Writing Books/critiques


At a local library, I saw a notice posted on their bulletin board giving out a number to call for any writer interested in really getting their work fixed.

I called the number.  (It turned out to be the poster's home number)  According to her, she's new to this "business" of critiquing writers.  However, before moving to this area, she had critiqued other writers in New York for 25 years.  

I was very excited and I asked her about some of the other books she had written so I can tell all my friends about going to meet an actual writer.   It turned out, she had never published anything.  I asked her about what it was like working for a NY publishing house, sifting through all these agent submissions.  Again, I was mistaken; she had never worked for a publishing house.  Actually she was really new to this sort of arrangement, and I'm the first one to contact her about a critique.  She has no real office.  In fact I was the one who coordinated with her about meeting at the library foyer, mainly because she didn't have a better idea in mind right then.

Oh, and yes, she plans on charging me a $1 a page to read it, but after learning that screenplays are not as "dense" per page as novel prose, she might give me a discount.  

I plan on meeting her this weekend but needless to say, I am having second thoughts.

I'm not concerned that she plans on running away with my script and my money.  Maybe I'm naive but I really do believe she will take the time to read my work and give me feedback.

I also have no problems with paying people read my stuff if they really do take the time to be constructively critical with me.  However $1 a page or even half that does add up in the end.  Plus, I don't know if it's worth it hearing someone tell me, "This stuff is okay, needs some work, don't give up."  I can listen to that for free from my neighbors.  

The idea of having a "one-to-one" arrangement is the fact that the critic will be focused on my work and her criticism will be in depth.  I would like to ask, isn't there a better and less expensive way, even on-line, where I can get this kind of literary assistance?  I thank you for your help.  

You're probably wise to be hesitant.  If you're going to have someone critique your work, that someone should have substantial experience.  It seems to me, however, that you may be planning to pay someone for a service that might be had for nothing.

I'm not familiar with the market for screenplays.  Having said that, however, my experience is that prospective publishers have editors look at book proposals (including writing samples) at no cost to authors.  Presumably, those who might buy screenplays do the same.

I'd suggest you check with the library you mention and request a copy of Writers' Digest's annual Marketplace edition, which lists organizations that purchase manuscripts of all kinds.  Then, contact those organizations and ask for their prospectus specifications.  Book publishers usually want a chapter outline, a few sample chapters and a market analysis (anticipated sales estimate).  Screenplay purchasers may want the entire script.

The Digest annual also lists agents who will not only read your work for nothing but help you sell it on a commission basis.  Finding a good agent is no easy task.  Some of them charge for reading authors' work.  Others don't.  But you should proceed with caution in any event.  Check references and make certain you're not throwing away money.

Good luck.  

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E.W. Brody


How to get published. I`ve written eight books, edited a ninth, and have published more articles in business and professional journals than I care to remember. I`m in process of working with an agent at the moment on several non-academic books


Three university degrees, eight published books, more periodical and newspaper articles than I can remember. And I've two more books in development.

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