Mar 19 2010

How Your Novel Manuscript is Evaluated

Published by at 11:55 pm under Getting Published,Research and Resources

Like many other literary agencies (and publishers, for that matter), Bookends uses reader’s reports to help agents/editors evaluate each credible proposal.  Assistants and/or interns will sift through the slush pile of unsolicited novel submissions and will pass along maybe 1% to their bosses for consideration, along with reader’s reports.

Bookends posted the guidelines for its reader’s reports, which is useful to you because it lets you know many of the criteria by which a novel proposal will be graded.

  • What was the book about?
  • Did the overall idea seem different and unique?
  • Was it a common theme, but executed in a unique way?
  • What did you think of the author’s voice?
  • Did the characters seem real and likable?
  • Was the plot seamless and did it make sense or were there a lot of holes?
  • Did the multiple plotlines blend together to create a whole book or did they seem choppy and disconnected?
  • Did the dialogue seem real and believable or did it feel forced?
  • Were you able to easily figure out what happened or did the author keep you guessing?
  • Does this book seem to have viability in the market?
  • Are there other popular books you could relate this to?
  • Are there too many similar books to make this stand out?
  • What is the author’s platform?
  • Has the author been previously published? With whom?
  • How was the writing? Did the writing feel professional, like you were reading a published book, or amateurish?

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4 responses so far

4 Responses to “How Your Novel Manuscript is Evaluated”

  1. Gurion Omegaon 20 Mar 2010 at 2:01 pm

    Good to know, good to know.

  2. Stefanieon 28 Aug 2011 at 3:13 pm

    When I was an intern at a publishing company, the writing counted for a lot, but the “Comp Titles,” or comparable titles mattered more. If the comp titles did well, I could pass it along to the editor above me. If they didn’t, the book got rejected, even if the writing was wonderful.

  3. Brian McKenzie (B. Mac)on 28 Aug 2011 at 3:19 pm

    “If the comp titles did well, I could pass it along to the editor above me. If they didn’t, the book got rejected, even if the writing was wonderful.” Aha! I’m just a few sparkly vampires short of getting published. If I’m going to sell my soul to get published, I figure I might at well get a 6 figure advance.

    Less facetiously, I understand the concern here. Profit margins are tight and examining how comparable titles have sold is one way to mitigate risk.

  4. AjofEarthon 07 Mar 2017 at 7:38 am

    Dig this.

    I’ve recently completed my first novel and currently have it out to a few beta readers–these are excellent follow-up questions to send their way. Thanks for another great resource!


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