Manuscript Assessments

A favourable assessment for your children's book from a known agency or individual is one of the few ways to get your manuscript off the slush pile and actually read by editors.

Few of the literary agents in Australia will accept unpublished children's authors. It is as difficult to find one as to find a publisher.

Virginia's highly qualified assistants will assess manuscripts written for children of all ages, from picture books for toddlers to adolescent or YA (young adult) novels.

Virginia can provide an assessment (ie. appraisal or critique) of books illustrated for children, YA (young adult), novels, chapter book, fantasy novels or any type of book suitable for children or kid's.  All kinds of art-work, drawings or other illustrations can be assessed.

Virginia  will overview the process. Her experiences as Judge for the Children's Book Council of Australia Book of the Year Awards, and Convener of the Crichton Award for new illustrators (administered by the Victorian Branch) are invaluable here. kidwshp3-big.gif - 8026 Byteskidwshp3-sml.gif - 495 Bytes She has years of experience in manuscript assessment, and a lifetime's work with good children's books (as a public librarian, school librarian and university lecturer). She is also an experienced and respected reviewer. Her doctorate was on young children's responses to books, and a version has been published as Stories, Pictures and Reality: Two Children Tell by Routledge (London) in 2007.

See her Academic Profile at:

One of our highly qualified assessors will work with you to bring your manuscript to the standard necessary for publication. This includes both structural editing and copy editing – in other words, as well as advice on content, we will correct your grammar and punctuation as we go. Exceptional manuscripts will be offered a recommendatory letter to accompany the submission. Content and presentation are both important. You might like to read her articles on making a picture book and on understanding the children's book publishing market. Also available is her picture book text Yabby as an example of one way picture book texts can be submitted to publishers.

One of our highly qualified assistants,

Jennifer Dabbs (novels) or June Cobert, Eileen Nelson, Roger Dunn, John Lowe (poetry) , Beck Lowe (fantasy) or Jo Thompson (illustrator) will read all manuscripts and give you a written report between four and ten pages in length. We mentor the author, with work on successive drafts at a cheaper rate.Authors have access to their assessors and can discuss any points in the assessment.When the assessor is sure the manuscript has reached publishable standard, this can be reported in your cover letter to the publishers. For the price of an additional reading,Virginia will personally write a letter of recommendation which can be sent to the publishers with the submission.

Email assessments are also available for short manuscripts.

Assessments can take up to six weeks.

The basic payment is to be included with the manuscript, or, if emailed, sent at the same time by cheque or electronic transfer of funds (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for bank details).

Include a stamped self-addressed envelope with hard copy submissions.

When you use Create a Kids’ Book, you will know who your assessor is. This person can be contacted directly with queries or comments.
(Assessors are anonymous in most other agencies.)

Your work will be copy-edited – grammar and typos corrected. (This service usually carries an additional fee).

We are happy to take on additional drafts (up to four), virtually mentoring writers and illustrators.

Manuscript Assessment Prices

Mini-assessment (picture book)


The mini-assessment is not a report, just the manuscript (submitted by email in Yabby format, under 500 words) with suggested changes tracked, and some explanation. A mini-assessment cannot lead to a recommendatory letter, but is just a brief comment on how the work is shaping up, whether the idea will work.

Picture book text


Most picture books have only a few hundred words. We will accept as picture books, manuscripts up to 800 words.

Picture book text and illustrations


The picture book text and illustrations assessment is completed by one of the writing assessors. They will comment on the pictures as well – suitability, how well they complement the words, how well they demonstrate subplot, whether the characters are consistent. The writing assessor cannot comment on the technical proficiency of the artwork, or on design features, points of view etc. etc.

Picture book text and technical assessment of illustrations


As above, however in addition, artist/illustrator Jo Thompson will assess picture book illustrations from a technical perspective. She will provide feedback on design, choice of medium and overall artistic impact.

Short chapter books to 7000 words


Novels, up to 35 000 words


Poetry 300-4000 words


Longer novels

$60 + $15 per thousand words.

Mini-assessment of novel (synopsis plus first 5,000 words)


All genres – subsequent drafts $55 discount from original price


We will work on three or four drafts. After the second draft, we will advise whether the manuscript is likely to reach publishable standard. When it has, you will have the right to say, in your cover letter to publishers:'Create a Kids' Book certifies that this work has reached a publishable standard'.If, after the second draft, we do not think this will happen, we are still willing to work on subsequent drafts, in the understanding that it may not be endorsed by Create a Kids' Book.

Recommendatory letters cost an additional second draft reading.


Exceptional manuscripts only, which have been several times through the assessment process, may receive an open letter of recommendation, to accompany the manuscript to the publishers, written by Virginia. A draft letter will be emailed to the author then four hard copies on lettterhead will be posted.

Non fiction, charged by the same word counts

Urgent manuscript assessments can be completed within a week, for a surcharge of $165

Individual consultancy           $165 an hour for a picture book consultation.

Novels emailed will carry a surcharge of $40 for printing a hard copy. Picture books and chapter books, no charge for printing.

Professional Manuscript Presentation

As the majority of publishers accept only hard copy submissions, it is important for writers to present their work in a professional manner. Create a Kids’ Book also requires proper presentation to allow for extensive editing on the text. We recommend:

  • Use good quality A4 white bond paper heavy enough to withstand handling.

  • On the top of each page, a header with author’s name, phone, email and book title as well as the page number. Use a smaller font, so that it all fits into one line, and the Header and Footer tool will make it grey rather than black, to be less obtrusive.

  • Typeface should be 12 point (Times Roman) and the text should be 1.5 or double-spaced to allow for editing.

  • Use one side of the paper only.

  • A title page with the title and number of words plus the writer’s contact details is essential.

  • Begin pagination on the first page of the story – not the title page.

  • Make every effort to edit your own work before submission: correct spelling, grammar and punctuation please.

  • Do not fasten or bind the MS in any way. Loose leaf only.

  • Do not fold the MS. Use a sturdy business sized A4 envelope or a post pack and be sure to include a stamped, self-addressed envelope for the safe return of your MS.


kidsfanf.gif - 6456 Bytes

Contact us to discuss your needs.

Virginia's phone 03 9578 5689 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

If you decide to self publish your work, we recommend Monique Lisbon of Mono Unlimited