Critique from literary agencies?

(22 Posts)
DisorderlyNights Wed 08-Aug-12 08:30:55

I've just finished my first novel (middle grade children's fiction) and am considering paying for a critique service before submitting. In fact, I'd quite like to submit to 2 at the same time, to check their advice on improving my ms agrees!
Has anyone used one, or can recommend one of a the services? Feel free to pm me if you'd rather.

Grumpla Wed 08-Aug-12 08:46:57

I know a few people who work for critique agencies (writers / writing teachers looking to make a bit of extra cash usually) and they usually do a pretty thorough job. However I would think that unless your ms is absolute rubbish then two different people critiquing the same manuscript won't necessarily pick out the same areas for improvement! Eg if you had some major flaws in the ms they would both point those out - but if your ms was of a pretty good quality then things would get a lot more subjective.

I think before you shell out the money (and it is pretty expensive!) I'd think carefully about how useful an experience it will be. Obviously the critique will be tactful to an extent but if you've never had your work read / critiqued before it can be a bit upsetting! Have you done any writing workshops etc? Are you generally able to take criticism on board? My reservation would be that paying for an individual critique on a ms is pretty expensive and doesn't really equip you with the tools you need to progress with your work. For the same price (or less) you could enrol in a night class / residential course which whilst you wouldn't get feedback on the whole ms would (hopefully) give you some idea of how to improve your writing in general.

Having said that, if you are just after another pair of eyes / feedback to help you look at your work afresh then go for it. I think that kind of input can be particularly useful if you are feeling a bit "stuck in a rut" with your writing.

DisorderlyNights Wed 08-Aug-12 10:41:48

Thanks Grampla, very helpful.

Earlier drafts have been Pre-read by some friends in publishing, on the basis of which they've encouraged me to enter it for some competitions in the Autumn, and set up some introductions to agents. It's a great leg-up, potentially, but I know I'll only get one shot to impress the agents.

Neither of the friends was able to give me specific writing advice (non fic writer and entertainment lawyer) but know enough, and are rude enough, to have fobbed me off if they thought it crap iyswim.

So what I want is a pair of eyes to
A/ confirm whether they think it could be publishable (or I'll wait and use the contacts for my next ms, which will hopefully be better).
B/ help me get it as good as it can be ready for Autumn.

I was going to start a writing MBA next year when my youngest will start nursery, but now have given myself 2 years to get something published on my own. At the end of those 2 years I'll do an MBA if things have stalled.

Grumpla Wed 08-Aug-12 19:43:31

That sounds great.

I think you can't beat an honest appraisal from your target audience either - do you know any kids the right age who might want to read it for you?

I wouldn't submit it to two agencies simultaneously, but it does sound as though this kind of detailed feedback would be useful (and something you could handle!)

LadySybildeChocolate Wed 08-Aug-12 19:50:32

I did for my first novel and I wish I hadn't. She didn't point out anything that I didn't really know and I pretty much changed the last 2/3 of the book after getting it back. This was a MG fiction (9+ age group).

You need some beta readers who will have a read and pick holes in it, or you need to join a critique group. Non fiction and adult writers don't write for children, so won't necessarily know what to look for. Agents don't always give you feedback as well, which makes it hard.

MysteriousHamster Wed 08-Aug-12 19:57:29

Crit groups can help you with this for free, although you will have to give up some of your own time to do crits in return (however this is normally very helpful for your own writing anyway). Yes, you might get some that aren't great, but if you get a selection hopefully you will find someone who's skill level is similar to your own.

I've used CritiqueCircle.com before, which I found quite good. I used it for posting up a chapter at a time, however.

DisorderlyNights Wed 08-Aug-12 21:31:44

I do have some Pre-readers, including one from TSA Thread where I'm usually hanging out on Mnet lately (along with her daughter), some other friends and their kids, and my oldest two children.

Hopefully their critiques will start to filter back over the next few days. My kids, DH and Mother love it, but that could just be because they love me grin

I will look at the critique circle link, thanks.

Ladysybil - Is the woman you used someone I might come across? I want to avoid her!

LadySybildeChocolate Wed 08-Aug-12 21:52:35

To be fair, she did do a good job but it was expensive, for some reason she charged me more then she now charges (she didn't have a site then). I'll DM you. Ignore what your family and friends say though, they will love it even if it's Twilight quality.

I'm happy to do a crit swap if you'd like? I've had great feedback from strangers, problem is that it doesn't highlight any problems, which worries me.

DisorderlyNights Wed 08-Aug-12 23:22:39

I answered your DM before seeing your suggestion of crit swap, that would be great! I'll send my email addy in a minute.

LadySybildeChocolate Wed 08-Aug-12 23:24:56

smile Brilliant!

ninah Thu 09-Aug-12 11:43:21

grin at twilight quality ladys - very droll!

LadySybildeChocolate Thu 09-Aug-12 12:21:26

Hi ninah. smile How are you?

ninah Thu 09-Aug-12 19:30:08

I'm fine thanks - enjoying the summer holidays! trying to write when kids in bed and mostly managing it
How about you?

LadySybildeChocolate Thu 09-Aug-12 20:02:00

That's good. I'm not bad, thank you. I finally got around to sending half a tree to an agent I've been stalking since Feb. She seems lovely, I just hope she likes my work. We moved house and there's so much space. My mother goes into hospital next week for a new hip, so I'm thinking about her at the moment rather then working. I can't complain though, I feel happy. smile

ninah Thu 09-Aug-12 21:19:24

Ah super news about the move that sounds wonderful! I remember your threads about house stuff. Room for the mss! Do you have a special space to work in? I seem to move round the house, from under the stairs to living room to bedroom .... I really fancy getting a posh shed for a garden 'office' at some point.
Good luck with the agent, too. I know you've put a lot of thought into polishing and refining - very much hope for a positive for you.
Wishing your mum all the best for her op. I can understand how that would be v much on your mind.

LadySybildeChocolate Thu 09-Aug-12 21:26:58

smile The house is huge compared to the old one. I like the living room, it's really cosy and has a lovely wood burning stove but there's a working fireplace in the study. There's a dining room/study as well, where all the books are at the moment. It's a great house, even with the bats in the attic (ironic considering what my first book was about). Little girl next door likes to run across the floor at 7:30am though. The garden is lovely, it has cherry and plum trees. It does need a little TLC though. I hope she likes them, I've been putting off submitting since Feb as I'm really nervous. I'm sure there's errors, I just hope she can see past them and give me some pointers. Mum's been waiting for 2 and a half years for surgery, it's been horrible for her.

How are you? smile

ninah Thu 09-Aug-12 23:34:01

I envy your study! and your plum trees!
sounds lovely and the perfect place to write. Yy it would be great to get some constructive feedback from the agent at least, got everything crossed for you. Submitting is so nerve wracking.
21/2 years! oh my goodness ... it will make a massive difference to her life I'm sure, try and focus on that rather than the actual op, easy to say I know ...
Done my writing stint for tonight, bit gibberish. Have a childfree week coming up so hopefully can prune out some of the gibber when less distracted ...
Start teaching in September. Exciting but scary.

LadySybildeChocolate Fri 10-Aug-12 11:16:51

I've no idea when they are supposed to be harvested, the plums are still green so I assume not yet. There's loads though, so will have to share them out.
It's been so long for her. She was discharged from hospital with a massive infection, she was confused and fell whilst at home. It's been a nightmare for her. I'm really hoping it makes life better for her now.

Oh, best of luck with the teaching. I hope the children are well behaved.

ninah Fri 10-Aug-12 18:54:20

plums about sep I think - you will see and feel when! jam, crumble, ...will keep you busy.
Your poor mum, hope this turns things round for her.
Yes the children will be well behaved! I will make sure of it. Wish I could do the same for my own dc though

LadySybildeChocolate Fri 10-Aug-12 19:27:00

The odd one is purple with mould dots on the outside, the rest are green and firm. confused I haven't made jam before, that would be fun.

I have my fingers crossed. She should be classed as high risk but for some reason they are doing the operation at a small, local hospital which doesn't have an ITU. I'm worried about this. It will be so wonderful to see her on her feet and out of pain.

I bet your DC are little darlings at school. Some save the mischief for when they are home.

ninah Sat 11-Aug-12 11:57:57

Let us know how she gets on. Small and local is, at least, easier to visit and familiar.
Darlings at school? I wish ...they are certainly little so and sos at home

LadySybildeChocolate Sat 11-Aug-12 16:09:17

I will do. smile Fingers crossed that your summer holiday is a little easier. wink

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