1. KipDynamite
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    KipDynamite Member

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    Is a Critique Service Feasible?

    Discussion in 'Self-Publishing' started by KipDynamite, Jan 10, 2016.

    I’m not sure if I’m posting this in the right place or not — it was the closest thing I could find, but I apologize to the mods if I should have put it elsewhere.

    I’ve been dabbling in freelancing for the past year or so. I feel like I’m finally beginning to learn some of the ropes. I’ve got an idea for a critique writing service where people can go to get their manuscripts professionally critiqued. It would be similar to what we do here, and I could develop a rubric for the critiques.

    Do you all think this could work? I mean, do you think people would pay for that? This service would be distinct from an editing service in that I would provide feedback on how to improve the manuscript without actually making heavy changes to the text. I recently obtained a B.A. in professional writing, so I’m used to writing critiques. I don’t yet feel confident doing high-level editing, and I’m curious as to whether you guys think this might be a good stepping stone into that.

    Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. ToDandy
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    ToDandy Contributing Member

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    Lots of people run sites like this to varying levels of success. Part of what makes them successful is building a community, followers, and a good reputation. There many examples that you could find online. Here is one of the many.

    http://ellenbrockediting.com


    You can see how much blogging and free editing she does in order to try and attract new clients. I'm not sure how dependable this career would be for sustainable living, but there are people that do it. You really have to know your stuff about varying story structure, narrative issues, grammar, and the market place.
     
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  3. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    What credentials do you have, other than the B.A.? And what's "professional writing"? I assume it would be business writing? Is that what you'd be offering critiques on, or would you be targeting fiction writers?

    There are a lot of people offering similar services. I personally don't think many of them have the expertise to be worth the money.
     
  4. Krishan
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    Krishan Active Member

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    A good place to test the viability of this idea might be Fiverr.com. It has an active user base, and many sellers there already provide writing-related services.

    I have noticed that fiction writers in particular seem to be quite sceptical of editors or critique services. This is an issue that it might be worth bearing in mind. Building a good reputation could be a difficult task, but would - I'm sure - be worth it.
     
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  5. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you're planning to start any type of service where you charge writers for critquing or editing, I would suggest you have one or more of the following qualifications and be able to prove it:
    • a degree in English
    • experience teaching English at the high school or university level
    • best-selling author
     
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  6. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think it's totally possible to have all three of these qualifications and still not be a good editor/professional-level critiquer. A degree in English is often a degree in literature, four years devoted to appreciating wonderful books. Coming from that to helping someone write a first novel is probably like expecting a race car driver to help build a car. The skills aren't completely unrelated, but I really don't think they're the same.

    And being a high school English teacher is kind of the opposite end of the spectrum - they're probably good at teaching the very, very basic stuff - "A car should have four wheels" - but not much beyond that. (I taught high school English for almost a decade, and I don't think it helped me with creative writing at all). If the university prof was in a creative writing course, s/he might have some useful input, I guess.

    And I think there are some best-selling authors who would be great editors, but others who just don't have the skills, patience, or humility to do it well. (Also, beware of what "best selling" means when you see it on websites. A NYT bestselling author is one thing... an Amazon Category bestseller is something totally different, and often people are pretty vague about which they are).

    I feel a bit churlish criticizing all these ideas about how to find a good editor when I really don't have a substitute list of qualities I'd look for... but I don't! Sorry.
     
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  7. KipDynamite
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    KipDynamite Member

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    BayView, no worries! It's good to have someone playing Devil's Advocate. I actually totally agree with you. People who go through college English programs really do need heavy experience before they're qualified to become editors, and I won't pretend to have that. Though I have been through multiple internship programs, I still feel that I have a long way to go. That's why I'm throwing out this idea of doing some less intensive critiques.

    In response to your earlier question, my professional writing degree covered some pretty wide ground, from technical and scientific writing to online multimedia and fiction. I would probably target fiction writers for this service.
     
  8. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, I take solace in your feeling churlish. :)
    I don't have any better ideas, either. In fact, even listing these feels like I'm bowing to that whole "you must have a piece of paper" thing which I think is the worst imposition they ever put on the job market.
     
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  9. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    There are a lot of ways writers can get critiques for free (this forum, writer's groups, etc.), so you would need to already have a reputation for this sort of thing (lots of editing experience, for example). Also, could you guarantee that your critique would increase their chances of publication? If not, why would someone spend money for this service? Just something to think about.
     
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  10. lettuce head
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    lettuce head Active Member

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    I'm not sure if it could be a viable business on its own. But it would be a great stepping stone toward your eventual goal. For my first manuscript, while in first draft, I sent it to Dounblebridgepublishing.com for critique. I paid $99 for three different people to read and answer about 20 questions about the overall story. In my 17 page report, they included their opinion as to how I might improve. Their suggestions were most helpful. Now this wasn't a paid book review, it was a paid publisher review. Call it a high-level professional beta read. Well worth the price. I checked and Double Bridge took the service off their website, but after emailing them, the publisher said they still offer the service.

    What this service provides for Double Bridge is a way for them to find work they would like to publish. The writer pays for the time spent sorting through manuscripts. In return they receive an honest review of their work. Everyone wins. I would have paid $150 for 3 reviews and still considered it a great value.

    Writers need feedback from people other than other frustrated writers. I think you could charge more for this service and provide a professional critique for the many people who need it. So many of us have trouble finding beta readers and would gladly pay as I did. If any of you inquire about this service with Double Bridge, tell them Mr. Helmers sent you. And no, I make no money from this. And no, they are not my publisher. I'm just a satisfied customer who intends to use them again. KipDynamite, if you get into the business, I'd give you a try.
     
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