I have been working with writers for over 25 years. In that time I have built up a strong team of experienced readers, covering virtually all forms of writing. Together we have gained a reputation for offering straightforward and frank critical appraisals. As one well-known literary agent says: ‘Hilary is the best. She tells it like it is! And she has a particularly sharp eye for spotting talent, even in its raw state.’
My service is regularly recommended to writers by editors, agents and tutors of university creative writing courses.
From time to time authors are referred to me by The Society of Authors and other similar organisations.
I provide a proven reading/criticism service for novelists, writers of short stories , children’s books and authors of full-length non-fiction. Specialist advice is available for romantic fiction, including HM&B, crime/thrillers, science fiction/fantasy, radio/film/TV scripts and poetry. Also copy-editing/proof-reading, especially useful for those intending to self-publish.
Increasingly, the covering letter and synopsis are crucial elements of an unsolicited submission to a publisher or literary agency. If these fail to make a good impression, then it is quite likely that the actual typescript will not be read by hard-pressed agents/editors. Assessment of either or both as separate items is available.
Readers are mainly professional editors with wide experience of helping authors to bring their work to the best possible standard. They also have a sound knowledge of the publishing/book-selling industries. Some are also published authors, though it is their sympathetic and insightful editorial skills which are of prime importance when it comes to giving authors really solid practical guidance.
My objective is to help writers achieve publication. I can’t wave a magic wand for every aspiring author, but I can:
- Provide a thorough, practical and frank criticism which is absolutely personal and individual
- Explain what is needed to give a typescript commercial appeal
- Show how to present a professional-looking typescript
- Give authors of outstanding talent a direct route to a leading literary agency
- Help authors intending to self-publish to perfect a book before publication
I can also provide general advice on writing-related matters.
I hope you enjoy my website and especially reading about some of our successful authors.
Hilary Johnson's service has been invaluable to me over the past five years, helping me shape and polish several of my short stories, some of which have gone on to be broadcast on BBC radio and appear in prize-winning anthologies. I am massively grateful to her and her reader/s for their detailed reports. I invariably feel like I am getting my money's worth and can't recommend her service enough, whether you're a novice author trying to find your voice or an old scribe in need of a guiding hand.
A link which may be of interest to all authors:
Anita, who lives in India, was one of my students rather a long time ago when I was a correspondence course tutor. I'm not sure that these are 'letters to learn by' because she was (is) very talented and there was little to do but praise her, but there we are, that's good! In all probability, the marketing advice given then would not be quite the same now.
Without Hilary Johnson's help I would never have made it past first base. Seven years ago after I had completed my first book, I sent it to Hilary for advice. She quickly pinpointed weaknesses in the script, and kindly read my revised version. She was thoroughly realistic about its chances of publication in a crowded marketplace, so, when as expected I had lots of rejections from agents, I was on the verge of giving up. Had it not been for Hilary encouraging me to continue, I might well have done so. The next agent I sent it to took me on, and though that early manuscript languishes quite rightly in my bottom drawer, two novels later I have finally achieved my aim. Without Hilary's encouragement I never would have stayed the distance.
Some prizewinners: Christina Jones: Category Winner MELISSA NATHAN COMEDY ROMANCE AWARDS 2008 (Best Bitch) Heaven Sent Winner Pure Passion Award: Love Potions
Gillian Philip: Scottish Association of Writers Awards March 2007 T.C. Farries Trophy (children's novel) The Cutting Constable Trophy (general novel) Firebrand
Pitlochry Award (crime novel) Sky PilotsCrossing The Line - longlisted for Carnegie Medal 2010 and shortlisted for the Angus Book Award 2010 Firebrand - picked by Amanda Craig in The Times as her Teen Book of The Year
Les Page: BBC Southern Counties Radio - prize-winner with children's short story
Jo Cannon: Runner-up Fish International Short Story Competition
Insignificant Gestures Craig Hawes: Joint runner-up Rhys Davies Prize 2010. Story broadcast BBC Radio 4, Thursday, March 11
Jean Fullerton: Top Fiction Prize - Redbridge Libraries Big Red Read - A Glimpse At Happiness
Leila Aboulela: Lyrics Alley - Fiction Winner of the Scottish Mortgage Investment Book Awards.
Jo Thomas: Winner of the 2014 Joan Hessayon New Writers' Award (Romantic Novelists' Association) with The Oyster Catcher (Accent Press)