Ten page review: have your first ten pages assessed by a book publishing professional

The first ten pages of your manuscript are the most a literary agent or publisher will read before making a decision to keep reading – or stop. Some won’t even be that generous.

  • Have you been writing a book, but not sure what an agent or publisher would make of it?
  • Have you struggled to get constructive feedback on your novel or nonfiction book from well-meaning friends and family members, and had trouble finding honest writing advice without having to fork out loads of money for a full manuscript assessment?
  • Or have you paid good money for a manuscript assessment, and you’re still not sure of its quality?

Maybe you’ve already been submitting to agents and publishers, and not hearing back. If so, you’re not alone. Some literary agents receive hundreds of queries every week.

I understand, and I can help.

It’s so frustrating not to hear anything back from an agent or publisher after you’ve worked so hard on your manuscript. Unfortunately, it’s a story I hear all the time from unpublished writers. (And sometimes even published ones.)

Maybe, in hindsight, there are things you wonder if you should have changed about your story, or your characters, or the length of your manuscript, before you sent it off via an electronic submissions portal.

But without feedback, you’ll never know whether the things you wonder about are the things that turned off the industry professional. Or whether it was something else entirely that led her to decide no.

Maybe there are aspects of an unpublished manuscript that are obvious to a publishing professional that, despite all your hard work, are just not evident to the author.


I'm on a mission to help writers and experts maximize the appeal of their manuscript submissions to literary agents and book publishers.

Too many writers send off their agent submissions without getting feedback on their materials. Then when they don't hear back from agents, they get frustrated and disappointed.

As the traditionally published author of two books, as a structural editor, former in-house editor and literary agent, I'll give you the kind of commercial and constructive feedback you'll never get from a workshop or writers' group.

Whatever you need, my team and I are here to help. 

So show me your first ten pages.

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.

As a literary agent, I understand how literary agents and book publishers think. The sorts of questions and reservations they have pop into my head whenever I read a query from someone writing a book. I know what they’re looking for – and what it takes to get published.

As an author, I know how hard it is to write – and finish writing – a book. I understand the vulnerability of putting your work out there for strangers to read and enjoy, or dismiss too quickly.

As a book editor, I’ve worked with many different types of authors across a variety of genres and writing styles, at vastly different levels of writing experience. My job as an editor is not to impose my personal taste, but to help you make your work the best it can possibly be.

Why only the first ten pages?

In my experience, if your manuscript has areas for improvement, they will be obvious to a publishing industry professional in the opening pages.

  • For fiction writers, it could be an issue with story, or characterisation, or tone. Or it might be challenges common to many authors such as repetition, cliche, or starting in the wrong place.
  • If you’re writing nonfiction, all the same elements apply  – with the added challenge of finding ways to address the invisible points of resistance a publisher might have about your subject, before you even submit it.

First ten pages: Have a book industry  professional review the first ten pages of your manuscript

I will edit and annotate my response to your first ten pages, providing constructive feedback on your writing style and storytelling.

That’s ten double-spaced pages in a standard font; up to a maximum of 3,000 words.

Maybe there are aspects of your unpublished manuscript that would be obvious to a publishing professional and that you can’t see, despite all your hard work.

    Agent Query & Synopsis Edit


    If you’re planning to submit your manuscript to a literary agent, you’ll need to have a compelling query email and synopsis (in the case of fiction writers) or chapter outline (for nonfiction writers). And if you’re already submitting but not hearing back, then perhaps you need some feedback on why that might be the case.

    Why not get a book publishing professional to review and edit your query and synopsis or chapter outline?

    As a former literary agent, a traditionally published author, an in-house editor and a structural editor for many writers published in the US and Australia, I can provide the sort of insider feedback you’ll never receive from a supportive friend or writers workshop — along with constructive suggestions for how to address any areas that might need work. 

    Literary agents want to read great queries. I know how to write them.

    You can write one too, with a bit of insider feedback.

    You’ve put so much time and effort into writing your manuscript or book proposal — why not give yourself the best possible chance of grabbing your ideal literary agent’s attention?

    Once you finalise payment, please email your double-spaced materials to me at info at virginialloyd.com.

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