What Manuscript Critiques Are and Why You Need One

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A manuscript critique (also known as a manuscript evaluation, appraisal, or review) is a service that many new authors are unaware is available to them. For a writer, especially one new to publishing, this type of professional critique can offer an invaluable outside perspective on the book and improve it for publication. It can also save an author tons of time and effort by addressing fatal flaws in their plot before they get too deep into the pre-publishing processes.

Read on to learn more about the value of this service and what you can expect to receive if you opt for such an evaluation. Find out more about the manuscript critique we offer; we’d love to provide the feedback you need to publish. 

Why manuscript critiques are useful

While professional manuscript critiques aren’t a requirement, they are helpful for most writers in a number of ways and are particularly recommended for authors who don’t already have a number of titles under their belt.

  1. It is hard for any writer to evaluate their own work because they are simply too close to it! Someone else will be much better at reviewing with objectivity. You’ve grown too close to your characters, the different twists and turns of your plot, and even particular lines in your story to evaluate them objectively.

  1. Family and friends who are avid readers can sometimes provide useful feedback on a manuscript, but a professional will likely offer a more honest assessment. Those close to you may not want to hurt your feelings by pointing out that your main character is too flat or that you keep contradicting your own plot, but a professional will—in a gentle and constructive way, of course.

  1. If you have been struggling with your manuscript and feel stuck, professional manuscript reviewers can highlight the steps you need to take to improve your book. They can draw on their vast experience to guide you toward what they know works.

  1. Obtaining professional feedback before submitting to editors or querying agents will save you time in the long run. A formal evaluation can help you make your book as good as it can possibly be so you don’t waste time trying to sell something that isn’t ready for publication. It’ll be way harder and much more disheartening to implement major structural and plot changes after you’ve already finalized your story for publication, so it’s best to get a manuscript critique first.

What to expect from a manuscript critique

A manuscript critique is a high-level evaluation. The reviewer will look for plot holes, lack of character development, problems with pacing, poor story structure, and other big-picture issues.

The critique will be a multi-page editorial letter that points out not only the weaknesses of your manuscript but also its strengths since it’s equally important to know what is already working. 

The critique will highlight what needs improvement and, just as crucially, offer a plan for fixing the issues. For example, it may include a suggestion for adding scenes between characters to better illustrate why they became rivals. Of course, it’s up to you to do the actual fixing, but with a clear plan laid out in your critique letter, it might not be so hard.

What not to expect from a manuscript critique

Many people confuse a manuscript critique for a form of editing, such as a developmental or structural edit. These take much longer than the high-level evaluation provided by a manuscript critique and go into more detail, offering comments about specific sections of the text. Your best bet is to get the manuscript critique, implement the suggested changes, and then seek out developmental editing for a deeper dive into how well your story works.

A manuscript critique also excludes any other kind of editing, such as line editing, copyediting, or proofreading. A critique is an overview of strengths and weaknesses, along with a strategy to address them. Editing is crucial, but that comes only after you’ve resolved your plot and character issues and are ready to tackle the linguistic ones.

With a good manuscript critique, you are that much closer to a polished manuscript that can sell to publishers.

Learn more about the manuscript evaluation we offer; if you’re in need of editing or other services, we’ve got you covered there, too! 

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