Manuscript Assessment

The Literary Consultancy is the UK’s first and leading manuscript assessment and editorial advice service providing expert, market-aware editorial appraisal and help to writers at all levels.

The Literary Consultancy provides developing writers with an honest, detailed and professional manuscript appraisal from a highly skilled editor. We help writers understand whether they stand a chance of success in the commercial literary market place and if they do, help connect them to a literary agent and publisher. We can advise about the world of self-publishing, and help you think about the increasing number of options open to writers in online environments. We also offer copy-editing and proofreading on a case-by-case basis. The principal focus in all instances of the manuscript assessment is editorial. We hand-match every incoming manuscript to a reader we feel is suited to the story, genre, and creative vision of the author, and it is through this process that we maintain an excellent record of client feedback. Our highly skilled in-house team is also on hand for any of your more general enquiries throughout the process. All writers, at any level, are welcome to submit, and every manuscript is considered with equal attention. You may be writing for pleasure, or writing with a commercial aim. We welcome all approaches and respect that all writing is hard-won, and commit to giving you a respectful, constructive, critical response at a high level of engagement.

If you are writing a novel, a short story, a children’s book, non-fiction, a script or screenplay, short stories or poetry and would like guidance and support, an assessment will provide practical guidelines for self-editing, and give developmental and structural advice about basic narrative elements, showing you what you’re doing well, what’s working less well and why, and how to get your manuscript in the best possible shape.

“An important service which will help bridge the gap between writers, agents and publishers – and be of help to all three.”

Carmen Callil, Publisher and Booker Prize chair

TLC’s editorial consultancy benefits from a wealth of industry knowledge and has years of combined experience in working with writers. We have built up an extensive, highly-skilled and unsurpassed team of over 80 professional readers who are editors and writers with an in-depth knowledge of the UK publishing industry and expertise across a wide range of genres. Many are published novelists, teach creative writing on prestigious University courses, or have extensive experience of script reading, tutoring and workshopping, as well as relevant industry experience in editorial, commissioning or publishing positions. Writers who use our services can feel confident that their work will be matched to an appropriate reader. For more information on our expert team including biographies and an outline of which genres each reader reads within, please see Readers.


  • PAY NOW for your manuscript assessment using our online portal for simple and instant uploading
  • Click here for full submission guidelines (you can also submit by email or post if preferred).
  • Fees can be found here
  • Terms and conditions are here

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Do I need a Manuscript Assessment?

Come for a TLC manuscript assessment if you:

  • want a professional, independent editorial overview of your work at whatever stage of development, from a reader hand-selected for you by our in-house team;
  • want help with direction at any stage of your writing;
  • want to ascertain if you are likely to get commercially published or not
  • want to know if an editor thinks it worthwhile you self-publishing, and if so best steps forwards;
  • have decided to self-publish  and want an editorial overview with suggestions for editorial improvements to make sure your work is as good as it can be.

You will receive a manuscript assessment report as a written document from TLC directly within 4-6 weeks, giving an in-depth professional view on the work, to enable you to focus on improving your writing in a targeted manner. The report will be emailed to you as a PDF, and returned in hard copy if you have included a SAE for return postage of your manuscript.

You will be sent a What to Expect PDF, which you can also access here, and with the report you will be sent a Next Steps PDF, which you can also access here.

If you are interested in copy-editing or proofreading, please see Other Editorial Services.

Why Choose TLC?

TLC prides itself on a reputation for excellence. Established as the first service of its kind in the UK in 1996, it pioneered a service provision that has recently proliferated in the UK and around the world, with various literary consultancies and freelance ‘book doctors’ now offering editorial assessment and support to a writing population with increased access to publishing services across independent and digital platforms. TLC remains at the forefront of editorial provision, and continues to enjoy a high standing in the traditional industry as well as with newer platforms. We hand-match each writer coming in with an editor we think would be best suited to the project at hand, and bring this curatorial vision to our events programme, as well as to our popular Mentoring programme, which we process on application. We believe that all writers should have access to professional editing services in order to better understand their writing and how it might sit in a constantly changing market, and give honest, professional feedback in order to help writers grow and develop their skills.

“My first novel ‘Pao’ was a TLC read. And honestly I don’t know how I would have managed to knock it into shape without the comments from the Reader. That was my turning point to actually selling the book. So what TLC offers writers, the thing that is so incredibly special is an opportunity to make their dream come true. More than that. A chance to work towards that dream in an environment of care and attention, and commitment to excellence because TLC loves literature. The process is rigorous and rightly so, which is what makes it valuable not only to the writers but to the Readers who are continually learning and improving our craft and skills. For me, being a TLC Reader helps to pay back the generosity of the gift I received.”

Kerry Young, Costa First Novel Award and Commonwealth Book Prize shortlisted novelist and tutor

What Writing Do You Accept?

At TLC we offer manuscript assessment for writing at all levels by writers writing in English. We offer assessment for:

  • Fiction (15,000 word opening extract; 30,000 opening extract; full MS + synopsis + covering letter)
  • Non-fiction (15,000 words; 30,000 words; full MS + proposal/chapter outline)
  • Illustrated children’s fiction (1-2 picture books; 3-4 picture books)
  • Poetry (by line count; we can also assess full collections, please enquire about cost)
  • Short stories (by word count)
  • Scripts and Screenplays (theatre; film; TV; radio)

You can find our Reader list including biographies and specialisms here and our Fees here

Agents and Publishers

TLC has established working connections with several leading publishers and agents and over the years has helped hundreds of writers get into print. For more information please see our Success Stories. However it is important to remember that getting commercially published is difficult. It is also important to note that no editing consultancy or editor should be making any writer promises about getting published, nor insisting that a manuscript assessment is an essential step in this process. We believe in the value of what we offer, as part of a process by which a writer might wish to develop their craft, and understanding of the market, regardless of ‘outcome’. We commit to taking all writers and all writing seriously and pride ourselves in giving the same professional attention to each manuscript that comes to us. We also consider all routes to readership, and all writing processes, equally valid, and are happy to advise on alternatives to traditional publishing to help you consider your aims and options.

All developing writers should be aware that the traditional publishing industry is driven by commercial imperatives. Publishers and agents can only take on books that they feel confident will result in sales. Marketing and PR campaigns are important in generating book sales, so publishers and agents also ideally need to feel a book (and its author) will be easy to promote. We try where possible to demystify this process, and will never make false promises about what an editorial intervention can achieve.

If you have completed a book, have already had a manuscript assessment or other editorial intervention, and feel ready to submit to literary agents or publishers, you may wish to consider our Submission Package service.

TLC runs publishing events to help people writing understand more about the publishing industry (see TLC Events) and we work across all our services to help writers gain a greater sense of self-awareness around the quality of their work, and where it might fit into the market.

TLC is aware of the demands of the industry and will not make irresponsible suggestions to clients wishing to approach agents and publishers. However, where work is deemed not only well-written, but also potentially commercial, we will have a discussion with the author about the best procedure for finding an agent/publisher and TLC’s role in the process.There is no further fee to the client for this service.

ACE Bursaries (Free Reads Scheme)

We are partially funded by the Arts Council England to provide a limited number of bursaried reads to promising writers from low-income households across the UK. You will need to contact your local regional writing development body in order to find out if they operate the scheme and if you are eligible. For details including finding your regional writing partner and how to apply please see Arts Council England Free Reads Scheme.

We are committed to match-funding a portion of our Arts Council grant – as we are not a charity we rely on new partnerships, in-kind support, donations, and sponsorship to uphold this commitment. If you feel you are in a position to offer a donation or sponsorship to support our provision of free manuscript assessment, please get in touch.

Other Editing: Mentoring

Do have a look at our Mentoring page to find out more about our more intensive editorial service, our popular Chapter and Verse mentoring programme. Chapter and Verse offers writers one-to-one support via email, with a personal writing tutor selected for you by the TLC team, and the opportunity to submit six tranches of writing (up to 10,000 words each time) over a period of 12 months, with an in-house industry day meeting with an agent and publisher, and a full manuscript assessment included within the fee. Mentoring is for serious writers working on a book-length project and supports writers to completion of a novel, memoir, narrative non-fiction book, or collection of poetry or short stories.

Ready to submit your work for a manuscript assessment with one of our professional Readers? Click here to start the process.