What is Manuscript Evaluation?

Panorama of the Castillo de San Marcos, Jessica Hatch, 2016.

Panorama of the Castillo de San Marcos, Jessica Hatch, 2016.

The idiom “Can’t see the forest for the trees” is clichéd because it’s true.

Even the most talented, thoughtful writer can miss critical mistakes when it comes to a passion project. Objective editorial feedback – whether from a professional editor, a beta reader, or even a software program – can help catch and correct embarrassing mistakes before they’re disseminated, along with the manuscript, to a wider audience.

So, tell me more. What is Manuscript Evaluation?

Also known as developmental or structural editing, manuscript evaluation is when an editor presents top-level editorial concerns to an author. For a work of fiction, these concerns may include critiques of:

  • Plot structure

  • Character motivation and development

  • World building

  • Narrative pacing

This feedback addresses bigger problems that negatively impact the entire manuscript, but it can include critiques of small but critical content issues, too.

After reading through your manuscript at least once and making notes, the professional editor will draft a prescriptive letter. A successful editorial letter will do the following:

  1. Identify editorial concerns, pointing each out by using specific examples within the text;

  2. Explain why and how the concern affects the reader’s connection with the book;

  3. Prescribe at least one potential solution to resolving the issue.

For example, this is an excerpt from an editorial letter I recently sent to a client:

Click image to enlarge.

How will Manuscript Evaluation Benefit My Book?

Whether you’re considering self-publishing or traditional publishing, manuscript evaluation is an ideal step in the revision process.

Traditional Publishing.
Essentially, you have an elevator pitch-worth of time to capture a literary agent's attention. If you’re querying with an unsolicited manuscript, you’re up against countless others in the same boat (or inbox, as it were).

That said, with a professional query letter and a polished manuscript, you can come out on top of the slush pile. An ideal way to get fighting fit is to work with a professional editor who has a strong sense of the market.

Self-Publishing.
Much like an agent’s slush pile, the self-publishing market is saturated with content. To be a successful self-published author, you will need to bring a professional-grade product to market. This often means working with professional freelance editors, graphic designers, printers, and publicists – essentially putting together your own book publishing team to get accolades from reviewers and 5 stars on Amazon.  

Working with Hatch Editorial Services for a Manuscript Evaluation

Hiring Hatch Editorial Services means having a professional in your corner. My editorial critiques are founded in experience garnered at such literary agencies and publishers as Writers House and St. Martin’s Press, and in the classrooms of such authors as Ann Beattie, Diane Samuels, and Chelsea Hodson.

My manuscript evaluation projects last an average of 3-4 weeks, during which I will keep you updated with regular weekly memos. At the end of the project, you will receive my editorial feedback, your annotated manuscript, and an itemized invoice, so you can see where I put my time and effort to work for you. If you so choose, I’m happy to give you an hour of my time, free of charge, to discuss any and all remaining questions you may have.

Want to work with me on a manuscript evaluation? Get started here.