Editing & Critiquing

Every Manuscript Needs a Critique

An important role of a book coach or mentor is to assess the writing and structure of the client’s story. There are two types of assessment–editing and critiquing. Here’s the thing: you don’t want to put beautiful, delicious icing on a yucky-tasting cake. It’s a waste of time and will not go over well! If your manuscript is structurally flawed–which can be due to a number of issues–just fixing the punctuation and syntax of your sentences will not solve the problems. The “big picture” elements must be faced first.

Some use the term “critique” interchangeably with “developmental editing.” While they have similarities, developmental editing is still “editing.” Why correct sentence structure or punctuation in a scene or a chapter that might need to be completely rewritten or tossed? It’s best to leave the grammar issues for later. 

Think of writing a novel as structuring a house. You have to first build a solid foundation, then frame up the walls. You don’t start with the plumbing and certainly not with window dressings. Even if you’re not inclined to plot out your story, before you get too far, you’ll need to lock in strong story structure, and that’s where a critique comes in.

Consider Getting a Manuscript Critique before Going Any Further

It’s a great idea to get a critique on a partial manuscript to see if your story is building well and all the necessary novel elements are in place and working. You may not be sure how to bring the story to a climax and resolution, or tie in your themes and drive your point home at the end. We can brainstorm these things!

A manuscript critique can help you with suggestions and feedback on your ideas before you write that last section of your novel. I often work with writers at the scene outline stage, and I’ve found that’s the best way to iron out all the structural problems, so if you haven’t gotten far with your first draft, consider this as a next step.

My manuscript critiques do not include any line editing, although I often point out things writers might be doing repeatedly that make for clunky, cluttered, or weak writing. 

As an author who has gone through the frustrations and disappointments along the road to publication, I bring to my critiques insights that many copyeditors or writing coaches may not have. When I critique your manuscript, my goal is to not only help you write a terrific story and actualize all you envision but also to encourage you, instruct you, and help you along this rocky road.

A good manuscript critique should not come across as a nice pat on the back with a few muttered words like “Good job. Keep it up.” A critique should give you specific direction on how to improve your manuscript, and a great writing coach should make this process fun, exciting, and fulfilling. 

It takes courage to hand your project over to someone to be scrutinized. You’ve perhaps spent months or years gathering your ideas and getting them onto the page, all the while second-guessing yourself and the merits of your book. The last thing you want is for an editor to heartlessly rip it to shreds. 

Don’t bake a yucky-tasting cake! I’ll help ensure that when you put on that pretty icing (editing and proofreading) that you have a novel readers will love and that fits the genre you’re writing in.

A Journey, Not a Destination

Writing fiction is a journey that takes time. Don’t ask: “Do I have a book in me?” Ask: “Do I have a writer in me?” You will not become a great writer overnight, just as one doesn’t become a skilled surgeon or dancer after a few hours of practice. Expect to put in a lot of hours revising and restructuring your novels. Most successful writers do this.

So don’t look at your manuscript critique with trepidation the way you might when getting a paper back from a stern professor at school. View it as a constructive tool to help you become the best writer you can be. Getting a professional critique will help you avoid years of rejection from agents or poor reviews–and confusion resulting from not understanding why your book “doesn’t work.” 

Look at it as a positive challenge to spur you on to better writing and deeper understanding of the craft as you gain insight and acquire new “tools” to put in your “writer’s toolbox.”

Critique Services

I offer a number of different professional manuscript critique services. You can have just a few chapters critiqued or your complete manuscript. And I also specialize in critiquing your query and synopsis if you plan to submit your manuscript to agents or publishers.

Scene Outline Critiques


/ per hour

A scene outline critique is a great way to start the critique process. You’ll get a lot of in-depth feedback about your story structure, though this critique won’t be looking at your writing or scene structure. It usually takes between 3-5 hours.

Scene outlines are $100/hr.

I highly recommend first-time authors start with an outline critique. Not only is it less costly than a full critique, it will help spot potential structural problems that you can address and fix before submitting your manuscript. (I also offer all editing services, from content editing to proofreading.)

I have a great template you can use to create your scene outline. While I don’t require it, I feel it will help a lot! If you choose instead to write a scene summary, aim for one paragraph a scene, and include the elements noted in the template. Aim for three scenes a page (single spaced).

Here is the template.

To have your scene outline critiqued, pay for the first two hours up front. After making your payment, send me your Word document attached to an email. I can usually fit in scene outline critiques within a week. You’ll be billed for any remaining amount due on the critique once I’m finished.

Manuscript Critiques

Manuscript critiques are fully annotated, with comments on micro and macro elements, often with suggestions and observations noted on each page.

If you would rather have a read-through instead, which includes a more general summary and suggestions written up at the end (about 3 pages), I charge my hourly rate for that (less costly than a full critique). I can give you a rough estimate of the time it will take to read through, and I’ll have you pay for a few hours to start, with the balance due upon completion. Getting this kind of big-picture feedback is super helpful! Just shoot me an email and attach your Word doc to get started.

The flat fees are as follows (US dollars):

Manuscript Critique (double-spaced):

  • 1-199 pages: $10.00 per page
  • 200+ pages: $8.00 per page

Fiction Synopsis Critique (single spaced, one page): $100 (Note: this includes reviewing up to 2 revisions)

Query Critique (single spaced, one page): $50 (Note: this includes reviewing up to 2 revisions)

Proposal Packet Critique for Fiction: (include your 1-page query letter, 1-page synopsis, and first three chapters of your novel [double-spaced] in one document totaling no more than sixty pages): $600

Editing Services

Once you’ve finished writing that terrific novel, you’ll need to get your pages edited and proofread. One of the biggest mistakes aspiring authors make is disregarding a professional edit. Whether you are self-publishing or submitting your manuscript to agents, your work needs to be error-free, with your writing polished to perfection.

I offer a full range of copyediting, from content editing to proofreading. However, I do not make specific distinctions between the varying degrees of editing. Each writer’s needs are unique, and the level and type of editing will vary from manuscript to manuscript.

I charge $85/hour for all editing and proofreading. I only edit US style, using CMOS (Chicago Manual of Style) as the primary standard (which is what the US book publishing industry uses). As an author, I’m aware of how important it is to honor a writer’s voice and style, and I work to enhance and support that rather than try to change your writing to my personal taste. Genre and market play a huge part in determining how a novel (or any work of fiction) should be edited.

Many editors can fix punctuation, but few editors can really help a novelist with her plot, voice, pacing, tension, and all the other important facets inherent in a novel. If you are just needing a proofread, this isn’t crucial, but if you need more than that, it helps to have an editor who is also an author.

If you’d like to have me edit a chapter, a partial manuscript, or a full manuscript, contact me here and let’s discuss! (I work on all genres except erotica and stories with extremely graphic violence.) 

Check out my Resource Page for worksheets, handouts, and checklists that will help you write that terrific book!

Take a dive into my popular online video courses to learn the technique and skills needed to be a masterful fiction writer. More than 5,000 writers have taken these courses and leveled-up their writing!

I’m Ready for Help!

I’d love to assist you with a critique! Let me know what services you’re interested in, and I’ll be in touch shortly to discuss!

Critique Services (select as many as needed)*

Get your Free Ebook!

Subscribe to my email blasts to level up your writing and be notified of upcoming events and offers!