Writing a book isn’t easy. It’s no surprise that only a tiny percentage of manuscripts actually make it to publication. But why is this? In our experience, it’s because although many of the manuscripts we receive have the bones of a great novel or non-fiction book, with beautiful sentences and engaging content, the author could really use an editor’s assessment. It’s a strange paradox that only the authors with the most accomplished, polished manuscripts – or in other words, those who least need it – will ever have their work pored over by an editor. An important factor in what makes the best books so good is quite simply that more minds have been collaborating on them for longer.
So what does the service entail? For our manuscript assessment, you will be allocated an editor who will give your manuscript the care and attention it would receive if it had been accepted for publication. You will get an honest appraisal of the text’s potential, style, structure, format, pacing and all the rest, while we will also examine the text from a publisher’s perspective. Perhaps there are opportunities to expand the book’s potential audience, or to make it stand out within its genre. No matter how well-executed, your book will not be accepted for publication if there are not enough people who will want to read it!
"Blackwater" from GB-Ketmmc 353, c. 1720, The Montagu Music Collection, Boughton House. By kind permission of His Grace the Duke of Buccleuch and Queensberry KBE and the Trustees of the Buccleuch Living Heritage Trust.
IMPORTANT: WE ARE NOT A VANITY PRESS
On principle, we tend not to publish manuscripts that have been through our consultancy; it feels dubious for us to accept payment for our editing or our manuscript assessments and then go on to try and commodify the product. Instead, we can recommend alternative publishers that may be of interest after our editorial work is complete. If a manuscript submitted for assessment is clearly at publishable standard and of interest to us, we will contact the author to discuss editing with a view to publication with Blackwater Press (at no cost to the author!).
For manuscript assessments, we ask for a deposit of half the total price. Once this has been paid, we will contact you to discuss your needs and agree upon a timeframe. An invoice for the total will be sent to you upon completion of the assessment.
If a manuscript is especially long (say well in excess of 100,000 words) or requires fast-track assessment, a personalised quote will be agreed upon.
Suggestions could range from minute to radical: if we think something might improve the text then we will not hesitate to voice it. Sometimes manuscripts have to be broken apart and put back together again in a different order, or from a different perspective, or in a different voice, to best reflect what message is to be conveyed. Often one well-placed question from an editor can transform a book, and thorough discussion between editor and author is part of this process. If significant alterations are suggested and the author wishes to continue their relationship with the editor after those changes have been implemented, a timeframe can be arranged for this to happen. In those instances, rates will be discussed between editor and author.
As we are a small press and dedicated to publishing our own titles as well, and because we want to invest time and effort into these assessments, we cannot absolutely guarantee that we will have an editor available for you immediately. However, most of the time we will, and will always get back to you promptly to let you know.
In addition to our Manuscript Assessment service, we also offer hourly rate editorial services for manuscripts further down the line. Learn more here.
All authors’ manuscripts can be improved by an astute editor: being too close to our own work, we may not see plot flaws, structural problems or omissions. I was delighted by John Reid’s conscientious scrutiny of my plot, continuity, characterisation, pace, narrative focus and readability. I highly recommend him.
Dr Anne Pettigrew, author of Not the Life Imagined and Not the Deaths Imagined