Has anyone had a "manuscript assessment agency" assess their manuscript before submitting to a publisher?
(Harper Collins says they will accept unsolicited and/or unagented manuscripts which have been recommended by this type of agency, on their website)
I found two such agencies: http://www.manuscriptagency.com.au/ and http://www.writersworkshop.co.uk/
...They charge hundreds of dollars to read and assess the marketability of one's manuscript, and write up a report. ...Is this some sort of financial test to see how seriously one wants their manuscript published?
I also found a similar reference to an assessment agency at Random House: http://www.randomhouse.co.uk/faq.htm
Is it worth the time (twelve or more weeks for one of the ones listed) and money (around $500 fee for an assesment of my manuscript)?