Book Critique

book-critiqueYou’ve written a book. Congratulations! But now what will you do?

  1. Shove it in a drawer and spend the next few years telling people wistfully ‘I wrote a book once, you know…’?
  2. Convince yourself it’s the next Harry Potter and send it priority mail to every publishing house in the country?
  3. Develop your book further and discover whether it really is the next Harry Potter or is best left in the drawer?

If you chose the third option then you’ve come to the right place. As a publisher’s developmental editor and an author myself, I’m well equipped to assess manuscripts – to see what’s working and what could be improved, and to take a view on publishing potential. My book critique service helps authors develop their writing and gain realistic feedback on their manuscript to inform their next steps.

Why commission a book critique?

A book critique (also known as a manuscript critique or manuscript assessment) reviews your book, looking at elements such as structure, writing style and content. As an author, you’re too close to your book to spot most problems, weaknesses and inconsistencies, but a professional book critique helps you address issues, further develop your book and get a better idea of its suitability for publication.

My role is not to criticise and knock an author’s confidence, but to offer constructive feedback. I’m sensitive in my approach, and I make a point of telling authors what’s good in their writing as well as where they can develop. Above all, I’m always honest (there’s no point commissioning a book critique unless you want the truth).

While accepting constructive feedback is difficult, it really does help you grow as a writer. A book critique is a great first step in the editorial process, before diving into developmental work or polishing the language.

The book critique in the editorial process

The book critique is most useful when commissioned at the very start of the editorial process, because it informs the subsequent work on the book:

Developmental work

Developmental editing or a book critique.

Language polishing

Copy-editing or intelligent copy-editing.

Final checks

Proofreading before publication.

The book critique service

The critique is a report on the ‘big picture’ of a book. In the report, I summarise my opinions on and recommendations for the book within certain areas, like genre, audience, title, writing style, characterisation, setting, plot, structure and readiness for publication.

The book critique is the industry’s standard manuscript appraisal (increasingly, agents and publishers are requiring authors to commission a critique before submitting their work). The book critique gives you a clear picture of which areas you may want to develop and how you may take the book forward for publication.

Sometimes a critique is abundantly positive, and I recommend, after a copy-edit and proofread, that the author submit the book to publishers and agents. Sometimes I tell an author that the book is unlikely to have a market, or has fatal flaws. Often, however, critiques fall somewhere in the middle, and the author uses the critique to take the book to a higher level.

On a tight budget?

My budget book critique is designed to offer a quick and concise opinion on the two questions to which authors want an answer: Is my book any good? and Will it sell / get published? Before investing your time, energy and possibly money into developing a book, it’s a good idea to find out whether the manuscript has legs.

For the budget critique, I examine the synopsis (outline) of your book and the first 10,000 words. From this I get a feel for your book as a whole and your ability and potential as a writer. I then write a one-page report outlining my impressions, whether you can develop the book, a brief indication of how you may do so, and whether I think the book will be, or could be, of interest to a publisher and to readers.

Book critique examples: Click to see a sample book critique and budget critique.

Book critique rates

A book critique costs from £4 per 1,000 words for books of 50,000 words or more (for shorter books I add £50 to cover the report-writing time). A budget critique costs £100. (International clients may use the XE Currency Converter.) If you’re interested in commissioning me to critique your book, please get in touch.

Contact Me