For Authors, From Authors, or: Critiques and Tuckerizations

Every year, authors and editors donate critiques and tuckerizations to help us raise money for Heifer International. These authors and editors are offering their time and expertise and that spirit of generosity is deeply moving to me.  It’s also a service that’s tough to come by if you’re just starting out. What exactly are they offering? Let’s take a look, shall we?


With a critique, the author or editor will read your finished manuscript and give feedback. They do this for a living, so they have a good feel for what works, what might need work, and what you excel at. And everybody donates a service they’re comfortable with–some authors will read and critique the first few chapters of your book to make sure it grabs the reader from page one and keeps escalating. Some authors will read the whole manuscript (which is rare!). Some offer to critique the first couple chapters as well as your query letter, which is the letter you send to an agency or publisher to get them hooked and draw them into your manuscript. We even have a couple auctions for brainstorming and worldbuilding sessions. So you can choose the pro and the service you need!

April White
Anna Smith Spark
Brooke Johnson (she offered a query letter and short story critique)
Randy Henderson
Bishop O’Connell
Bradley P. Beaulieu
Carol Berg
Cassie Alexander
Django Wexler
Editor John Adamus
Joe Ducie
Agent Seth Fishman
Michael J. Martinez
Pamela Freeman
Prof. Eric Dahl (build your SF world with an actual rocket scientist!)
Sebastien de Castell
RJ Barker
Sherwood Smith

There are so many moving pieces in the industry, and if you don’t stand out from the crowd, you run the risk of being overlooked. That’s why having a professional read your submission and give constructive feedback is awesome! Critiques are a great gift for a writer!

We know how valuable critiques are as a service, and how expensive they can be, so to open up the opportunity to some folks who can’t bid on auctions, we have some Critiques in the lottery–just go to the Critiques team page and bid through there to have the chance to win one!


The tuckerization is a tradition that got its name from science-fiction author Wilson Tucker, who would consistently use his friends’ names for minor characters in his work. Authors will name-drop their family and friends, sometimes altering the names a little so while the person in question recognizes themselves, the name still fits the genre. It’s a fun, original way to get a callout, and if you know someone who is a fan of an author, it makes a great gift idea!

Alma Alexander (she donated two!)
Kevin Hearne
Nicholas Eames
Bradley P. Beaulieu
Tim Pratt
Carol Berg
RJ Barker

We don’t have tuckerizations in the lottery, since it’s a more personal thing, but you can find all of them on auction. This is something usually reserved for the author’s friends and family, so we’re thrilled to be able to give everyone the chance at a little bit of literary immortality!

Thanks as always for joining us for our annual fundraiser. May all your criticism be constructive, and may your tuckerizations be…um…tucked?
Well, that fell apart. But thank you!

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. By Pat6 Responses


  1. Patrick Gordon
    Posted December 14, 2019 at 7:15 AM | Permalink

    I wonder who (if) Pat has put any of his friends or family in his books?

  2. Robert
    Posted December 16, 2019 at 4:27 AM | Permalink

    I gotta admit, I’m quite disappointed with how the auctions turned out. Disappointed with fellow fans / bidders, primarily. It’s pretty grim when people snipe *charity* auctions in the final 10 seconds, and staggering that one person seemingly used an automated bot to bid. What is wrong with those people?!? The result of their actions is that Worldbuilders earned hundreds of dollars less than it would otherwise have done, as by the time my auction ended, the alternative auction(s) I would have tried my luck with once I was outbid were finished.

    One constructive suggestion for the Worldbuilders team: I think it makes more sense staggering the critique auctions in such a way that the critiques for the potentially longest manuscripts (and those which sold for the most money in the previous year) are listed first. If the most popular auctions end first, losing bidders on those can start bidding on second or third choices. People who want feedback on book length manuscripts are probably more likely to be inclined to downgrade to a partial manuscript critique, while people who only need 5000 words or 5 pages critiques probably have little interest in bidding for critiques covering tens or hundreds of thousands of words. Let’s just say the Joe Ducie auction might have gone for a couple hundred dollars more if it had ended after the Sherwood Smith one instead of ending before it. I hope there will be auctions again next year (I got the impression they didn’t match previous years’ bidding levels overall).

    Now fingers crossed for the (critiques team) lottery!

    Anyway, thank you to the Worldbuilders team for all the fantastic work you do. Keep it up!

    • Posted December 16, 2019 at 1:32 PM | Permalink

      Something to be aware of on Ebay: the bid that you enter is the maximum that you’re willing to pay for an item, and Ebay just keeps you as the highest bidder until someone else has surpassed your maximum bid.

      So, for example, if I was willing to pay $1500 for Joe Ducie to critique my manuscript, I would enter that but the visible bid would only be a few dollars higher than the 2nd highest bid, let’s say something like $157. Now, if you come along and think, “Forsooth! Yon critique is most assuredly worth more than a paltry $157. I shall bid $1200 and visit my wroth upon mine literary adversaries in this contest of auctionry!”

      Your wroth, however, would not be visited upon me. Instead Ebay would bring the current bid up to $1202, with me as the highest bidder because I’ve already said that I’m willing to bid up to $1500 dollars for this critique. If I win at that point, I would pay $1202 (and then donate the remaining $298 to the lottery, but that’s strictly optional on my part). So while you may have encountered a bot, it’s more likely that you were seeing this process in action.

      For someone like myself with twin toddlers who I was prepping for bed as these auctions were all ending, it’s very nice to not have to watch the auction like a hawk and hope that I don’t get outbid by a single penny in the last 2 seconds. If someone wanted it more than I did and bid more than the max I was willing to pay, more power to them and money to Worldbuilders.

      So try not to judge your fellow critique hunters too harshly. After all, we’re all on the same team here, even if some of us really are bid sniping bastards.

      Also, if you’re looking for critiques, check out communities like where you can get your work critiqued by strangers in return for critiquing strangers’ work.

      • Robert
        Posted December 16, 2019 at 2:18 PM | Permalink

        I know about maximum bids: no need to explain that to me. I had placed a maximum bid – which was the maximum I could afford. It was well above the visible bid until a few moments before the end of the auction, when more than a dozen bids in quick succession raced the price up.

        I don’t mind being outbid. That is only fair: others were willing and able to pay more. What I do mind is that people waited until the last possible moment to do so – which meant I was not able to bid in any of the other auctions, because they were already finished. (I could not bid on them before I was outbid, because I would not have been able to afford the risk of winning both auctions). If I had been able to bid on the Ducie auction, for example, then either I would have won that, or someone else would have had to pay about two hundred dollars more to win it: a win for the charity, if not for me. (Ditto for my third and fourth choices: I would have kept moving on to those if I had been outbid on my second choice). As it was, most of the critiques sold for a fraction of the prices similar critiques achieved in previous years, and I stayed up until 3am my time for nothing.

        It does annoy me that I lost out on the chance to bid on an alternative, and the charity lost out on money, all because a sizeable number of my fellow bidders acted like dickheads. That does not seem in the spirit of charitable auctions to me, and I do judge people who intentionally waited until the last few seconds to bid to be of poor moral character.

        • Posted December 16, 2019 at 3:28 PM | Permalink

          My apologies and condolences, then. Getting outbid at the last second, or seeing the final price and knowing that your max was only a few dollars below it never feels good. I’ve just come to assume that it’s the nature of the beast when you’re on Ebay, and nothing done before the last 10 seconds necessarily counts.

          I’d personally like to see the duration of the auction extend for ~10 seconds each time the high bidder changes to give bidders a chance to respond, but I’m also sure the people at Ebay who design auctions for a living have a good reason for not doing that.

          Good luck on the critique lottery, and I wish you better luck on the auctions next year.

  3. Posted March 30, 2020 at 11:47 PM | Permalink

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