WELL THIS is odd, isn’t it? I’m supposed to tell you why you should hire me, not why you shouldn’t. If you’ve been around long, though, you know I don’t always do things the traditional way. This is the last time I’ll be promoting this venture for a while because I’m shifting focus to reading (voluntary as well as paid), blogging, and working on my novella, which I hope to release sometime soon. If you’re considering hiring me to critique your book, here are some reasons to run screaming into the hills instead.
YOU DON’T KNOW ME
Oh, hi there! It’s nice to meet you. I’m a stranger on the internet—and I see you’re a stranger on the internet too! I’d love to get to know one another, but you should definitely not hire me, because you have no idea who I am and that’s some risky financial decision-making right there. Stick around a bit, though, and maybe I’ll win you over.
YOU DON’T TRUST ME
This is similar to the previous reason. If I haven’t gained your trust, and you have no confidence in my ability to read, analyze, and critique your work, you should probably go with a more established editor.
For the record, I don’t refer to myself as an editor—more like the world’s best beta reader who provides you with the editorial letter you would get from an agent, either as a revise and resubmit or a let’s-get-this-out-on-sub-ASAP, depending on the story’s effectiveness and, as I like to call it, readiness.
I DON’T PROVIDE CREDENTIALS
Whoa. Red flag. Back away slowly, don’t make any sudden movements, and hightail it out the door before this impostor takes your money!
Yes, I do not provide credentials. Why? Because I am one of the most private people you will ever meet on the internet. I have personal reasons for not sharing anything about myself that might allow someone in my real life to sniff me out.
I am considering sharing one single thing about the professional side of my life that might allay your concerns. Look out for it next week, though I am still undecided, because it’s nobody’s business. In the meantime, if you think I’m a charlatan, I urge you not to hire me.
I DON’T PROVIDE A SAMPLE EDIT
Um . . . just ask, yo. WB will give you a sample proof, and I’ll critique your first chapter. Just remember that my half of the service is about content and character and story and structure and metaphor and intent, and what you’ll get from a full MS critique is way more complex than what you’ll get from a sample chapter. Because I won’t have read the whole story.
A COMPETITOR WARNED YOU AGAINST ME
They might be right, they might be concerned, or they might be a hater. Trust your own judgment. Read an editor’s content before you make up your mind. Ask yourself if they understand what makes a great story. Ask yourself if they have any passion inside them. Or drive. Or willingness to actually care about you and your novel. Ask yourself if they seem competent. Ask yourself if they know what they’re doing. Ask yourself if they have command over their own words before you lend them yours.
YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU’RE GETTING
Okay, here’s the deal. You have your manuscript, and with it comes a particular vision. What I do is ask you to describe the story to me—if I critique your query letter first, you will have already done this part—and then I orient myself to your conceptualization, so that when I read I can identify what does and doesn’t fit. I don’t want to make your story better based on my personal standards. I want to help you bring your story to completion the way you want it to be.
Your narrative might have weak areas, the result of days when you were uninspired or distracted or didn’t have the whole story in your head. There might be a character who needs more development. There might be a brilliant but missed opportunity to bring two plot points together that will hit readers like a ton of bricks. There might be something in the opening chapters that’s likely to turn off a significant percentage of agents. There might be a plot hole, a glaring inconsistency, or an anticlimactic ending.
So what are you getting? What do I actually do?
I read the book and jot down notes. After every chapter, I stop and write down both a summary of the chapter and the things that did and didn’t work. Once I’ve finished the book, I take my notes and incorporate them into the editorial letter, and then I end it with a summary discussing the story as a whole, major problems, major highlights, etc.
In other words, if I critique your full manuscript, you’re not buying a one-page editorial letter. You’re buying the most comprehensive analysis of your book you’ve ever experienced.
I’m taking a hiatus from Twitter for a couple days so I can focus on my reading and critiquing. I have a couple partial critiques to finish, a novella to start, and I’m deep into a novel-length manuscript that’s proven to be riveting, so I want zero distractions until I’m finished.
I will, however, be in and out of my email as I deliver editorial letters and WB’s proofs. Hit me up. Drop a query letter. Ask for a sample. Try out a 5K critique. Or get wild and spring for a full. I’ll be around.