WHAT MAKES A GREAT BOOK?
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. The most we can do is catch the faintest glimpse of its mysterious and intangible shape in the cloud of dust we kick up dancing around the topic.
The essence of a great book has something to do with the author’s passion for the story. It has something to do with the spellbinding nature of rich, flowing, clever, poignant prose. It has something to do 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, with fear, with humor, with sadness, with revelation.
Above all, it has something to do with truth.
WHAT I DO
I offer a simple service: to read your book, find and preserve the veins of gold coursing through its pages, discard the quartz entombing them, and help you sculpt what remains into a work of art. Sometimes a manuscript yields 90% precious metals and 10% rubble. Sometimes it’s the other way around. 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.
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.
“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, fantasy/scifi
“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
$7 per 1,000 words
Manuscript critiques are my primary service. I accept stories of any length, age range, and genre (even the ones I won’t tell my mother about). While you’ll benefit the most from a full manuscript evaluation, I do critique partials for writers who just want to work on their opening chapters or would like to test me out before committing to the full. NOTE: I do not provide sample critiques. It’s simply impossible to properly critique a page or two of a novel.
My critique comes in the form of chapter-by-chapter commentary noting strengths and weaknesses, followed by an editorial letter to discuss major issues after I’ve completed the manuscript.
The chapter commentary not only provides you with suggestions on minute page-by-page details, it also gives you my live reaction to the story–the good, the bad, and the confusing–so you’ll know if I’ve missed something that needs to be clarified or if I’m too accurate in predicting what’s going to happen next. (I’m going to predict the %$*! 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, with me, 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.
$4.50 per 1,000 words
This is the same as a manuscript critique, but it doesn’t come with chapter-by-chapter commentary, just a 1-2 page editorial letter. If your manuscript is polished and you feel confident in your ability to interpret and revise based on broad-stroke criticism, this is the option for you–and, hey, it’s cheaper!
$100 per month
Are you working on a manuscript but struggling to find the story or stay motivated? This might be the right service for you. It includes a weekly email correspondence to discuss your work-in-progress, a critique of 10,000 words per month, a review of your notes/outline with suggestions/ideas, and 50% off a manuscript critique of the remaining word count once you’ve finished your book (optional).
QUERY LETTER CRITIQUE
Query letter critiques might come in the form of editorial notes or an edit using track changes, depending on what your letter needs. Free second pass included.
Synopsis critiques will come with editorial notes and an edit using track changes with a focus on getting your synopsis down to a proper word count, making sure it’s clear and concise, and ensuring proper formatting.
$60 + $5 per 1,000 words of sample chapters
This package includes a query letter critique, synopsis critique, and critique of your opening chapters, with the goal of refining your submission to literary agents.
READY TO GET IN TOUCH?
Use the contact form below. Introduce yourself and let me know what service you’re looking for. And don’t be shy! I never try to upsell and I’m happy to answer any questions. I look forward to discussing your work!