“Barbara Kyle sent me flying headlong into this wonderful writing journey. She was clear, down-to-earth, inspiring, and encouraging. As well, Barbara is the queen of plot, and I am forever grateful for her wise, pragmatic, and gracious mentoring.”
– Christine Higdon, author of The Very Marrow of Our Bones “A wondrous book” – Toronto Star
“Barbara, I wanted you to know what a tremendously positive impact you had on shaping the final version of the story. The thorough manuscript evaluation you did – the honest and timely ‘tough love’ – was absolutely indispensable. Can’t thank you enough.”
– Bruce Gardner, author of Hope of Ages Past, a Kirkus Reviews “Indie Book of the Month”
“I took Barbara Kyle’s excellent Master Class when I was stuck with my first novel. I’ve recently finished my fifth book, and Barbara’s wise words constantly guide my way.”
– bestselling author Robert Rotenberg, author of Heart of the City “Rotenberg’s courtroom drama is terrific” – Ian Rankin
“Barbara Kyle’s manuscript evaluation was a game changer for me. I received advice and suggestions that vastly improved my manuscript’s clarity and vision. Working with Barbara is like having a secret weapon in your writing arsenal.”
— Nancy Raven Smith, author of Land Sharks, an Amazon/Kindle Scout Selection
“Kyle is a master at her craft.” – RT Book Reviews
What Is a Manuscript Evaluation?
- story premise
- story structure
- character development
- prose style
- POV (point of view)
There are no rules in writing. Well, except this one: “Thou shalt not bore.”
But although there are no hard rules, there are certain principles that have shaped the art of storytelling for centuries. I apply these time-tested criteria about plot, character, and style (which led to the success of my own novels, with over half a million copies sold) so that you can strategically apply them to your writing.
Writing a book is an intensely personal venture. The goal is a story that is both compelling and marketable. When you entrust your manuscript to me, I will respect its integrity and help you make it the best it can be.
Why Do You Need a Manuscript Evaluation?
You’ve finished your novel. First, congratulate yourself. Writing a book is a marathon, and only those who’ve made it to “The End” understand the determination it requires.
Now you want to get it published – and therein lies the challenge. When submitting a manuscript in today’s tough fiction marketplace you get only one chance with each literary agent or acquisition editor at a publishing house. If they reject your manuscript because it needs more work, you won’t get another chance with them on that book.
The biggest mistake new writers make is submitting their work before it’s ready. As Writer’s Digest editor Chuck Sambuchino says: “If you think your story has a problem, it does – and any story with a problem is not ready.”
You’ve likely spent at least a year writing your book, probably longer, which is a huge investment of time. It’s also an investment of your hopes and dreams: you want this book to sell well and reach a large readership. So before submitting it, let me help you make it the best it can be. Armed with my suggestions, you can revise your manuscript accordingly, then submit it to an agent or publisher with confidence that it will make the most favorable impression possible.
In his book Writing the Blockbuster Novel, top agent Albert Zuckerman of Writers House tells writers: “The likelihood of your novel being terrific in every respect the first time you set it down is from slight to nonexistent. Virtually all popular best-selling novelists need and get help from others in enriching their characters and maximizing the drama of their work.“
Established authors have an advantage that you don’t: our publishers provide us with in-house editors who pore over our manuscripts and make detailed comments toward revision. In addition, many authors benefit from the fine editorial skills of our agents. But writers who don’t yet have this kind of expert team need to find help elsewhere.
You’ll get that expert help from me.
What Does a Manuscript Evaluation Cost?
$195 for my evaluation of a manuscript’s first 30 pages.
(if you decide to proceed) From $995 for my evaluation of a full manuscript. See below: “How I’ll Work With You”
Cryssa Bazos’ gripping debut novel, Traitor’s Knot, was hailed by Amazon as a “Hot New Release” for the war fiction category.
“Barbara, what I appreciated most was that your suggestions were true to my story and my characters. Without reservation, I found high value in each suggestion. Thank you for all your encouragement and support. You helped me find the right path.” – Cryssa Bazos
Steven T. Wax was Oregon’s Federal Public Defender for thirty years. He brought me his remarkable true story about defending a man wrongfully incarcerated by the FBI. Kafka Comes to America: Fighting for Justice in the War on Terror garnered a starred review in Publishers Weekly and has won many prestigious awards.
“Barbara, thanks for all the help in getting there.” – Steven T. Wax.
Mary Ann McGuigan is the author of award-winning young adult novels. I helped her get her first adult novel into top shape, and the result won her representation by legendary agent Albert Zuckerman of Writers House, New York.
“Barbara Kyle is a master storyteller, and she’s especially adept at helping writers see what’s still missing in their work. I sing her praises to all writers.” — Mary Ann McGuigan
Jake Caldera was a pleasure to work with on his debut novel, The Elephant on Fire, a cheeky, wild ride of action-adventure comedy.
“Barbara quickly identified the weaknesses in my story and helped me strategize how to transform them into strengths. I am grateful for the positive encouragement she provided throughout.” — Jake Caldera
Why I’m Your Best Choice
Unlike many editors, I have a successful career as an author. Creating engaging characters and crafting compelling plots is what I do for a living.
My books – historical novels and thrillers – have been published by major New York publishers (Penguin, Warner/Hachette, Kensington) and sold in seven countries. They have won wide acclaim, and my sales have topped over half a million copies. My latest novel is The Traitor’s Daughter. I also co-wrote the screenplay for the feature film Saving Dinah.
This experience is crucial. In my career as a successful author, I’ve faced every challenge you face right now. So, I speak to you as writer-to-writer, teaching the techniques you need to write a book that can compete in the marketplace. I know what agents and publishers are looking for, what they want – and don’t want.
I’m an acclaimed mentor, too. I’ve taught writers at the University of Toronto, and am a frequent presenter at international writers conferences. My online program “Your Path to a Page-Turner” has been a game-changer for many emerging writers. (See the “Page-Turner Program” page of this website.)
My mentoring has launched many writers who’ve gone on to have their books published. (See some of them above.)
How I’ll Work With You
We’ll build a working relationship, step by step. Here’s how.
Stage One. I’ll read and analyze the first 30 pages of your manuscript. (Please note that all manuscripts must be double-spaced. See “The Fine Print” below.) The cost is just $195.
After I’ve reviewed the first 30 pages, you and I will have a half-hour conversation by phone or video meeting in which I’ll give you my comments on the work’s strengths and weaknesses. I’ll also offer recommendations on how you can improve and develop it. Writers I work with appreciate this live dialogue, because it allows them to ask questions and get instant clarification.
Why just 30 pages? It’s like a first date. It lets us get to know each other without making a huge commitment. Your book’s opening section will give me a good idea of how I can help you, and you’ll get good value for very little money. Most important, we’ll get comfortable with each other. Stage One lets us build a relationship of mutual understanding.
Stage Two. If we both feel keen to continue, we’ll proceed to Stage Two in which I’ll give your entire manuscript a close reading and prepare an in-depth analysis about its strengths and weaknesses, including detailed comments on story premise, story structure, character development, dialogue, settings, prose style, pacing, POV (point of view) and marketability. I will also offer suggestions on how any weaknesses might be improved.
You have 2 options for how you’d like me to deliver the Stage Two evaluation:
- A 2-hour discussion by phone or video meeting. The cost is $995 for a manuscript up to 325 pages and $4 per page thereafter.
- A multi-page written report. The cost is $5 per manuscript page regardless of manuscript length. BONUS: You’ll also get a follow-up session, at no charge, conducted by email or a half-hour phone discussion, your choice.
The Fine Print
- Rates are based on manuscript pages that are double spaced.
- For Stage One send your 30 pages of manuscript by email as an attachment in Word or pdf. For Stage One there is no printing charge. For Stage Two you can either mail me the manuscript as hard copy, or email it and I will have it printed at a cost to you of 10 cents per page.
- Turnaround time for Stage One is 5 days. Turnaround time for Stage Two is 12 to 15 days, depending on the manuscript length.
- Payment in full is required prior to the commencement of the manuscript evaluation.
- Manuscripts will not be returned; they will be shredded after completion of the manuscript evaluation process.
- To schedule a manuscript evaluation email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Barbara Wade Rose is an award-winning journalist and biographer. She brought me the manuscript of her debut novel, The Priest, the Witch, and the Poltergeist, and it was a pleasure to help her fine-tune this spine-tingling historical true tale.
“Barbara Kyle is a rare combination of great teacher, canny editor, and supportive fellow-writer.” – Barbara Wade Rose
Chandi Wyant’s memoir Return to Glow is a moving tale of her 40-day walking pilgrimage across Italy on the historic Via Francigena.
“Thanks for your excellent feedback, and your fabulous suggestions.” — Chandi Wyant
M.G. Field brought me his accomplished manuscript, Incarceration, and I helped him hone it into a taut thriller.
“Barbara’s insightful evaluation of my manuscript gave me critical commentary and practical suggestions, and encouraged me to complete the novel.” — M.G. Field
Ray Argyle is the author of several non-fiction books, including a biography of French president Charles de Gaulle. His first novel is An Act of Injustice, published by Mosaic Press
“Switching from non-fiction to fiction would have been much more difficult for me without Barbara Kyle’s sage advice.” — Ray Argyle
Ann Birch is the author of two fine, recent books: The Secret Life of Roberta Greaves and Duelling in a New World.
“Words are scarcely adequate to encompass my gratitude for your help. Your workshops and your helpful manuscript assessment kept me going through times when I felt discouraged and adrift. You have been the major force behind my achievement.” – Ann Birch
T.K. Thorne’s historical novel Angels at the Gate won the Benjamin Franklin Award. When she switched to writing in a new genre, a paranormal thriller, I helped her get the manuscript into top shape. It won her representation by agent Kimberley Cameron, and a 3-book publishing deal with Camel Press.
“Barbara gave me confidence that the arc of the story was working. Her input improved the book, and I learned from her comments. I highly recommend her.” —T.K. Thorne
Why I Chose Barbara Kyle for a Professional Manuscript Evaluation
by Karen Alison
When I finished my 400-page novel, I sent it to Barbara Kyle for a written manuscript evaluation.
It’s true I could have read the manuscript over by myself and tried to fix it – for the five-hundredth time. Or I could have taken it to my writers’ group – of largely unpublished or self-published writers – and read them one chapter a month for the next two and a half years for some gems of feedback like, “It was good! I liked it.” or “Did you think of making your protagonist into a fembot?”
Just kidding. They’re not really that bad… but neither do they have Barbara’s acute eye for manuscript problems.
So, yes, sure, you can do your own ms evaluation. You can also perform your own brain surgery, with instructions from the internet. But sometimes it helps to go to a professional who actually knows what she’s doing.
I’m thrilled that I did because what I got was very specific and useful information about what worked and what didn’t in my manuscript. And it took about two weeks, not two years.
For example, I knew my ending wasn’t working all that well, but not why, so I spent a lot of time writing different versions prior to the evaluation. Barbara pointed out that, in the last 100 pages of the manuscript, I had dropped the main plot and focussed on a secondary plot line, lost the tension, and failed to develop the story climax. Oops! No wonder the ending didn’t work.
Result? I tossed the last 100 pages and wrote a completely new and much more focussed ending that was half as long and a million times better.
Barbara also provides an Overview of the ms (which you can pick through later for ideas when you’re pulling your hair out, trying to synopsize your novel for an agent) as well as details about your Characters, Story Structure and Style with recommendations for changes. I implemented all of them and I know they made my book so much better. The suggestions were about things I wouldn’t have picked up on myself – when you’re close to your story, you don’t know what’s missing.
Now I’m totally confident that I’m sending out the best possible manuscript I can offer.
There are other ms evaluation services, but I notice that many of them are run by editors. Barbara, on the other hand, is a published author and writes novels that sell internationally, so she has a highly-specialized level of personal and professional knowledge about fiction writing that can only be developed through experience.
So, what about you? Why should you go for a manuscript evaluation from Barbara Kyle? Because finishing a novel is like getting married – it’s just the beginning. If you want to be taken seriously by an agent – or even if you’re planning to self-publish – and you actually want your novel to sell, then of course you should have her evaluate your manuscript! What are you waiting for?
Grow as a writer.
Dare to succeed.
Barbara Kyle is the author of seven acclaimed historical novels – the Thornleigh Saga series – all published internationally, and of contemporary thrillers, three under pen-name Stephen Kyle, including Beyond Recall, a Literary Guild Selection. Her latest novel is The Traitor's Daughter. Over 500,000 copies of her books have been sold in seven countries. Barbara has taught writers at the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies and is a popular guest presenter at writers' conferences. Before becoming an author Barbara enjoyed a twenty-year acting career in television, film, and stage productions in Canada and the U.S.
Barbara’s master classes, online programs, and manuscript evaluations have launched many writers to published success, including bestselling mystery author Robert Rotenberg, historical novelists Ann Birch, Tom Taylor, and Barbara Wade Rose, debut novelist Christine Higdon, thriller writer Carrie Rubin, and Steven T. Wax for his award-winning memoir.