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View Full Version : Paid Manuscript Critiques at Conferences



kposa
03-09-2010, 03:15 AM
I'll be attending a regional conference at which there will be paid manuscript critiques. These will be made by either an editor, agent or author, but there will be no guarantee of which.

I'm wondering if someone here can share his/her experiences with critiques like this. Do you think it's worth the price/time? Did you get the critique that you expected?

shaldna
03-09-2010, 01:08 PM
Honestly, I don't see how a paid critique is going to benefit you, unless that agent/editor is also going to consider the work for submission.

Danthia
03-09-2010, 05:28 PM
It can vary so wildly you really have to decide that on a case by case basis. If you'd value the feedback from the possible critiques, and the price isn't a lot and within your budget, then go ahead and get the crit. You might get some good advice. But don't spend more than you can afford if it turns out to be a bust. And if you think it might shatter your confidence if they say negative things, skip it. You don't need that kind of stress. And don't expect one crit to suddenly change your writing and make you publishable. (Some folks can put too high an expectation on a single crit from a big name)

I have friends who have done this and been both happy and disappointed, so it really depends on who does the critiquing.

Sometimes you just need to hear what a "pro" has to say about your work, and a crit can be helpful there. It could be beneficial, but it could also be confidence shattering. You just need to trust your instincts and do what you feel would give you the most value or benefit. You don't have to do it to improve, but it could be one more avenue to explore.

jana13k
03-09-2010, 05:48 PM
I agree with Danthia - if you're ready for the critique and the price is reasonable and affordable, then do it, especially if you have no other avenue for receiving professional advice. My local RWA chapter provides critiques for Golden Heart submissions for (I think) $10 or $15) and a critique of a chapter for (I think) $3. The critiques are done by a published member of that genre.

I can only speak for myself and say I no longer do them because I spent way too much time giving advice that I didn't really have to spend. When I critique, I don't only point out what's wrong, I give examples on how to fix it and recommended reading. I also point out what you did RIGHT, which a lot of people critiquing tend to forget.

Anyway, it's nothing for me to spend 2-4 hours on a single chapter in order to give good advice, so it may be that you luck out and get someone as diligent (or anal-retentive) as me. LOL

ChristineR
03-09-2010, 09:10 PM
1. Other people will do it for free.

2. If you don't get to pick who does your critique, it's just one person's opinion.

That said, if the price is reasonable and the conference legit, you really are getting a fair service for a fair price. Once you actually get to the conference, you may have some chance to influence who actually looks at your manuscript as well. So if you're going to the conference anyhow, and the price is not going to break your budget, it's worth looking into.

JamieFord
03-09-2010, 09:18 PM
It feels sooooo wrong. But it's probably worth it (as long as they're not charging a ton).

Jamesaritchie
03-09-2010, 09:45 PM
It's it's a top agent, a top acqusition editor, or a well-known writer in your genre, and if the price doesn't harm you, go for it.

In a sense, writers do this often. Many conferences include reading/critique in the fee. This one is just more out in the open.

kposa
03-09-2010, 10:21 PM
The conference is legit and genre-specific. I have no idea what's a reasonable price for crits like this, though. Got to think some more. Thanks for the input, everyone!

Phaeal
03-09-2010, 10:54 PM
How much are they asking?

Julie Worth
03-09-2010, 11:15 PM
The whole point in having an agent or editor critiquing your work is to place it. So, if you do this, don't give them anything that needs work, give them perfection. And if it's an author doing the critique, same thing. An author recommendation will often make all the difference with an agent.

Jamesaritchie
03-09-2010, 11:17 PM
The conference is legit and genre-specific. I have no idea what's a reasonable price for crits like this, though. Got to think some more. Thanks for the input, everyone!

A reasonable price is any price you don't mind paying. If you miss the money, it's an unreasonable price.

It's sort of like gambling. Never bet the bill money, but there's nothing wrong with betting the entertainment budget.

DeleyanLee
03-09-2010, 11:22 PM
2. If you don't get to pick who does your critique, it's just one person's opinion.

Even when you can pick, it's still only one person's opinion.

What makes a difference is how much your value that opinion.

ajkjd01
03-09-2010, 11:23 PM
Here's the thing...let's say you haven't published anything, you've only had critique from other unpublished members of your critique group, and you're not sure if you're ready to submit?

I'm not sure I'd spend more than $50 for this...but it BETTER be a significant length critique (i.e., 50 pages, in-depth, etc. for me to feel like I got my money's worth).

This may be an inexpensive way for you to get a better gauge from a more professional eye as to how you're doing as a writer, even if you don't place it yet, and way cheaper than paying a professional editor (which is a whole other conversation). It may also tell you whether you're getting good, constructive, and worthwhile feedback from the people who are currently critiqueing you (if any). It's a nice gauge, at not too steep a price, to figure out where you currently stand, and what some of the professionals seem to think of your prose.

Suffice it to say, set a price limit on what you're willing to pay for it, if you think it would benefit you as a writer, or in submissions or both. Don't expect that a critique will garner you a request for pages, although that's a nice bonus if it happens. It may be enough for them to remember you when the project's complete, or just another networking contact familiar with your work.

I've been to several conferences where I paid the few bucks extra for the critique, and ended up not only with in-depth comments, but also new friends and mentors. That's a pretty good result, too.

jana13k
03-10-2010, 12:25 AM
Consider that many aspiring romance writers pay $25-$35 dollars to enter a chapter in a contest in order to get feedback. That should be somewhat of a gauge on price.

dgiharris
03-10-2010, 12:36 PM
Wrote this long drawn out reply about how I don't think this is a good idea.

However, if the critique is BRUTALLY HONEST then I think it's not a bad idea.

If the critique is just one of those 'lets milk aspiring writers' scams that are prevalent out there, then it is a bad idea.

I'd try to find someone who did this last year and get their take on it.

Mel...

Julie Worth
03-10-2010, 04:41 PM
I'd try to find someone who did this last year and get their take on it.



Hey, I did it last year and the author liked my chapters and recommended an agent. That, of course, is what you should be secretly shooting for: a referral or MS request, not a critique. And it's a way of putting a face to your writing (assuming you get a sit down with the critiquer). This can be extraordinary helpful later on, so don't give them shit to read.

ajkjd01
03-10-2010, 05:52 PM
I will say that I was fairly disappointed by one of these critiques from a published author at a conference. She took a look at one of my 5000 work short stories and pronounced it ready to publish, giving me ideas (not referrals, but direction, which is still nice) on where to submit.

Twenty rejections later, including to the suggested markets, I still have no idea where or how this story has gone wrong.

On the flip side, at the same conference, I got specific critique and ideas from another published author, who gave me lots of encouragement and feedback on the first chapter of my current novel project. We had a lot of discussion, that even continued over the rest of the conference about my plot, ideas, career advice, and we've stayed in touch since then, with her continuing to offer me the same even after the conference was over. She's given me submission advice, again, suggestions on where to submit, and further encouragement. That's gold for me right now.

RickN
03-10-2010, 07:31 PM
I did this with one book and got a very specific, helpful critique. $35 got me a critique of 50 pages with 20 minutes face time with the agent. I thought it was very useful and I'd do it again.

Jamesaritchie
03-10-2010, 10:26 PM
I will say that I was fairly disappointed by one of these critiques from a published author at a conference. She took a look at one of my 5000 work short stories and pronounced it ready to publish, giving me ideas (not referrals, but direction, which is still nice) on where to submit.

Twenty rejections later, including to the suggested markets, I still have no idea where or how this story has gone wrong.

.


The only person in the world who can tell you a short story, or a novel, is publishable is the editor who actually buys it.

On the other hand, twenty rejections does not automatically mean the story is wrong. I've had stories rejected right around twenty times, and still sell for $1,000 or more, once I finally found the right market.

At other times, I've had stories that I knew were good, but simply didn't fit anywhere, and pretty much every rejection the story received stated this in one way or another.

So I found a high-paying magazine, added a new first and last paragraph that tied the story to the theme of that particular magazine, which was hunting and fishing, and that story, too, sold for a thousand dollars, even though it had already been rejected by umpteen magazines, some of which paid nothing.

KathleenD
03-11-2010, 02:09 AM
I wouldn't pay at a conference.

I can see a situation where I might pay an editor, although I have not yet been in that situation. But in that situation, I would want an in-depth critique with suggestions, and if that's going to be worth anything, it'll cost more than fifty bucks.

I would under no circumstances pay an agent - I would submit to an agent with a query and pages. If they take me on, I'm interested in their critique, but not before. I'd rather get an agent's critique when it's motivated by self-interest - that is, the prospect of 15% of a sale.

ajkjd01
03-11-2010, 08:55 PM
Oh, the story's still out on submission. Don't worry, I haven't given up on it yet. My point was that I was disappointed that I spent the money because it didn't help me, or the story at all. I understand that opinions vary...I'm still hoping to sell it; it's just a hard to classify short story, and that may well be the problem.

I was using it as an example, to show that it is sometimes worth the $30, and sometimes not...whether it's an editor or author or whatever.