Five Must-Know Facts About Manuscript Appraisals

by Qate Blanjett

laughing at book

Manuscript appraisal is one of the cornerstones of the publishing process. It can help you become a better writer and turn your book from a piece of trash even your best friends belittle you for to a best-seller. Simply put, manuscript appraisal is when someone reads an early draft of your book and gives you notes on different structural elements of your story, such as pace, tone, plot, and character.

The feedback you’re given can be life-changing. Many people don’t know this, but George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Fire and Ice was originally a series of cookbooks before a manuscript appraiser convinced him to turn in into the medieval fantasy saga we all know and love today.

Below, I ask and answer five questions about manuscript appraising which I think hope illuminate the process to the uninitiated.

Do I need a manuscript appraisal?

This is an important question to ask yourself. The short answer is, if you haven’t written a book and don’t want to be an author, then no. If so, then yes. The long answer is the same thing but written in a more long-winded, roundabout way that someone who does manuscript appraisal can help you make more concise.

What kind of appraisal service should I choose?

With the rise of digital publishing, more and more appraisal services have been sprouting up. But how is an inexperienced author supposed to know who to choose? Generally speaking, it’s more convenient to pick somebody local, but if you have a small budget, outsourcing the job to West Africa is another good option. Still, you have to be careful. Some red flags to look for:

  • Companies that require a blood sample
  • Companies that don’t have or know what a “website” is
  • Companies that offer an appraisal within 24 hours
  • Businesses registered as toothpaste manufacturers for tax purposes
  • Testimonials that refer to the company as a “bunch of shitheads”
  • Companies that only offer appraisals in the form of “would bang” and “would not bang”

How do I know if my manuscript is ready for appraisal?

Ideally, you’d like to have the best possible draft of your work ready when you start to appraise. But more realistically, you’re a really shitty writer, which is why you’re doing the whole appraisal thing in the first place. So just get to where ever you feel is good and let the people you’re paying do the hard work.

What sort of feedback can you expect?

This is a tough one. Because you’re really just tossing a coin. Some appraisers are less professional than others, and will resort to personal attacks and name calling. They’ll say your ideas are “borderline genocidal” and “a symptom of the decline of political debate in this country.” More level-headed appraisers will be more constructive and positive, telling you “you’re one of the ones who gets it” and “not afraid to offend the snowflakes.”

What should I include when sending in my manuscript for appraisal?

Below I’ve compiled a list of the definitely yeses, definitely nos and definitely maybes.

Definitely Yes

  • Your manuscript
  • A cover letter
  • A killer mixtape
  • A short synopsis
  • Some chocolates or other types of sweets
  • An author bio that forgoes some of your more personal beliefs, such as that of your views on miscegenation

Definitely No

  • Hair and most other types of human remains
  • Somebody else’s manuscript
  • A copy of an already published best-seller
  • Erotic photography of the author
  • A personal manifesto that definitely includes your views on miscegenation

Definitely Maybe

  • Deer hair
  • An assortment of jerked meats
  • An author bio that explains your fragile mental state and likelihood to resort to self-harm when faced with criticism
  • Erotic photography of an attractive person
  • Your return address

Five Tips for Writers Considering Self-Publishing – And More Tips

by Truitt Collyns 

cash money

Let me set the scene – perhaps it’s a familiar one. You’re sitting at your desk one morning, an open bottle of vodka to one side, a loaded pistol to the other. Your manuscript has just been rejected by your favorite publisher, such as, for example, Dragon Eagle Publishing. But even though a full day of raucous drinking and gunplay should cheer you up, it’s not going to introduce your masterwork to a larger audience.

So perhaps it’s time to consider self-publishing. But first,  reflect on why your story was rejected in the first place. For example, did you know that more than 75 percent of manuscripts Dragon Eagle receives are rejected solely because the author had an ugly-sounding name? Names like Jett, Shadow, Kirisitiana? That’s your aiming for – none of this John, Herman, Virginia or Gertrude nonsense. But it’s not always the name. For example, maybe you had some beta readers – friends, family, co-workers – appraise your work. Did any of them describe it as “bad,” or “not good,” or “not worth publishing?” Have any refused to talk to you since? Well, maybe that’s a sign you still need to make some minor tweaks.

But let’s say you got a great pseudonym, a clever title and a story people can at least feign interest in to maintain your personal relationships. Here’s some tips and information about the world of self-publishing we hope can guide you.

1. Do your research

This is probably the most important step your self-publishing journey because not all ebooks are created equal and not every solution is going to work for your project. Therefore, when you Google “How to Self-Publish My Ebook” don’t just look at the first page of results. This is going to require you to go to all the way to page 6 or 7. (Unless, of course, your settings are different and you don’t just get the standard ten results per page).

2. Your local neighborhood library is a great resource…

… of cheap labor because of its large homeless population. You can have these people write and post reviews to Amazon, Lulu and Goodreads, create ad copy, and even design covers if you hit the jackpot and stumble across a former art major and mother of three whose house recently burned down due to faulty wiring.

3. Promote your book

This one’s pretty self-explanatory. Once your book is ready to upload, you’re going to need to spread the word. So get to it.

4. Remember that books aren’t sandwiches.

This is an important one when considering your audience and their needs. Keep in mind, sandwiches are just something to provide humans with nourishment and energy. Books are also not washing machines, tiny umbrellas you put in cocktails, nice fleece blankets or 2008 Honda CR-V’s. A person who needs those things doesn’t necessarily need your book. (Books are, however, a well-maintained ceiling fan).

5. Consider marrying into a rich family, or waiting until you make your first million, to start publishing

6. Or, failing that, consider all possible corporate tie-ins

7. Make sure you’re using the subjunctive correctly

8. Enter every contest, even if your book doesn’t fit the topic. Trust me, the National Jewish Writing Society doesn’t want to read any more about the Holocaust.

9. Be the smartest, loudest and preferably tallest member of every writing organization you join.

10. You’re almost there.

So you’ve done everything we’ve said. You did your marketing research and promotion, you’ve created a cover, everything’s formatted, you know who your audience is and you feel success is on it way.

Well, you couldn’t be more right, because the next thing you’re going to do is hit the “Cancel Publishing” button, not upload your book to the platform and ask for a refund if you need to. Because you’ve passed the test and shown Dragon Eagle Publishing you’ve got what it takes to make it in this business.

Send everything to us and we’ll get the contract prepped and ready to sign. Welcome to the Dragon Eagle family, Mr. (or possibly Mrs.) Writer. Has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?