Comprehensive Critique


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Our comprehensive critique, or substantive story editing, service takes our manuscript critiques to the next level by providing exhaustive annotations and a lengthy critique letter that not only identifies problems in your draft but also explains why they’re problems, and begins to teach you how you might fix them. With one-on-one consultations before, during, and after your critique, you’ll be prepared to make serious progress in your writing practice.

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

If the notes in the manuscript are the trees, the comprehensive critique letter is the forest. It’s an in-depth analysis of how the elements of fiction are handled in this draft. We’ll examine plots and subplots, story world, character development, showing versus telling, mood, tone, and tension, structure, exposition, style, voice, and editing needs.

After you’ve had a chance to process your critique letter and annotated manuscript, we’ll meet online or over the phone for a strategy session. You and your editor are both experts on the manuscript at this point, so it’s always an interesting conversation. You’ll have a full hour to ask questions and explore opportunities for improvement.

And when you’ve started your revisions and want reassurance that you’re moving in the right direction, you’ll have up to one more hour of your editor’s time on reserve. You can send a revised passage, schedule a phone call, or both. Our goal is to get you going on your next draft with confidence and a plan. If you want a comprehensive manuscript critique and individualized follow-up that guides you deeper into your craft, this is the critique package for you.

  • Initial consultation to discuss your goals and process for this book
  • Fully annotated manuscript
  • Comprehensive editorial letter (8+ single-spaced pages)
  • 60-minute strategy session to answer your questions and explore your next steps
  • One check-in as you begin your revisions

A note about word count: If your manuscript has more than 150,000 words, it’s likely that you either have more than one book on your hands or you’re writing epic fantasy. Either way, let’s chat. If your word count is considerably lower than 50,000, check out our Introduction to Editing service.

Read More about Working with Editors

From ALLi (Alliance of Independent Authors): Do Novice Authors Really Need an Editor?
From Huffington Post: 7 Deadly Myths and 3 Inspired Truths about Book Editing
From Jane Friedman’s Blog: The Comprehensive Guide to Finding, Hiring, and Working with an Editor
From Kindlepreneur: Master Guide to Selecting the Best Book Editor
From MasterClass: How to Find the Best Book Editor: A Complete Guide
From Reedsy: Finding the Right Book Editor

Additional information

Word Count

Up to 100,000 words, Up to 125,000 words, Up to 150,000 words, Up to 50,000 words, Up to 80,000 words

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