The Manuscript Assessment Programme (MAP) is designed to offer quality appraisals of book manuscripts by highly experienced editors and readers. In addition, the assessors provide a detailed report on the manuscript, focusing on key areas such as plot, structure, character development, and dialogue, as well as on the quality of the writing. The aim of the programme is to inspire and motivate writers to develop their craft with the goal of publishing their manuscripts.

The assessors of edition one were Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi, Goretti Kyomuhendo, Emma Shercliff, Kate Wallis, Madhu Krishnan and Susan Nalugwa Kiguli.

In its inception in 2020, we received manuscripts from Uganda, Malawi, South Sudan and Tanzania.

Participants share their experience with MAP below:

I was stuck as concerns the stories/books I sent to AWT. And yes I had ideas but did not know how to implement them. Also, I did need editorial support but did not have the means to hire someone. So when AWT sent the call and re-known editors/writers were to help without fees, I skipped and jumped and crossed my fingers hoping they would read my books. I know they were fewer pages than you required but I submitted anyways because I needed the help. 

I am so happy and honestly grateful for the feedback. I now have a starting point. I literally have started writing again after the feedback because now I know what is wrong and what needs to be done.

This programme jump-started my writing and editing career. I look forward to finally completing my late father’s work and my own. –Achiro Patricia (Uganda)

In June 2020, the African Writers Trust (AWT) sent out a call to all its Fellows who had taken part in the publishing Fellowship programme in March 2020. The call was an opportunity for writers to submit their manuscripts for assessment.

I submitted my novel manuscript, Songs from a Cabbage Patch.  I got the results two months later, and it was worth the wait.

My assessor was thorough and encouraging. She pointed out the positive aspects of the novel, and explained why those aspects were positive. She also pointed out the areas that were weak, and backed this with evidence from the manuscript itself. Going through the comments helped me to become introspective about the work, and to consider changes that might be made to improve the manuscript. I am so glad that my manuscript was given attention. -Timwa Lipenga (Malawi)

I very much appreciated the assessment. At this stage of my writing, I needed the constructive criticism. From the comments, I have been able to see my growth from the earlier stories to the last, at the same time acknowledging weaknesses and strengths. I have always felt there is something not quite working with some of the older stories, the feedback has helped me identify the areas for improvement. And I have seen where my strong points are, especially in the latest pieces.

Also, the number of stories and the arrangement matters for the book to be more effective. I agree. I am going to work on that. And lastly, I can now approach the many sketches I have with the comments made in mind. -David L. Lukudu (South Sudan)

MAP (Manuscript Assessment Programme) has tremendously helped to advance my story, The Betrothal, to a gripping narrative. The assessor touched on aspects of good writing: characterisation, pace, setting, language, P.O.V and showed me how to skilfully handle them. They pin-pointed the weak areas that I’m presently reworking on, and demonstrated concisely how to execute them.

I’m indebted to African Writers Trust team for giving me this rare opportunity to have my manuscript assessed.

It is my greatest hope that such input from reputable critics is positioning me as a force to be reckoned with in literary circles. To be acquainted with such a group of eminent editors is an honour and dream of every budding writer, and to have my work reviewed is heavenly. -Nixon Mateulah (Malawi)

I have carefully read the comments my reviewer made on my work. It shows that they invested a lot of time and energy in it, and I appreciate them for this. I agree with all the comments they made, and I will follow all of them as I improve the work. I will delete the last section of the manuscript and revise it for another publication, and I will revisit all the poems along the suggestions made.

Knowing that the manuscript has received a positive note from the expert is a story of transformation for me: it spurs me on to revise and publish the book. I intend to finish the revision in December, and bring out the book early next year.-Danson Sylvester Kahyana (Uganda)

The comments and suggestions from my assessor were very practical and carried deep expertise.  The assessment focused on key areas such as character development, plot, craft, language, point of View and scene; all of which were assessed in terms of strength and weakness. The feedback has helped me to become more focused on making a point to every aspect I present in my writing. -Lubacha Deus (Tanzania)

I am always afraid of being edited. I fear the workload that comes with it and the possibility that the work may take a different tone and life of its own than what my creativity brought forth at the moment I was penning. I loved the approach my assessor took. It was appreciative of my efforts and very eye opening on many mistakes I would never have noticed.

I could tell she delicately went through my manuscript; she even dropped some wisdom on my stage name and book title. Her thorough assessment rather gave me more zeal to edit my work and I am happy that my first experience with manuscript editing is with such prolific and creditable assessors.

I feel confident that anything altered is for the absolute good.-Mercy Geno Apachi (Uganda)

NB: We have gone ahead and conducted the second edition of MAP and edition three will be open for submissions in July 2021. The submission fee is $300.

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