In my experience, if your manuscript has areas for improvement, they will be obvious to a publishing industry professional in the very first pages of your work, whether fiction or nonfiction.
To an unpublished writer this may sound harsh, but to people who read hundreds (if not thousands) of query letters and manuscripts each year, it’s the awful truth.
Often I’ll ask to see the first 30 pages of a manuscript, only to have the author reply, saying: ‘Oh, it doesn’t really get going until Chapter 5’, or ‘unless you read the first 100 pages, you won’t understand what’s going on.’
I’m sorry, but … no. Not good enough. Agents and publishers don’t need any excuse to say no to unsolicited work, and this kind of thinking makes it very easy for them to pass on yours. There’s a pile of unread manuscripts awaiting them, and they live in perpetual hope of finding the next bestseller among them.
What to do?
If you’re not hearing back from agents or publishers, or if you’re frustrated at your progress using writing workshops and reading groups, I’m here to help.
I have observed that there’s a huge gulf between the short pieces or partial manuscripts writers work on as part of a group or workshop, and the quality of finished book-length manuscript that publishers are looking for.
I’ve decided to work in that gap, helping writers with good but undercooked projects get to the level that will interest publishers, and helping publishers to find quality projects that will interest readers (those ethical, beautiful, lovable creatures).
I’m in the very unusual position of having experience as a literary agent, as a book editor (both in-house and freelance), and as a published author. I know how authors think, I understand how agents and publishers think. I know what they’re looking for – and what it takes to get published.
Your first ten pages
To address the gap I identified between writers’ desires and publishers’ needs, I have recently started a service reviewing the first ten pages of works in progress.
Ten pages: that’s ten double-spaced pages in a standard font (eg Times New Roman, Palatino, Calibri, Verdana); up to 3,000 words.
If you’re not getting any answers to your questions about your manuscript and its value to publishers, why not have a book industry professional review the first ten pages of your manuscript?
Within seven days, I will edit and annotate my response to the first ten pages of your manuscript, providing constructive feedback on your writing style and storytelling, your characterisation and subject matter – and anything which strikes me as worth noting to a writer serious about getting published.
Because if you’re not serious about getting published, why are you still reading this?
There are loads of self-styled ‘manuscript assessors’ out there, who do not have the sort of experience I have, willing to take a mountain of your money to give you not very much in the way of publication-focused feedback in return. I can guarantee it because I regularly hear from people boasting of having had their manuscript ‘professionally assessed’ or ‘professionally edited’, whose work is nowhere near ready for submission to publishers.
More details here about how the ten-page-review works.
I look forward to helping you.