What exactly is a “manuscript critique”?

A “critique” involves written comments on the manuscript pages and a typed response to your piece.  The comments include analysis of the strengths and weaknesses, as well as suggestions for steps you might take to improve it. You are responsible for implementing these suggestions yourself. We also offer a free phone consultation after you’ve received the critique. See Manuscript Critique.

This is the first time I’ve ever shown my writing to someone other than a friend. I’m nervous…

Don’t worry. We’ve worked with many beginning and aspiring authors. We will never tell anyone their writing is bad or that they should give up; Chrysalis Editorial sincerely wants to help your writing shine. On the other hand, you aren’t paying me to bolster your ego, but rather to give you practical and useful feedback. You will always receive the same quality of response—it will be honest, sensitive, and thorough.

If your piece needs work (as it probably will) my comments will be constructive. That is, in addition to pointing out what isn’t working, I’ll also give you suggestions for how to improve it.

Remember that writing is a journey and a process, and that each piece you compose moves you closer to success and to getting published. But it takes a lot of practice and revision.

How much do services cost?

Fees vary with the type of service, the length of the manuscript, and the intensity of work involved. Send us a detailed description of the nature of your project and what you are looking for, and we will gladly reply with an estimate.

Will we work together over the phone, by email, or in person?  Can we Skype?

Any or all four! The way we work together will be based on what makes you feel most comfortable (and also where you live, of course).  Most of our clients use some combination of email and telephone. Many we’ve never met. We Skype with clients in places as far from DC as Vermont, Michigan, Florida, Italy, and the Netherlands.  There are some, however, who prefer to meet and review their work in person. It’s entirely up to you.

Are you going to fix my manuscript for me?

We only “fix” your manuscript if you hire Chrysalis Editorial to ghostwrite or copy edit. In the former, we will write or re-write the manuscript depending on your needs. In the latter, we will correct spelling, grammar, punctuation, and syntax.

If I don’t like what you say, can I have my money back?

No. Writing and reading are inherently subjective. We will critique the elements of your work (regarding plot, structure, character, point-of-view, etc.), and you may disagree. It’s important that you take the time to let the assessment sink in, then see what resonates. This is your project, after all. Take what sounds right and disregard the rest.

If you already know what you think and feel about your piece, and are not open to other opinions, then editorial services of any kind are probably not for you.

Why would I listen to what you have to say?

Your writing can probably benefit from some revision, no matter what your goals. If you’re a strong enough writer, and you’ve already revised your work a few times, a good critique, and the corresponding changes may be all you need before approaching an agent (and then a publisher).

Our critiques have helped dozens of clients improve their writing, and many have gone on to find agents and publishers or to be published in literary magazines.

Do you have to critique an entire manuscript, or can you just read a part of one?

Often I read only part of a novel or memoir (or even narrative non-fiction), which can function as an early detection device for future problems. If character development, plot, voice, or POV (point of view) is an issue, it’s often evident in the 1st 25-50 pp.

I just have one very particular concern about my writing; can you help me address this?

Yes. Maybe you want to know if the point-of-view or plot is working. Maybe you just need an objective opinion on whether the work is marketable or ready to be sent to agents. Chrysalis Editorial can do any and all of these, and more. Email me with your specific request, and I’ll let you know whether Chrysalis is equipped to help you.

How long will it take for me to get my critique?

Because we work on each project individually, the turnaround time is very much dependent on our current workload, the needs of our current clients, as well as the scope of your project and your needs. It’s best to contact me for a time estimate; if you need specific deadlines, we will do our best to meet them.


Chrysalis has successfully worked with a variety of writers, including:

  • A doctor writing a memoir about a terrible tragedy that befell his family in Cameroon (editing/rewrite)
  • A fundraiser seeking structure to write her book on depression
  • An attorney trying to refine her self-help book for widows (coaching/editing)
  • A wife of an American diplomat seeking someone to restructure, research, and rewrite her exciting memoir (ghostwriting)
  • A professor trying to find his voice for a work of non-fiction and seeking a publisher
  • A well-published author seeking a second opinion on which point-of-view to employ (manuscript critique)
  • A published poet, photographer, and essayist seeking advice on how to structure his book (writing coach)
  • An eighteen-year-old working on her first novel (manuscript critique and coaching)
  • An upper school headmaster developing his book idea (coaching)
  • A scientist whose novel needed an overhaul in plot and character development (ghostwriting)
  • A therapist with a book contract seeking help to organize her material (coaching and ghostwriting)
  • A journalist seeking feedback on a book proposal and sample chapters (manuscript critique and publishing advice)
  • A young man writing a book of inspiration needing critique and copy edit (copyedit and critique)
  • A lobbyist writing her first young adult novel wanting feedback (manuscript critique)
  • A master runner requesting a rewrite of her memoir (ghostwriting)
  • A “healer” and clairvoyant in Milan, Italy who has written a memoir about coming to terms with his extraordinary visions, premonitions, and ability to help the sick (ghostwriting)