Manuscript Annotation

Detailed critique and guidance via editorial memorandum and margin comments in manuscript text

Manuscript annotation is a hybrid service consisting of an overview memo for big-picture analysis, running editorial commentary in the margins to guide revision, and a follow-up Q&A session with your editor. Annotation is a versatile tool that can be used for initial critique, for developmental editing and revision guidance, or to push a near-final draft to the finish line.

The overview memo will generally provide detailed diagnostic feedback on how the story or narrative is working as a whole, with attention to plot, pacing, characterization, dialogue, and writing style (for fiction); and organization, structure, effectiveness, and clarity (for nonfiction). Your editor will look carefully at what works, what needs work, and any principles or techniques that could improve the experience of your book for readers and maximize the work’s chance at successful publication.

The detailed annotative commentary inserted in the margins of the manuscript itself typically addresses a wide range of topics and objectives based on the needs of the manuscript in question.

This commentary may include (but is not be limited to):

  • specific ideas to strengthen plot, subplot, characterization, or scene
  • notes drawing your attention to specific recurring instances of issues summarized in the overview
  • questions about your intent in a given passage or an explanation of why the way you’ve worded something many be confusing
  • indications of repetitive, redundant, or tangential text that you should consider cutting
  • suggestions, wherever needed, to:
    • clarify meaning
    • improve description or make it more vivid
    • reign in overwriting or unnecessary detail
    • answer a question
    • strengthen the impact of a passage
    • revise a passage with a specific goal in mind
    • consider different wording
    • make dialogue more interesting
    • make a character more memorable and distinctive
    • be more (or less) or explicit about something
    • fix dialogue that sounds contrived or out of character voice
    • address any other matters in need of attention or further consideration as you revise

The end result can be thought of as a very comprehensive and detailed roadmap through the revision process, with focus on both matters affecting the whole book and highly specific matters of execution.

Please note that this service is most appropriate for later drafts or works that are already reasonably sound in structure. If you’re looking for feedback on a very rough early draft or a work that you suspect needs rethinking on some level, a manuscript evaluation is usually a better choice.

If you’re unsure if annotation is right for you, we’d be happy to advise. Just contact Ross Browne in the Tucson office.

Jonathan Balcombe

Favorite genres include science, nature, history, memoir, social sciences, travel, and narrative nonfiction

Renni Browne

Favorite genres include memoir, southern fiction, mystery/suspense, and character driven literary or mainstream fiction

Julian Delfino

Favorite genres include fantasy, science fiction, YA fiction, literary  and mainstream fiction

Marcia Ford

Favorite genres include memoir, multi cultural fiction, literary fiction, thrillers, and thoughtful works on religion and spirituality

Karinya Funsett-Topping

Favorite genres include literary fiction, romance, short stories, essays, and stories involving animals or magic realism

Peter Gelfan

Favorite genres include memoir, literary fiction, mainstream fiction, humor and satire, thrillers, science, and philosophy

Lindsay Guzzardo

Favorite genres include contemporary women's fiction, romance, literary fiction, mainstream fiction, and historical fiction

John Robert Marlow

Favorite genres include thrillers, mystery/suspense, action/adventure, middle grade and YA fiction, science fiction, fantasy, and true crime

Julie Miller

Favorite genres include memoir, literary fiction, thrillers, and books involving ecology, nature, animals, and the environment

Brian Preston

Favorite genres include humor and satire, memoir, travel, and historical fiction and nonfiction

Shannon Roberts

Favorite genres include science fiction, fantasy, middle grade and YA fiction, mystery/suspense, LGBTQ, and social science

Diane Stockwell

Favorite genres include memoir, history, politics, science, true crime, women's fiction, mainstream fiction, and historical fiction

Jill Twist

Favorite genres include literary fiction, children's fiction, art history, and social sciences

Pricing for manuscripts over 50,000 words ranges from $0.014 – $.018 (1.4 – 1.8 cents) per word. Pricing for shorter manuscripts is as follows:

37,501 – 50,000 words: $625 – $810
25,001 – 37,500 words: $510 – $660
12,501 – 25,000 words: $390 – $500
6,251 – 12,500 words: $275 – $355
Less than 6,250 words: $160 – $210

Turnaround time for manuscript evaluations is typically 4-5 weeks.

Click here to see a manuscript annotation sample.

To request a quote, make a submission, or request more information

Please visit our online welcome center, email us at admin@editorialdepartment.com, or call us at (520) 546-9992.

What happens next?

All inquiries to The Editorial Department will be personally fielded by author services director Ross Browne, who will do the following:

  • confirm receipt of your materials
  • gather any further information needed
  • do a no-cost/no-obligation preliminary review, to get a feel for which editor(s) and service(s) best fit your project’s needs
  • provide a written quote with price and turnaround time for any recommended services
  • answer any questions about recommended options or possible alternatives
  • schedule your project with the assigned editor, if you decide to move forward
  • explain and finalize the appropriate billing arrangements
  • provide a firm delivery date and keep you updated on our progress, as appropriate
  • deliver your feedback or editing to you once it’s ready
  • arrange for follow up with your editor by phone or email, once you have reviewed your feedback and/or editing
  • advise on next steps, and schedule reviews of new drafts if requested

Privacy & Confidentiality

We have utmost respect for our clients’ privacy concerns and will never sell, share, or disseminate your contact information. We will treat all materials supplied to us as confidential.

Formal nondisclosure agreements are not required but are available on request. More info is available here.

“Slaying dragons, melting witches, and banishing demons is all fun and games until someone loses a sidekick—then it’s personal. The bad guy isn’t just the “bad guy” anymore, he’s the BAD GUY!”

Michael J. Sullivan