A common mistake writers make (and this includes published writers) is to send off a manuscript when it’s still half-baked. It’s an understandable temptation. Most of us are heartily sick of a lengthy project well before we can say it is finished.

Our advice to any writer is: If you want to get published, don’t show your manuscript to an agent or publisher until you have done to it everything you possibly can.

Manuscript assessments

Once you have taken your manuscript as far as you can, an assessment by an experienced reader can provide you with the guidance to take it to the next level. We are amazed how often the very act of revealing our work to someone else helps us accept what we know needs to be changed but haven’t quite had the courage to face.

My partner, Alan Close and I offer constructive, detailed manuscript assessments.  Al has published fiction and non-fiction and, like me, has lots of experience supporting writers.

When we assess your manuscript we identify its strengths and weaknesses, and suggest areas that in our view need work before you send it away to an agent or publisher. We will address issues such as plot, subplots, character development, setting, structure, style, voice and pacing. We will give specific examples from your manuscript to illustrate our points. 

What sets us apart from other manuscript assessment services is the constructive editorial advice we offer: concrete suggestions for rewriting and questions to stimulate the best possible rewrite of your work. We give our feedback in a phone (or in-person) conversation that lasts at least an hour. We find a conversation the best way to give feedback, as you are able to ask questions, and the back and forth often generates ideas and solutions. 

Working with Sarah was the best thing I could ever have done for my manuscript. I got great, constructive advice and critique as well as the kind of encouragement every budding writer needs when starting out. I would recommend working with Sarah Armstrong to anyone. In a word: fantastic. Jana Horarik

 For the first time, I felt confidence in my work and had a more defined direction in which to take it.... My greatest learning curve was in understanding that the real work starts in the rewriting... Sarah affirmed for me that by completing the initial manuscript I "was already" a writer and her strong assessment helped increase my confidence in regard to pushing ahead to pursue publishing as my goal.... I would highly recommend Sarah to anyone who wishes a professional manuscript assessment of their work conducted. Deborah Christensen

I sent my first manuscript to Sarah after a member of my writing group recommended her; or I should say was willing to share a treasure. Sarah assessed my manuscript with an eye for both structural and grammatical issues. Her report was done in a timely manner and gave me great clarity about what was and wasn’t working in my novel. Sarah is very knowledgeable, friendly and reliable with a goal of making your writing the best it can be. I was so happy with her work that I am continuing on with writing support to follow through on her recommendations. She offers a wonderful balance of constructive criticism and encouragement. Her suggestions are spot-on and incredibly valuable. Send your baby to her and you can trust your manuscript will be in five-star editor hands. Jenny Kingsford

As writers ourselves, we understand that the feedback we receive when we are partway through a manuscript needs to be both honest and encouraging. This is what we will offer you. In all our dealings, we pride ourselves that our feedback and guidance is personal and authentic. We have been where you are now. The only difference between most published and unpublished writers is time, determination and the commitment to learn from experience.

Initially, I took Sarah's writing classes where the thread of a story emerged. I learnt so much from Sarah about the craft of writing. Since my manuscript has taken shape, she has continued to mentor me through numerous drafts. I have found her to be professional and skilled, as well as sensitive to vulnerable aspects of the writing process, and of my story's content. Sarah is skilled at finding the true story and encourages the writer's voice to shine with the greatest possible clarity, Kumari Ellis. 



The cost of a Manuscript Assessment  varies according to the length of your manuscript.

Up to 100,000 words $750

100,000 – 120,000 words $850

120,000 – 140,000 words $950

Please inquire for the cost for manuscripts longer than 140,000 words.