But what about using a critique service or freelance editor, as one of your Faithful companions for the journey?
When I was preparing my contest entries, I turned to a critique service for help. I happened to run across a contest special by Tiffany Colter of Writing Career Coach. At that time she was offering a critique for $30. Always a sucker for a great deal, I signed up right away!
Since I'd never paid anyone to critique my work before, I didn't really know what to expect. So when her return email showed up in my inbox, I opened it with excitement, just knowing she would sing glowing praises of my writing and tell me I would do great in the contest.
I clicked open her attachment and began to scroll through her comments. My heart pattered to a stop. She had made 56 comments in 15 pages. And while she affirmed what I was doing right, I realized I was not holding a Pulitzer Prize winning novel in my hands.
It took a couple of hours for my heart to resume its normal speed and for me to pick myself off the ground, stop whining, and get to work making the changes. When I actually began to read through her suggestions, a new excitement took hold of me. I saw the possibilities she did, the places I could improve, the new depths I could achieve.
I highly recommend the torturous experience of a professional edit to everyone. In fact, I just put more of my novel back on the rack so that Tiffany Colter can stretch me and my writing to the limit. (Sorry for that bit of medieval humor.)
The drawback to a critique service is the cost. You may have to pay hundreds of dollars to have an entire manuscript critiqued. But at some point in our writing careers we have to invest before we start making returns. Everyone has to decide what that point is for them, and then where to invest (professional edit, conference, etc.).
Have you ever used a critique service? If so, which one and what was your experience? Who would you recommend?
Rachelle Gardner has a great list of professional freelance editors on her blog. Click here to check them out. I haven't used any of them, but I trust that her list is top notch.
P.S. For those worried about cost of this kind of service, keep in mind the possibility of using author Christina Berry. She would like to start a critique service at some point and is planning to give bottom rates to first clients.