It’s no secret that the book industry has changed radically in recent years, but the basic questions confronting writers never change. The difference today is that writers are increasingly (sometimes heartlessly, I feel) left on their own.
I started Manuscript Express in 2001 to address this problem. Often a fresh reading by a professional editor can save you* a great deal of time and effort before the submission process begins.
So I’m best used as an editor at the end of your writing project when you’re getting ready to find a publisher or an agent, or to publish the work yourself.
Here’s the way it works:
Manuscript Express is a fast-turnaround service for authors, literary agents and editors. During this process, I provide an extensive analysis that’s designed to help you answer most of the following about your work-in-progress:
1. Am I writing to my highest standard?
2. What are my strengths and weaknesses as a writer?
3. Do I deliver on the promises I make in the early pages?
4. Does the writing style work, and how can I improve it?
5. Is this book any “good” by critical standards?
6. Is there an audience for it?
7. If so, is it limited to my family or colleagues?
8. Is it a definable, reachable audience?
9. Can the present manuscript be “fixed” to broaden its appeal?
10. If asked to make changes, do I know what compromises I would make in this manuscript and still maintain its literary integrity?
11. How can I characterize the manuscript in the best light for an agent or editor? What would a good book proposal say?
12. Is this book newsworthy or remarkable in any promotable way? Is
there a chance for special sales? How can I use my research as an author
to enhance the overall marketing plan? Is there a way to start now with social media?
13. Should I hire my own book publicist before/after I submit the book? What if the publisher insists I don’t need a publicist?
I don’t try to answer all these questions, but they’re rolling around in my mind as I read the manuscript, and I try to gear the answers in this way: Once you’re ready to submit a book proposal to a literary agent or publishing house editor, you won’t waste a lot of time and money rewriting. (I include thoughts about marketing because these days agents and editors want a marketing plan.)
The fee is $2300. Basically I read as far as I can get, making notes on **manuscript pages, line by line and in the margin, before my mind is exploding with so many ideas that I feel compelled to sit down and write you a long letter, usually at least 10 single-spaced pages. I generally do NOT finish reading the entire manuscript. (If it’s important to you that I do finish it, the fee is $2600.)
*Literary agents and mainstream publishers have used Manuscript Express as well, but generally this is a service for writers.
**I prefer making notes and suggestions on the physical page rather than using the Track Editing system on the computer.
Be sure to contact me first at firstname.lastname@example.org so that we can set up some dates, then I will ask you to send a check with the double-spaced manuscript and return postage and mailing label to:
582 30th Street
San Francisco CA 94131
*Remember: I will want to make written notes on the manuscript as well as send you the report. I don’t use edit tracking because I believe with page edits, we can better see the effect of each the suggestion on the narrative whole.