I am a writer and reviewer currently working on my second full-length fiction manuscript (the first was unpublished). I have had a lot of non-fiction articles and reviews published but only a few short stories. I have undergone a detailed manuscript assessment on the second manuscript and implemented their changes. The manuscript has also been edited by a friend who has recently completed a University degree in editing and publishing. I also met an agent, who told me to send through the manuscript when it’s ready.
My question is as follows: Where would you recommend I go from here? Another assessment, send it to the agent or go directly to publishers?
Well, here's MY question - why would you bypass the agent if they said to send it through? I don't know whether you accidentally met the agent or did it on purpose, but if it's the latter, it's a bit odd to now not take her/him up on the offer.
Quite apart from that, if you're an Australian writer it will be hard for you to get your novel in front of publishers if you don't have an agent, unless you're participating in one of the various awards/programs now available (Varuna, QWC, Text YA prize etc). So my suggestion would be that you send it to the agent and also investigate some of those awards and programs to see if you're eligible to enter. I only advise going directly to publishers if you have really good contacts within publishing companies and/or you're prepared to wait even longer for an answer than you would for an agent's answer. Whatever you do, though, don't get another assessment - there's a risk your manuscript is going to be overcooked if you put any more cooks in that kitchen.