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Author Services

FAST AND COST-EFFECTIVE ASSESSMENT OF: NOVEL OPENINGS, BOOK COVERS, BLURBS, PLOTS, SYNOPSES, IDEAS

Fiction and Non-Fiction

First a bit about me. I earned a living as an author and editor in the commercial sector for over 30 years. I always wanted to write, and my first non-fiction book and a number of articles were published before I left school. Five non-fiction works were published under my real name of Ian Kampel and two novels and further non-fiction under my pseudonym of Ian Kingsley. I am editor and webmaster of the travel website synergise.com.

Because I have experience at quickly assessing written work, I have decided I would like to help other writers - beginners or published - by offering quick and independent feedback on short extracts of their work. I know the value of this, so it would be a pleasure and a privilege to help provide it. The options offer inexpensive feedback to those who value a genuine and honest opinion from a fellow writer without any axe to grind.

Remember generalised plot ideas are common but it is your characters and their behaviour which make your plot unique.

Every author needs independent sympathetic feedback, and it's much better to get this before you burn your bridges with your favourite publisher or agent. It's generally a waste of time relying on family and friends to do this because they will either say what they think you want to hear or, due to their lack of experience, totally mislead you or shatter your confidence. Worse still, lack of interest in your particular subject or genre could lead to discouraging feedback when not deserved or appropriate. It is best to stick to a fellow writer who will tell it as it is! (With kindness and empathy!)

When performing manuscript assessment I will pay particular attention to a novel's characterisation, setting, dialogue, conflict, structure, pacing, imagery, voice, style, point-of-view... and what I call 'hookability': that important ingredient needed to hook your new reader (or editor) and quickly draw them into the story. I will comment on such factors in your email response.

So what do I offer? What will it cost? How long will it take? The details below provide all the answers. Broadly speaking, how long it will take depends on how busy I am with my own projects at any given time... hence the doors (explained in a moment). My aim is to be quick. There's even an option for aspiring novelists, to give them a feel for whether they might "have what it takes" to become a writer.

I am willing to consider both fiction and non-fiction - although I MUCH PREFER fiction. I will NOT consider the usual no-go areas likely to lead an author into trouble (eg obscene, likely to cause offence, anti-religious, defamatory, etc), therefore I reserve the right to refuse to assess your work. In such circumstances I will only give a refund if it is NOT already listed in the Unacceptable Content list below.

Endorsements

Since I have only just opened the doors to book-related assessments, I shall initially fall back on a small selection of endorsements I received for the same services provided for authors on Authonomy. Over there you have to beg for comments, ignore those from people without proper experience, wait a long while, then give back as much advice as you receive; it is all very time-consuming. Right here you just pay a small fee and get a fairly quick result. That should save you considerable time and effort.

‘I've had that opening looked at by a dozen damn good writers, and you come up with something amazingly simple and effective in one minute.’ (PeteM)

‘Several weeks ago, you very kindly offered me advice on how best to open my novel. Well, I took your advice and it has paid off... on YouWriteOn - another writers' site... it produced a professional critique from Gillian Stern, Literary Agent and Editor. Thanks to you, Ms Stern was impressed enough to ask for the full MS, once I've worked on it in accordance with her suggestions... Your advice was so instrumental in getting my story noticed.’ (Elizabeth Miller)

‘Thanks, Ian. The edit is a good one which I'll implement soon.’ (KR)

‘Sir, you are a gentleman and a scholar and I'm thrilled with your feedback.’ (Vanessa)

‘Thanks for your excellent suggestion for my opening. With your permission, I'd like to adopt your version, which I really love. I can see why your own stories reads so smoothly - you certainly have a gift for choosing the right words. Other writers could learn a lot from your book: 'Flying a Kite.’ (demolinero)

Checkout the Submission Doors!

Alongside you will see a picture of two doors. They change from time to time. Sometimes one or both are partially open; sometimes both are firmly closed. This is your quick indication of how busy I am and how long it will take to respond to your request. Here's what they mean...

Both doors open: a good time to submit. Hopefully you might get a return within 1 week.

One door open: submissions very welcome. A response is likely to take 2-3 weeks.

Both doors closed: Submissions are not being accepted: so don't pay for anything. Because you have been notified here, if anyone does pay/submit when the doors are closed I reserve the right to deduct £10 as an administration fee when refunding any payment.

Priorities

My priorities for undertaking assessment work are:

  1. Work I have already begun work on;

  2. Work with the earliest PayPal Purchase Id and date.

TIP: If you are certain you are going to submit your work shortly then pay for it now and get your place in the queue. That could put you ahead of someone else who has not yet entered the queue. You can then submit when you are ready.


The Options

First Page Fiction Focus (3,000 words)

Any novelist knows the first page of their MS is supremely important. If the first words of your novel don't grab a publisher or literary agent they won't even read any further. (Even if it gets published, these words also need to grab a browsing reader if you are to sell.) It's a cruel world, but editors and agents have so much to wade through they need to rely on their experience to spot talent from the off. So this package offers you the quickest and most cost-effective way of obtaining independent feedback on those important ''first impressions". If I can offer any suggested improvements then I will do so and you are free to use them as if your own words (as the above endorsements confirm). My main assessments will be on the first sentence, the first paragraph, and the first page. Subsequent text will also be considered to allow a better appreciation of style and other important factors, but comments on these will not be so detailed.

COST: £30. No email attachments accepted. Everything must be within the first email.
EMAIL SUBJECT and PayPal ITEM: First Page Fiction: <Book Title> [eg 'First Page Fiction: My Novel Title']

First 5,000 Words of Fiction

Whether this includes any Preface is up to you - but clearly identify the Preface if it does. My general advice is to avoid a Preface if you can - or make it very short, if essential. As for the previous package, I will pay special attention to your opening, but will comment more fully on what also follows.

COST: £40. No email attachments accepted. Everything must be within the first email.
EMAIL SUBJECT and PayPal ITEM: First 5K (Fiction)>, <Book Title> [eg 'First 5K (Fiction), My Novel Title']

Have You Got What it Takes?

Are you an inexperience writer but an ASPIRING NOVELIST with a great plot idea, the commitment to put in a whole heap of time over at least a year, a good grasp of grammar and spelling, and are you a keen reader in the genre for which you would like to write? If so, send me the title of your intended work, a 250 word max cover blurb and the first 2,000 words - which must include some dialogue. I will give you feedback on how your writing strikes me. I will be honest, and if I don't think you've got much chance without a real focus on certain aspects, or maybe taking a creative writing course, then I will tell you so. Better to be honest than mislead you into a mountain of hard work that is unlikely to pay off. (If you just want unconditional positive encouragement then just try your friends instead!) Many people who just think they could write a novel and whom have no experience have no conception of the time writing actually takes, the high standard you must attain, and the difficulty of getting it published.

Could you write a novel? Here's a general guide for you that won't cost a penny. If you don't read within the genre you would like to write for it's not going to happen. If you cannot spell, or are poor at grammar, it's not going to happen. If you've not already sat down and attempted to write fiction then it's also a fair bet it's never going to happen. Unfair? Not really, because aspiring novelists - just like published novelists - have a compulsion to write. If you don't have that to give you the necessary momentum then you will never get far along the rocky road! Reading is always the first place to start: it combines pleasure with learning the necessary techniques.

COST: £26. No email attachments accepted. Everything must be within the first email.
EMAIL SUBJECT and PayPal ITEM: What It Takes: <Book Title> [eg 'First Page Fiction: My Novel Title']
If you don't have an idea for a title put something like: 'PP: Sacked Man Threatens Old Boss', ie a 'Plot Phrase'!

Any 5,000 Words of Non-Fiction

Include a short cover blurb so the aim of the work can be identified, and then include whatever you like, making it clear whether it is an overview, synopsis, actual words from a chapter, and which chapter. Include a Contents list of chapter titles (not part of the word count). Tell me the academic level of the intended reader and about relevant experience you have to qualify you to write the book. Is this a self-help book for anyone, or a technical book aimed at a reader who already has relevant knowledge?

COST: £46. No email attachments accepted. Everything must be within the first email.
EMAIL SUBJECT and PayPal ITEM:
5K Words (NF), <Book Title> [eg ' 5KWords (NF), My Book Title']

Blurb Assessment for Fiction/Non-Fiction

I will provide feedback on my reaction plus suggestions if I can see scope for improvement.

COST: £36. No email attachments accepted. Everything must be within the first email.
EMAIL SUBJECT and PayPal ITEM: Blurb (<Fiction/NF>), <Book Title> [eg 'Blurb (Fiction), My Novel Title'; 'Blurb (NF), My Non-Fiction Title']

Cover Blurb Writing for Fiction or Non-Fiction

I will produce a blurb to your required length from your draft. Remember 'less is more' on a cover, and producing more from less takes time!

COST £46. Max Length of Blurb 300 words. No email attachments accepted. Everything must be within the first email.
EMAIL SUBJECT and PayPal ITEM: Write Blurb (<Fiction/NF>), <Book Title> [eg 'Write Blurb (Fiction), My Novel Title'; 'Write Blurb (NF), My Non-Fiction Title']

Cover Image Feedback

I will comment on all aspects, such as picture or artwork, how professional it looks, whether it looks to be an amateur or professional product, and whether suitable fonts have been used. You may not be able to judge a book by it cover but you can sell a book by one. (This is what many self-publishers forget. An amateur cover will put potential purchasers off.)

Remember that hardcopy books require a resolution of 300dpi. TIP: Even eBook images offer better quality and sharper images if produced to at least 150dpi.

COST: £20. Attach your highest definition image to your email submission.
EMAIL SUBJECT and PayPal ITEM: Cover Image Feedback:<Book Title> [eg 'Cover Image Feedback: My Book Title']

Reassessment

This option is to reassess your work after you have made amendments in response to my earlier feedback. Just get back to me and tell me what you want and I will give you a quote.

COST: half the original fee. No email attachments accepted unless otherwise agreed.
EMAIL SUBJECT and PayPal ITEM: Reassessment (<Fiction/NF>), <Book Title> [eg 'Reassessment (Fiction), My Novel Title']

Administration Fee and Refunds

Payment evidence must be provided with your initial email. As explained above, the return of a fee for work submitted outside the conditions explained below is subject to a £10 administration fee - as will be failure to provide all that is required within the initial email. Why? Because it adds considerable time and complication to an assessment if negotiations or explanations are required before my work can actually begin. Prices are low because submitting authors agree to minimize complications! So please be clear about the submission requirements.

I reserve the right to refuse to undertake any submission without explanation other than indicating it is "unacceptable for assessment". (See Unacceptable Content below.)

EMAIL SUBJECT and PayPal ITEM: 'Administration Fee'


Disclaimer

I only claim to be human - and therefore less than perfect. So I might miss a few things here and there, but I will do my best to catch everything I can. How much I focus on word detail will obviously depend on the package you chose, due to time and cost factors.

Be aware I am English and therefore more used to English spellings. In cases where there are distinct variations in particular words - as between US and UK English, for example - then I will assume you know the correct spelling for your target market.


Unacceptable Content

MAKING A PAYMENT FOR ONE OF THE ABOVE PACKAGES CONFIRMS YOU HAVE READ THE FOLLOWING IN ORDER TO ENSURE YOUR CONTENT IS ACCEPTABLE. The small print matters.

The following lists content I will NOT find acceptable to work with and would not offer a refund against, given THIS warning.

Unacceptable Content is that which:

  • Is offensive or anti-religious or promotes racism, bigotry, hatred, physical harm or disrespect of any kind against any group or individual;

  • Harasses or advocates harassment of another person;

  • Exploits people in a sexual or violent manner;

  • Contains or refers to images of nudity, violence, or offensive subject matter or contains a link to an adult website;

  • Solicits personal information;

  • Provides other people's telephone numbers, street addresses, postal codes, or email addresses;

  • Promotes information that you know is false or misleading or promotes illegal activities or conduct that is abusive, threatening, obscene, defamatory or libelous;

  • Promotes an illegal or unauthorized copy of another person's copyrighted work, such as providing pirated e-books or links to them, providing information to circumvent manufacture-installed copy-protection devices, or providing pirated music or links to pirated music files;

  • Involves the transmission of junk mail, chain letters, or unsolicited mass mailing, instant messaging or spamming;

  • Contains restricted or password-only access pages or hidden pages or images (those not linked to or from another accessible page);

  • Furthers or promotes any criminal activity or enterprise or provides instructional information about illegal activities including, but not limited to making or buying illegal weapons, violating someone's privacy, or providing or creating computer viruses;

  • Solicits passwords or personal identifying information for commercial or unlawful purposes from other users;

  • Involves commercial activities and/or sales without our prior written consent such as contests, sweepstakes, barter, advertising, or pyramid schemes;

  • Includes a photograph of another person that you have included without that person's consent;

  • Any photographs containing nudity, or obscene, lewd, violent, harassing, sexually explicit or otherwise objectionable subject matter.


Pre-Payment Procedure

CAUTION. IF YOU ARE IN A HURRY, BE SURE TO CHECK THE SUBMISSION DOORS ABOVE. THEY GIVE YOU A GOOD IDEA AS TO WHETHER YOUR RESPONSE WILL BE QUICK OR NOT. If you submit when the doors are closed there will be no refund (unless I do not envisage I will be able undertake the work eventually). No timescales can be assumed if you go against the above advice and purchase a package or submit material when the doors are closed.

Q. What happens if the doors close just after I make a payment?

A. Don't worry. You are in the queue and I am holding others back so I can focus on work in hand!

I only accept work in ENGLISH.

Making Your Payment via PayPal

When you are ready, after reading these instructions, click the 'Buy Now' button below to open another window/tab from which to make your secure online payment via the Synergise-PayPal payment page; Synergise is my sister site which, unlike this site, is set-up to accept payments. Do not concern yourself with 'currency', just enter the GBP amount and any conversion is automatic. There is no extra charge for different currencies. It's easy! Refer back to this page if you have any doubts about the PayPal page.

On the PayPal page:

  1. Enter the EMAIL SUBJECT and PayPal ITEM text shown above for your chosen package in the 'Enter description ' field.

  2. Enter the package COST given above in the PayPal Item price field.

  3. Click the PayPal 'Update' button to update the form.

  4. Select your method of payment from either your PayPal account or your credit/debit card.
  5. PayPal then guides you through the rest of the process and allows you to return to this website and a 'Thank you for payment' page. (You could then close that tab/window if you wish.)

  6. Prepare and send your submission as detailed below.


Submission Procedure

Do not send enquiry emails; they will not be answered. Prices are based on receipt of a single submission email.

After making payment, email me using the same 'EMAIL SUBJECT' text for the email title and include the text to be assessed WITHIN THE EMAIL. DO NOT SEND THE ASSESSMENT TEXT AS AN ATTACHMENT. The only acceptable attachment is a cover image for the appropriate package. Send your email to:

This priority email address is only to be used for submitting the assessment packages described on this page and any other emails sent to this address will be ignored. If you wish to contact me about anything else please use my normal email address given on the Contact page of this website and I will get back to you as soon as I can. Thank you!

 

Make a note of the Transaction Id emailed to you within your PayPal receipt and its date.

Please structure your email in the following order:

  1. PayPal Transaction Id; PayPal Purchase Date; 'Payment by:' (Sometimes different to the author). This is your proof of payment.

  2. Your email text explaining your request (in under 800 words).

  3. Publications (ie a list of your publications and whether self-published or not).

  4. Sign off your email with real name (and any pseudonym used for the submitted work in brackets).

  5. MATERIAL FOR ASSESSMENT (ie this heading followed by the actual text, beginning with the BOOK TITLE).

I will acknowledge your email and undertake the work as soon as I can. Your response can only be by email. I do not accept, read or return hardcopy.


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