Manuscript Assessment - The Literary Consultancy

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 also advise about the world of self-publishing, and help you think about the increasing number of options open to writers in online environments. We can also offer copy-editing and proofreading on a case-by-case basis.

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.

Ready to submit? Click here for Fees and here for submission guidelines. 

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 be personally recommended to agents by TLC if you are considered marketable by TLC reader and in-house team
  • 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 critique as a separate 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.

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. Our annual Conference is just one way we keep on top of what’s happening in order to support the writers coming through our systems. We also 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 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.

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 (50 page opening extract; 100 page opening extract; full MS + synopsis + covering letter)
  • Non-fiction (50 pages; 100 pages; full MS + proposal/chapter outline)
  • Illustrated children’s fiction (up to 4,000 words or max. 3 picture books)
  • Poetry (by line count)
  • 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 many authors get into print. For more information please see our Success Stories. However it is important to remember that getting commercially published is difficult. All developing writers should be aware that the traditional publishing industry is very market driven and is also in a state of flux as it faces challenges from alternative online platforms. Publishers and agents can only take on books that they feel confident will result in high 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. 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 an in-depth 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 high quality 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.