Tag s | Editing

Why I Don’t Critique Your Work

A fantastic blog post from Ramona Richards reminded me why I, as a literary agent, don’t offer critiques on rejected proposals.

Believe me, as someone who used to write books, I understand the disappointment of the unhelpful rejection letter. So much that I blogged about it (click to read it).

I appreciate writers who are looking to learn more about craft, style, and what will make their books marketable. My heart aches in compassion when I receive a follow-up letter from a writer asking for help after my assistant sends a bland rejection letter. I really do want to help, but like a critique partner who means well, I might do you more harm than good. I really, really do not want to join a chorus of critique partners who, if they disagreed with one another, made you conflicted about what to do to improve your work. And I realize that any letter leaving my office might carry even more weight, in your mind. Unless I have a genuine feeling that we can work together after a few tweaks of your story, I don’t want to offer an opinion, only to have the agent you eventually do sign with, disagree.

You are a creative and ultimately, what you write is the story you should write. What this means is a willingness to learn and take advice, but also to maintain your voice. During the submission process, listen to advice that seems good, but don’t change everything about your work just to please one agent or editor who’s passed on your work. Better, keep trying with YOUR best effort and see which editors and agents value your talent. Work with that team to present your greatest work to the reading public.

Your turn:

Have too many critiques ever caused you to lose your voice?

Do you work with a critique group? Why or why not?

Where is the best place to find a critique group?


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A Day in an Editor’s Brain

How’s that for a terrifying blog title? Okay, so we won’t spend a whole day there. But as I pondered how to give you a glimpse into what freelance editors do, it occurred to me that the easiest, and best, method would be to just let you live in this …

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What an Editor Does: Peeling Back the Layers

Okay, as we launch into the next few weeks of looking at what editors do, here are a few basics to remember: 1. We are, for the purposes of this blog, talking about Freelance Editors. Not show who work at publishing houses. 2. Editors are, in essence, coaches. They won’t …

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Be Careful with Your Facts

In light of my last post on taking care of details, I thought my readers would be interested in seeing some oddities and errors I found – in the past week! An Irish Soda bread recipe in a local circular called for: 3 cups flower Hmmm. Roses? Daffodils? Tulips? What …

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The Worst Proofreading Error of All-Time

Take a close look at the picture above. Read it out loud. The word “not” is missing. As in “Thou shalt ___ commit adultery.” It is from an edition of the Bible published in 1631, now affectionately known as “The Sinners Bible” or “The Wicked Bible.”  Adulterers of the realm …

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Proofreading: Tips and Tricks

Since I have regularly displayed my lack of proofreading skills in past blog posts I thought it might be appropriate to look at some ways we can effectively proof our work. At every conference I’ve ever attended there is at least one person’s proposal, pitch page, or sample chapter that …

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What An Editor Does–Phase 2

Next week, I promise, we’ll jump into the nuts and bolts of editing. But today I want to talk about what editors don’t do. Why do I bring these things up? Because I’ve encountered each and every one of them as a freelance editor. I’ve had clients say, “While you’re …

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What An Editor Does –Phase 1

As we saw from the comments last week, editors have many tasks. As do copyeditors and proofreaders, but for the next few blogs we’re focusing on editors. I’ve been an editor for over 35 years, both in-house and freelance. And I’ve worked with all categories of books except Children’s books …

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What Does an Editor Do?

When I tell people I’m an editor, I get some interesting comments… “Wow, you must really know how to spell great!” “So, what, you fix commas and stuff?” “An editor, huh? Don’t you get tired of rewriting other people’s stuff?” “Don’t you get tired of reading?” “Wow, so you get …

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Can You Handle the Edit?

There’s a lot about being a freelance editor that’s fun. But some things that just…aren’t. Like telling a writer that his manuscript isn’t ready to be edited. This happens most often before an editor agrees to do an edit, when they read the sample of the manuscript. There are times, …

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