You’ve written a book. Congratulations! But now what? Before investing in a developmental edit or a copy-edit, you may want to step back and consider the strengths, weaknesses and potential of your book. You’re wondering:
- Is the book any good?
- How could it be better?
- Will the book sell / get published?
As a publisher’s developmental editor, I’m well equipped to assess manuscripts – to see what’s working and what could be improved, and to take a view on marketability. 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 service
The book 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 that the author submit the book as it stands to agents and publishers. 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 feedback to take the book to a higher level before submission or publication.