Story is the single most important thing when writing a book. Even an agent can overlook the occasional typo and less-than-perfect grammar if the story is just right. A manuscript appraisal is all about story and structure.

What is a Manuscript Appraisal?

A manuscript appraisal is stage one of the editorial process. It is a form of developmental or substantive editing but in report format. Our version comes with additional manuscript annotations where relevant.

story matters - manuscript appraisal - the writing consultancy

Missing out on this stage of the editing process means you could be missing out on transforming your book from a story to a page turner.

If, when a reader (or literary agent) dives into the pages of your book, they find plot holes, character inconsistencies, stakes that aren’t high enough or a conclusion that isn’t satisfying enough, it will be difficult to go back and address these issues. These are problems that need rectifying in the very initial stages of editing your manuscript.

This is exactly what the manuscript appraisal is for.

An editor, who hasn’t been as involved in the story as you, will be coming to the book afresh, with no prior knowledge of the characters, the plot or the setting, in exactly the same way a reader, or an agent, will be approaching your work.

They will bring up any potential objections the reader, or agent, may have, giving you the chance to pre-empt and quash those objections before they surface.


story matters - manuscript appraisal

The report is all-encompassing but we have outlined a few of the areas that it covers below:

  • Story premise
  • Writing style
  • Plot structure
  • Narrative (big-picture narrative, POV & narrative style)
  • Characterisation & dialogue
  • Handling of exposition
  • Tension, pace and forward momentum

The editor will also pick up on and cover in the report any other areas that may need addressing.

If you would like to look at anything specific in addition to these points our editors will include that in the report.

Fill out the form to find out the cost of a manuscript appraisal – Prices start at £280. You are under no obligation to go ahead and one of our team will be in touch with editor details, current timescales and fees.


Follow up: You can come back to us with questions on your report. We find emails work best for this so that you have the answers in a format that you can keep referring back to. Or, if you would prefer, you can opt for the manuscript appraisal plus 1-to-1 – see information below.

Application: You can apply the techniques in your report to any of your writing projects, vastly improving your skills as a writer – not just on that manuscript.

Who it’s for: The appraisal is ideal for writers who are either publishing traditionally and approaching literary agents or self-publishing, at early or final draft stage, but prior to editing.

Manuscript length: You can submit a full length manuscript or your first three chapters and synopsis for our opening chapters’ appraisal.

How long it takes: An appraisal usually takes a minimum of three weeks but manuscripts need to be booked in to our schedule in advance as it fills up quickly.

How much it costs: Prices usually start at £380 for up to 35,000 words to around £1000 for a 120,000 word manuscript. We do not charge VAT on our prices.


Appraisal Plus 1-to-1 call

For those who would prefer to chat with the editor on a 1-to-1 basis following the report, in some cases, availability permitting, we are able to set up a session call on Zoom with the editor. These calls are priced at £70 per call and last for one hour.

story matters - manuscript appraisal

“The critique isn’t just a one-time benefit. Whilst it focuses on the current manuscript, it is feedback that can be applied to your writing across all projects. The report is like a personalised guide to what you need to address in your writing, and exactly how to do it, with techniques that you can refer back to with every project. It will also draw attention to things you are guilty of that have become second nature that you haven’t even realised you are doing.”