Fiction and Narrative Non-Fiction Assessments

Laurel Cohn +
Camha Pham


Full Price: $270
Member: $200

Do you need expert insight to help your manuscript reach its full potential? Do you need advice on character, story, dialogue, tone, pacing, or style? In a one-hour session, one of our industry-experienced manuscript assessors will provide guidance to help your manuscript reach its full potential.

What should I expect?

This is an opportunity to discuss your work-in-progress with our industry-experienced assessors. Feedback may cover topics such as plot, structure, character development, dialogue, pace, point of view, voice, tone, style and/or readership. Though your synopsis is provided as a guide for the assessor, the assessor may provide feedback on it as relevant.

You will receive a brief written summary of the assessor’s key feedback points; however, you will not receive edits on your manuscript submission. This one-on-one meeting is a chance to discuss issues and potential solutions, and to ask questions.

All of our assessments are carried out via Zoom or a phone call. Occasionally, we hold in-person assessments at our building in Callan Park, Sydney, and this will be made clear when you choose your time slot.

Is my manuscript eligible?

Our assessors will accept adult fiction manuscripts in any genre, as well as narrative non-fiction including memoir, biography, and travel. Please note, short story collections are not eligible for our manuscript assessments. For feedback on short stories, we recommend our online short story courses.

If you’re writing other forms of non-fiction, such as self-help, cookbooks, or instruction books, please see our non-fiction assessments.
If you’re writing YA, please see our YA assessments.

Next dates:

  • Saturday 27 May 2023, with Camha Pham via ZOOM – now open for bookings!
  • Sunday 6 August 2023, with Laurel Cohn IN PERSON AT WRITING NSW – now open for bookings!
  • If this date doesn’t work for you, Join the waitlist for future Fiction and Narrative Non-Fiction Manuscript Assessments

Submission requirements

You will need to provide the following in one document at least 10 days before your assessment:

  • the first 4000 words of your manuscript*
  • a one-page synopsis, up to 300 words (need help with your synopsis? Please see our guide to writing a synopsis)
  • a brief writing CV including a statement of goals for this manuscript, no more than one page

*Please note that if your manuscript excerpt exceeds the word limit, it will be truncated at 4000 words before being forwarded to the assessor. Please respect the time the assessor is dedicating to reading your work by sticking to the industry standard formatting and word limit. Thank you.

Submitting your work

Once you have paid for your appointment, you will need to submit your materials at least 10 days before your assessment as one document in MS Word format. Your document must be formatted to industry standards, as follows:

  • Line spacing: 1.5 or double
  • Font: Times New Roman
  • Size: 12 pt
  • Margins: minimum 3 cm all round (Word default margins are fine)
  • Paragraphing: indent all paragraphs except the first paragraph of a new chapter or section; only put spaces between paragraphs where you wish to indicate a section break
  • Text should be range left (which means the right edge is ‘ragged’), not justified
  • Page numbers: consecutive from beginning to end

You can submit your document via our submission form.

About our Assessors

Camha Pham is an accredited freelance editor based in Naarm/Melbourne, with over 9 years of experience in the publishing industry. She has worked in-house at Oxford University Press and Margaret River Press. As a freelancer, she has worked on copyediting and proofreading projects for publishers including Hachette, UQP, Hardie Grant, Affirm Press, Magabala Books, Allen & Unwin, Wiley and Pearson, among others. She has sat on the Editorial Board of Portside Review and Margaret River Press, and also works in the industry as a mentor and peer assessor.

Dr Laurel Cohn is a developmental editor with a PhD in literary and cultural studies, and she’s passionate about communication and the power of stories in our lives. Since the late 1980s she has been helping writers prepare their work for publication. She also works with publishers, businesses and community organisations, and is a popular workshop presenter.

Kate O’Donnell is a highly experienced freelance editor. She works with HarperCollins Publishers, Random House Australia, Allen & Unwin, Simon & Schuster, and others.


‘Thanks very much to Laurel for her feedback, and a wonderfully invigorating discussion! I appreciate Writing NSW offering such quality services to writers.’ – Sharon, 2022

‘Laurel was wonderfully encouraging and had many suggestions for me to explore. Thanks so much for making this service available. I’ll definitely recommend it to any writer mates looking for MS assessment.’ – Virginia, 2022
‘I’ve been editing my story intensely (and enjoyably) while Kate’s insightful and constructive suggestions have remained fresh in my mind. I highly recommend Kate’s services to other members.’ – Jason, 2021

‘… a supportive and enlightening assessment. [Camha] really helped break down the daunting task of crafting a synopsis (something I loathe writing) and gave me tools to view it from a new perspective. I also really appreciated her kindness, warmth and encouragement; something all writers need from time to time.’ – Lisa, 2022

‘I found the session extremely helpful! Camha really took the time to ease into the session and made me very comfortable from the beginning. She gave her overall impressions and really broke down the feedback well addressing all areas of improvement. I also liked that she offered suggestions that she believed would make it stronger. The full hour was well spent, I felt like everything was addressed. There was time for proper discussion and questions that I had. Really great experience!’ – Celine, 2022

Cancellation Policy

Your enrolment is non-refundable. If you should wish to withdraw from a manuscript assessment, you must inform Writing NSW at least fourteen days in advance of the assessment to receive a full credit. Withdrawals up to seven days prior to the assessment will be eligible for a 50% credit. Withdrawals in the week prior to the assessment are ineligible for credit.

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