Manuscript Critique Service

Are you an author looking for a manuscript critique, a developmental edit, or help with your query letter? I’m a full-time editor who has helped refine the stories of over a hundred authors, some of whom have gone on to sign with literary agents and acquire book deals with both traditional and indie publishers.

AVAILABILITY UPDATE: Currently booking for September 2021 and beyond. Faster turnaround on smaller projects.


If you knew the answer to that question, you’d probably be a famous author right now. The truth is no one really knows. While we can certainly recognize a great book, we’re lost on how to explain why it’s so great. We know it has something to do with the author’s passion for the story, with the spellbinding nature of rich, flowing, clever, poignant prose, with suspense, how the words flow, the authenticity of characters’ actions, and the story’s uniqueness, relevance, and timing. It has something to do with fun, fear, humor, sadness, pain, elation, even revelation. And, above all, it has something to do with truth.


I offer a simple service: to read your book, find and preserve the veins of gold coursing through its pages, separate them from the quartz, and help you finish sculpting your work of art. Sometimes a manuscript yields 99% precious metals and 1% rubble. Sometimes there’s more to discard. In any case, this is a grueling but all-too-necessary mining expedition, whether you enlist someone like me for an appraisal or opt to dig deep into your manuscript unassisted.

When you finally emerge from the depths of revisions and set out to query literary agents, submit to an indie publisher, or self-publish, you want your story to be the best it can possibly be. You want your characters to be vivid and whole and familiar. You want the plot to intrigue and astonish. You want the pace to accelerate and decelerate where appropriate and ultimately build to a climax that not only satisfies but enlightens, invigorates, or devastates the reader. You want those fist-pumping moments, those surprising twists, those scenes that produce a sudden gasp or make the reader shed a tear. Or maybe you don’t. Maybe yours is a quieter, more subtle approach.

It all depends on your particular vision. After all, no two books are the same. Your upmarket or literary fiction novel might set a gentle, unwavering pace. Your sci-fi/adventure or mystery/thriller might need to move at breakneck speed. Your steamy romance might require a slow, seductive burn. Every story makes its own rules.

However, there’s one universal truth across all genres: When the reader doesn’t want the book to end, you’ve succeeded.


“After eighteen months of fruitless querying, I enlisted the help of Tory Hunter to do a full manuscript critique, along with synopsis. As a result of her suggestions, I received a revise and resubmit request from an agent. Tory worked with me to address the agent’s concerns, and two weeks later I had an offer of representation on my cozy mystery series, which I happily accepted.” Kate Jackson [Twitter | Website]

“Think of Tory Hunter as the Manuscript Whisperer. Bring her your tangled, troubled prose and she’ll cure what ails it. Or come to her for an editorial overview and she’ll analyze your work with honesty, intelligence, and compassion. I was pleased beyond all expectation with the work she did for me. Worth every penny!” — J.J. Blacklocke, author of REFUGE: Tradepoint Saga Book One (Aethon Books) [Twitter | Website]

“Working with Tory on my historical adventure novel has been both inspiring and enlightening. The comprehensive editorial assessment she performed identified character development issues, plot weaknesses, and continuity errors I otherwise would have missed. She does good work at a fair price.”—Benjamin J. Gohs, historical fiction

“Tory’s critique was insightful and on-point, and she gave me encouragement that renewed my enthusiasm and love for my upmarket women’s fiction novel. I attacked her points and the MS was made infinitely stronger, and resulted in multiple MS requests from agents, a few of which are still outstanding. So when I finished my next project, upmarket contemporary with elements of suspense (and real ghost-hunting), I knew immediately that I wanted a critique from Tory. Once again, she gave me fantastic feedback, including ideas for fleshing out the parts I knew could be further developed. The result is a MS that I feel confident querying, and hope for success that I wouldn’t have had without her help. Can’t recommend her enough!”—Angela Hoke [Twitter]


$5 per 1,000 words

Manuscript critiques are my primary service. I accept stories of any length, age range, and genre (even the ones I won’t tell my mother about). While you’ll benefit the most from a full manuscript evaluation, I do critique partials for writers who just want to work on their opening chapters or would like to test me out before committing to the full. NOTE: I do not provide sample critiques. It’s simply impossible to properly critique a page or two of a novel.

My critique comes in the form of chapter-by-chapter commentary noting strengths and weaknesses, followed by an editorial letter to discuss major issues after I’ve completed the manuscript.

The chapter commentary not only provides you with suggestions on minute page-by-page details, it also gives you my live reaction to the story–the good, the bad, and the confusing–so you’ll know if I’ve missed something that needs to be clarified or if I’m too accurate in predicting what’s going to happen next. (I’m going to predict the %$*! out of your plot, just to warn you. Think you can stump me?) This live reaction is particularly useful to writers who employ plot twists, but nobody wants the reader to guess the ending.

The editorial letter portion of the critique is where, upon reflection, I discuss the major issues. Character A isn’t fleshed out enough. The pacing drags in the middle. I wasn’t satisfied by the ending. It doesn’t make sense for X to happen before Y. The narrative doesn’t have a proper or consistent voice. In rare cases, I’ll recommend very few changes and tell you your book kept me up all night. Just bear in mind that you’re going to get the cold, hard truth, whether your book needs a ton of work or I frantically beg you to start querying agents immediately.


$12 per 1,000 words

The developmental editing option is a more in depth version of a manuscript critique. It comes with an editorial letter, but I will also make detailed edit suggestions and insert commentary into the manuscript itself. This includes but is not limited to highlighting slow or weak parts of the story, suggesting material to cut or move, noting awkward transitions or dialogue, addressing plot issues, highlighting inconsistencies, suggesting structural changes, and recommending the types of subtle adjustments that are difficult to characterize but that help align the details of your story with its ultimate aim. I will also note the strong aspects of the story because I believe it’s just as important to celebrate what’s working as to point out what isn’t.

For this service, I’m happy to provide a 500-word sample edit upon request.


Author coaching services are not currently available. I will announce via blog post when they will be available again. If you think you might be interested in this service in the future, I recommend subscribing to my blog.



Having trouble with your query? Pitching a book can be a difficult thing, but I’ve edited hundreds of query letters and helped many, many writers increase their rates of full requests and land literary agents. My query critique will include edits and comments using track changes and, if needed, additional notes in an email.


$60 + $5 per 1,000 words of sample chapters

This package includes a query letter critique, synopsis edit, and critique of your opening chapters, with the goal of refining your submission to literary agents. For an additional $50, I will provide a developmental edit of your opening chapters instead of a written critique.


Use the contact form below. Introduce yourself and let me know what service you’re looking for. And don’t be shy! I’m happy to answer any questions and I won’t shed a single tear if you decide to go with another editor. If you’re looking for copy editing or proofreading services, I’m happy to make recommendations.

I look forward to discussing your work!