Manuscript Critique


Manuscript Critique

from 200.00

**** Note that if you pay a deposit or in full now, I will not begin work on your manuscript until January 2020. If I can do it sooner and your book is ready, I’ll let you know. Otherwise, keep working on it and I’ll have eyes on your baby in the new year! ***

Are you ready to SHINE?

Together, we’ll get to the heart of your story and make this baby shine. This deep critique and follow-up hour-long phone call isn’t just an edit of your manuscript. My goal is to help identify your core craft challenges and help you work on them, using this book as your teacher. If publication is your goal, we can look at how this book might be positioned in the market, too. This is a holistic approach to serve this book AND you long after our adventure together is through.

**** I read full manuscripts only: fiction, memoir, and narrative non-fiction in any genre - please no picture books, poetry, or short stories.

Heather and I did a creative season and a manuscript review together, and I have to say: best two decisions I've made in my writing life. Rather than shoving me into a program, Heather customized our conversations and the homework from them to actually get to the bottom of what I was feeling and experiencing, and figure out how to get me where I want to go creatively, professionally, and even spiritually. When it came time for my manuscript review, I knew my work was in good hands and that Heather would pull no punches in helping me make it the best it could possibly be -- all in the spirit of being a friend, adviser, and advocate. Mission accomplished. She's a really positive but down-to-earth force who I'll no doubt be turning to and returning to for years. If you're thinking, "hmm, I would like to work with Heather," do it. Seriously. 

- Lauren Bernadette, Creative Season & Manuscript Critique


Please note that a manuscript critique is $1200 for a manuscript up to 80,000 words. After that, it is the base $1200 plus an additional 2 cents per word.

See below for info on what a critique entails.

You’ve finished the book - huzzah! First, massive congrats. This is an ENORMOUS accomplishment and I hope you celebrated. Now you’re ready to get this baby in shape. That’s where I come in.

One thing that’s important to me is taking a holistic approach. I don’t just read this book and throw it back at you. I look at your process, your craft, and where you’re at in your career and I take all that into consideration with my feedback. It’s important to me that this critique doesn’t just help you with this particular book: I want it to lay the groundwork for your future work, as well. My editorial letters are meant to be a mini master class in writing. They often include writing exercises and go deep into craft areas that I’ve been able to identify some issues with. I want this to make you a better writer, not just a writer who has a better book.

What exactly is a manuscript critique?

  • All critiques consist of comments in the margins of your word document using track changes, as well as line edits. (I go deep, y’all - you are for real going to get your money’s worth here.)

  • All critiques receive a lengthy editorial letter accompanied with the critiqued manuscript.

  • An editorial phone call, about one hour in length. This happens after you receive your critique and have had time to digest it. We go over questions, brainstorm, and dream. IT IS SO MUCH FUN.

  • If you want to do a revision of the project and would like me to read that, as well, there is a discounted rate.

  • Note: Novel Development is a whole different kind of service—if you’re interested in having me help you develop your novel from the ground up, or prepare a proposal for submission to agents and editors, please email me and we’ll chat about it. I love doing this work. It’s intensive and intimate and cool as hell to be let into your process.

What is an editorial letter?

  • An editorial letter is the letter you get from me in addition to all those delicious notes on your manuscript. These are quite long with LOTS of info in them.

  • I cover things that are working in the manuscript as well as things you can improve on in both the manuscript in particular and in your own craft. I pick out particular areas of craft you struggle with and give you a mini class via the letter on that craft issue, as well as offer suggestions for further growing.

  • I will go over all relevant aspects of story including character arcs, story arc, pacing, plot, language (as in, voice / tense / POV), theme, genre tropes (if you are writing in genre, such as fantasy or sci-fi), and structure.

  • I will include questions I have about the story/characters that are for you to think about as you revise your manuscript on your own.

  • I will always give recommendations for further reading and research

  • I will often give writing exercises that you can try at home.

  • Sometimes I will give advice based on your autobiographical letter related to time management as a writer, artist lifestyle, solutions to writing problems or blocks, or perhaps something regarding your particular situation. I believe in a holistic approach to critique that takes the writer herself into account.

What I Ask Of My Writers

  • The manuscript (I mean, duh), properly formatted and readable

  • A one to two page autobiographical letter outlining what your writing career has looked like thus far, information about you and about what drew you to this story, what sorts of books you read, and what genres you’ve worked on in the past. If you’ve published before or have an MFA or are in a regular critique group, I’d like to know that too. This will help me see what your foundation is and will allow me to make a more informed critique.

  • If you have specific concerns regarding the manuscript or pertinent information about it, you may include a one-page letter with this information (this is in addition to your autobiographical letter). If you don’t have anything to tell me before reading, then this will not be necessary.

I’ve Critiqued Your Work: Now What?

  • Wherever you are in your novel, it’s time to revise! Don’t wait too long to get to that: the critique is fresh in your mind and you want to stay in the flow.

  • I’ve got revision resources for you, don’t fear! I’ll give you lots of delicious things to help you in this process.

  • There’s always the option to do a revision with me, which I offer a discounted rate

  • Read my recommended books, try out some of the writing exercises.

  • Consider taking a writing class to rock out your craft

  • Consider joining a writer’s group or finding a critique partner

  • Breathe. Be kind to yourself. Write every day. Don’t give up. Repeat.

Why you should invest in this (with me, or someone else):

After years and years of writing and working with some of the world’s best editors on my books (Donna Bray of Balzer+Bray edited my fantasy trilogy and I’m hard at work on new projects with Sarah Barley (of Caraval fame) at Flatiron, as well as getting an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts with mentors like A.S. King and Rita Williams-Garcia, I can tell you this: we writers need help. We need another set of eyes. We need mentors. This is an apprenticeship art form. The true master realizes what Michelangelo himself did, so long ago: “I am always learning.”

My role in your book’s journey, should you and your story choose to accept it, is to help midwife this vision of yours. You’re doing all the heavy lifting, but I’m here to support, guide, and protect the vision—and you. Some editors might just look at the work, and that’s fine. But I can’t stop at that. I’m a writing coach! So I take a holistic approach. When you work with me, I don’t just look at your book, I look at YOU. My goal is that by the time our work is through, you feel empowered to take this baby home, both on a craft and process level. I want to help you birth the story that’s in your heart, and to have the courage to do so.

Ever heard of Anne Lamott’s phrase “shitty first draft”? It’s a real thing. No book comes out of the gate a winner. We need editorial feedback. And your mom and bestie are great at early notes, perhaps, but when you get to the serious place, if you really want this book to have that one percent chance of publication, you need someone who’s been in the inky trenches to help guide you. It’s an investment, and a worthwhile one. I spent over 50K investing in my own writing career and I’m here to say, after a PEN award and starred reviews and books I wrote that I love so much I hope I’m buried with them: Worth It.

There is no easy way to do this. No quick fix, no instant gratification. That’s why being a writer is so goddamn GANGSTER.

I’d love to be that person in the trenches with you. Man, do I love inky trenches.

If you’d like to chat a bit more, please email me and we can set up a time to talk, or just go back and forth on email.

Whatever you decide, keep this little Friday Night Lights wisdom with you - it helps me on the tough days: Clear Eyes. Full Hearts. Can’t Lose.

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