Arts Hub discusses the costs of manuscript appraisal services, in light of the Australian Society of Authors' new offerings. About ten years ago I used a manuscript appraisal service for a novel manuscript I had completed, and considered it good value. I was much less experienced then of course, so it was a short cut of sorts. It was nowhere near as expensive as some of these options though. You have to consider whether an investment of over a thousand dollars in a manuscript is worth it (it'd pay for a top-notch cover, for example), or whether some of the skills you acquire during the appraisal service are transferable top future projects, making it more of an educational expense.
I also liked this (check out the site):
Matt Dale of betareaders.com.au tells us that he usually charges an ‘hourly rate of around $40 and payment terms by chapter, so the author can see (and pay for) progress in real time’, which might be a more economical way for a writer to determine if they want to use the service without forking over a huge chunk of change.
And remember an appraisal doesn't really mean squat when it comes to using it to pitch your manuscript:
This is backed up by a survey the ASA conducted in 1999 with 13 agents and seven publishers. The survey found that appraisals were ‘a vital link in the publishing industry chain’ by helping strengthen the writing of emerging talent, yet had ‘little effect on any chances of publication’. This report, available on the Writing WA website offers a comprehensive look at the pros and cons of appraisals.