Monday, July 28, 2014

Appraise to appease?

I have written a fantasy, and I want it to be a series. I had sent it for appraisal and the response has been rather good, regarding plot structure, conflict, description and character. Negatives were punctuation, alignment and grammar at some places, along with suggestions to 'plump up and explore' the events. I am working on incorporating the suggestions. I have two questions here.

 1) I have heard that sending the appraisal along with the manuscript helps. However, my appraisal has the negatives. So should I send this appraisal while sending the draft to the agent? Should I get a re-appraisal done after corrections? Or should I just mention that it has been reviewed by a professional agency? I am afraid that the negatives in the appraisal, however minimum, will create a bad impression.

2) Since the negatives are mostly about punctuation, I reckon it can addressed by help of a copy editor. But most people suggest copy editing after appraisal. If you suggest re-appraisal, should I copy-edit it before sending it the second time?

Well, I can save you the trouble of sending your appraisal (also known as a 'manuscript assessment' in these here parts) as part of your submission: the agents and publishers I know don't pay any attention to them.

Appraisals/assessments are meant to be a useful tool to help a writer work out what needs to be done to their manuscript before it's sent to an agent or publisher. It's not a tool for the agent or publisher, though, and consequently they won't pay much, or any, attention to it. We've also all been burnt by the number of appraisals we've seen that say, 'This book should be published!!!!!!' even though it's clear that the accompanying manuscript is nowhere near publishable standard. But the fundamental reason why we don't need to read the appraisal is this: we do our own appraising. I don't care what someone else's opinion of your manuscript is - I want to establish my own opinion. Sending someone else's opinion just makes it look as though you're worried about what my opinion will be - and that means at some subterranean level of your consciousness you're worried your work isn't up to scratch. So get it up to scratch and then send it to an agent or publisher who will make up their own mind.

In this case: it sounds as though the appraisal you had done has actually been beneficial in pointing out some work you need to do. Unless the punctuation errors are egregious, don't worry too much about them. We all make errors. If your writing is otherwise great, we can overlook them. But if those errors are sufficient to make me not be able to read your writing the way you intend, you should fix them. 

Regarding freelance editors: they are an increasingly popular option for writers and for good reason, as they look only at whether or not your manuscript is working and they won't offer an assessment of whether or not it's publishable. They're not affordable for everyone, though, in which case a manuscript assessment service could be useful. 

As I'm often asked to recommend editors, this is as far as I'll go: - the editors I know in this network are excellent but I'm not going to single out just one! 

1 comment:

shaeri said...

Thank you so much for your time and answer. It has been a fantastic help. :)