From 'Okay' to 'Gripping' - A Writer's Journey Through Manuscript Assessment

June 05, 2018 | Other News

Okay. It’s a nice word. It signals acceptance, approval or agreement. If you hear the word ‘okay’ then you know that everything is proceeding normally and under control. However, where I didn’t want to hear it was as a descriptive term for my first manuscript. I wanted to hear the words ‘brilliant’, ‘fantastic,’ or even ‘amazing’. Instead my first reviewer gave it a generic, flat and distinctly disappointing, ‘okay’. At this point I should admit to a hefty chunk of naivety. As a first-time author I had hoped that given the time and effort I put into my precious manuscript, only minimal adjustments would be needed. A tweak here and there and it would be good to go – the Gold Dagger Award waiting just around the corner. Instead, the judgement was ‘okay’ and a big rethink was in order, simultaneously arriving with a problem attached. It’s easy to point out what is ‘wrong’ with a book – we’ve all done that at some stage, but getting constructive advice? That’s a different game altogether.

I hit the internet, and in a short period of time I am looking at The Literary Consultancy’s manuscript assessment service, flinching at the potential cost of it. The TLC website promised a great deal, but was it really going to be worth the cost? The possibility of an ambivalent review once again reverberated in my head, but I decided to make the call.

Six weeks of slightly nervous waiting later, a four-thousand-word review lands in my inbox. It wasn’t a generalised critique, but a very specific report on my book and writing style. The commentary was positive, constructive, and offered clear suggestions on how to improve the plot and style, whilst discreetly pointing out its potential flaws. Buoyed with an understanding about how to improve my manuscript, I set about the process of rewriting, and passed version two back to the original reviewer for comparison and comment. I knew I had made the right decision when she described it as being ‘a rich, rewarding read’, and concluded by saying that my investment of buying TLC’s services had ‘paid big dividends’.

The book is now available on-line, and instead of seeing the word ‘okay’ in the reviews, I see ‘gripping’, ‘well written’ and ‘highly recommended’. The Gold Dagger Award may still be a long way off for me, but it won’t stop me using TLC again. If you have a manuscript that needs a helping hand, try them and hopefully the word ‘okay’ won’t appear in your reviews either.

Les Finlayson is the author of ‘By Which We Are Judged’, available on the Amazon, Kobo and Smashwords websites.

TLC manuscript assessment is available for fiction, non-fiction, short stories, poetry, scripts and screenplays. We welcome approaches from first-time and experienced writers, and work with writers wanting to approach literary agents, as well as those interested in publishing independently, and those who are interested simply in receiving serious feedback on their writing.

You can buy Les’s 5* reviewed debut novel by clicking on the image below.