the book doctor: why get an assessment?




Nobody expects that high school music classes fit a person to write symphonies or that high school biology is all we need to become doctors; yet many of us think that studying English in school is all the preparation we need to become world famous authors. While this is true for a very few, very exceptional people, most of us need extra help to get our work in shape.

Anyone who is starting to look for a publisher and who is serious about writing should have an assessment. Some professional writers even recommend two assessments, by different people, at different stages of the manuscript's progress. A professional assessment is not the same as a friend's comments (a friend may not tell you the whole truth, for the sake of friendship). It will tell you what you need to consider working on to make your manuscript so clear, so complete, so compelling a piece of work that it will genuinely stand a chance of publication.

What will an assessment give you?

When we assess your manuscript, we read it for coherence, style, and appropriateness. We make a careful evaluation of the publishability of your work, and furnish you with a complete summary of our findings. Our comments are intended to help you improve your work: if fiction, to tighten up plot lines, strengthen characters, improve narrative style, and so forth. We address the matters relevant to your work. If non-fiction, we consider argument, logic of structure, quality of research. An assessment will mention matters of spelling and syntax as required, but it is not a proof-reading service.

The assessment will show where you need to concentrate in your next draft. Don't assume that your work is perfect and that an assessment will entirely agree with what you have done. Don't pay for an assessment and then decide that the assessor has misunderstood your intent. Instead, assume that the assessor is at least as intelligent as your average reader, and has identified particular problems that need addressing. An assessment should not make you think there is nothing left to do to make your manuscript better. Remember that you are paying for the advice of someone who is at a distance from your work, and can see things that you cannot.

Will the assessment be kind?

If you are writing for the pleasure of the craft, then we tend to be supportive; but if you are aiming at publication, expect blood on the pages and tears on your pillow. We don't want to make you feel good about yourself; we want to help you get your work as good as possible so it is worth publishing. We try to make our criticism constructive, and while we will point out strengths, we will focus on weaknesses, making suggestions to help you improve teh overall quality of your work. The closer your work is to publication standard, the harder we tend to be.

What is the difference between an assessment and a review?

An assessment is a private critique of your work intended to help you identify weaknesses and strengths in your writing, and suggesting how the manuscript might be improved. It is a writing tool, used before a work is published. A review is intended for readers or publicity, and focuses on making the book sound interesting and appealing. It is a marketing tool, employed to help promote a published work.



the book doctor
69 Sandville Place
Tasmania 7020

(03) 6239 9423