Manuscript Appraisal Services

A development strategy tailored around your novel. Whether you already published or just starting out, our goal is to offer you an objective overview and a strategy for improvement. 

What is a manuscript appraisal?

A manuscript appraisal is a detailed and comprehensive report on your manuscript. It will give you a clear sense of what stage you have reached and what you need to be aiming for.

Appraisals draw upon the time honoured traditional editorial approach which takes a two-step approach to preparing a manuscript for publication. The first step is to take a step back and look at the big picture, to develop an overview. The second step is the look at the details of narrative development. 

Appraisals combine elements of both steps in one document, with the crucial additional understanding of the writers process and the stages of development from first draft to a complete polished draft with publishing potential. 

What makes our appraisals so special? 

Our appraisals are so much more than a summary assessment, though they contain that element too. Think of an appraisal as a pre-publication stage in your development as a writer. 

 An appraisal will combine an overview of your novel, with a masterclass on narrative development tailored to suit you. As well as encouraging you to see your novel within a wider context, we also offer practical pointers, clarification on key issues, plenty of examples and a clear strategy for moving forwards.

The feedback we receive on our appraisals is overwhelmingly positive. The most frequent responses include the following: helpful, empowering, energizing and invaluable. 

Take your novel to the next level

 Appraisals are designed to be constructive, honest and helpful. Published writers can rely on an informed opinion from an experienced writer in their field; emerging writers appreciate a more practical step-by-step approach. We offer guidance in various forms, covering everything from the strength of the core idea, through to full realization and packaging (synopsis and cover letter)What areas does an appraisal cover?

Appraisals cover every aspect of the writing process, with a number of examples given for each point raised. These are likely to include genre, marketability, story structure and characterisation as well as more practical input on key technical issues such as plot-signposting and point of view. 

Our starting point is empathy. What is the writer aiming for? What are they hoping to achieve? Between these two polarities a number of questions arise. For example:

  • What category of fiction is this? 
  • Where might it fit within the broader picture?
  • How does the manuscript work within those terms?
  • Who is telling the story? 
  • When? How?
  • How does the narrative unfold?
  • Are the key elements in place?
  • Does the narrative voice complement the story?
  • Is there an identifiable lynchpin? 
  • Does the manuscript have momentum? 
  • How has the author set up the unfolding narrative? 

This last question is fundamental. A good opening lays the groundwork for the rest of the novel. Once this is in place, the rest will follow. 

What can I expect?

Each appraisal is as individual as the manuscript and the author and pitched accordingly. We will treat your manuscript with respect and honour the work that has gone into it. Reports, for a full manuscript, are generally about ten pages long. (Between 2,500 and 3,500 words. For a partial you can expect an appraisal of 1,750 – 2,000 words.) 

Guidelines on profession presentation are offered as standard. (Where appropriate, we also provide additional editorial notations on the manuscript.)

Note: Many agents make an assessment about whether to see a complete manuscript on the basis of a cover letter, synopsis and the first two or three chapters. Often they have made the decision within the first couple of pages.

Appraisal Package

If you would like to discuss your work in detail, we recommend that you supplement your appraisal with a structured fifty minute consultation. (Availability varies. Consultations are conducted by phone, or via Zoom or Facetime.)

How to maximise the impact of your appraisal 

It is worth taking time to read through your manuscript and consider what you think is working and what isn’t. Correct any errors, typo’s, glaring omissions.   

Use professional publishing formatting: A4, 12 point font, double spaced. Don’t forget page numbers. (If you are not sure how your pages should look go to the first page examples in Profiles.)   

Take this opportunity to get your manuscript in the best possible shape you can at this particular stage. Think about what you would like from this appraisal. Are there any particular areas of concern, for example. 

Prepare yourself for receiving a professional, impartial and objective feedback on your manuscript. 

Receiving feedback

Recommendations: how to make the most of your appraisal.

Ready to go? Go to our contact page.

The Other Mrs Walker

Mary Paulson-Ellis

“It really helped me to step back and take the time needed to consider how best to fulfill the potential of the material.  I am now embarking on a re-write, which has been energized by your intervention.”

Mary came to us after she was shortlisted in our Spotlight Competition. Since then, she has signed a two-book deal with Pan Macmillan and The Other Mrs Walker launched in 2016. An intriguing and evocative debut, it opens up the hidden world behind Edinburgh’s apparently genteel façade.


Submission Package 

Covering every aspect of the perfect pitch

 “Thank you for such an excellent appraisal… for giving my confidence a boost and for such thoughtful insights. There is a huge amount I can work with here. I really appreciate it.” 

Hannah Parry


Client Feedback

Writers come to us at various stages in their development.

The feedback offered here is designed to show a glimpse of the range and variety of responses.

“What really excited me was your thorough line edits and suggestions on the page. I suspect nobody else had looked so thoroughly at my whole manuscript and these, in conjunction with your report, will give me the confidence and energy to push this on further.”
Amy Fairfax

“You would not believe how useful the assessment was. There is not a moment goes by that I don’t think of how much the MS had improved in terms of structure, content, and the development of my writing.  The completed MS is now out there and I already have one agent interested having requested the full MS. Thank you for a wonderfully worthwhile service.”
Paul Stretton-Stephens

“Brian (Keaney’s) advice is great. I’m really pleased I have a plan to take forward. We talked on the phone for an hour and he’s very kind as well as very knowledgeable. Well worth the money!!”
Dorothy Crossan

“The appraisal is a good opportunity for me to learn more about professional writing, I very much appreciate all the advice and pointers you have given me. I hope that I am able to incorporate everything into the manuscript.”
Salma Begum

“I have to say that I was very pleased with the appraisal; (Claire Brown) had obviously taken a great deal of time to read and consider my MS in detail. Particularly helpful were the very specific practical suggestions she offered that gave me some new ideas for the novel and helped me to develop it further. I also liked the tone which was honest and frank without being derogatory (you might not believe it but I have had feedback from other “professional” sources which I found very negative and insulting.) I now feel much more confident in my approach.”
Tracey Iceton

“Thank you for that brilliantly detailed appraisal. I felt very lucky to have the benefit of your expertise. Many, many, many thanks for your encouragement.”
Sylvestra La Touzel

“Thank you so much for your feedback… I’ve read your report through a couple of times so far and I find it extremely helpful and encouraging. You’ve picked up on a few niggles I’ve had about my manuscript – things that I knew weren’t quite right but I wasn’t sure why – and helped me understand what was wrong. You’ve also given me some really good pointers on things I hadn’t thought of. I am really pleased with this report and feel enthused about getting back to work on my manuscript.


Lucy Knight

“All I can say is … wow! What a clear insight you’ve gained into my novel and how incisive are your comments.”
Julian Desser

“Many thanks for your detailed and analytical appraisal. I found your structured response to the individual aspects of the novel immensely helpful. Many of your points made me consider my ideas from a reader’s perspective rather than my own. This, I believe, has made all the difference. Your appraisal has given me the inspiration to push through to the next level.”
Richard Cole

“I feel excited and energised by this – I can see that your suggestions will make important improvements.”
Belinda Fiddler

“… it enabled me to effectively redraft my opening, and to find a balance between description and narrative pace. All in all, I am very happy and would definitely recommend you!”
Christina Pishiris

“I just wanted to say how pleased I was with the AIF appraisal for my submission package, it was really encouraging and has helped me already to focus to my mind on what I’m trying to achieve and how to get there.”
Sophie Green

“Your comments have been hugely helpful and I will certainly take them on board when I start to work on editing my first draft. The section about viewpoints was particularly helpful – and also the synopsis. I’m now spending some time doing a bit of critical reading and really noticing how other writers handle viewpoint.”
Lorna Hill

Our Fees

A manuscript appraisal is a detailed and substantial core document offering an objective editorial overview of your manuscript.

Partial Appraisals

Up to 16,000 words/50 pages: £225.00

Up to 30,000 words/100 pages: £350.00

Full Manuscript Appraisals

Up to 65,000 words/200 pages: £425.00

Up to 100,000 words/312 pages: £615.00

Up to 150,000 words/468 pages: £750.00
Up to 200,000 words/625 pages: £950.00
Up to 250,000 words/780 pages: £1,200.00

(+£55 for every additional 50 pgs/16,000 wds)

Note: Fees are based on A4 manuscripts in 12 point font, double spaced and printed on one side of the page only. (Both publishers and agents expect submissions in this format). To confirm fees contact us.

Fees are payable in advance.






Appraisal Package

(Example): Up to 300 pages (or 85,000 words) + structured one-hour one-to-one consultation: £695.00

+10p a page printing costs. (applies to all reports.)


Submission Packages

3 chapters (between 30-50 pages), blurb + synopsis + cover letter: £275:00

Short Stories
Up to 10 pages (or 3,000 words): £95.00
10-16 pages (or up to 5,000 words): £105.00

Children’s Picture Books
Up to 500 words: £130 per book

Children’s Illustrated Books
Up to 4,000 words: £140 per book

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