“Cornerstones taught me a great deal and were always encouraging. Thanks to the work I did with them I have been able to impress my editors. I have just signed up with HarperCollins for my second book and I doubt I would have had these opportunities if it had not been for Cornerstones.”

Chhimi Tenduf-La, Panther, HarperCollins India

FAQs

What does Cornerstones do? Are you a literary agency?

We are not an agency; we are a consultancy. We provide editors and editorial services for authors who are at a stage of writing where they are ready to accept critical feedback and learn self-editing techniques.

Our ultimate aim is to see you get published, although this can never be guaranteed; our first goal is to show you how to strengthen your work, edit and submit professionally.

I’ve emailed Cornerstones my synopsis and first chapter. What happens next?

We have a filter system where we look at your first chapter and synopsis, at no charge, to see if your writing is at a stage where it would benefit from critical feedback. This also allows us to get a feel for your writing and to match your work to the right editor. We can then discuss via email, phone or Skype what type of editorial package and editor tier would best suit you, and once you’ve paid we book you in with a Cornerstones editor.

How long does it take to receive my report?

We aim to return all reports to authors within 5-6 weeks. We proof it at our end and then email it to you. If you require a faster turnaround, let us know and you can opt for our 2-week service (additional fee).

If I book a brainstorm session, do I have to use it immediately?

We recommend that the brainstorm session takes place within a month of your receiving the report. If you’re near your editor and want to travel to meet in person, this is fine. Otherwise the phone or Skype is an option. You’re advised to email a bullet-point agenda in advance of your session, so that your editor may prepare.

How does workshopping work?

The workshop package allows you to book one-on-one time with an editor to use however you want, whether that’s reading your full MS or just a few scenes; working through show not tell; brainstorming your plot; or preparing your submission package. We recommend 15 hours for a 50k manuscript and 27 hours for a 100k manuscript.

Following an initial chat with your editor to make sure you are on the same page, your editor will put together a plan for your workshop hours, and once agreed by you, work can begin.

Midway through the process we’ll check in to make sure you are happy with how the mentoring is going.

At the end of the hours your editor will turn in a log and summary in to us, as well as any materials agreed upon at the beginning (for example, a marked-up manuscript, a re-written synopsis, etc). Should you wish to purchase additional mentoring time with your editor, you can do so in blocks of 3 hours.

Do you pitch every manuscript to agents?

No. After an editor completes a report they will flag a manuscript that they feel may be at submission level. We then request the first 50 pages. After a careful read we will get back to the author with an analysis of the work, and a decision as to whether we want to submit.

Is there a cost for you to submit my manuscript?

This service has no charge. However should a manuscript we submit to an agent then go on to be sold to a publisher by that agent, the author would remunerate Cornerstones with 10% of the initial worldwide deal.

Submission can be an involved process that differs for every author. It may be that we request the whole manuscript and sell you straight in to an agent or we may want to work with you personally before submitting. At this stage, there is no charge for our feedback. We may turn you down after reading the initial 50 pages if we don’t feel we can pass you through. If we’re interested but there’s significant revision to be made beyond that which we can cover within the submission process we may suggest a report, or mentoring, to master a particular technique. You’re under no obligation to undertake this step. At this stage we will let you know if we feel we would be the right champions for your book in the future.

Submission of work to agents is by invitation only, at our discretion, and it also has to work for you. If your manuscript reaches this level we’ll discuss the process with you in more detail and send you an agreement. If you feel at any stage you’d prefer to submit your work yourself then you’re free to do so, as long as you let us know.

What if after I have made all the editor’s recommended changes and really feel my book is the best it can be, you still turn it down for submission after reading my initial 50 pages?

You are always free to submit your book to agents on your own, and when doing so you are welcome to say that you reached submission stage with Cornerstones, as this is a flag to agents that your book is in a very polished state. We are also happy to read your submission letter and give you feedback, gratis.

Please remember that opinions on books are subjective, and the best advocate for your book, whether it is Cornerstones or a literary agent, is the person who loves it and feels most passionate about championing it. Just because it’s not the perfect book for us doesn’t mean it won’t be for someone else.

Do you give refunds?

We have an immediate and full refund policy if you decide not to go ahead with our service. However, as soon as a project is in progress and an editor has started to work on a manuscript a refund will not be possible.

Do you offer rush jobs?

If you require a faster report turnaround than the normal 6 weeks, a speed read can usually be arranged at an additional cost.

Do you offer repeat customer discounts?

We offer a 5% loyalty discount for repeat editorial reports (not applicable with additional promotional offers).

Do I have to send a hard copy of my MS or can I just email it?

You can either post your printed manuscript direct to your editor along with a self-addressed stamped envelope if you would like it to be returned, or the editor can print it out at their end, double-spaced (double-sided if they are able) at your cost (15 cents a page).

Please note that standard postage (not special delivery) is preferred. Cornerstones cannot accept responsibility for loss of manuscripts in the post.

What happens after I receive my report?

You will receive your report by email from Cornerstones along with notes on how to use it. If you’ve included an SASE, the editor will send your manuscript back to you directly.

We recommend that you allow at least a couple of weeks to digest the report before you decide how to proceed. All advice should be clear but if you feel it’s not, please let us know-our editors are happy to answer essential questions on the back of their reports.

Once you have revised your manuscript and report–and again, we advise you take your time–you may decide to come back to us for a second report (charged at the above rates with a 5% discount as a returning author) to check your revisions. You can request the same editor, or ask for a new one to get a fresh perspective.

If you have any queries at any stage, please do contact us. We pride ourselves on our ongoing, personal support.

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