Manuscript Review

Congratulations on doing the hard work of completing your manuscript!


What happens between typing The End and getting your book accepted by The Cheerful Word for publication? The first step in the process is a formal manuscript review.

But first, an informal review would help you

Before you submit your manuscript to us for a formal review, you should consider running it by a couple of friends for some honest feedback.

I know, I know. I can feel you rolling your eyes, cursing at me, and sweating up a storm. It’s okay to be nervous or ticked off at this request; after all, during the writing process, we've been advising you not to share your work with people outside your writing group. Everyone has an opinion on your writing and you might have ended up with a completely different book if you had listened to all of those external voices.

But now you have the first draft of your memoir and it’s the right time to run the whole thing by a couple of friends…trusted friends. These should be people who will read your manuscript eagerly; happily. People who will tell you the truth about what works and what doesn’t. If you want more points of view, and your ego can handle it, give it to six people to read. You will end up with a better understanding of what is working, what isn’t working, and where the gaps are in your story. You will thank them for it after the wailing and gnashing of teeth is over.

And remember, you still get to choose what advice you accept, and what to discard. Take the feedback with a nod of thanks and make the changes you want to make.

So now, gird your loins, print out a few copies, and send them off with gratitude. In a week or two, you’ll have feedback worth more than gold. The things you fix in your manuscript may give your memoir a better shot at being accepted by your publisher. That's the whole point of this rabbit hole.

This part of the writing life is not for the meek nor the arrogant. It’s for the writer who loves to write. If you’re writing only to make a six-digit income with a single book, your writing will smell funny and your manuscript likely won’t make the cut. If you’re writing because you poured your heart onto the page and did your best to tell a story that we can’t put down, well then, you've got our attention.

Okay, now that we’ve got the informal review out of the way, on to the reason you’ve landed on this page.

What is a manuscript review?

During a manuscript review, we read your whole book and give you candid feedback in the form of an essay via email. You have email access to the reviewer for a limited time to discuss their critique. You’ll discover where you excel and where you could improve your story to help you become a success.

 You can resubmit your manuscript only one time, so make it count by being prepared. Follow the advice to be edited beforehand for your best shot at acceptance.

Your manuscript may be tentatively approved by the publisher. This means you have a memoir that we'd like to publish following some corrective measures and a second review.

Each manuscript is accepted and reviewed on a case-by-case basis. No one is guaranteed to be published by The Cheerful Word, but every manuscript, as long as it meets the criteria of non-fiction and is a personal story, will be equally reviewed and considered.

We charge for a manuscript review because it also serves as a form of editing review for your memoir. Though we don't make in-manuscript notations, we compile a hefty set of notes as part of your review document. This review details what you have succeeded in, what could use improvement that may or may not be a deal-breaker (including sentence structure or length, voice, problems with tense, stories without resolution or clarification, overuse of phrases or words, length of stories, point of view, etc.). This review can save you oodles of money during the editing phase if you skip ahead to this, which many people tend to do. Editors are an overlooked, grossly underutilized and under-appreciated lot. We also charge a fee in case a manuscript review is the only service you hire us for. That is perfectly okay by us and it's why we offer services a la Carte. We want our customers to have choices. 

What a manuscript review is not

A manuscript review is not a complete edit. We suggest that your manuscript undergoes a professional edit before submitting it to us for review. If you desire editing, click here to choose from one of our editing packages.

Why is a review necessary ?

Most publishing houses require a review process before accepting a manuscript. If a manuscript doesn’t fit their parameters, they will pass. That being said, we are fair reviewers at The Cheerful Word. Having reviewed dozens of manuscripts over the years, we’ve turned away only a handful. Those we’ve turned away fall into one of these two camps:

  • Revenge memoirs. We do not publish anything that maligns others. Our publishing credo is to print stories that honor, encourage, and inspire the writer and the reader. If you (oops) mention a name in a pivotal story and need some editing, we can amend that for you. If you need some editing to rewrite a single chapter, we are happy to help you. If the theme of your memoir is to publicly humiliate another human being, we won’t touch it. If you’ve been to our workshops, you know how to write about difficult family stories without legal ramifications to yourself or your publisher.
  • Plagiarized work. Stealing someone else’s writing and calling it your own will get you banished from The Cheerful Word. You know when you’re plagiarizing and so do we, so don’t do it. See the Chicago Style Manual for rules on how to properly credit short quotes and attributions.

Those are our only two deal-breakers. Ready for the big step? We’re ready and excited to read your memoir!

Keep in mind we make no guarantee that any submitted manuscript will be accepted. You are not under contract with The Cheerful Word as an author until you receive a congratulatory letter from us through the postal service. 


The “Full Monty” Review (whole manuscript): 1.7 cents a word

How the math works:

30,000 word manuscript x .017 = $510
55,000 word manuscript x .017 = $935
82,000 word manuscript x .017 = $1394

The Snippet Review (first 5,500 words): $250
I’ll apply $100 of this total to any future work together including a Full Monty Review, which is a necessary step before you can be accepted as an author with The Cheerful Word.