By Leslie Colin Tribble
It’s been a slow year of writing for me. I wasn’t able to attend any conferences in 2017 and didn’t get a chance to have an agent or editor critique any manuscripts. I have several manuscripts that need some final work, but I’m just not sure how to get them to that polished state and my critique group has helped about as much as they can. What to do?
I’ve decided to pay for a few professional critiques.
Before jumping in, I asked writer friends and folks within Facebook groups what they thought. I've taken their responses and come up with some tips for deciding why to pay for a critique and how to find the best person to do one.
|Hunting for a critique service doesn't have to be hard.|
Why Pay for a Critique
1. You’ve written a story. And rewritten. Your critique group has been through several rounds of revisions with you. The story is Just. About. There. But you know in your heart something’s Just. Not. Right. This is the perfect time to pay for a professional critique. This person will read your story with a completely fresh set of eyes and will see it in a way neither you, nor your critique group did. That clarity can be the focus needed to make your story sing.
|Who needs a professional critique? Maybe you do.|
2. Maybe you’ve already had too many people look at a manuscript too many times and are receiving too much conflicting advice. Again, that fresh set of eyes might show you the right path forward.
|Critiques help you get back on track.|
3. Author (and critiquer) Jill Esbaum feels that a professional critique can shorten a writer’s learning curve. She feels one of the differences between published and unpublished writers is published writers are willing to listen to criticism and do the revision work necessary to perfect a manuscript.
|Can you bearly stand to hear criticism?|
How to Chose A Critique Service
4. When paying someone to critique your story, choose wisely. Jill Esbaum says book editors, as gate keepers of the kid-lit world, might be a good place to start. But published authors can talk to you on a writer-to-writer basis and possibly explain problems in a way that’s easier to understand. Everyone I asked said to definitely find someone who writes, or edits the type of book you’re writing. Is your book a non-fiction picture book biography? Then don’t pay for a critique from someone who writes YA fiction.
|Critiques keep you afloat.|
5. Price isn’t everything when it comes to paying for a critique. You need to make sure you understand what you will receive from the professional. Will they do line edits? Are they simply critiquing the scope and tone of the story? Will they provide a detailed write up of the critique or simply a summary? Do they offer a phone consultation or possibly a second consultation? Do your research and compare services, not just cost.
I can’t wait have my manuscripts critiqued. I think it will be just the boost I need to get my stories off my computer and out into the land of submissions!
Have you paid for a critique outside of a conference? What are your thoughts?
|Critiques help you see the big picture.|