Manuscript Evaluations: What and Why?
You may have heard me mention manuscript evaluations before. I even offer them among the other services listed on my website. But what are they, and what can they do for an author?
In the editing world, there are several services that overlap, and which ones you choose depends on a lot of factors. (For more on how to decide what kind of editing you need, see my blog post on the subject.)
What is a manuscript evaluation?
Manuscript evaluations overlap with the services provided by both writing coaches and developmental editors, though they are a distinct service.
Manuscript evaluations are less hands on and involved than a developmental edit, not making any changes directly to the document. And they’re more specific than a writing coach.
I like to think of this service as a light form of developmental edit. It’s an overview of the strengths and weaknesses of your manuscript.
The editor reads and evaluates the manuscript they’re given and draws up a general report with some specific examples. This report would point out both structural and language issues.
For example, the editor might point out the overuse or repeated misuse of certain terms or devices; issues with character, plot, or even idea development; how the overall length of the manuscript serves or doesn’t serve the author’s purpose; effective or ineffective chapter transitions; and more.
What does it do for you?
A manuscript evaluation serves the author in two distinct ways.
First, it provides professional feedback on specific areas you can improve. The editor may not fix the problem in the manuscript, but they point it out so that you can work on it on your own, improving both that manuscript and your skills in general.
Second, it can save you money. Because the manuscript evaluation is a one-time service and doesn’t involve changing and rearranging the entire document, it generally costs less than either a writing coach or a developmental editor.
That’s not to say that writing coaches and developmental editors are unnecessary or not worth what you pay them, but if you’re working on a tight budget, a manuscript evaluation could be a reasonable alternative.
Also, while the editor won’t be fixing the problems for you, once they’ve identified some key areas that need work, they can likely recommend some great resources for helping you solve those problems.
Rebecca Miller is a professional copyeditor and general fan of all things having to do with the written word and the English language.
You can check out her website at Oakdale Editing or connect through Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, or Email.
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Rebecca has a passion for helping you fill the world with great literature and making sure said literature doesn't get passed over for the lack of a little editing.