Some of the most helpful feedback an author can receive from an editor or agent is a detailed explanation of what in their opinion is working and not working in that author's submitted manuscript. But editors and agents usually (legitimately) don't have the time to give extensive feedback to authors who don't fit their current publishing needs. That's where I can help you!
During my years at Bethany House, I provided varying levels of feedback on full and partial manuscripts—including contest finalists, submissions from conference appointments, manuscripts under contract consideration, and contracted manuscripts (known as pre-edit reviews at Bethany House). I loved communicating that feedback to authors, providing them with suggestions for rewrites. But other than for contracted manuscripts, the time I could spend on that feedback was limited. And that limitation was legitimate. It was not my job to provide detailed feedback to uncontracted authors.
That's part of the reason I made the decision to move to freelance work. Now I have the ability to work for those uncontracted authors. It is my job to provide uncontracted authors feedback. The feedback I provide is a detailed evaluation of the story's pros and cons—both big picture and specific, though I generally do not point out copy-edit issues—including suggestions for improvement and my thoughts on how well your story fits into the Christian fiction market. I seek to encourage but believe it is important I provide my honest opinion.
At Bethany House our editorial comments were provided in the form of an editorial "letter," and I think that is an effective and helpful method—with all the comments listed out/grouped together. But if you prefer having the issues marked and comments inserted in the document using Word's Track Changes, I am comfortable with that. If you wish, my review will include a conversation to discuss my feedback.
If you are looking for a less detailed evaluation of your story—without the specifics but still commenting on and making suggestions regarding the essential elements of fiction, that can be arranged as well.
- You've met with agents and editors at conferences and nothing has come of those meetings, but you still don't have a clear understanding of your manuscript's strengths and weaknesses....
- You've been working on a manuscript for years, have even shown it to family and friends who have declared it the best story they have ever read—or maybe you have never dared show it to anyone—but you're just not sure it is ready for those conferences, or to send out to a contest....
- You've written the first several chapters of a novel and have a summary or outline of the general plot, but you are not certain where it is going, or if it is coming together....
- You're considering self-publishing your story but are looking for feedback on the strengths and weaknesses of your manuscript before you dive in. Depending on your needs, I can initially provide general or detailed feedback regarding your story—and potentially edit your manuscript, if you decide to self-publish.
I would love to work with you to help you improve your manuscript and potentially get past the hurdles you are facing.
If you're looking for a partial manuscript review to prepare for conference appointments or a contest, or if you would just like to sample my approach to manuscript reviews, for $175 I offer a mini-critique, providing feedback on three chapters or a prologue and two chapters (not more than 7500 words) and a one-page synopsis of your story. My critique will include feedback on the story arc and concept as well as on fiction elements such as strength of the beginning/pacing, early impression of characters, voice, general writing technique, and potential plot issues. This mini-critique also gives me an indication of where your manuscript is at as we consider proceeding to a full manuscript review or edit.
This is not an edit—though if I notice issues I may mention them—so make sure you or someone else has careful reviewed your manuscript before submission. Agents, editors, and contest judges do not expect perfection at this early stage, but the cleaner your manuscript, the better.
Just to be clear...
It is difficult to gain the interest of editors from publishing houses and agents. There are many more authors trying to get noticed than will ever be published by traditional publishing. The gateway is narrow, and—barring a "miraculous" encounter—pretty much the only way through that gateway is by meeting with agents and editors at conferences or by entering contests.
Though I worked for Bethany House/Baker Publishing Group for over eighteen years and continue a positive relationship with them, I do not hold a magic key to Bethany House or any other publisher. It is still your goal to achieve. My goal is to help you strengthen your writing so that your story is more likely to attract the attention and interest of agents and editors.