Evaluation, Critique, and Editing. What’s the difference?

Who hasn’t gone for a haircut and found out too late that the stylist had a radically different idea of what “layered” means? Neither of us wants your manuscript to end up with a mullet, so it’s good to talk about goals and expectations.

Writers with less experience, especially in working with an editor, may not know if they want a content edit, a line edit, or a copy edit. Muddling things further is how, when I say critique, someone else might call that a developmental or content edit, and my copy edit may be another person’s line edit.

That’s why I think it’s helpful to think in terms of what you want to accomplish and what I can do to help you. Maybe you just want an informed and objective opinion on the strength of the story. Maybe you need guidance on where to start revising and what weaknesses to focus on, or you want the first 50 pages of your latest project buffed to a high-gloss before going on submission. Different authors have different goals.

With that in mind, here is how I break my critiques into tiers:

A manuscript evaluation is like a beta read but from an objective, knowledgable professional. I’ll tell you why I like what I like, and why some things didn’t work. I’ll be honest, but my goal is to encourage you, not tear you down. This is a good entry point if you haven’t worked with an editor or done much revision before. (Which is to say, I do my best to keep this affordable.)

A critique is for writers who are ready to dig in and do the hard work. Whether it’s your first novel or your fifth, you are ready to put the time and energy into revising or even rewriting. I outline specific things you can work on, noting examples in the manuscript. I’ve seen many writers through this stretch from aspiring to agented or sold and from a loyal readership to best-selling books.

Depending on your wishes (and budget), we can step it up further. A Level 2 Critique gets more specific constructive criticism. I annotate your text in more detail and cover the gamut of voice, characterization, pacing, plot holes, deep POV, scene beats, emotional reaction beats, grammar, and style. (Whew!)

Can we sit down over coffee or on Skype where you can ask me questions? Absolutely. I will explain things, brainstorm solutions, and steer you toward further material if you want.

How much does it cost?

A manuscript evaluation is meant to be an affordable entry point. A critique is more of an investment. The cost depends on if it’s a full or partial manuscript, at what level. For a full manuscript critique, compare it to what you’d pay to attend a big writing conference or a college class.

Drop me a line or fill out the contact form for more specific information. I won’t put you on any lists or sign up for anything. I don’t like that any more than you do. 🙃