Manuscript Consultation

Ongoing editorial feedback and development support via notes, phone, or in-person discussion

The Editorial Department’s manuscript consultation service is designed to be highly flexible and easily tailored to accommodate the scope of the feedback you want, your budget, and your preferred method of working. It’s ideal for getting informal feedback and coaching from your editor—or addressing  developmental efforts requiring a lot of back and forth.  Feedback can be provided by phone, e-mail, editorial memo, notes in the manuscript, or any combination that suits your needs. (Even in-person in some cities.)

This service is often offered as a follow-up to a full manuscript critique, when more hands-on help is desired addressing challenges, working on problem areas, or planning your next revision.

Here are just a few of the situations where working via manuscript consultation might make the most sense.

  • For initial book planning and hands-on help getting your book idea off the ground
  • For a preliminary meet-and-greet with an editor you’re considering working with
  • For fast, targeted feedback on new or revised scenes, chapters, or sections
  • For outlining work and revision planning
  • For help planning a book proposal or getting feedback on one you’ve already started
  • For more general high-level evaluative feedback on a complete or in-progress manuscript without the detail and expense of a written manuscript evaluation or annotation
  • For review of screenplay adaptation potential
  • For brainstorming with an editor on a problem you have been grappling with or a radical new direction that has occurred to you
  • For discussions about writing technique and storytelling craft—or targeted discussion about how to improve your plot or strengthen a  character
  • For feedback, guidance, and editing on your query letter, synopsis, promotional copy, or other pitch materials

Consultation is a catchall for just about anything a writer might want from an editor but never knew you could ask for. Now you can.

One of the most frequent uses for consultation is in planning a revision via an outline, a process which is often best served by being in close, ongoing communication with your editor.

This can work a number of different ways, but in most cases you provide the first draft of the outline and send it to your editor, who then comments, suggests, poses questions, and sends it back for revision. The back-and-forth continues until the outline is complete.

Often the first outline draft is bare bones, covering only the major arc of the story and then becoming more detailed with each iteration. An outline is complete when you feel you have enough of the project mapped out in sufficient detail to get back to writing. For some, this can amount to something as simple as a list of the key events arrayed in sequence, while other writers want every chapter broken out into its scenes, including character development as well as plot turns.

With these variables in methodology and preference, there’s no way of knowing in advance how much work the editor will have to put into the process, and so a set fee wouldn’t make much sense. But with consultation you’re billed only for the time your editor spends on the process.

Jonathan Balcombe
Favorite genres include science, nature, history, memoir, social sciences, travel, and narrative nonfiction
Renni Browne
Favorite genres include memoir, southern fiction, mystery/suspense, and character driven literary or mainstream fiction
Marcia Ford
Favorite genres include memoir, multi cultural fiction, literary fiction, thrillers, and thoughtful works on religion and spirituality
Karinya Funsett-Topping
Favorite genres include literary fiction, romance, short stories, essays, and stories involving animals or magic realism
Peter Gelfan
Favorite genres include memoir, literary fiction, mainstream fiction, humor and satire, thrillers, science, and philosophy
Lindsay Guzzardo
Favorite genres include contemporary women's fiction, romance, literary fiction, mainstream fiction, and historical fiction
John Robert Marlow
Favorite genres include thrillers, mystery/suspense, action/adventure, middle grade and YA fiction, science fiction, fantasy, and true crime
Julie Miller
Favorite genres include memoir, literary fiction, thrillers, and books involving ecology, nature, animals, and the environment
Brian Preston
Favorite genres include humor and satire, memoir, travel, and historical fiction and nonfiction
Shannon Roberts
Favorite genres include science fiction, fantasy, middle grade and YA fiction, mystery/suspense, LGBTQ, and social science
Diane Stockwell

Favorite genres include memoir, history, politics, science, true crime, women's fiction, mainstream fiction, and historical fiction

Manuscript consultation costs $.004  (just under 1/2 cent) per word for reading of source material, plus $75 per hour for feedback by whatever method you choose and discussion by phone or email. Time is carefully tracked by the editor, and invoices for accrued time are typically sent twice monthly.

Varies based on length of material to be reviewed.

To request a quote, make a submission, or request more information

Please visit our online welcome center, email us at, or call us at (520) 546-9992.

What happens next?

All inquiries to The Editorial Department will be personally fielded by author services director Ross Browne, who will do the following:

  • confirm receipt of your materials
  • gather any further information needed
  • do a no-cost/no-obligation preliminary review, to get a feel for which editor(s) and service(s) best fit your project’s needs
  • provide a written quote with price and turnaround time for any recommended services
  • answer any questions about recommended options or possible alternatives
  • schedule your project with the assigned editor, if you decide to move forward
  • explain and finalize the appropriate billing arrangements
  • provide a firm delivery date and keep you updated on our progress, as appropriate
  • deliver your feedback or editing to you once it’s ready
  • arrange for follow up with your editor by phone or email, once you have reviewed your feedback and/or editing
  • advise on next steps, and schedule reviews of new drafts if requested

Privacy & Confidentiality

We have utmost respect for our clients’ privacy concerns and will never sell, share, or disseminate your contact information. We will treat all materials supplied to us as confidential.

Formal nondisclosure agreements are not required but are available on request. More info is available here.

“Don’t ever defer to my judgment…for a writer of any account must speak solely for himself.”

Maxwell Perkins, Editor