Auctions: A Professional Critique of Your Manuscript

This is a Worldbuilders blog.

Last year, several publishing professionals donated their time and energy to Worldbuilders, offering to give unpublished novelists feedback on their manuscripts.

The response was wonderful. The auctions raised thousands of dollars for Worldbuilders, and a lot of people got good feedback on their books. It was one of those warm, fuzzy win-win situations.

So this year we’re doing it again. I’ve gathered a few professionals willing to donate their critiquing skills to the cause.

All auctions are starting at the price of one (1) penny. Personally, I think these would make great Christmas gifts for that hard-to-shop for writer in your life…

And remember, all the proceeds go to improving people’s lives all over the world with Heifer International. So bid lavishly and spread the word.

  • A read-and-critique of the first 20,000 words of your manuscript by Lindsay Ribar.

Lindsay is assistant to Matt Bialer, my agent. That means she reads a *lot* of manuscripts and works intimately with the publishing world every day. What’s more, she does work as a freelance editor. In short, Lindsay knows about stories, what sells, and how the industry works.

What more could you ask for, really?

Here’s the official description of what she’s offering:

Lindsay Ribar (assistant to Matt Bialer, freelance editor) will read and evaluate the opening chapters of one manuscript (up to 20,000 words) within six weeks of submission. She will write a general evaluation of the book, with a focus on character, language, and story structure. Line- and copy-editing are not included. Representation is not a guarantee, but not out of the question either. Lindsay is open to editing all genres of fiction, but keep in mind that the bulk of her experience lies in the realm of YA, fantasy, SF, thrillers, and mysteries.

Interested? You can bid on the critique by Lindsay Ribar over here.

  • A read-and-critique of the first 100 pages of your manuscript by David Pomerico.

David is the sort of editor I would have loved to have read my manuscript and give me a few pointers back during the long years of rejection before my book was published. What’s more, he’s an absolute prince for donating his time and energy to Worldbuilders even though I don’t have the least bit of blackmail evidence to use against him.

The official description:

David Pomerico is an Assistant Editor at Del Rey Spectra, where he focuses primarily on traditional fantasy, urban fantasy, and dystopian and post-apocalyptic literature.  That’s not to say that he doesn’t know other genres (he claims to be something known as “well-read”), but that’s definitely where his interests lie.  He’s worked with a variety of authors, including Felix Gilman, Sarah Zettel, David J. Williams, Chris Wooding, Darin Bradley, and Ari Marmell, as well as being a part of the Star Wars publishing program at Del Rey.  He’s offering a detailed critique and commentary (but not a line edit) for the first 100 pages or so of your manuscript (double-spaced, please—and no margin shenanigans!), which he will get back to you within the first three months of 2011.  While he could possibly be blown away and want to make an offer on your book, this isn’t guaranteed (otherwise this might be a really pricey auction!)

Mailing details and contact with David will be set up following the auction.

Interested? You can bid on David’s critique over here.

  • A read-and-critique of the first 20,000 words of your manuscript by agent Matt Bialer.

Matt is my agent, and I wouldn’t trade him for his weight in gold. He helped me revise my book several times before we landed a publisher, and his help has been invaluable in revising my second book. He’s all kinds of smart, understands stories, and I can honestly say that if it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

You can get more of his professional information HERE.

Matt Bialer (literary agent) will read and evaluate the opening chapters of one manuscript (up to 20,000 words) within three months of submission, not including the last few weeks of December. He will read and critique, and help the author think about the issues that could be raised by editors at publishing houses. He will write a general evaluation of the book, both strengths and weaknesses, but line editing is NOT included. If the book is fantastic or has the potential to be fantastic then offering representation is not out of the question — but representation is not a guarantee.

Interested? You can bid on this critique from Matt Bialer over here.

  • A read-and-critique of your entire manuscript by Pat Rothfuss.


Man. It’s hard for me to do these promotional write-ups for myself. Let’s see…

Before I became a published writer, I was a teacher for five years. Before that, I was a writing tutor for nine years. So I know something about giving productive feedback on a piece of writing. I’ve read roughly ten thousand novels, and my first book, the Name of the Wind, is published or forthcoming in 30 languages.

I think about stories all the time and am obsessive about revision. I also have a soothing baritone voice, an IQ in the 160s, and the ability to steal any other mutant’s power just by touching them.

Ah hell… See? I can never take these things seriously. Just read the official description below for the details:

Patrick Rothfuss (international bestselling author, lover of women, and hirsute iconoclast) will read your manuscript and give you critical feedback. We’ll schedule this based on when your manuscript will be ready and my own schedular constraints.

I’ll read through your manuscript, scrawling notes and dirty words in the margins, then I’ll call you on the phone and we can discuss it. I won’t write you up a detailed critique because that’s not how I roll. But we’ll probably chat on the phone for a couple of hours discussing the various strengths and weaknesses of the book, your writing craft, and I’ll offer any suggestions I might have.

If I think your book is super-awesome, I might be willing to pass it along to someone. But be very aware that what you’re buying here is a critique, not a blurb or an introduction to the publishing world. A critique.

Interested? You can bid on the critique by Pat Rothfuss over here.

NOTE: All these auctions will be ending on December 3rd.

Time is limited, so if you know someone that might be interested in these auctions, I’d appreciate you spreading the word….

Don’t forget, there are hundreds of rare and signed books up for grabs in this year’s Worldbuilders fundraiser. For all the details, click here.

This entry was posted in Worldbuilders 2010By Pat50 Responses


  1. Slamadoca
    Posted November 24, 2010 at 3:14 AM | Permalink

    Ah, it’s times like this that make me wish I had gotten more into writing rather than reading. There’s still time I suppose, but it’s probably best I keep my spare time for important things. You know, like video games. And reading books.

    • Posted November 24, 2010 at 3:19 AM | Permalink

      I used to be in a writers group at the University. One day someone showed up and said, “I don’t really want to write, but I like to read. Can I still be a member?”

      Needless to say, she quickly became one of the most popular members of the group.

      Moral of the story? Writers love readers.

      • Posted November 24, 2010 at 11:39 AM | Permalink

        Indeed! Writers without readers are very sad creatures. Most of us are lucky enough to have at least one. Those of us who don’t often resort to denner sap. Thanks for being a reader, Slamadoca! We’d all be lost without you.
        Of course, we’d all be more lost without these fabulous opportunities to bid on… thanks for the chance, Pat! :) Chances are hard to come by…

  2. Panda Girl
    Posted November 24, 2010 at 3:40 AM | Permalink

    Hey Pat,
    I sent an email through The Tinker’s Packs regarding buying tshirts and stuff without paypal(due to me being a 17 year old student without a credit card or whatnot). I was just wondering if there’s an expected time for an email response back? Or is there anything else I could do to get information on how I could pay?

    Thanks :)

    • Posted November 24, 2010 at 3:41 AM | Permalink

      You should be getting an e-mail back soon…

      • Panda Girl
        Posted November 24, 2010 at 4:04 AM | Permalink

        Awesome, I sent the email a few days ago. Which is the only reason I was a little bit worried. I want to make sure I’ll be able to get money to you before this whole thing is over.

  3. Mickey
    Posted November 24, 2010 at 3:47 AM | Permalink

    Hi Pat,

    Did you get the picture above specially commissioned or was it just lying around around waiting for your hirsutely iconoclastic self to latch onto? Inquiring minds need to know !

    • Blarghedy
      Posted November 24, 2010 at 3:55 AM | Permalink

      Haha, I just realized we asked that question at the same time.

      High five.

  4. Blarghedy
    Posted November 24, 2010 at 3:51 AM | Permalink

    Pat, as floored away as I am by the sheer awe of winning one of these, I’m not actually an author yet. I’m working on a story that I hope to have laid out/possibly halfway-ish written…ish… within a year. Ish.
    There’s a lot of ish in here. Maybe I’ll bid on one of these in a year. That’d be all sorts of awesome.

    Now, what I really want to know is completely unrelated: Where did that picture of you come from?

    • Mickey
      Posted November 24, 2010 at 3:59 AM | Permalink

      It’s either a self portrait or some outstanding fan art, either way, the awesome is palpable…

    • Slamadoca
      Posted November 24, 2010 at 4:22 AM | Permalink

      I’m not 100% certain, but I’m pretty sure it was done by the guy who illustrated the College Humor Guide, and has done some other random doodles on the blog in the past. I know this particular pic has been around for a long time now.

      • Posted November 24, 2010 at 5:58 AM | Permalink

        Yeah. Brett Hiorns drew that for me years ago.

        • Blarghedy
          Posted November 24, 2010 at 2:14 PM | Permalink

          Ah, ok. I knew I’d seen it around and I’ve always found it comical. Maybe when I’m a famous author I’ll have him draw one of me…

  5. Shane
    Posted November 24, 2010 at 4:30 AM | Permalink

    Finally got part one (errr, I guess 2 or 3?) of my donation in but I was a bit bummed out. The Worldbuilders page this year doesn’t have the little box showing how much each animal costs? Last year you could select thus ensuring you were buying an entire animal if that’s what you wanted. This year I just see a donation box. Is there a list somewhere?

  6. Gnavin
    Posted November 24, 2010 at 4:37 AM | Permalink

    Gak! I’d love to get an opinion on my writing, but I don’t have enough material to critique, nor enough money to bid for anyone’s services. :( Perhaps next year, though!

  7. ihanij
    Posted November 24, 2010 at 5:09 AM | Permalink

    Is it alright if we bid on this and if we win, give it as a gift to a friend/loved one who actually writes? (I’m more a reader than a writer!)

    • Posted November 24, 2010 at 5:59 AM | Permalink

      Yup. That’s exactly what happened last year. You can buy it for someone else….

      • Boneman
        Posted November 24, 2010 at 8:32 AM | Permalink

        And it was unbelievably brilliant!!! My wife bid for it, and got it for me as the best Christmas present ever…

  8. doterobcn
    Posted November 24, 2010 at 6:07 AM | Permalink

    Hello Pat,
    Is there any of them that can read in Spanish?

  9. Themistocles
    Posted November 24, 2010 at 7:03 AM | Permalink

    Hi Pat,

    I love writing but as of yet I haven’t written anything over 1000 words before getting bored/frustrated and starting again.

    If I were to bid and win, would it be possible to delay the critique by a year or so? This would give me time and to get act together and really write something worth you reading.



  10. tone
    Posted November 24, 2010 at 7:42 AM | Permalink

    This makes me so sad that I don’t have any money.

  11. jayh
    Posted November 24, 2010 at 8:00 AM | Permalink

    I’ll be contributing to worldbuilders again this year. I’m more the reader than the writer type since I decided when I was trying to write years ago that I’m just too damn lazy to do the work.

    So, if I get laid off and decide to write something anyway, is there an expiration date for when the critiques will be done? Knowing my writing ethic, if I did write something it’d probably be 2020 by the time I was ready for it to be critiqued.

    • jayh
      Posted November 24, 2010 at 8:45 AM | Permalink

      Oh, just to make sure I’m not pissing off any of the real writers out there. I understand that there’s more to being a good writer than putting the nose to the grindstone. There’s creativity, research, that whole zeitgeist thing (sometimes known as Oprah) and tons more factors. I’m just to lazy to figure out if I have any of those other factors. Heck lazy might not even be the righ…. squirrel…. oh, where was I?

  12. balvord
    Posted November 24, 2010 at 8:20 AM | Permalink

    Just wanted to say that I won the auction for the critique by Lindsay Ribar last year, and it was tremendously helpful. She did an amazing job with the critique and significantly improved the structure of the novel I’m working on. So yes – BAM! – highly recommended and well worth the money, not to mention the fact that the money was going to such a great charity.

  13. Widow Of Sirius
    Posted November 24, 2010 at 9:25 AM | Permalink

    I wouldn’t let a single professional so much as glance at my novel-in-progress for fear it would burn their eyes out with fail. Also, I think it’s only 10,000 words since I lost a huge chunk of it in a computer switch, threw a tantrum, and swore never to touch it again.

    But this is such a cool thing to auction off, and if Worldbuilders sticks around for a while, and if this is still offered when I grow up a bit and start working on my writing again, maybe I’ll consider it :)

  14. Kyndig
    Posted November 24, 2010 at 10:22 AM | Permalink


    I think that pretty much sums up the floppy-lipped awesomeness of this.

  15. Posted November 24, 2010 at 11:05 AM | Permalink

    Ooohhh, I’m going to have to bid on one or all of these. What was the winning bid last year?

    • Boneman
      Posted November 25, 2010 at 5:26 AM | Permalink

      Not sure I can tell you what the final bids were, but I do know that I got Pat’s critique for less than those of Lindsay and Matt. I can only say that it was the best money my wife has ever spent, and Pat’s critique was awesome: and it moved my story on more than anything else I’ve done in the previous two years’ work. I have had three requests for the full manuscript from Agents, following the rewrites – I previously had over 20 rejections last year. The man’s generosity (financially and well as in spirit) is gobsmacking…

  16. Posted November 24, 2010 at 11:40 AM | Permalink

    I guess none of them can read spanish, can they?

  17. Daniel
    Posted November 24, 2010 at 11:58 AM | Permalink

    Pat, 2 questions from an interested bidder:

    Are there expiration dates on these? I.e. If I win, but won’t be ready with the manuscript for some time (say first draft is done, making way through self editing towards manuscript status now) would you recommend bidding or waiting until next year?

    Next – if you were in my shoes (those of a prospective bidder, not size 12 Doc Martins), which of these auctions would you most covet and try to win? They all seem great, just wondering which one you think delivers the most bang for our buck?


    • Posted November 25, 2010 at 6:03 AM | Permalink

      There isn’t an expiration date, but if your manuscript won’t be ready for 8 months or so, you might want to wait until next year….

  18. guessingo
    Posted November 24, 2010 at 12:16 PM | Permalink

    you would probably making even more money auctioning off a date with Lyndsey Babar.

  19. Daedalus
    Posted November 24, 2010 at 12:37 PM | Permalink

    That’s a pretty good deal, especially if you were actually paying the readers an hourly wage.

  20. rudejude00
    Posted November 24, 2010 at 4:52 PM | Permalink

    This really has nothing to do with this post – but reading your little bio made me wonder about how you got into teaching at the U of Wisconsin. Did you do a phd first? How did you have time for any creative writing?? I’m doing an MA now and working on my thesis, and my eyes literally bulged when I saw the bit about you reading 10,000 novels. Actually??! That’s insane. I have to read roughly 100 during this term for research purposes and though I’m a fast reader – damn. Anyways, was just curious about how being an academic allowed you to write creatively too.

    Also – last month a phd friend of mine was at a conference at U of Wisconsin and I was freaking out at the thought that he might walk past you on campus or something. Is that weird? Yeah maybe, but what of it?

  21. michael.h.tritter
    Posted November 24, 2010 at 5:07 PM | Permalink

    “A read-and-critique of the first 100 pages of your manuscript by David Pomerico.”

    But, really, what is a “100 pages”? Isn’t it sort of like “appropriate”, or “light blue”, or “hot sex” – which is to say that it is different for everyone?

    If we assume the old standby of 250 to 300 words per page, this comes to 25k to 30k words. In my current double-spaced manuscript-style draft however 100 pages equals only about 17k words. This difference makes a considerable, well, difference.

    Can we get some clarification before we bid?

    • Posted November 24, 2010 at 6:31 PM | Permalink

      There’s not really any ambiguity here at all. He’s talking about standard manuscript format. There’s only one format for manuscript pages.

      12 point. Courier font. 1″ margins. Double spaced. One sided.

      • michael.h.tritter
        Posted November 24, 2010 at 6:50 PM | Permalink

        Very clear, thanks, Pat (although, there goes about 3 cheats I was hoping for). If anyone else is wondering as I was, I just formatted my manuscript and 100 pages came to 21.4K words (approx.).

  22. Widow Of Sirius
    Posted November 24, 2010 at 7:51 PM | Permalink

    On a slightly-but-slightly-not related note, I’ve been curious about something.
    I feel like it’s safe to assume you have a digital copy of the book. Since, you know, it’s no longer the 1800s.
    Do you save each book as one document? Each 5 chapters? Each chapter? How do you figure that? It sometimes gets old switching back and forth between documents to check continuity, but it’s also pretty difficult to work with a gigantor document scrolling up and down for hours.
    What do YOU suggest?

    • Posted November 24, 2010 at 9:18 PM | Permalink

      I used to keep every chapter in a separate document. But now each book is its own file. A big, big file. It’s not terribly inconvenient.

      • Widow Of Sirius
        Posted November 24, 2010 at 9:33 PM | Permalink

        Awesome. I can just picture the ridiculousness of it. Thanks :)

        • malical
          Posted November 24, 2010 at 9:59 PM | Permalink

          Based on the time spent on WMF, that file better be in the gigabytes. Actually, if it was in the gigabytes that would be amazing.

      • Posted November 26, 2010 at 8:45 AM | Permalink

        Hi Pat,

        You should really look at using a structured writing word processor like Scrivener ( ). I switched over halfway through the first draft of my own novel and it’s radically better than struggling with Word. Essentially, these programs separate structure (scenes, chapters whatever) from content from formatting — whereas in Word or similar all three are welded together. The result is that you can SEE your book at higher and medium levels, get around quickly, and trivially render it out in different formats without a fight.

  23. malical
    Posted November 24, 2010 at 10:02 PM | Permalink

    Ew, I hate double posting. *Spits* I love how Pat has like $760 for his bid, and al of the qualified (and uncool) people only have like $200. Pat is just too amazing for all of us.

    • Ent_hused
      Posted November 25, 2010 at 9:39 AM | Permalink

      2 reasons for that: fandom and entire manuscript.

      It’s kind of uncool to call the others uncool. I’d take a read by any of those people, but especially David P.

      Pat, on a sidenote: as far as author’s platforms go, this is the most selfless way to stay in the minds of readers I’ve seen. Not that the latter is motivation for the former; it’s just a side effect.

      …and the author sayeth, Give Fans! Give until your fingers bleedeth, until your brow and panties are stained with the salt of Building My World!…

      If anything, I’ll continue to buy your books just so I can support your quest to stir up the giving. (Even if they begin to bite it and I have to use them as doorstops.)

  24. acf40k2
    Posted November 25, 2010 at 4:09 PM | Permalink

    Hey Pat!
    Im from Brazil (my english is only a improvisation, sorry!)

    I dont know if you can answer me, but this idea is in my head, and…

    …and i’ll like to know: Can the histories of how tehlu killed encanis end the history of Lanre be the same?


    ps: Very good book!

  25. Posted November 27, 2010 at 1:20 PM | Permalink

    I came in second place last year in the Pat-Rothfuss-will-read-your-manuscript auction. And it hurt.

    Like real bad.

    Although, it’s a good thing I lost that one because I’ve been revising my manuscript all (frickin) year long and now I think it’s actually ready to be looked at by some of my favorite superheroes.

  26. ASamuelson
    Posted December 1, 2010 at 11:58 AM | Permalink

    What a great auction! My brother in law gave up his job as an English teacher to write a fantasy novel and this would be perfect for him.

    My only concern is that I’m not sure how far along he is right now. I know he’s been working on it full time for at least 6 months and when I talked with him over Thanksgiving he’s pretty far along, but I don’t know when he’d have something ready.

    Presumably, it would be better if a novel had already gone through several rounds of revisions before getting a professional critique. But on the other side, while becoming a professional writer is his dream, he’s promised my sister one year to pursue it… so any feedback would be useful.

    So my question is:

    How polished should a manuscript be prior to having a professional critique it?

  27. Posted December 3, 2010 at 11:44 AM | Permalink

    Does the winning bidder also get a date with the cute Lindsay Ribar? :)

  28. chat
    Posted February 26, 2012 at 3:26 AM | Permalink

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