View Full Version : Andy Zack evaluation offer

02-18-2010, 04:06 PM
Okay, so I was reading in the B&BC section today about an offer Andy Zack currently has to give a 1~2 page evaluation of the first 25 pages of your story for charity. Basically, if you donate $100 to the charity (he gets none of this, it's all for cancer research), he'll evaluate it for you.

I've seen quite a few agents auctioning partial critiques, and while I've thought before that I'd be interested in one, they're always more expensive than I can really afford. Now, $100 is a lot of money, but I could probably manage it. I'm just trying to figure out if it's worth it or not.

I had about eight beta readers from here look at my first chapter, and three people I know in real life have read the whole thing. The people who have read it all basically rave about it, though I have heard that it's one of those starts out good then gets better and better things. I know they mean this as a good thing, but my concern is always, "Oh man but that means the first chapter isn't as good as the latter ones." I had one guy say specifically that if anyone read through the first two chapters, I'd have them in the palm of my hand. Thing is, who would bother reading the first two when they expect abject brilliance and my abject brilliance shows up later on?

The beta readers here gave me good advice on my first chapter and either really liked it or had a plot issue--which I fixed as much as possible, but I think comes down to just either you'll like that sorta thing or you won't.

I guess what I'm trying to figure out is if it would be worth my money to see what a professional thinks, or if I've probably gotten basically the best advice I'm going to. I'm probably questioning myself a bit more than normal because I haven't gotten a new request recently, so now I'm wondering if it's that the story sucks, that it's too long and no one's even considering it because of that (CRY), or if it's that the first chapter just isn't any good. If it's the latter, I could at least maybe get some advice to help me make it not suck as much.

I'm kinda at a loss and wondering what the other people here would advise. Do you think it's worth it?

02-18-2010, 04:11 PM
If you think your book is at the point where you want to begin sending it out, then $100 might very well be money well-spent and could save you some time down the road. Plus, you would be donating to a good cause.

02-18-2010, 04:33 PM
Well, I've been sending it out and gotten a few positive responses (well, three) so far. As it is right now, I've gotten it as good as I'm capable on my own. It is a good cause, though I've been donating to the Haiti situation lately and if I don't send it here would use at least some of that to do that again.

the addster
02-18-2010, 06:41 PM
If it's in a genre Mr. Zack knows well (I know nothing about him) it might well be worth your time, if only to make you feel more confident. As hard as you have worked this thing, I have a feeling you don't need the evaluation as much as the peace of mind.

But if it saves you money that might be spent on antacid, liquor, ice cream, or whatever your poison is, it might be a deal.

02-18-2010, 06:46 PM
Well, I've been sending it out and gotten a few positive responses (well, three) so far.You could wait and see. Positive responses are positive, and $100 is $100. Are you talking partials? fulls? No manuscript is ever going to be perfect, and you want the book to pick up steam and go-go-go as the pages progress. You can't start out in a dead run. You've got to make the introductions first. Even if you do start with action or start "in the middle," the reader needs certain info before the full-steam ahead.

Or send it to me. I'll give you my professional opinion for free. ;)

02-18-2010, 07:03 PM
PMed you, kaitie.

02-18-2010, 08:19 PM
Be aware that an evaluation is very different from a critique. Be sure you understand what you will (and won't) receive.

02-19-2010, 12:28 AM
You know, I can't speak for Mr. Zack, but if it were me doing this under these circumstances, I'd be tempted to be very flattering. After all, people who give $100 to charity are nice.

Momento Mori
02-19-2010, 09:56 PM
You know, given the way that Andy Zack has acted on the thread in Bewares and Background Check, I wouldn't care if he represented NYT bestselling authors in the genre and his words were a sure-fired way of improving my manuscript.

He acted like a complete twunt towards one poor so-and-so who made an innocent mistake about the evaluation service and who apologised for it repeatedly (going so far as to make a further donation to the charity in question). The lack of grace and moral fibre and general dickitude he demonstrated would give me neither cause nor reason to solicit his opinion on any matter.

But hey, it's your decision ... :)


02-20-2010, 08:53 AM
Be aware that an evaluation is very different from a critique. Be sure you understand what you will (and won't) receive.

Is that actually a standard difference between the words? I'd have taken evaluation to mean a critique too.

(And if anyone hasn't checked the B&B thread, it's made very clear it's not a critique... it's what you might get if an agent rejected your partial with a brief personal rejection).

02-20-2010, 08:39 PM
Yeah, that's the standard distinction. Another lovely subtlety of this minefield of a business; like multiple v. simultaneous submissions, or outline v. synopsis.

02-21-2010, 07:08 AM
Well, I've officially decided not to do this for reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with anything listed here. I'm sure some of you will get why. Anyway, thanks for the tips, guys, and I've got someone on here who's going to look at it for me.

Dorian W. Gray
02-21-2010, 07:49 PM
Go for it!

I wish I had that many beta readers that I can fully trust - trust go give me their utmost honest critique. Oh wait, this isn't about me. Okay...

You lucky son of gun! I say, you should go for it. Perhaps, if he likes your book it may lead to something more down the line.

Plus, just because they say first 25 pages, it doesn't mean it has to be your literal first 25 pages. Do you have your favorite chapters? Is there a way for you to edit them in a way that they could stand alone enough to be the first 25 pages? Just something to think about.

I recently finished my MS, most of my chapters can stand alone enough to be moved around, so I have been able to switch the order of my chapters a few times for a better and a different read, as long as I can maintain the chronology of my storyline.

Good luck, it sounds like you are on your way!


p.s. I have been a member of a book clubs for many years. There hasn't been a book, a chapter, a charachter or a sentence that everyone feels the same way about it. There will never be a such a book that everyone will feel the same way about it, this is just a fact jack.

02-21-2010, 09:48 PM
Be aware that an evaluation is very different from a critique. Be sure you understand what you will (and won't) receive.

Sigh. A golden piece of advice.

OK. Deep breath.

I was starting to feel better about this whole thing -- thanks to the flood of hugs and support I've been receiving, THANK YOU ALL!! -- and then found this thread and felt stupid all over again. I was about to log out again (the turtle goes back to her shell) and then had an epiphany and thought, "Let's make good use of my stupidity."

So I'm out again, this time to share my "lesson learned" moment, a few thoughts on what to do before sending money and/or your material off to somebody.

(1) Check the BBC thread BEFORE sending off your stuff, not AFTER. And make sure you read the WHOLE thread, not just the last few posts.

(2) Like Cao said, make sure you understand what you will be getting and what you won't. If you are not sure, do what Kaitie wisely did: ASK!

(3) As wisely suggested above, make sure your genre is well understood by the person you are sending your material to. Believe me, this will spare you from some huge disappointment.

(4) Beware of ambiguities!! For example, if the same offer is advertised both on an agent's site and on editor's site, what is it that you will be getting? The editor's feedback or the agent's? And maybe there's no real difference between the two, but it's still worth checking.

Having said all of the above, this is what I now understand one should rightfully expect from an evaluation, and I welcome any feedback on this if any of the following expectations are wrong:

I expect the honest and expert opinion of somebody knowledgeable of the field. And yes, it will still be a subjective opinion, but it will have some reasoning into it, something that will make me think that the feedback received is different from that of my mom's or spouse's or friends'. I have had two agents respond in a personal fashion to my partials. Both had pointed to specific points in the text where the flaws were and gave me grounded reasons for why the fixing was needed (for example, "this is something editors look for" or "it makes the pace faster and the book more marketable"). Also, (and this is my personal belief, so please do correct me if you disagree) an honest feedback should not ask for a complete rewrite without: (1) an objective reason for doing so; and/or: (2) an offer to take a second look at the material. One agent once told me of a writer friend of his who spent a WHOLE YEAR doing a re-write requested by an editor, only to learn, twelve months later, that the editor actually liked the book better in its original version.

Finally, I would like to thank Cao and MacAllister. I hope my mistakes haven't caused too much distress on the board.

02-21-2010, 10:03 PM
Before you send anything, particularly cash, an agent's way, find out:

1. Who they rep--is it anyone whose books you know?
2. What they rep--is it like what you write?
3. Have they sold anything lately
4. Can you find a book they sold in the last three years in your local libraries and bookstores?

A no to any of these is a bad sign; especially if there's money involved.

Also ? Acting like an ass on the Internet, repeatedly, and insulting authors, repeatedly, and sneering at other agents, repeatedly, are not indications of a rosy future for said agent.

02-21-2010, 11:47 PM
I don't know if you are looking for other suggestions, but do you ever read Flogging The Quill on first pages? I love seeing all of the responses there.

He'll do a first chapter for $50. I only read his blog. I know nothing ;) But I want to do this when my WIP is done.

Submitting to the Flogometer:
Email your 1st chapter or prologue plus 1st chapter as an attachment (.doc or .rtf preferred, .docx okay) and I'll critique the first page.
Please format with double spacing, 12-point font Times New Roman font, 1-inch margins.
Please include in your email permission to post it on FtQ.
And, optionally, permission to use it as an example in a book if that's okay.
If you’re in a hurry, I’ve done “private floggings,” $50 for a first chapter.
If you rewrite while you wait you turn, it’s okay with me to update the submission.


02-22-2010, 12:19 AM
That is an awesome pointer! Thank you! And you're right, even just reading is very instructive.

Old Hack
02-22-2010, 12:39 AM
An evaluation could read, "this is a great piece of writing!" or, "I don't think this has market potential," or even, "sucky in many and various ways."

A critique could read, ""this is a great piece of writing because you've done this and it works because..." or, "I don't think this has market potential because it's dated / poorly-written / the story isn't believable..." or even, "sucky in these specific many and various ways..."

The difference is in the detail. And it's the detail we all want, isn't it?

02-22-2010, 01:23 AM
Oh... Well, in that case, I truly had NO right of having ANY expectation at all... BUT I was lucky enough to have two agents critique my first chapter for free!! :)

I just had to go through a little roller coaster to find out....

02-22-2010, 09:23 AM
During the submission process, a writer should expect to pay for costs related to printing, copying and postage. Anything else is probably unnecessary.

A query/chapter critique or evaluation is not something anyone needs to spend money on. If you submit a query and sample pages and the agent rejects it, that tells you what you need to know.

You can get a lot of good in-depth feedback from people who know a lot about writing in SYW. And it's free.

02-22-2010, 11:39 AM
I don't know if you are looking for other suggestions, but do you ever read Flogging The Quill on first pages? I love seeing all of the responses there.

He'll do a first chapter for $50. I only read his blog. I know nothing ;) But I want to do this when my WIP is done.


This isn't bad. I might be willing to do that one day. I wonder if he has page limits on how long a first chapter can be, though. It seems a little unfair to only pay fifty bucks if you've got a chapter as long as mine. Anyway, I'm certainly not comfortable having it publicly humiliated, but I'll look into it.

Also read the B&BC thread before you decide if anyone else thinks this is a good idea. It made the decision incredibly easy for me.

02-22-2010, 11:47 AM
I'm going to be delicately, tactfully blunt here, since I'm so very well known for my tact and sensitivety:

Why pay for a response from an agent?

You're not going to get anything more than you'd get if you waited.

The manuscript isn't going to die. It won't get stale or starve, or approach a point of being unreadable. They don't have "Best used by" dates.

Just submit and wait. You can go on and write something else.

Heck, there's going to be more agents next year, anyway.

*Why pay?*

02-22-2010, 11:56 AM
Actually, the reason I considered it was that I was hoping for is something beyond a form rejection to give me some indication where problems might lie. Someone from on here is looking at it for me, though, so hopefully if there are glaring stupidities she'll let me know. I've sent quite a few queries to agents, but the rejections haven't been helpful. My thought was basically maybe I could see what's going through an agent's brain when they reject it because it's so impossible to tell from the standard forms.

02-22-2010, 12:39 PM
My thought was basically maybe I could see what's going through an agent's brain when they reject it because it's so impossible to tell from the standard forms.

You're not going to get much more than the standard forms unless they ask for a full.

All the money does, essentially, is put your ms. on top of the slush pile.

When you read slush--it's a lot like beach combing.

You see lots of fragments, lots of stones, and broken glass, and parts of lovely sand dollars, but, well, they are broken, and yes, that's a mussel over there, but there's an entire shoal full of mussels. No one wants mussels right now. They're full up with mussels.

But then -- oh, hey, look! It's half of a perfect cockle shell!

So you then the beach comber (or agent) writes the person with the cockle shell and ask if they'll send you the other half, and you hope it's as lovely and complete and detailed as the half you've seen . . .

You have to go through mounds of chipped stones, broken glass, and endless mussels though, to get to the cockle shell.

Reading is an awful lot like that.

And the cockle shell is going to be pretty much the same next month as it is today, since it's above the tide line.

So why pay to have it moved?

02-22-2010, 12:47 PM
In this case, I wasn't referring to his expedited service, which I wouldn't bother with for the reason you'd mentioned. The evaluation he offered for charity was something different (though apparently not worth it even if I had chosen to do it) and basically would have guaranteed a 1~2 page evaluation of the work (as he described it...again from what I heard it's less than useful anyway). I would be willing to pay up to an extent for something like that because it wouldn't be the typical form rejection. Being moved higher on the slush is just for the impatient and I'm a very patient person.