Manuscript Evaluation

Editorial memo assessing commercial and literary potential and areas for improvement

A manuscript evaluation is one of the most common starting points for engaging The Editorial Department. Based on a careful review and analysis of a manuscript of any length, the evaluation includes both a detailed, written editorial memorandum and a session of phone consultation with your editor, all with the goal of identifying what’s working, what can work better, and what specific steps can be taken to give your manuscript the best chances of successful publication and warm reception in the marketplace.

Writers with promising manuscripts that simply need some objective editorial insight to improve their odds of successful publication can expect just that. Writers whose work isn’t yet ready for the marketplace will get candid, comprehensive feedback on what’s not working, what they need to learn, and what we see as the best path to get the manuscript on a better and/or more salable track. All writers can expect a thoughtful, thorough assessment of their manuscript’s literary and commercial potential, with attention to any relevant points of craft. For fiction this includes plotting, structure, pacing, characterization, dialogue, writing style, mechanics, grammar, and punctuation. For nonfiction, key considerations include content, organization, structure, clarity, flow, suitability for intended readership, writing style, mechanics, grammar, and punctuation.

Recommendations can range from suggestions on how to make an excellent book irresistible through advice on major structural or stylistic changes to help making a good idea work better. In cases where a story’s premise or conceptual weaknesses significantly limit the likelihood of its evolution into something with a reasonable chance of being published, the report will explore and explain the challenges in further detail, with the follow-up phone consultation becoming the main vehicle for exploring how you might go about rethinking the project and getting it on a better path.

Included in the price of the evaluation is up to a half-hour of phone or email consultation with the reviewing editor. This session gives our editors the opportunity to answer any questions about comments made in the report and to discuss and respond to any ideas the author may have about the manuscript. Consultation beyond the time included in the evaluation package, if desired, is available at our standard rate of $75 per hour.

Amanda Bauch
Favorite genres include historical fiction, women’s fiction, science, medicine, urban fantasy, Christian, self-help, memoir, and autobiography
Whitney Bak

Favorite genres include women’s fiction, fantasy, romance, YA/MG fiction, 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

Sean Fletcher

Favorite genres include fantasy, science fiction, YA fiction, and MG 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,  LGBTQ, and magic realism

Diane Stockwell

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

Evaluation pricing for manuscripts over 50,000 words ranges from $0.01$.013 (1.3 cents) per word. Pricing for shorter manuscripts is as follows:

37,501 – 50,000 words: $500 – $650
25,001 – 37,500 words: $405 – $530
12,501 – 25,000 words: $315 – $410
6,251 – 12,500 words:   $225 – $290
Less than 6,250 words: $120 – $155

Turnaround time for manuscript evaluations is typically 4 weeks.

Click here to see a manuscript evaluation sample.

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

Please visit our online welcome center, email us at, 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.

“Don’t ever defer to my judgment…for a writer of any account must speak solely for himself.”

Maxwell Perkins, Editor