Book manuscript critiques from
editor and author Barbara Brabec

Book Manuscript Critiques
from Author and Editor Barbara Brabec


Barbara Brabec's Book Manuscript Critiquing Service

IF YOU'RE WONDERING if the book you've written is worthy of publication and whether it might find a good market if it was professionally edited, you might avail yourself of my book manuscript critiquing service before you move into the editing process.

I am interested in critiquing manuscripts that relate to my lifetime of experience and mirror my personal interests, passions, and Christian beliefs, as reflected throughout this website.

IN MY CRITIQUE, you will get my honest, unbiased opinion about the quality of your writing, the potential market for your book, its overall strengths and weaknesses, and whether it's likely to be of interest to trade publishers or if you should plan to publish it yourself. (For self-publishing information, see my articles in the WRITING/PUBLISHING department. If they aren't specific enough for your needs, you might consider a telephone consultation with me.)

Note that a comprehensive manuscript critique could lower your editing fees. My critique of your manuscript prior to its being edited by me or anyone else will not only result in a much better book, but could also save you hundreds of dollars in editing fees. I will be specific about any rewriting or self-editing you could do to lower your editing costs. Often, as Joe Bell learned (see below), a book with a high word count can be greatly improved simply by removing some of its content—selected chunks of the text here and there, or whole chapters that could be used in another book.

"I'd written this 106,000 word 'slab of beef' memoir titled Of Shadows and Footprints and asked Barbara to take a look at it. What I learned from her critique enabled me to rewrite and self-edit the manuscript from 106,000 to 67,000 words, during which time I turned it into a 'filet mignon' suitable for her editing. It was magical for me . . ." - Joe Bell

My BOOK MANUSCRIPT CRITIQUE  will cover the following points:

The Book as a Whole: What I took away from it, and whether you've convinced me that your expertise or experience in the subject matter is credible. (If your author credentials are not indicated in the manuscript, it would be helpful to have your BIO for reference.)

The Book's Audience: Tell me how you see your intended audience, and I'll tell you if I find your book appropriately written for that audience and whether it's likely to hold readers' attention. (Perhaps I'll see an even larger market for your book than you can see at this time.)

Book Title and Subtitle: Does it convey the book's content and have no apparent problems from a trademark or marketing standpoint? If it does, I'll discuss them, and if I find the title or subtitle lacking in any way, I will offer suggestions for improvement.

Quality of Writing: I'll give you my opinion of how well you write, and what you might need to do to improve your writing.

Book Structure: I'll discuss whether or not your book grabs me at the start, holds my interest through the middle, and leaves me feeling satisfied at the end; whether your chapters are well structured with good endings that move the reader forward to the next chapter or leave them wanting; whether you have provided sufficient information or are assuming knowledge on the part of readers; and whether you are repeating yourself or discussing the same topics in more than one place and need to bring those discussions together.

Timeline: Do chapters flow in a logical manner where time or reader understanding is concerned? If not, I'll point out problem areas. (In my own writing, I've often found that I could greatly improve a book simply by reordering its chapters.)

Barbara Brabec "has the rare ability to see the details while keeping in view the book's overall perspective. Finding her was providential." - John Horvat, author of Return to Order

"Her detailed report [and advice] allowed me to pinpoint, polish, and revise certain parts of my draft in need of further attention." - M. R. James, author of Hunting the Dream--a Memoir

Use of Copyrighted Material: First-time authors often unknowingly violate the Copyright Law by illegally using content from the Web or other sources without permission or proper citation. But everything one writes is protected by the Copyright Law—even content that is not officially copyrighted (such as letters to your Mom)—and there are limitations as to how much content an author can use under the Fair Use provision of the Law. I can't give legal advice here, but I have an excellent layman's knowledge of Copyright Law and will bring to your attention any quoted material in your book that I think is problematic.

Dialogue (Style and Substance): I'll comment on whether your dialogue is believable, crisp, and lively, or whether it's mundane and boring; also whether your speech tags ("said references") are attached to dialogue in a way that is not clumsy or distracting. (Few first-time authors are able to do this without study or professional guidance. If your manuscript suffers from these common problems, you will need content or developmental editing, which is more costly than copy editing.

Descriptions: Have you described characters in fiction or real people in a nonfiction book in a way that makes me care about them? Have you painted pictures with words that make me see places and things in my mind's eye? I'll let you know how well or poorly you may be doing here.

Rewriting and Self-Editing Tasks: With my written critique in hand, you'll know how much rewriting and editing your manuscript may need to be worthy of publication.

AFTER YOU HAVE STUDIED MY CRITIQUE, you will be entitled to a thirty-minute follow-up telephone consultation to get answers to any questions you may have. (Longer consultations are available at additional cost.) I have unlimited long-distance telephone service in the Continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii, Canada, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands and will be happy to call you if that will save you money. If you live elsewhere and use Skype, we could communicate that way (by appointment only).


FEE is $3.50/page, with a page being 250 words.

Thus, a 30,000-word manuscript at $3.50/page would cost $420;
40,000 words, $560; 50,000 words, $700; and so on.

Depending on my schedule at the time, and the length of your book manuscript, you should allow two to three weeks to receive my written critique by email.

Payment must be made in advance through PayPal unless author is known to the editor or payment by check has been approved.

Manuscript Formatting and Delivery Options

I need both a printed copy of the manuscript as the reading copy and a copy sent as an email attachment so I can do global searches as may be necessary.

I will print the reading copy for a small fee based on number of pages, or you may elect to send me a copy by mail or UPS (request my address).

If you elect to mail the reading copy, pages must be numbered and the manuscript should be formatted with one-inch margins all around, in a standard font such as Times New Roman or Verdana in 12-point size, and double-spaced to allow room for notations. (This usually works out to about 250 words per page and is the standard format required by most editors and publishers.)

Note that "double-spacing" means straight double-spacing; not single-spaced lines with double spacing between paragraphs (Web style). Incorrect spacing of the printed manuscript I receive as the reading copy will make it more difficult for me to make notations between lines on each page and will result in a higher critiquing fee. If I am to print the manuscript, then this spacing requirement is unimportant as I will simply reformat a copy of the manuscript to meet my needs.

For my special tips on how to properly format a book manuscript for editing, typesetting, and eBook conversions, read my Book Manuscript Formatting Tips article.

NOTE: The printed book manuscript will not be returned since it will include my notes for use in writing the critique, and my shorthand scribbles would be of no value to anyone but me.

Let's Talk about your book!

No charge for a fifteen-minute get-acquainted chat.


Editing Checklist of Common Writing Errors

Book Manuscript Editing


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Copyright © 2016 by Barbara Brabec
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