Manuscript critiques

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 –

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

Jonathan Starke, Editor & Writing Coach

Kristin Nixon-Seibert – Pro Script Notes

Lisa Poisso Editorial

The Literary Consultancy

Malone Consulting

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

Thomas Larson


By the way, in case you hadn’t heard, manuscript praise services also can be obtained for a fee.

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