This post looks at the question of how to get the most from your novel assessment – a critical issue that can make a massive difference to how much value you get from the process.
Edit your work properly first. That means you don’t just get to the final full stop, then rush your manuscript off for assessment. It means that you take care to review your novel, repeatedly, by yourself. Check for prose style, for characterisation, for plot weaknesses, for pacing. You should go on doing this until either (a) you’ve got the novel as strong as you can get it, or (b) you know it’s still not right but you find yourself going round in circles. Either way, that’s the moment when it’s worth getting help.
Know the market for your work. And don’t just review your novel. Make sure that you also have a fair understanding of your genre. Read current fiction in that category – especially debut fiction of the last few years (because that’s the strongest indication you have of what editors are buying today). You should make sure as far as possible that your novel is in tune with the current market. If not, there’d better be a good reason why not.
Be ready to take tough advice. If, in your heart of hearts, you are just looking for someone to tell you that your work is wonderful, you’re probably not yet ready for a professional novel assessment. (Or not a thorough one, anyway.) Paying for advice is nuts unless you’re prepared to take it, and a good assessment will be as meticulous, as considered and as honest as it needs to be.
Be prepared to reconsider first principles. A strange piece of advice, but a crucial one. Normally, a book won’t leap straight from pen to publication without some transformations on the way. Sometimes those changes will really challenge your original conception of the book.
If you’re okay with those bits of advice, the next step is to check out what to expect or just plunge in.
We’ll be delighted to help, and to answer more questions.