~Manuscript Evaluation Service~

 
 

“Who is the better judge of whether or not to repaint the outside of your house; you, standing in the middle of your living room, or your neighbor out in the yard?” ~JH

Note: this is not a pay for review service for published books. This particular service is aimed at those unpublished manuscripts in the women's fiction and romance genres whose authors feel are ready for publication but want a second opinion on, either before submitting them to an agent or editor or after they have been submitted and the agent or editor is requesting that changes be made.

 

Why would a writer consider using such a service?

 

Revising your own work can be a difficult task. Once you have written your way into a story it can be hard to revise and edit your way back out. Sometimes fresh eyes are just what you need. Many authors make use of critique groups with great success but want or need more attention than they can get in those informal situations. Professional writing coaches, mentors, and editing services are very costly, charging hundreds or thousands of dollars to lead you through the writing process. I highly recommend getting as much mileage as you possibly can out of how-to editing books and free writing groups before committing to a paid service.

However, if you are feeling that you need more attention than your writing group can give you but don’t feel ready to pay for or work with professionals, I may be the person for whom you’ve been searching—the stepping stone you want to land on before taking your work to the next level.

 

What can this service offer an author?

 

Admittedly, I can’t offer you the eyes of a person with a Ph.D. in literature or inside information on the publishing business. As an avid reader and a book reviewer, I evaluate novels after they have hit the market.  What I can give is you a written commentary from a reader’s point of view on your story, let you know if the plot is gripping, the characters intriguing. I’ll tell you if I think the story needs only fine-tuning, or if it needs a complete tear-down and rebuilding. I will give you solid information on what I perceive your writing strengths and weaknesses to be and how to improve your technique.

 

My evaluation may make time spent in your writing group more effective. And should you decide you want the input of pros as well, doing a revision of your draft with me first at $1 per page may save you money in the long run, since it could cut down on the number of hours the pros will work on it with you.   At anywhere from $60 to $100 or more per hour, that’s a huge savings!  (If you decide to bypass professional evaluations and marketing services, however, I suggest getting the best advice you can from your writers group on copy editing, cover letters, and submission practices, since as a book reviewer these are not areas I deal in.)
 

How does an evaluation work?


Here is a partial list of what I will look for when examining your manuscript:
 

Does the hook grab me?

 

Is this story going somewhere?  Is it better suited to a shorter or longer format? Or does the entire idea need to be scrapped?

 

What drives the reader to want to finish the story?

 

What can be done to make the story more interesting?

 

Is there cohesion between the plot and subplots?

 

Do the characters leap off the page with realism, speak like actual people, stay in character, and grow?

 

Are there point of view conflicts?

 

Can I "see" the setting?  Can I feel the mood? Do I feel like I am there inside the story?

 

Is the writing smooth, stilted, flowery? Does it pull me out of the story anywhere?

 

Does your "voice" click with me? Can I even find your voice in your manuscript?

 

Is the pacing on target?  Do the scenes zip by too quickly or are they weighed down by back story and exposition?

 

Are the mechanics sound? Are there adverbs peppered throughout? Are speaker attributions being used too often and ineffectively?

 

Does your research ring true, or do you have kerosene lamps sitting on medieval tables?


Here is a sample of my critiquing work, so you can determine if my style will work for you. It's similar to how I do my book reviews but far more detailed.

 

Where to send a query.

 

I am booked through Winter of '04.  Please hold all queries until further notice.


Before you log into your PayPal account or run out for a money order, keep in mind that you will be spending your hard-earned money for an experience that can be quite painful. Your book is your baby, and you are asking me to tell you what is wrong with it.  If the thought of spending even $25 to have me say, “I’m sorry. I can see that you have a strong passion to write, but this story just does not work and appears to have no chance of being salvaged” makes you feel ill, then please redirect yourself to this page, where I list some very helpful websites at which you can get free tips on how to improve your writing technique.


If you are still here and still feeling ready to take this step, please email to me a query marked MANUSCRIPT EVALUATION SERVICE, attach up to three chapters of your novel, an outline, and a synopsis, or your entire short story, if it is 10,000 words or less. Please include the following information in the body of the letter:


What is your reason for wanting to be a writer? (fame, fortune, love of the craft, making others happy by sharing great stories?)


Are you a member of any writing critique groups, or do you have a writing mentor/buddy?

Do you own any how-to writing instruction books, such as “Self-Editing for Fiction Writers” or “How to Write Romances”?

What do you feel are your strengths and weaknesses as an author?

 

What is the most difficult part of the writing process for you? (brainstorming story ideas, developing characters, revising, etc)

 

Have you been published previously, and if so where, and were you reviewed here?

 

Has the manuscript you want to confer on been accepted by an editor who has asked you to improve upon it, but you just don’t know how?

Has the manuscript you want to confer on been rejected by editors who tell you it needs work, but they weren’t very specific on what needs to be done? (If this is the case, please send a transcript of their notes to me, perhaps I can puzzle out where they felt your story went astray.)

 

Who has worked with you on this story to-date? (Friends, published authors, editors?)

 

What subgenre (if any) of women's fiction or romance is it?

 

When formatted to these standards, how many pages long it it?

What is it you hope I can do for you?

Are you sure you are ready and willing to let me pull your story apart?

 

How much time and energy are you willing to pour into this story, still knowing there is no guarantee that it will be published?

 

Do you plan to self-publish (make a pdf file and sell it via the internet), use a print-on-demand publisher like iUniverse, submit to a small publishing house, or will you be submitting to an agent or a major publishing house?

 

Rates and fees.

 

Initial reading fee:  $25 for any length manuscript (Required before requesting a full critique)


First critique and light edit:  $1 per page. Must send entire manuscript.


Reread fee (after revisions are made according to my first critique):  $25


Further critiquing and light line editing:  $1 per page worked on. The purpose of this particular service is not to rewrite your entire story for you, but to help you learn to revise your own work according to the notes I write on each page.  However, any line edit revisions or sample insertions done on your story by me are yours to incorporate into the work, if you so choose. 

 

Heavy editing/ghost writing:  $3 per page worked on. If you like the sample revisions and insertions I made on your story, I can be hired to revise your manuscript for you, either in certain sections only or in its entirety. (If you want a 300 page story revised it would cost you $900.  If a critique by me shows that you need 40 pages revised, it would cost you $120 to have me rewrite those passages for you.)

 

Promotional Synopsis:  Having trouble with the "blurb" for the back of your book jacket?  As a reviewer, I've written summaries for more than 125 novels.  For $25 dollars, I can write one for yours too.

 

If after querying me with your first 3 chapters you decide you'd like to work with me, and if I am available to take on another client and I think I have something to offer you, I’ll send you a confirmation email with information on how to pay the $25 reading fee via Paypal or a money order. At that point you email me an attachment of your entire women's fiction or romance manuscript (formatted for Microsoft Word according to these instructions), outline, and relevant critique notes or text from rejection slips from editors.  In return, after a thorough reading, I will send you a detailed letter explaining whether or not I think your story has the potential to grab readers. If it does, I’ll also send you a sample critique and rewrite of excerpts from it.

 

If you think my commentary can help you, the fee for critiquing your entire work will be $1 per each page of the entire manuscript as formatted using a Dark Courier 12 pt font and exactly 25 lines per page. (You may be in for a big surprise when you see your single-spaced rough draft balloon to nearly twice its length after being formatted to those specifications.  But an average of 250 words per page is an industry standard, and that's what you will have by using those formatting directions.)


There is an additional $25 fee if you wish to resubmit your manuscript for a second read-through after making revisions. I’ll let you know if the writing has improved and mark pages where I see trouble spots with an asterisk.  If you wish a second full critique or light line edit, it will be $1 per page, but just for the marked pages I work on.  If you only need 25 pages reworked, you’ll only pay $25.  If you need 146 pages out of 400 reworked, you'll only pay $146.  I won’t charge you for pages that you’ve already polished to near perfection after following my earlier critiquing suggestions.

 

This process can be repeated until you are satisfied with the way your manuscript reads.

 

So for example, for your 350 page manuscript you might ultimately purchase the first-time read-through ($25), the first-round light editing critique ($350), a second round read-through ($25), spot critiquing and light editing for 85 pages ($85), heavy editing/ghost writing for 30 pages ($90), a final read-through ($25), and copy for your book jacket and publicity packet ($25).  The total fee for the work I do with you in that case would be $625.  However, since we would work through one read-through and revision process at a time, you would pay for each service individually.   Ultimately, each critiquing "package" I offer is completely tailored to each author's needs.

 

 

Disclaimer:  There is no guarantee that having your work critiqued by me will land you the publishing contract or agent you want, and even if you do get a bite they may still require further revisions of your story.
 

 

~Reviewer's Corner~

 

~Sample Story Critique~

 

~Dangerously Curvy Novels Home~

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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