6 Great Tips for Hiring (and Using) a Professional to Critique Your Manuscript

The book is finished! You can hardly believe yourself. You did it! You finished a novel!

It has been long, solitary process, and now it feels impossible to look at the manuscript with any perspective. You are eager to start something new, but you also want to get your book out into the world, and give it the best shot you can at getting it there!

Enter, the professional. This is someone experienced with editing and critiquing fiction, with an excellent track record and the ability to communicate in a way that makes sense to you.

There are many people online who claim that they can edit your manuscript, and there are many people who can actually do so. You want someone who is capable and confident and experienced. Here are some tips for finding the right person for the job!

Interview them on the phone


Before speaking to them, give them a synopsis of your novel. Ask yourself: do they sound like someone who "gets" my work? Are they passionate about my subject matter, and in tune with my sensibilities? Are they familiar with the genre I am writing in? Is my work something that “speaks” to them?

Ask for References


Get at least two references from the editor and be clear and specific with your questions to them. If their references were happy with the work, they will be happy to speak to you!

Establish Trust


Unless there are unforeseen circumstances, you should be able to trust your critique. That means that if the editor that you have hired thinks that extensive edits are needed, some of your "darlings" need to be killed, or that the structure is wrong, you need to listen to what they are saying. It will not do you any good to hire an editor and then defend your work to them when they give you their critique.

Be Monogamous!


Once the editor receives your manuscript, stop editing it yourself. Don’t show it to anyone else who will be giving you a critique. Don't hire multiple editors at the same time, as this will defeat the entire process.

Instead, put your manuscript in a drawer and start something new! It is hard to let go, but if you decide to do this then you must commit to it fully.

Keep in Touch


Make a date in which you expect the manuscript finished by, and let the editor do their job. Feel free to check in, but don't bombard the editor with questions before receiving the full critique.

Save Time and Organize


Once you receive the manuscript and review it, make a list of questions go over with the editor via phone, Skype or in person. The more organized you are, the more beneficial the meeting will be for you.