I’ve yet to encounter a writer who wants my criticism. What writers want is my approval. Most, thank goodness, have been gracious even when they don’t receive praise.
Far too often, it’s a shame to say, other literary agents and I are the first people a novice writer looks to for feedback. In most of those cases, a literary agent’s response is the form-letter equivalent of a thumbs down. When queries sent to carefully selected literary agents are unsuccessful, some writers realize instinctively that they need to work harder on their manuscripts. Some, on the other hand, rely on the advice of certain fellow writers who argue the statistically improbable: that there’s an agent out there for everyone, and finding one is only a matter of persistence.
If I’ve asked a writer to allow me to read a book-length manuscript, then, if I decline to represent it, I’ll describe my reasons. I’ll explain, and then I’ll dive into my foxhole. Just in case. A few writers whose work I couldn’t offer to represent have asked me for advice and assistance with their manuscripts, without realizing—and in rare instances, without seeming to care—that I owe my time to my clients.
To writers whose work doesn’t make the cut, I’m unable to suggest any remedy other than joining a critique group or taking a class. Although I know some fabulous copyeditors and developmental editors, if I recommend any of them, I risk being accused of taking kickbacks or charging for services that I provide to my clients at no cost. For the record, I work strictly on commission and don’t take referral fees from anyone.
Fortunately, manuscript critique services are becoming easier to find online. I wanted to start a list here on the blog, so I recently began making note of them as they came to my attention. Coincidentally, the local nonprofit Hub City Writers Project just launched one called the Open Door Critique Program, which is why I’m posting the list sooner rather than later.
I’d like to know of any manuscript critique services you’ve found, especially if you’ve tried one and felt you received exceptionally good advice for the money. Throw a link in the comments section, and I’ll expand this list when I can. Thanks!
Manuscript critiques (fees range from about $150 – $6,000)
This is merely a list. I’m not compensated in any fashion for providing it. I can’t vouch for any of these services, but feel free to leave your comments or links to others like these.
Alan Rinzler – Services
Allison Adler Editorial – Manuscript Evaluation
Australian Society of Authors – Paid Mentorships
Becky Tuch – Consulting
Book Editing Associates – Book Evaluations – Book Critiques
Bookworks Literary Services – Manuscript Evaluation or Critique
Burlesque Press – Manuscript Consultations
C.S. Lakin – Critique My Manuscript
Carl Lennertz – ExpressEdit.net
Chris Roerden, Editor – Critiques
Chuck Sambuchino – Editing Services
CommuterLit – Editorial and Critique Services
Cornerstones Literary Consultancy – Reports & Services
The Crime Writers’ Association (CWA) – Manuscript Assessment
Cutthroat – Online Mentorship Program
Dzanc Books – Dzanc Creative Writing Mentorships
Eastern Point Lit House and Press – Manuscript Consultation
Editorial Alchemy – Services
Event – Reading Service for Writers
Faber Academy – Manuscript Assessment
Foundling Review – Bolster
Golden Egg – Workshops
Highlands & Islands Short Story Association (HISSAC) – Mentorships
Kristin Nixon-Seibert – Pro Script Notes
Momaya Press – Critique Service
My Rite of Passage – Manuscript Critiquing
The Novel Editors – Manuscripts to Market
NY Book Editors – Manuscript Critique
Rachelle Gardner – Editing Services
The Reader Berlin – Manuscript Assessment
Stephanie Rogers – Write 2 Wow
Sue Healy – The Critiquing Service
By the way, in case you hadn’t heard, manuscript praise services also can be obtained for a fee.