Manuscript Critique Services

Before you plunk down a pile of cash for copyediting, you need to make sure your story is ready. If you’re the only one who’s read it, if you’re not satisfied with it yet, if you still have questions about conflict, tension, character development, or structure — or if you’re flat-out stuck and just can’t see it anymore — a manuscript critique is your best next step. We have a few different approaches so you can choose your own adventure:

  • Comprehensive critique
  • Editorial assessment
  • Developmental editing

Comprehensive Critique

Our comprehensive critique provides a thorough analysis of your current draft. We read your full manuscript and annotate the entire draft, giving you a window onto your reader’s experience. We leave notes wherever we laugh, cry, jump, or groan. We ask questions wherever they occur to us and let you know where we were confused. We highlight material to consider cutting and point out places that the writing is not serving the reader.

As we read your manuscript, we’re also taking notes on the bigger picture. If our notes in the manuscript are the trees, the critique letter is the forest. We’ll write an in-depth analysis (8-15 pages, single spaced) that addresses how the elements of fiction are being handled in this draft. We’ll talk about plots and subplots, story world, character development, tension, structure, exposition, and more.

After you’ve had a chance to read our notes in the manuscript and think about the critique letter for a few days, we’ll schedule a 1-hour phone call to discuss your novel. At this point, we’re both experts on it, so it’s a very interesting conversation.

A comprehensive manuscript critique will give you very specific constructive criticism that’s designed to move you into the next draft with confidence and enthusiasm.

Components of a Comprehensive Critique

  1. Fully annotated manuscript (we average a comment per page, but that can vary wildly)
  2. Comprehensive critique letter (8-15 pages, single spaced — however long it takes)
  3. One-hour phone or Skype consultation
  4. Review of your first developmental editing assignment

Editorial Assessment/Mini Critique

An editorial assessment is an excellent way to get an idea of how your current draft would fare in the wild. What might happen if you sent this out to agents right now? What kind of reviews would you get if you indie published this tomorrow? An editorial assessment will tell you.

With an editorial assessment, we’ll read the entire manuscript and make very light annotations. When we’re finished reading, we’ll write a 2-page critique letter and schedule a 1-hour phone call to talk about your novel’s prospects. Is it time to send it out? Is it time to go back to the drawing board? We’ll give you our honest opinion, then help you decide what steps to take next.

Components of an Editorial Assessment or Mini Critique

  1. Very lightly annotated manuscript
  2. Editorial letter outlining our recommendations (2+ pages)
  3. One-hour phone consultation
  4. Review of your first developmental editing assignment

Our Favorite Genres

Meghan Pinson: Literary fiction, historical fiction, suspense, adventure, middle grade, ghost stories, select nonfiction. No vampires or spaceships.

Sun Cooper: Women authors, travel, memoir, literary fiction, upmarket fiction, children’s fiction, poetry. Stories that have a strong sense of place, history, and holism.

Matthew Arkin: Mystery, suspense, thriller, crime, police procedural, political intrigue, middle grade and young adult fantasy, historical fiction, literary fiction, nonfiction, self-help, screenplays & scripts. No knights errant or damsels in distress.

Further Reading

ALLi (Alliance of Independent Authors): Do Novice Authors Really Need an Editor?

Huffington Post: 7 Deadly Myths and 3 Inspired Truths about Book Editing

Jane Friedman: Should You Hire a Professional Editor?