What’s the difference between a Basic Manuscript Critique and an Extensive Manuscript Critique?

A basic manuscript critique typically runs from 4-6 single-spaced pages and is meant to give you a big-picture overview of your manuscript's strengths and weaknesses. Your editor will identify the areas of your manuscript that are most in need of improvement—the main flaws standing between you and a publishable book—and offer suggestions for improvement.

An extensive critique is much longer—typically 6-12 single-spaced pages. This is the sort of editorial letter you’d receive from an editor at one of the “Big Four” publishing houses. Your editor will address, point-by-point, every major area of weakness in the manuscript. Her suggestions for improvement will be comprehensive and detailed. In general, she will go into more depth, provide more examples, and include feedback on a wider range of topics compared to a standard critique. To request a sample of each type of critique, please email

What’s the difference between an Extensive Manuscript Critique and Developmental Editing Type A?

Nothing at all. They are the same service. We have two names for this service because some writers come to us requesting developmental editing without realizing that one form of developmental editing is a long, detailed manuscript critique.

What’s the difference between Developmental Editing Type A and Developmental Editing Type B?

With Developmental Editing Type A, you’ll receive your feedback in the form of a long, detailed manuscript critique. With Type B, you’ll receive comments, questions, and suggestions in the margins of your draft plus an editorial letter summarizing overall strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement. This allows you to see your editor’s reactions to the text in “real time” so that you can track where they were most engaged and least engaged. Type B is more expensive because it takes more time.

I can only afford one round of professional editing. Which should I choose?

If you know for sure you can only afford one round of editing, we recommend sharing your manuscript with as many friends and family members (“beta readers”) as you can before getting in touch with us. Listen to their big-picture feedback and make revisions until you are satisfied that the basic bones of the book are set properly. Then reach out to us for content editing, otherwise known as comprehensive editing. This service includes a thorough line edit as well as overarching feedback on the plot, characters, structure, etc.

Of course, the vast majority of books—even wonderful books written by talented authors—need more than one round of editing before they are ready to hit the shelf at your local bookstore. So if you want to plan for multiple rounds of editing on a budget, we recommend starting with a standard or extensive manuscript critique, revising the manuscript based on that feedback, and then submitting it for a round of line editing.  

I’ve already been through a round of content editing or copyediting. Do I also need proofreading?

If you’re getting ready to self-publish, the answer is yes—absolutely. A manuscript should always go through more than one round of line editing before it hits the press.

If you’re getting ready to submit to literary agents, the answer is maybe.  Talk to the editor who did your first round of line edits and ask them for their opinion. In some cases—especially if your writing was fairly clean to begin with—they may feel the manuscript is in good enough shape to submit to agents without professional proofreading.

I’ve heard literary agents help you edit your manuscript before it goes out to publishers. So if I’m planning to submit my book to an agent, how polished does it need to be?

It doesn’t need to be 100% error-free, but it does need to be fairly polished. Reputable agents are inundated with dozens of queries per day, and the projects that stand out to them are the ones that are ready to submit to publishing houses without much additional work. A few misplaced commas over the course of an entire manuscript will not be a deal breaker if an agent is interested in your story concept and your voice, but plot holes, lags in pacing, underdeveloped characters, and frequent grammatical errors certainly will.


How much will it cost to have my manuscript edited?

Please visit our services page. Below each service is an approximate/ballpark cost. In order to receive an exact price, you will need to fill out our inquiry form. If you’d like a quote for line editing, you must submit a writing sample. (You can upload one when you fill out the entry form.) If you’d like a quote for a manuscript critique or developmental editing, a writing sample is encouraged but not required. Be sure to provide an accurate, up-to-date word count so that we can quote you accurately.

How am I supposed to afford editing when I don’t even know if my book will be published? 

We understand that having your entire manuscript professionally edited is an expensive proposition for many aspiring authors, especially if you need more than one round of editing. It’s important to understand that the goal of our editorial services is to give your book its best shot at success—whether that means finding a traditional publisher or self-publishing. If you can afford a full manuscript edit, we highly recommend it—especially if you are planning to self publish. That said, please bear in mind that we are also more than happy to edit strategic portions of your book instead of the whole shebang. A line edit of the first 50 pages of a manuscript can do wonders for much less money.

Is word count the total number of words in the document, or just the words I want edited?

Word count refers to the total number of words your editor will read while working on your project. If there are portions you don’t want read/edited (for example, the table of contents page, the author’s note, acknowledgements page, etc.), you should remove those sections from the file that you send us.

What if my word count changes between the time I book the project and the time my editor is ready to begin?

As writers, we understand the need to tinker with text until the last possible moment. You may book a project one month that’s not slated to begin until the next month, and you are welcome to work on the manuscript during that interim period. When you send over the final file for editing, we’ll check the word count again and see how it compares to your original document. The final project balance will be updated accordingly based on the new word count.

PLEASE NOTE: If you plan on doing this, please tell us in advance that you’ll be submitting an updated file. Every now and then an editor’s schedule shifts and she finds herself ready to begin working on a project before the official start date. If you don’t let her know in advance that you’ll be sending a new file, she may start working on the original file you sent, and once she starts working on a file, that’s the one she’ll use for the rest of the project.

What is the payment schedule?

With most projects, the payment schedule is 50% due upon agreement, 50% due upon completion of the project, prior to delivery of the work. For small projects where the total cost is under $400, we bill in full up front.


Will an editor be available to start working on my project right away?

Our editors are well sought-after and have steady workloads. As such, it’s not uncommon for them to book up several weeks or even several months in advance. It’s a good idea to inquire about our services about a month before you think you’ll be ready to start. That said, clients occasionally reschedule, leaving an opening on an editor’s calendar, and we are frequently able to squeeze in small projects like a query letter or first chapter edit within a week or two. If you need your edit completed by a specific deadline, please mention it when you fill out our inquiry form. We’ll do our best to pair you with an editor who can meet your deadline.

How long will it take my editor to turn around my project?

This depends on your editor’s schedule, but in general, you can expect the following turnaround times:

Small projects (query letter edits, first chapter edits, etc.): 1-2 weeks
Manuscript Critiques: 3-5 weeks
Content Editing and Developmental Editing:  4-6 weeks
Copyediting and proofreading: 3-5 weeks

With whom will I be working?

Please visit the Our Team page to browse through our editors’ bios. (You can also click here to search for an editor who specializes in your genre or subject matter.) Once you’ve identified your top-choice editors, simply request them by name in the inquiry form on our contact page. If you’re not sure which editor(s) to request, choose the option that says, “I’d like you to suggest an editor who would be a good fit for my project.” From there, we’ll review your materials and make a personalized recommendation based on the nature of your writing and the type of help you need.

At Yellow Bird, we believe the author-editor relationship is sacred, and we put a lot of careful thought into making the perfect match. Unlike other editing networks that use software to find you an editor, our process is tailored to each individual writer.

As you build your relationship with your editor, you’ll also have frequent contact with Yellow Bird’s project coordinator, who is cc’d on most emails. It is the project coordinator’s job to make sure things run smoothly and deadlines are met. If you have any questions or concerns during the duration of your project, you can always ask the project coordinator.

Can I get a sample line edit?

This is up to each individual editor. Some of our editors are happy to provide a free sample edit of 1-2 pages of your work; others find that their schedules are too demanding to offer this service. If this is important to you, please let us know when you fill out our inquiry form so that we can pair you with an editor who offers samples. Please note that if your editor does not provide a free sample edit, she will be happy to send an example of her editing work on a previous project so that you can get a feel for her style.

Another great option is to book an editor for a First Chapter Critique & Line Edit. This service can serve as a “chemistry check,” allowing you to make sure you’ve found the right editor for your project. After a First Chapter Edit, if you decide to move forward with having your full manuscript edited with us, you can apply the cost of the first chapter edit toward the full manuscript project. To date, more than 85% of Yellow Bird customers who have booked a First Chapter Critique have opted to continue with a full manuscript edit.

Can I contact one of your previous clients for a reference?

Absolutely. Please send an email to and ask to be put in touch with one of our previous clients. If you want a reference for a specific editor on our team, please be sure to mention that editor’s name.

Can I ask my editor follow-up questions after the service is complete?

Absolutely. Most of our editing services include one round of follow-up questions, which can be asked via email or during a 30-minute phone call (your choice). If you choose email, simply send your list of questions to your editor, and she will send back written answers. (Please aim to consolidate your questions knowing that your editor will spend approximately a half hour answering them. If you send her a list of 20 questions, she won't have time to answer them thoroughly, so it's best to send fewer questions and allow her the time to delve into each of them.) If you choose a 30-minute phone call, just let your editor know so that you two can schedule a mutually convenient time for the call. (You're also welcome to send your editor your questions in advance of the call so that she can be better prepared to answer them.) Finally, if you have further questions after the follow-up session is over, just let us know. If the question is very simple, we're happy to answer it at no charge. If it requires more time and care to address, you can always purchase another half-hour or hour-long consultation with your editor.

Will you refer me to a literary agent?

This is at the discretion of your editor. If she feels strongly that your manuscript is of publishable quality, she may choose to make an introduction or referral. However, this happens infrequently and is not a standard part of our editing service.

Will you help me publish my book?

We offer consultations on self-publishing vs. traditional publication as well as advice on finding and querying your ideal literary agent. We can also help you polish, format, and prepare your materials for submission, including query letters, synopses, and book proposals. At this time we do not offer ePUB file conversion or book design services. Please see our Publishing Help page for a list of publishing-related services.

Does Yellow Bird use an editing agreement/contract?

Yes. We’ve got a simple 2-page editorial agreement that we require you to sign before your editor can begin working on your project. It spells out the type of editing your editor will do, the timeframe during which they will complete the project, and the cost of the project.

Do you guarantee results?

There are no guarantees in the highly competitive field of publishing. The acceptance of a manuscript for publication is, in large part, the subjective decision of a publishing house and its editors. This decision is subject to the whims of taste and perceived marketability of the manuscript. Our editors, while working to aid you in preparing the best manuscript possible given the submitted material, can not always predict the whims and caprices of the publishing industry. Furthermore, editing a work of fiction or creative nonfiction is one of the most subjective activities in the field of literature. Our editors will make their best efforts to advise and suggest changes to improve your manuscript, but the decision to accept or reject those suggestions is yours alone. Any independent editor who claims to guarantee a traditional publication deal for your book is not to be trusted.

Will my manuscript be completely error-free after you edit it?

First, it’s important to understand that many of our editing services do not concern finding and fixing line-level errors at all. For example, if you purchase a manuscript critique or a round of developmental editing, your editor will not be paying attention to grammar, spelling, or punctuation. With content editing (A.K.A. substantive line editing), your editor may correct typos and punctuation mistakes if she happens to notice them, but this is not the focus of a content edit and therefore you should not expect your manuscript to be error-free afterward. Content editing is not a substitute for copyediting and proofreading. The same goes for a first chapter critique and line edit. The primary purpose of these services is to improve your writing and storytelling by focusing on the craft of writing—not by finding and fixing small-scale errors in the text. Finding and fixing errors is the goal of copyediting and proofreading.

If you engage one of our editors for copyediting or proofreading, our goal is to make your manuscript as close to error-free as possible. However, it is impossible for us to guarantee a completely error-free manuscript. Publishers understand that it’s nearly impossible for a single editor to catch 100% of errors in a manuscript, which is why most traditionally published books go through several rounds of copyediting and proofreading (by multiple sets of eyes) before a press run. If you are planning to self-publish, we recommend you have a minimum of two separate editors review your work for errors—typically one or more rounds of copyediting followed by a final round of proofreading once the manuscript has been typeset and is ready to review in PDF format.

At the end of the day, it is YOUR responsibility to ensure that you are satisfied with the text of your manuscript before you send your file to the printer. We are not responsible for typos or other errors you may discover in your printed book.

Where is Yellow Bird located?

We are based in Austin, Texas, but our editors work remotely from their own home offices in various cities across the US. Almost all of our work is done over email and phone, so we can work with you no matter where you live. Overseas authors are welcome. If you prefer to work with an editor who is local to your city, please let us know when you fill out our inquiry form.

How can I reach you?

That’s easy! Give us a call at (512) 662-1773 or click here to visit our contact page and fill out the inquiry form.