Novel/Story Evaluations and Manuscript Editing

Qualifications | Pricing | Summary Evaluations | Full Edits | Turnaround | Contact Me

12/7/2020 Note: For the time being, I am not taking any new editing clients except through Patreon.

I offer professional evaluations and developmental editing of short stories, novellas and novels. I can evaluate:

  • Complete or partial manuscripts
  • Outlines or novel synopses
  • Speculative fiction: writing that falls somewhere in the realm of science fiction, fantasy, or horror
  • Other genre fiction such as mysteries or plot-driven mainstream fiction
  • Paranormal fiction (but keep in mind that I am not a romance reader)

Why should you seek an edit or evaluation from me?

I have considerable experience in providing constructive feedback to fiction writers. I’m a:

I’m an experienced author, with over thirty books to my name. By now, I should know what I’m doing. But Lucy’s incisive questions about my latest book gave me the boost I needed to make the story better, tighter, and more gripping. Her positive, thoughtful feedback elevated my usual solid storytelling into my best-selling novel.
Michael Warren Lucas, author of git commit murder

My job at Seton Hill was to help MFA students turn their works-in-progress into market-ready novels. I know what helps grab the attention of a weary slush reader.

Lucy offers some of the most valuable, detailed feedback I’ve ever received in my writing career. I’ve had many writing teachers over the years, but Lucy was able to identify my weakness and show me what I needed to do to reach that next level. Ever since her mentorship, I’ve had several short fiction sales to markets I’ve been trying to crack for years, and I finally earned my Active SFWA membership!
Chris Phillips, Managing Editor at Flash Fiction Online

So far, I’ve sold over 100 short stories, over 50 poems, and I’ve made seven professional novel sales. My work has won the Bram Stoker Award five times and has been selected for the LOCUS Recommended Reading List.

“When it came time to obtain a critique of my novel manuscript, I didn’t hesitate to contact Lucy A. Snyder. I knew that as a veteran writer with a no-nonsense approach to her craft, she would not only spot grammatical mistakes and structural problems, but she’d also have an eye for voice, scene flow, and even the pitfalls facing my novel’s potential commercial success. In short, I went to Ms. Snyder because I wanted the whole package of editor/mentor/professional. She turned my manuscript around in a timely fashion. Her analysis was clear and concise, and she provided me with the feedback I needed to craft what I feel is my strongest novel to date.”
Lucien Soulban, Lead Writer at Ubisoft Montreal

How much do developmental edits or evaluations cost? What do you get for your money?

For full developmental editing, I charge $15.00 per 1,000 words. An edit of a 5000-word short story or novel excerpt would cost $75.00. A full edit of an 80,000-word novel would be $1200. I generally prefer to receive payment through PayPal, but I can take a check or money order by arrangement. Physical mailing costs are extra if we don’t work with electronic files.

As noted above, I am happy to edit partial/unfinished manuscripts. For instance, you might submit your first three chapters and your synopsis before you write the rest of your novel so that I can help you identify and fix potential problems early on.

I will evaluate the content and craft of your story, chapter, or novel with an eye to making it market-ready. I will make suggestions for improvements, and may in some cases present you with alternatives. I will also flag grammatical errors, misspellings, and language problems as I spot them. (That said: I am not a copyeditor, and I cannot promise to catch every typo or missed comma.) 

For summary evaluations, I charge $3.50 per 1,000 words with a $25 minimum. I will read your manuscript and provide an evaluation that includes information about your work’s strengths and areas for improvement. I will also provide limited line edits. If you’ve finished a novel and are asking yourself, “Is this a viable manuscript?” but aren’t ready to invest in a full edit, this would be a good choice. My summary evaluation of an 80,000-word manuscript would be $280.

I will apply your fee for a summary evaluation as a credit towards the cost of a full developmental edit if you decide within 60 days that you want one.

“Lucy has a keen ability to spot even the vaguest of continuity errors, keeping her eye on the big picture through small details. She has a good grasp of story flow, consistency of character voice, imagery, and setting, so you won’t get a simple scan for typos and grammatical errors with this critique. The best part is she makes valid and workable suggestions rather than simply pointing out bumps in the road. Highly recommended if you’re looking for a second pair of eyes after that final draft.”
Adrienne Jones

I prefer to work with Word .docs because I can use Track Changes to make editorial comments directly in the file; if you prefer to send a hard-copy manuscript, I can make edits directly on the pages. You will be responsible for paying for the return postage.

In addition to the file comments, I will send you a page (or more) of overall commentary on your work that covers the strengths and weaknesses of your manuscript and my suggestions for improvements. (This applies to full edits; those receiving summary evaluations will receive less detailed commentary). The length of my commentary will be proportional to the length of your manuscript. I may also suggest books and other resources that I think will help you.

I will evaluate:

  • Manuscript Basics: Your formatting, punctuation, grammar competency, spelling, etc. In short, all the nit-picky bits you need to take care of before you send your manuscript out.
  • The Story Premise: Is the idea/concept of your story original, compelling and marketable? If not, how can it be improved?
  • Plot: Is your work strongly plotted? Are there some holes you might need to fill?
  • Pacing: Does your story move along at a good pace, or is it dragging (or leaving your readers behind)?
  • Point of View: Are you telling your story through the eyes of the right character(s)? Is your POV consistent?
  • Characterization: Are your characters well-rounded, sympathetic, compelling, and believable?
  • Dialog: Is your dialog interesting? Does it help build characterization and move the story along?
  • Style: Is your writing style effective? Is it exciting to the reader?
  • World Building and Setting: Is your setting described in appropriate detail? Is the world you’ve created for your characters vivid, interesting, and believable?
  • Beginnings, Middles, and Endings: The opening of your story or novel is crucial in getting the attention of an agent, editor, or reader. Middles can get muddled and saggy. The ending is crucial in providing a satisfying reading experience. If you know you’re having particular trouble in one of these areas — for instance, you’ve got an opening, and you know how your novel will end, but you are having a hard time getting there — I can help.

My evaluation of your manuscript will be subjective, of course, but I promise you I will give my honest assessment of your work. It will ultimately be up to you to act on my suggestions for revision, and I cannot promise you that you will sell your revised manuscript to any particular market. There are too many variables for me or any other editor to make such a promise.

However, you should certainly learn things about your work that will enable you to improve your future manuscripts and not just the story or novel on the table. My overall goal is to help you grow as a writer, and I will provide you with the same kind of feedback and suggestions I gave my MFA students.

Lucy A. Snyder is a great resource for writing critiques. I am already seeing huge results by getting into workshops and writing some of the best short stories of my career after a few months of her help. I can’t recommend her highly enough.
– Jordan Kurella

How long will it take to edit or evaluate a story or novel?

My turnaround time depends on the length and quality of your manuscript and on my workload. I will give you an estimate once I have accepted your manuscript for evaluation.

In general, though, if my schedule is otherwise clear I can evaluate a short story or a couple of chapters within a week.

Lucy A. Snyder has consistently provided me with exactly the kind of critical feedback I have been seeking for many years. She does a wonderful job pinpointing what works and doesn’t work, and provides good suggestions on how to move forward. I would recommend her services highly.
– A.E. Siraki

How do we get started?

A good way to get regular manuscript evaluations from me is to support my Patreon! Through my Patreon, you can also get my writing advice articles and join in chats with writing industry professionals.

If you’re not in a position to do so, or if your project is bigger than the Patreon levels support, please fill out the form below and we can get started.

Please briefly introduce yourself and your work. Tell me if you’ve been published before and give me the word count of your manuscript and whether or not you have special concerns (for instance, you’re seeking a quick turnaround so you can submit your manuscript to a contest, or you are particularly worried about your dialog, etc.)

I will respond to your query within 7 days to let you know if you should send your manuscript along or not. Please do not send a manuscript until I’ve asked for it.

If upon receipt of your manuscript I feel that I cannot adequately assist you, I will let you know promptly. If you don’t hear from me within 7 days, please email me again – at that point it’s likely your initial message was spam trapped or otherwise didn’t reach me.

Once I have received your manuscript and have confirmed that I can provide an evaluation for it, we will arrange for payment. Once payment has cleared, I’ll begin work.

Once I have delivered your evaluation, if you have any questions, I can provide one follow-up email to clarify any points.


After My Edit

If you are planning to self-publish your work, I highly recommend that you seek the assistance of a qualified copyeditor after you’ve received a developmental edit from me.

Why? Copyeditors are the folks who put the fine polish on your manuscript to make it ready for publication. In addition to fixing nuts-and-bolts stuff like grammar problems and typos — which are issues I flag, too, but it never hurts to get a second pair of eyes on a manuscript — they make sure that your document is using consistent punctuation, non-text characters, fonts, and styles. That document-level formatting cleanup is hugely important in ensuring that a paper book looks professionally laid out and that an ebook renders the way you want it to.

Copyeditors I personally recommend include Amanda Lodden, Janet Harriett, and Richard Shealy.