Thursday, April 25, 2019

Manuscript Consultation

Hey, guys, I’ve had a couple of people ask “I see that your Manuscript Consultation post was in 2017- Are you still doing that?” So allow me to refresh it and say that yes, I am! And I’ve collected some of the unsolicited praise I’ve gotten:

  • “You, sir, are a freakin’ genius! I can see why my agent spoke so highly of you. Thanks so much for your really constructive remarks. Very insightful. Now that you’ve pointed out some of the problems, they seem so glaring and obvious. Your suggestions are really great, and have me pointed in the right direction. I now see better the book I wanted this to be but somehow lost sight of. Thank you! (Later email from the same author) “I’m happy (and very relieved!) to report that my editor really loved the manuscript. She and I are still currently going through the usual rounds of revision before publication in 2019 but even now I'm often reminded of how your advice helped improve the manuscript.”
  • “Thank you SO much for these fantastic notes. Your edit suggestions have me excited about this book in ways I haven’t been in a long while.” (Later email from the same author) “I just wanted to let you know that this book, under a new title, got picked up by Imprint/Macmillan for publications in winter, 2019. I appreciate your feedback and support a great deal, and will continue to promote your services. It was a huge help.”
  • “Your astute observations and clarity about plot are exactly what I was looking for and am so happy to have! You are the best! Thank you!” (Later email from the same author:) “I went out to new agents, including aspirational agents, ended up with three offers, and signed with my dream super agent. I’m hoping will go out with the book this fall, and I wanted to thank you so much for your really smart notes and affirmation.”
  • “I can read all the craft books I want, but to have someone with skills read and comment on MY work makes the suggestions and techniques really hit home. It will help with future work.” 
  • “As my first time going through this process, I have learned A TON! So, thank you. You've been great to work with and I’m far more equipped to write a great book than I was before.” 
  • “I got an offer of representation two weeks ago. I've really really appreciated your feedback and believe it has and is making this book a lot stronger.” 
  • “Holy shit these notes are amazing!” 
  • “Wow, Matt, this is so much more feedback than I'd expected. I can't thank you enough! Aside from my agent's initial response, yours is the first one that has given me real hope for my novel. You’re the best! My agent thinks you are ‘worth your weight in gold!’” 
  • “Thanks so much for the thoughtful feedback. It's exactly what I was hoping for: a great mix of quick, actionable edits and bigger structural issues for me to work through. I really appreciate the depth of your engagement with the text”

So here’s the deal:

  • You email me your manuscript (novel, screenplay, teleplay, etc.) in script format if it’s a script (pdf or Final Draft), or double-spaced 12 pt text (Microsoft word or rtf) if it’s prose.
  • You include an email telling me what you want to do with it and what sort of notes you’re looking for.
  • I read it and mark it up, usually about one annotation per page.
  • I then write you an in-depth editorial letter, about 4-8 single-spaced pages, with notes for pushing the manuscript in the direction you want it to go.

So what’s the price? $3 per page of your manuscript. So a 60 page TV pilot would be $180, a 120 page screenplay is $360, a 240 page novel manuscript is $720, etc. It’s not cheap, but it’s pretty comprehensive and my customers have mostly let me know that they’ve been eminently satisfied.

NEW: I also do documents under 20 pages, such as treatments, for a minimum of $60. And, by request, I now do phone consultations for $1.50 a minute.

My work has been about 50/50 between writers who have agents and writers who don’t (There are a few agents who sent their writers to me for notes.) It’s been tremendously gratifying to help some people hone their work until it gets them an agent and/or gets published (One author who took my notes got a starred review in PW when his book got published.)

So feel free to contact me at MattMBird@yahoo.com. Hopefully I won’t be too backed up when you get in touch.


T Foster said...

I highly recommend Matt Bird for developmental editing. This was well worth the cost, and if you do this after your second or third draft is completed, he can give you a thorough view of whether your story works or not. He is not very prescriptive, in other words, won’t tell you how to write your story, since it's your story. But he will tell you the parts that don’t work, and he can even explain why.
Although I have read many many craft books and taken many many courses, I still haven’t produced a publishable novel, and part of that reason is that I waited too long to get him to take a look at my work. I have rewritten/revised my 85K word thriller who knows how many times. I wish I would have made this investment way earlier in the process. I’m now working on my last revision and will probably pay him again to take another look since I know that it will be another genuine appraisal.
Finally, be ready for honesty. This is the most valuable, yet the most off-putting aspect of having someone as direct as Mr. Bird evaluate your book. He won’t pull punches, and he won’t sugarcoat. He’ll just be honest. It is what we all need.
I highly recommend.
Good Luck,
Troy Foster, MD

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