Mindy Hardwick's Blog

Author Mindy Hardwick Muses about Writing

Manuscript Critiques

on November 19, 2013

A few weeks ago, I participated in Ellen Brock’s query contest on her blog. I submitted my query letter for my middle grade work-in-progress and she critiqued the query. I did not win the grand prize critique, but Ellen did give me a line edit critique on my first chapter which was very helpful. I plan on hiring her to critique my work-in-progress early in 2014.

I’m a big fan of hiring editors for manuscript critiques. I hired freelance editors for both my books, WEAVING MAGIC and STAINED GLASS SUMMER. I believe there is a point in writing a story when it’s important to get an outside professional viewpoint on how the story is working or not working before submitting the story to agents and editors. If you are self-publishing, then I would highly, highly recommend hiring an editor for both content and line editing before publishing.

There are two kinds of manuscript critiques. A developmental critique looks at the story, the character, the plot, the tension, the pacing, and how things are flowing together overall. This is usually provided as a four to six page editorial letter with a few notes in the margins of your manuscript.

The second kind of critique is a line edit. This manuscript critique looks more closely at the details of your story–editing for clarity and grammar rather than overall content.

There is a great article about hiring an editor on Ellen Brock’s website here.

She also has a great post about what to do with those edits once they come back here.

If you’re looking for a manuscript critique, here are a few names:

Sarah Cloots, freelance editor--Sarah is a former children’s book editor at Greenwillow. She did a content edit on my novel, STAINED GLASS SUMMER, and gave me one of the key’s to the story–change it to be middle grade instead of young adult. Sarah offers both line edits and developmental critiques and you can find out more here.

Bev Katz Rosenbaum-Bev is a former Harlequin editor and I hired her to critique WEAVING MAGIC. It was my first time writing a story with romantic elements and I wanted to know how the romance was working, or not working. Bev’s critique was  developmental and she sent me a detailed four page letter about the story.

Ellen Brock–Ellen was the former head YA editor at Musa Publishing. I did not work with her on STAINED GLASS SUMMER, but she was often spoken of highly by other authors. Ellen does both line edits and developmental critiques. She details her process here.

Miss Snark’s First Victim–If you are looking for a partial critique of your manuscript, here is the place to look. Miss Snark’s First Victim, otherwise know as Authoress, does partial manuscript critiques ranging from 30 pages to 75 pages. She also offers full manuscript critiques.

But maybe you don’t want to hire an editor. One way to sharpen your own editorial skills is to sign up for the Savvy Authors Editpoolaza taking place in January. This is a month long program where authors are grouped together with five other authors and one editor. The editor does not read your manuscript. Instead, all month, you get to learn how to edit your manuscript like an editor. You can find out all the details and register here.

Another way to sharpen your editorial skills is to sign up for the Author Editor workshops . If you can’t sign up for one of the classes, check out An Editor’s Guide to Working with Authors which is available in print or ebook.

Writing and drafting a story is only one part of the process. Editing is when the story begins to shine.

Let us know if there is anyone you have worked with and would recommend in the comment section.

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