I’m still waiting for the day I meet a successful writer who never revises. Honestly, I’ll be surprised if I ever do. The reality is this: the finished books that amaze us or that leave us sobbing as we turn the last page are the result of many, many, many revisions. But for a lot of aspiring authors, revision is a mystery. They know their story could use more work, but they don’t know where to begin. Or how.
With more than a dozen years of experience in the world of children’s books—as a librarian, a book reviewer, a graduate of an MFA program, and the author of four published novels—I know when something isn’t working in a project. But I also know when something is. And how to help a writer toward the best version of their story by raising questions that will deepen their understanding of their characters, by pointing them toward craft books for further study, by suggesting the right mentor texts for the problems they’re tackling, and so much more.
My critiques are ideal for the writer looking to take their manuscript to the next level, the writer who is eager to revise yet yearning for a sense of direction. I will critique both middle grade and young adult (contemporary, historical, or similar—no hard sci-fi or fantasy, please), though my specialty is realistic middle grade fiction.
“That’s the magic of revisions – every cut is necessary, and every cut hurts, but something new always grows.” ― Kelly Barnhill
What does a manuscript critique include?
- A letter (5+ pages long), which will assess strengths and weaknesses regarding the “big picture” aspects of the manuscript: character, plot, pacing, tension, setting, etc.
- Comments and tracked changes in a Microsoft Word document, asking questions, providing suggestions, etc. at a line by line, page by page, and scene by scene level
- Supplemental materials as needed (writing exercises, a list of suggested reading, etc.)
- A follow-up email or phone call responding to client’s questions
“Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now.” —Annie Dillard
“Jenn is a close and nuanced reader, and her editing skills take into account a variety of factors, among them voice, pace, the emotional landscape of a piece of fiction, and continuity. It’s hard to find an editor that goes beyond a surface copyedit, but Jenn digs into the inner life of a manuscript and helps find the line that makes for moving, gripping fiction.” – Robin Kirk
“I had the pleasure of participating in two workshops with Jenn while attending Vermont College. Her analysis of my manuscript was detailed and insightful. Jenn’s experience as a former librarian, her extensive knowledge of children’s literature, and her own skill as a writer is clearly evident in her feedback.” – Anne Bowen
“I highly recommend a Jenn Bishop critique! Not only did Jenn send me a detailed edit letter, divided in sections such as Characters, Story Logic, Adding Dimension/Tension, but she added helpful comments throughout my entire 200 page manuscript. Her critique, beginning with what she loved about my manuscript, included concrete ways in which I can dig deeper with character development and dialogue and clarify the passage of time in my story. Thanks to Jenn’s thoughtful reading and encouragement, I now have the tools to make my manuscript stand out in the crowded middle grade market.” – Stefanie Wass, Pitch Wars alum
- MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts
- BA in English from University of Chicago
- Reviewed middle grade and young adult fiction for Booklist and School Library Journal
- Former teen and children’s librarian
- Avid reader (averaging 200 books a year, not counting picture books)
- Member of the ALA Best Fiction for Young Adults committee (500+ YA novels read and evaluated over a 2-year term)
- Author of four books for young readers published by Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster: The Distance to Home, 14 Hollow Road, Things You Can’t Say, and Where We Used to Roam. Their honors include: Junior Library Guild Selection, Bank Street College Best Book, Amazon.com Book of the Month, Iowa Children’s Choice Finalist, South Carolina Junior Book Award Nominee, and Parent’s Choice Gold Award
Rates & Availability
I charge $0.01 per word (i.e. 50k word novel = $500) and accept payment through PayPal. Manuscripts should be a double-spaced Word document with pages numbered.
For $50, I can look at the first ten pages of a manuscript and provide line-edit level comments and a brief letter.
I am currently scheduling manuscript critiques for summer and fall 2021. Please get in touch by emailing me (firstname.lastname@example.org) with any questions.