Manuscript Appraisals


Will I read your manuscript? For a fee, yes!

I’ve worked as a manuscript assessor, both privately and through publishers, since the late 1980s. I’m widely connected in the Australian publishing and writing community, having been in print as a writer since 1989. I have worked for 25 years as a lecturer and tutor in Creative Writing, at universities across New South Wales, and as a judge for several major literary awards. In brief, I have unparallelled experience of working with new, emerging and established authors.

Please get in touch through my contact page for terms. See below for testimonials!

So, you’ve written your hard-won pile of words. But you don’t know where to go from here, or how, or even, perhaps, why….  This is the time to  hand your MS over to Tegan Bennett Daylight.  She’s one of Australia’s finest writers and almost certainly our best reader too, both of fiction and non-fiction.  She will see where your work is heading and what it really wants to be. She will help you see that too, in a way that is scrupulously honest, insightful and generous…and therefore highly effective.  She will help you to focus, shape and structure your draft so that it becomes its very best incarnation. I can’t recommend her too highly.

LUCINDA HOLDFORTH, author of the best-seller True Pleasures: A Memoir of Women in ParisWhy Manners Matter and Leading Lines.

When it’s too soon for an editor and you need a kind but sceptical eye on your work, Tegan is the reader to turn to. She’s most often the first reader of my draft fiction, and her wise, insightful, occasionally confronting and always acute advice has never failed me. She has identified causes of mysterious pacing lags I couldn’t diagnose myself, or quietly challenged me to revisit a stereotype or cliché, or – perhaps most importantly – helped me to discover what the damn book is actually about. She tells me where it’s working and gently but truthfully, where it isn’t. Every time I’ve received her thoughtful analysis of what I’ve done, I’ve been able to return to the work creatively refreshed, with renewed energy and confidence. If you’re prepared to work hard and really open yourself to deep questions about your work, I can’t recommend Tegan more highly.

CHARLOTTE WOOD, author of The Writer’s Room, The Natural Way of Things (winner of the Prime Minister’s Award, The Stella Prize and the Indie Book of the Year) and The Weekend (shortlisted for the Stella Prize, the ALS Gold Medal and winner of the ABIA Literary Fiction Book of the Year).

Tegan Bennett Daylight has been giving me feedback on my work since my very early years as a writer. She has an uncanny eye and ear for narrative and for assisting a writer to understand and realise their true intention. Her manuscript reviews are thorough and assiduous, paying attention to both the larger structure of a work and its development at a sentence level. Tegan’s readings are never superficial. Rather an assessment from Tegan is always perceptive, the process collaborative and deeply rewarding.

GRETCHEN SHIRM, SMH Best Young Australian Novelist 2011, author of Having Cried Wolf (shortlisted for the UTS/Glenda Adams Award for New Fiction) and Where the Light Falls (shortlisted for the NSW Premier’s Award).

Not all writers are good at assessing someone else’s work at a pre-publication phase, but Tegan Bennett Daylight is superb. If you’ve read The Details you’ll know that reading is Tegan’s life, and when she looks at a manuscript she brings that whole library of writing knowledge with her, from across time, genres, forms. The thing I love about her is that she pays very precise attention to what’s on the page – in order to listen to the mind behind the line, and the larger thing that’s trying to be said. I’ve been lucky enough to have had Tegan’s brilliant reader’s brain applied to late-stage work of mine for a while, and now I’d feel naked handing a major piece over to a publisher without her seeing it first. There’s a final conversation I always want to have with Tegan to be sure every element is locked into place, and all the probing and hard thinking has been done. New writers couldn’t be in better hands, either. Tegan has so much teaching experience, has judged the Vogel prize for years: she’s used to seeing work in development. And her feedback is just what you’d want: it’s clearly communicated, and always kind, but honest and stretching.  Honestly, TBD is the best. If she says she’ll look at your work, grab the opportunity, because it’s rare and privileged access to one of Australia’s most outstanding writers and critics.

VICKI HASTRICH, author of Swimming with the Jellyfish, The Great Arch and the critically acclaimed essay collection Night Fishing.

A manuscript assessment from Tegan was crucial to the development of my two most recent novels, Hope Farm and Islands. I have just sent her my latest manuscript and await her thoughts with bated breath!

Sharing a work in progress with another is an act of trust, not to be taken lightly. One doesn’t want simply to be encouraged or flattered; the best feedback is useful.  Tegan’s knowledge of and feel for the mechanics of writing and the transactional space between writer and reader are second to none. In addition, she is a born teacher, with a kind of diviner’s gift for pointing the labouring author in the right direction. Her feedback always causes me to reach further, go deeper, and to surprise myself.

PEGGY FREW, author of Hope Farm (shortlisted for the Stella Prize, the Miles Franklin Literary Award, winner of the Barbara Jefferis Award) and Islands (shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary Award).