On a limited basis, I provide critique services for writers who would like feedback on a portion of their work in progress. I work with both fiction and non-fiction authors. You can request a traditional critique on its own, or add a coaching package at a discount.
What is a manuscript critique? Sometimes called developmental editing, a manuscript critique is an opportunity to have an experienced eye look at your work in progress and give you feedback on large-scale issues like story arc, character, readability, and point of view – generally before the work is completed. A critique does not address every line of a manuscript or every paragraph, but provides big-picture feedback and themes.
How does a critique differ from proofreading? Unlike proofreading, a manuscript critique does not address grammar, punctuation, or other minor issues, except where they impact the larger story. One way to think of it is that a critique uncovers issues that might require substantial rewriting, while proofreading tends to reveal small, word-by-word corrections and fine-tuning. Both are critical to the production of a polished, readable story. For example, a proofreader might correct the grammar and style of your first three chapters; while a critique might suggest that the story should really begin at chapter four, and that the first three chapters can be deleted or otherwise woven into the story.
At what point in the process is a critique most useful? You can do a critique at any time during the writing or editing of a manuscript. In my experience, however, the ideal time for critical feedback is after you have partially or fully developed a first draft, and before you spend hours revising and fine-tuning. Most people submit 50 to 150 pages of a draft for an initial critique, and then begin any major rewrites as needed. If you make substantial changes, you might consider doing a second round critique for additional feedback . Otherwise, the next steps are to continue your own revisions, send the manuscript to alpha or beta readers, revise again, and do proofreading last before submitting your work for publication.
What kind of feedback can I expect? My critiques include both in-line commentary and notes pages at the end of the manuscript or excerpt. The in-line comments will give you my immediate reactions to certain elements of the manuscript, and point out issues as I notice them. This provides specific examples of issues that may be written up more broadly in the notes, and also mirrors the reader’s experience for you. In the notes, I will give more generalized feedback about the overall work and information about fixing problem areas, with general suggestions about how you might go about making changes. I do not rewrite your text for you, but sometimes I might give an example of one way you could resolve an issue. Sometimes I can suggest additional reading that might be helpful on a particular technique or element.
Here are the primary issues I will look for during your manuscript critique:
- Story Arc
- Point of View
- Character: strength, likability/fascination, development, realism
- Overall Concept/Structure
- Suitability for Audience
- Adherence to Author Goals
- Adherence to Principles of Adult Learning
I typically critique non-fiction texts such as biographies, memoirs, personal essays, histories, and other narratives. I can also work with some religious or inspirational works as well as business, psychological, self-help, travel, humor and educational books designed for the general public. Because non-fiction presents special challenges, I reserve the right to charge by the page or section, rather than by word count. We’ll discuss this before I get started.
I do not critique academic papers, medical texts, scientific or technical manuals.
If you are looking for help writing manuals, letters, company documents, public relations materials, etc., please contact me directly to see if I might be able to assist.
Specs & Pricing
All critiques include in-line comments as appropriate, with notes pages at the end of the excerpt. Please make sure chapter and/or page numbers are clearly indicated, as I will refer to those periodically in notes. All critiques also include brief email exchanges as needed to clarify feedback provided.
If you would like verbal feedback as well as written, joint brainstorming, or more immediate/thorough answers to any clarifying questions, please add one one of the coaching options.
**For pricing purposes 1 page = approximately 250 words**
- Short Excerpt (50 pages or less – quick turnaround) = $4/page
- Standard MS (51 to 350 pages – turnaround in 2 to 4 weeks) = $3/page
- If you have more than 350 pages, please contact me to discuss options and scheduling
You can add coaching to any critique for a discounted price:
- 15-minute coaching session (available only with critiques) = $25
- 30-minute coaching session added to critique = $35 (regularly $45)
- Full hour of coaching – can be broken into up to 3 sessions, expires in one year = $60 (regularly $75)
To request a critique, please submit this form and email your manuscript or excerpt to mjpullenbooks at gmail dot com. I will get back with you in 24 to 48 hours with a specific quote and schedule.