Amy L. Boukair

Author of the time-travel romance novel Indigo

 

Chew ‘em Up. Spit ‘em Out. Pass.

Not quite two weeks ago I sent the first 60 pages of Indigo to a critiquing service for a paid manuscript review. I will not be promoting this service by giving out their name here, but if you would like to know who it is, feel free to message me personally. The service was to notify me that:

  1. they received my manuscript;
  2. who it was assigned to for the critique; and
  3. the turnaround time.

I did not receive that information as promised. When I followed up within a week of submission, I was told they don’t give out the name of the person performing the critique “due to other work agreements that they have,” and that the turnaround time was 4-6 weeks. That was last Thursday.

In the interest of full disclosure, and as you may be able to tell from my tone – the review was not good.

I received my critique in less than a week, and the critique itself had spelling errors in it. I’m still shaking my head that a paid editor doesn’t know the difference between desert and dessert. Really? And I paid real money for this?  Also, the anonymity of this so-called editor is still bothering me as well – what were their credentials? How am I sure they even have an interest in the genre I’m writing? How do I know they have any credentials at all?

The service was to include the following:

  • 12-16 pages of detailed notes on premise, plot structure, pacing, characters, dialogue and marketability
  • A graph-based "Emotional Response" chart
  • A rating on the "Pass, Consider, or Recommend" scale
  • A one-page synopsis to use as a "leave behind" when you get that all-important meeting

It was NOT to include this:

  • Rewrite or revise for you, except in the case of providing an example of how to revise on your own.
  • Correct grammar, mechanics, and spelling. (Our *** service does correct grammatical errors, including punctuation, capitalization, verb tense, spelling and sentence structure.) However, the story analyst will point out any patterns of surface-level error that may pose a significant problem for you.
  • Correct for Industry-Standard Formatting. However the story analyst will point out general and repetitive formatting errors throughout the manuscript.
  • Provide any fact-checking.
  • Provide answers or advice on legal issues

What I did receive:

  • Barely 12 pages of notes, 4 of which were lists of minor grammatical errors
  • Instead of a one-page synopsis to "leave behind" when I get that all-important meeting, I got a two page book report giving a blow-by-blow account of each chapter
  • One paragraph on concept
  • One paragraph on pacing
  • Absolutely nothing about marketability

Disappointed? You betcha.

Mind you – they did have some good points in their critique. In my constant changing of PoV and tense, some grammatical mistakes were left in. Okay – mention it and move on – don’t give me four pages listing out each one.

There were a couple questions/suggestions regarding the storyline and characters that were worth my consideration – but not worth what I paid for this crap.

I think the main problem here (and I could be wrong because I’ll never know who the editor is), is that the person who read this was expecting a full-blown science fiction story, when I clearly stated in my submission that it was ROMANCE/sci-fi/fantasy. It’s barely even sci-fi really, as it’s a character driven suspense story, not a science driven story. They even say in the overall notes: “…the romantic tension between our hero and heroine is palpable (and very satisfying for readers).” DUH! That’s the point of a romance novel you twit!

When I first read the critique I was pretty devastated. My writing is crap yet again. The second time through I noticed their grammatical errors, and the apparent haste at which the critique was prepared. As I continue to analyze it, I see that what I’ve written is completely outside of their element and experience. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not completely dismissing their review because it was negative. As I mentioned, there were some good points given, and they’ve been duly noted. I just don’t feel that I received what I paid for. And that is truly disappointing.

With all that being said, my writing may still be crap – but I don’t think the person that got paid to critique my work was necessarily the best to judge that.

Oh, and by the way – here is my ‘graph-based "Emotional Response" chart’:

emotional response chart.png

Not bad for the beginning of a suspense novel I’d say…

Original Publication Date: 7/9/12

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