the things that were wrong with it – which were many, I can tell you! The comprehensive report covered all aspects: structure, character, plot, writing style. When I eventually picked myself up off the floor, I realised the advice I was getting was pure gold. I completely rewrote the book and submitted it again.
The second appraiser’s assessment was much more positive. The advice included some brilliant suggestions concerning structure and plot line. They also suggested some parts as prime candidates for the surgeon’s knife. By this time I had become reconciled to the need to slash and burn – always hard for an author to do!
I cannot thank the wonderful team of assessors enough. They showed me how to progress my manuscript and turn it into a publishable work.
Author of ‘Resisting the Enemy’ (Brogla Publishing)
Though a logical a step, the prospect of critical review leaves most writers feeling vulnerable and uncertain. It did me until I was referred to The MAA. I am so grateful for it! Prior to assessment I had no idea if I would ever be published. I’d already been rejected by some of the best. After applying MAA’s suggestions, I not only sold my novel, I landed a three book deal with HarperCollins!
The assessor gave careful attention to detail, explaining the strengths and weaknesses of my writing and commenting point by point on the story, its characters and plot. They helped particularly with my weak spot—dialog—and I am now getting fabulous feedback for how natural it sounds. Armed with specific suggestions for improving the work, I was able to revise with clear goals in mind. And the revision was a success! My first novel, ‘Spell of Rosette’, is coming out January 2009 and that is only the beginning of my writing career. MAA’s input got me thinking like a novelist and writing like one too.
Author of ‘Spell of Rosette’ (HarperCollins)
It’s difficult to know what the next step should be when you’ve just completed your first manuscript and have no real idea of its merit or publishing potential. An assessment from The MAA gave me the sense of direction and confidence I needed to submit my manuscript to a leading literary agency in the UK. I am now a client of that agency and my first book has just been published here in Australia and my agent is promoting the book in the Europe. The MAA assessment was a crucial tool in bringing my work to the attention of the publishing industry.
Author of ‘Blood of Dreams’ (Penguin)
A special thank you to The Manuscript Agency whose initial appraisal of the manuscript for ‘Cry of the Curlew’ was the catalyst for publication. You are not forgotten and your professional services for manuscript appraisal are highly recommended to would-be authors.
Author of Cry of the Curlew (1999), Shadow of the Osprey (2001),
Flight of the Eagle (2002) (all Pan Macmillan Australia)
There are some [manuscript assessment services] that are what they claim to be, and work honestly and productively. However, we are aware of other services which are worse than useless …
Executive Director of the Australian Society of Authors,
writing in Australian Author (2011)
Seven years ago, my sister and I came to you with a very raw manuscript, no title and absolutely no idea whether we had any skill as writers. Your review was professional, empathetic and (thankfully) positive. When we spoke, you were very warm and encouraging and you gave us the courage to take the next step in our writing career. We have now had two books published by Pan Macmillan with a third due for release in September. We have also been published in America, Germany and Korea. Without you, our first book could still be languishing underneath my bed. Thank you so much. I thoroughly recommend the services of the Manuscript Appraisal Agency to any aspiring writers.
Thank you for the very perceptive, detailed appraisal. I was delighted to see your strong response to the characters and concerns of the book. Thank you for the positive comments about the characters, themes, narrative economy, dialogue and first half of the book. Your clear indications of where the novel falls short are invaluable. I agree with your criticisms in almost all cases. (Including the title and Part Three.) I am certainly ready to expend the effort and time needed to get the book to publishable standard. Thanks again for your enlightening, crystal clear comments.
Thank you for the appraisal – very detailed and useful. I read it twice but note there is more than meets the eye at first glance, so to speak. Please relay my sincere thanks to the people who did the appraisal – true professionals they are, they have provided balanced, informative and useful feedback.
Just a quick note to say I received my appraisal today and have thoroughly enjoyed the process of coming to terms with the critiques (despite the pain – insert smiley face…), and the inspiration it gives me to improve my work. It’s a beautifully in-depth appraisal and I’ve relished reading every word. I absolutely can’t wait to rewrite – meaning your service has done exactly what it claims to.
I received and read (& re-read) the appraisal. Please give my heartfelt appreciation to the reviewer. It is obvious that he/she read critically but sympathetically and with a genuine empathy for the story’s characters. I have a lot of work to do to ‘rearrange the bones’, but I will do it … I have received great value for money from the detailed review you arranged for me. You can be sure that I will spread the word.
I have just received the review of XXXXXXX and would like you to pass on my thanks to the anonymous reviewer for doing such a thorough and thoughtful job. It was perceptive, encouraging and constructive and will be very helpful as I contemplate our next steps.
I am very grateful indeed for the work you have done. I appreciated the positive comments, (they’re rather few and far between in this business, I’m learning), but, more importantly, studying the weakness you highlighted has already taught me a good deal. In each case, when I thought about your comments and then reviewed the ms, I could see exactly what you were getting at. In fact, I had a couple of “slap myself upside of the head” moments. You have given me quite a bit of work to do in the coming weeks, but it’s rather nice to be tackling it with a clear understanding of what I need to achieve and with confidence that the ms will be much the better for it. This is turning out to be a most valuable experience and you can expect to be seeing my future projects before I send them out. So, thank you very much indeed.
A, Dec 2009
I received the MS in the mail, together with the corrections and appraiser’s comments. I must confess that it was acutely embarrassing to read some of the comments and I was unaware of the numerous gaffes that I had committed. But I truly appreciate the honesty and sincerity in wanting to help my writing. Please do thank the appraiser for me.
I want to thank you very much for an excellent appraisal of my work. The appraiser really did do a fantastic and very thorough job. Although I was initially disappointed that it was not more positive, I recognise that the criticism was very constructive and comprehensive and it has given me many things to think about as I persevere with the manuscript. There are many lessons I can learn from it. Once again, thank you for looking at my manuscript. It is a wonderful service that you provide and I hope I can take the lessons I have learned and apply them in my attempts to improve xxxx. Very best wishes to you.
The most daunting task of a first time writer is finding the confidence to submit work for assessment and to test one’s writing “voice”. I was particularly appreciative of the succinct and sympathetic assessment given my manuscript. Though working in a difficult genre I was given positive encouragement by MAA to seek publication. I’ve used your services twice now. The first time I was basically told to go away and how to learn to write. That was the honest appraisal needed, and at the second attempt I received such generous comment I knew I’d learnt the lesson. I’m indebted to your agency for both. And if you know who did that last assessment please convey my sincere gratitude to them. They were on the money!
I had the appraisal done because I did not know which way to turn – or whether the book was of a standard and/or interest worth pushing on with – but it paid off. I suspect, however, that this was partly because you found the right person to do the assessment, as it was important with a book like that to find someone who was “on the right wave length”. XX has become quite interested in the project, and has been extremely helpful, so my thanks for putting me in contact with her.
I received your agency’s appraisal of my manuscript this morning and am writing to say an enormous thank you – to you for your initial encouragement and advice about submitting my work, despite its unfinished state, and to the assessor of my manuscript.
The comments made are both heartening and extremely helpful. The criticisms are exactly what I was looking for to provide me with more structure and direction as I continue to develop the manuscript. The positive comments regarding my work were much much more than I could have hoped for, and I am enormously grateful for the space that this has created for me to continue to believe in doing something that I love so much.
I realise there is still a huge amount of work ahead of me, but I just appreciate so much the boost, direction and suggestions the appraisal has given me. I will definitely be re-submitting my work in the future for further comment.
… I feel I should relay my gratitude again to you regarding the service I received. It was the turning point. It changed my understanding and approach overnight. Deep breath, ‘hurt’ feelings put aside, and then some wonderful years really learning what the craft entailed. Still so far to go but what a journey, and all because I was told some vital truths about my effort, and had the commitment to accept that.
I received my manuscript back on Monday and opened it with great trepidation. I read the appraisal and found it to be encouraging and insightful. It raised some of the issues that I have previously thought long and hard over whilst writing my book. I was well aware that my manuscript required polishing and now I feel encouraged to continue with this project.
Could you please pass on my gratitude to the person who appraised my manuscript. They were very sensitive in their approach and I felt they were helping rather than criticising.
Thank you for your professionalism and guidance. I’ll be sure to recommend your agency to others and use your services again.