Manuscript appraisal and copy editing are two essential steps in your novel’s journey to publication.
If you haven’t had any feedback on your novel as a whole, a manuscript appraisal is the place to start. It’s important to look at the big picture before you deep dive into detail with a copy edit. It will result in a better book and can save you money in the long run.
Here’s a rundown of what they both involve, including some manuscript appraisal FAQs.
Manuscript appraisal – the big picture
A manuscript appraisal looks at your novel as a whole, including structure, story arc and character development.
A manuscript appraisal will:
- show you where the strengths are and what’s not hitting the mark
- give you confidence that you are going in the right direction
- help you work out what to focus on next.
Most editors offer manuscript appraisals as a written report, but I offer them as a workshop over Zoom, which is recorded so you can go back over it as many times as you like. A workshop has three advantages over a written report:
- We can discuss what you want to achieve and what you’ve already tried, which allows me to offer advice that’s specific to your skills and experience
- We can workshop issues and ideas and possibly come up with solutions together (two heads are better than one)
- It costs less than a written appraisal (hooray!)
Mini or maxi
You can choose from two options:
• a mini appraisal for the first 15K words of your novel
• a maxi appraisal for your complete manuscript.
A mini appraisal can be really helpful if you:
- want to know if you are on the right track
- need to reboot your confidence in your book
- have an endless draft that you can’t rein in (yes I can help you with that even when I only read 15K words)
- are interested in ongoing coaching – this can be the first step
A maxi appraisal is great for when you’ve written and revised as far as you can go, and are ready for some feedback.
Manuscript appraisal FAQs
What does the appraisal workshop cover?
As with a written appraisal, the workshop looks at all the building blocks of your book. This includes:
- structure and story arc
- character development
- scene and setting
- rhythm, pace and tension
When is the right time to get a manuscript appraisal?
An appraisal can be helpful with either a finished draft or a work in progress.
- For a finished draft it will pick up any areas that need to be tightened or developed before the fine tuning of copy editing.
- For a work in progress it can pin-point opportunities for development, give you reassurance you are on the right track, or help you get back on track if you’ve wandered off course.
If you’ve not had your manuscript read by someone who is able to give constructive feedback, such as a fellow writer or a beta reader, I highly recommend you start your editing journey with an appraisal.
How much does it cost?
- mini appraisal (first 15K words) $450
- maxi appraisal (full manuscript) from $1400 for 80K words
What happens after the appraisal?
The aim of the appraisal is that you have enough feedback to get to final draft, ready for copy editing.
If you need further support to get to final draft, we can set up a writing coaching plan to help you through the next development phase.
Is a manuscript appraisal your next step towards being published? Let’s chat to find out.Book a discovery call
…or if you are feeling shy, drop me a line.Get in touch
Copy editing – the detail
You probably know every line of your book inside out. You probably know it so well you can’t really feel its power anymore, or see where it can be tightened. This is where copy editing comes in.
Copy editing is the final polish. It focuses on your writing line by line, making sure the language, rhythm and flow are serving the story and the characters as best they can.
Here’s what one of my copy editing clients had to say about the process:
It’s precious for a writer to see the editor engage with your manuscript in such depth, and in such a supportive way. It builds a relationship of trust.
I like how your comments range from word choice and syntax tonarrative technique and character development.
Gilbert Van Hoeydonck
Your manuscript needs to be in the best shape it can be structurally before you send it for copy editing, otherwise you could be wasting your money.
If you’re not sure if your manuscript is ready for a copy edit, I’ve created a nifty flowchart to help you work it out [text version here.] It’s not a definitive process, but it gives you the general idea.
Not ready? Head on back up to manuscript appraisal.
If you are ready for a copy edit, get in touch for a free, no-obligation sample edit. This will help you work out if I’m the right editor for you. (And it helps me work out how much it will cost.)Get a free sample edit
Nifty flowchart text version
(It’s abridged I’m afraid, can’t show all the cross connections, but it will give you the idea.)
Opening question: Is it hot off the keyboard?
Questions and answers on left hand side of the chart:
No it’s not hot off the keyboard
- Have you read it through top-to-toe without fiddling?
- Are you happy with the story arc and character development?
- Have you worked through line by line to refine language?
- Have you sent it to a beta reader (or readers) or an editor for appraisal?
- Have you worked in the feedback from the appraisal?
- Have you worked through line-by-line again to refine the language?
- Congratulations. Your manuscript is ready to send to a copy editor
Questions and answers on the right hand side of the chart:
Yes it’s hot off the keyboard
Not ready. The first thing you need to do is read through without fiddling (circle or highlight issues, make margin notes, but don’t try to fix because you’ll end up going down rabbit holes).
A. Make a list of what needs doing.
TIP: A chapter outline can help you see the story (and any gaps).
Character studies can help with character development.
B. Work through the list.
C. Read through again. Are you happy with the story arc and character development?
If yes go to step 3 above
If no work through steps ABC again until you get yes for an answer, then continue with steps 3 to 6.