“Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere.”
– ANNE LAMOTT
Think about your favorite book. You know the one. You’ve read it more times than you can count, taken notes in its margins, dog-eared its pages, you’ve cried, laughed, and been inspired by those magical words. But your favorite book did not spring forth from its author’s head as the perfect fully-formed treasure you have grown to love with your whole heart. That book—and every book you’ve ever read, for that matter—is the result of a long process that involves…you guessed it…revision, upon revision, upon revision.
For many aspiring authors, revision can feel daunting. Does this sounds like you? If so, keep reading…
It is likely that you know your story needs help, but maybe you just don’t know how or where to start. Or perhaps you’ve even begun the revision process but have reached an impasse.
The good news? You don’t have to be in this alone! I promise, there has never been a story told or book written that could not benefit from a pair of discerning eyes and an understanding mind.
How I Can Help
With nearly fifteen years of experience in the writing world, both on the fiction and nonfiction side—with ten published books under my belt—I know how to spot problem areas in manuscripts. Just as important, though, I also know how to draw out the elements in a manuscript that are working. How to help a writer create the very best version of the story they want (and need) to tell.
I do this by brainstorming with you, providing multi-leveled critiques, and asking questions that will deepen even your own understanding of various elements of your work—like characters, plot, setting, pacing, and voice, to name a few. I will provide thoughtful, constructive feedback (because, really, who has energy for anything less?). I may also point you toward other resources for further study on the art and craft of writing, ones that are geared specifically to your individual needs and strengths.
My manuscript services are perfect for the writer who:
- is ready to dig in and take their work to a new level
- is in need of a fresh perspective
- requires assistance in navigating next steps
- has hit a metaphorical wall: conceptually, logistically, linguistically (or any combination thereof)
I will work with both fiction and nonfiction manuscripts for readers of all ages, though my areas of specialty include: contemporary realism, young adult, middle grade, memoir, and narrative nonfiction. I’m not the right fit for: fantasy, sci-fi, romance, or mystery (although “B-Story” elements of these are fine).
How To Work With Me
I know that no two writers or projects are going to be the same, so I’ve developed a few different options that are flexible enough to fit *most* writers’ needs.
OPTION 1: The Back to Basics 48 Hour Critique
FLAT RATE: $48
This option is for writers who want quick feedback on a short piece of writing. You might need some general edits on your query letter or a second set of eyes before you submit sample pages to an agent or editor. The only limit here is that submissions must be 1000 words or less
Submissions may include, but are not limited to:
- query letter
- opening pages
- proposal pitch
I’ll read your submission and email you a one-page evaluation with an analysis of the submission’s strengths, weaknesses, and suggested next steps within 48 hours (weekends excluded).
TO SUBMIT: Email me with “Back to Basics Critique” in the subject line and paste your submission in the body of the email.
OPTION 2: Full and Partial Manuscript Critiques
RATE: I charge between $0.02 per word (i.e. 50K word novel = $1,000). Manuscripts should be a double-spaced Microsoft Word document with numbered pages.
This option is great if you’re looking for a thorough review of your full manuscript. Or perhaps you want to hone in on just a portion of your manuscript, like the first few chapters (which is often what is requested by agents and editors). This level of “developmental” editing examines all of the elements of your writing, from characters, plot, setting, pacing, and voice, to overall structure and style. This is a crucial part of the revision process, as it prepares your manuscript for the final stages of copy editing and proofreading.
What does a manuscript critique include?
- A letter (approx. 3-5 pages long), which will assess strengths and weaknesses regarding the “big picture” aspects of the manuscript.
- Comments and tracked changes in a Microsoft Word document, asking questions, providing suggestions, etc.
- Supplemental materials as needed (writing exercises, a list of suggested reading, etc.)
- A follow-up email or phone call
TO SUBMIT: Email me with “Manuscript Critique” in the subject line, a brief description of your project, and a bit of insight into why you’re seeking a critique (i.e. any specific problem areas where you feel you need help).
OPTION 3: The Nitty Gritty Critique
RATE: determined on a case-by-case basis, factoring in page count, writing density, content, and your desired level of editing. NOTE: Depending on my availability, I am generally only open to taking on 1 full manuscript a month for this kind of more in-depth evaluation.
The primary goal of this level of editing is to ensure that the language and text of your manuscript support your message in the best way possible, with both clarity and integrity.
This option is perfect if you’re ready to get down into the “nitty-gritty” parts of your manuscript (hence the name). Meaning, at this stage in the game all of those “big-picture” issues such as character, plot, or pacing have already been addressed; instead, this is where we will go through your manuscript line-by-line and page-by-page, focusing on all those little things you might have missed along the way or simply hadn’t thought about. Think of this as the fine-tuning phase, where I will point out: anomalies and inconsistencies, grammatical or punctuation errors, fact-checking, glaring omissions, and even typos.
One example of how pricing is determined for the Nitty Gritty Critique: An intense edit of an 80-100K word young adult novel that is relatively clean but needs detailed page-by-page or line edits, plus a one-hour phone call, would take approx. 80 hours of editing work and cost around $3000-$4000.
TO SUBMIT: Email me with “Nitty Gritty Critique” in the subject line and a synopsis or summary of your project, approx. word count, and the first 5 pages of your manuscript pasted in the body of the email (this will give me an initial idea of style, content, and level of polish – and it will also help me to better determine if I am the right fit for your work).
For Critique Option 1: Ongoing (excluding weekends)
For Critique Options 2 & 3: I am currently scheduling partial, full, and “nitty gritty” manuscript critiques for fall and winter of 2021.
Note: I accept payments via PayPal or Zelle.
More About Me & My Credentials
BACKGROUND & EDUCATION
I hold BFA and MA degrees from the University at Buffalo (SUNY). Over the past fifteen years, I have worked with numerous publishers, including “big five” houses like Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster, as well as small, independent presses.
WRITING & PUBLISHING CREDITS
My novels include: The Way I Used to Be, The Last to Let Go, Something Like Gravity, and Code Name: Serendipity. I also contributed to the nonfiction young adult anthology, Our Stories, Our Voices (edited by Amy Reed and published by S&S).
Each of these books received accolades in the form of awards, honors, critical acclaim…and some have even been bestsellers!
On the nonfiction side, I have authored or co-authored numerous books on the topics of art, history, culture, and biography, including Bearing Witness, Sophisticated Surfaces, Southern Recollections, Ode to Michael Goldberg, and Upping the Anti (see my BOOKS page for more info on these titles).
Additionally, I have edited and copyedited dozens of books, essays, and educational materials on these nonfiction topics, as well as contributed hundreds of pages of content for various media outlets on a multitude of subjects.
TEACHING & EDITING
Over the past five years, I have led dozens of writing workshops and presentations across the country, speaking to students, classes, and writing groups of various ages and experience levels. I have increasingly heard from many new or aspiring authors over the past couple of years – writers who are in search of help, advice, and even good old-fashioned encouragement on their writing projects.
I have grown to cherish these interactions and relationships. There’s nothing that compares to helping a writer make a breakthrough in their work or to see them not give up on their dream. And this is the reason I made the decision to incorporate manuscript services as a part of my “work” as an author.
I have extensive experience working with industry professionals in a broad range of publishing scenarios. Writing across genres and demographics has afforded me the opportunity to work with writers of all different backgrounds and experience levels.
IN A NUTSHELL
I’m passionate about helping others to find their voice and tell their stories. If I sound like the kind of person you want in your writing corner, I’d love to hear from you!