1. an author’s text that has not yet been published

Late 16th cent.: from medieval Latin manuscriptus, from manu ‘by hand’ + scriptus ‘written’


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When I look at your manuscript, I will become a kind of very informed reader. I will comment on both big picture and fine detail aspects of your writing. And if there are changes that need to be made, I will show you how to begin revising. Given the genre that you are working in, I may comment on various aspects of fictional and poetic craft. After my close reading, I will give you a careful analysis of its strengths, so that you will know your creative process and style better.

And something more. I’ll be able to tell you, from an editor’s point of view, where the story (true or fictional) or poem(s) “stop(s)” me. What does that mean? As an editor, a manuscript stops me at a place where the writing has broken down for one reason or another. It means the place where I stop reading it and place it literally or virtually in my rejection box. It’s seldom that you, as the writer of a manuscript, can find these breakdowns on your own:  You’re just too close to them.  Even the most established and professional writers send off their manuscripts to readers for feedback (and then fix them up) before they publish them. Ask Stephen King or Elizabeth George!

I also do full-length critiques for poetry manuscripts, going so far as to help you organize the order of the poems to create an impact and find a title most likely to catch an editor’s eye.

Any manuscript that comes my way which is in a high state of readiness, will actually receive what is sometimes called “book-doctor” services. In this sort of critique, I will be looking for ways to give your “book” a professional finish:  book title, chapter titles, chapter sequencing, or the possible addition of maps, chronologies, dramatis personae, or epigraphs. I will also give you my opinion on graphics or photos you plan to include. We can then discuss what your next step in finding a publisher should be.

If you opt for a manuscript critique with me, you receive more than a general report, a few written paragraphs that can often leave you in the dark. My service includes an in-person or by-phone consult to discuss my feedback and allow you to ask questions. I will highlight examples of the issues in your manuscript that need attention and we will look at them together. I may also recommend books in your genre to look to as models. You will receive my summary and marginal notes.

How It Works

Email me to set up a free phone consultation about the work you want done. Confirm your email with a phone message at 414-278-8933. We will decide if we are a good fit and I’ll assess whether I can help. If we decide to go further, you’ll send me a hard copy of your manuscript by paper mail, and a list of questions you would especially like me to address. I will estimate my fee based upon the needs of the writing itself.
If the fee is acceptable to you, you will send it up front and I will begin the work. I make a point of not trying to turn these around with great speed. That way, I can return to the work at intervals with fresh eyes. I will need to make several passes through the manuscript and take careful notes.
If your manuscript is an early draft, I may propose that I read only a selection of it rather than the manuscript in full. In that way, you will save money and still be able to use the pages I’ve critiqued to understand patterns which almost certainly will be present in the remainder of the manuscript.
On the other hand, if you’re an experienced writer and the manuscript has already been revised to a high level—or if the central issues you want me to address are such things as overall development of theme, characterization, or plot—of course a full length critique will be in order.


Fees start at $75.00/hour. I accept cash or checks by paper mail.

The Vest Conservatory for Writers
2125 N. Newhall St.
Milwaukee, WI 53202