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Why We Say No to Critiques

It’s not super common, but it’s common enough. After a query rejection (and sometimes a manuscript) an author will get back in touch to see if we can offer a critique. While I fully understand the sentiment here’s why I will always say no to critiques.

Critiques Take time

Critiques take a ton of time. I know it’s only one page, but even 20 minutes to critique a query is time I don’t have to spare. Time I should be using to craft my own pitches or critique something for a client, or a fellow BookEnds agent.

Free Work Needs to End

There has long been a belief in publishing that agents are expected to give away their work for free. It’s been mostly unheard of that agents get paid for conferences and all the work we put into them. This needs to end.

Time is money and while I love helping authors improve, I don’t have the ability to give up hours and hours of a week to give away free critiques, panels, or pitches.

A career coach doesn’t give away free resume critiques, a lawyer doesn’t give away free legal advice, and a dentist doesn’t give away free check-ups. Agents shouldn’t either.

What I Do

BookEnds provides a ton of learning opportunities to authors (most for free) through our blog and YouTube. In addition, a number of our agents offer workshops and critiques (paid) through writing organizations and Speakeasy.

While I would love to offer more, it’s just not feasible. In addition to busy workdays, I also have busy weekdays and my boundaries are important.

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One comment

  1. There are many professionals out there who critique manuscripts as a job, or as part of a portfolio of services. I think that we in the writing community need to support each other in many ways, and that includes paying for skills people have spent years developing. I am writing my first novel, and I am working with a developmental editor. Their input is making the book richer and deeper.

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