Book Manuscript Critiques
• “Barbara did an extraordinary job with the manuscript critique and editing of Return to Order. Her knowledge of books and her sincere love for America was evidenced by something that transcended professional ability—a devotion to the task of making our book more coherent, readable, and relevant. This is something money cannot buy. She has the rare ability to see the details while keeping in view the book’s overall perspective. We are especially grateful for her suggestion for a new and revised conclusion. We took her advice, rewrote the conclusion, and are so happy we did. Finding Barbara was providential.” - John Horvat II, author of Return to Order: From a Frenzied Economy to an Organic Christian Society—Where We’ve Been, How We Got Here, and Where We Need to Go (The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property; York Publishers)
• “I’m a professional writer who sold his first short stories and magazine features while in my late teens and early twenties. I sold my first book in my mid-thirties, and since then have had seven additional books published. Along the way, I've edited daily newspapers and a national magazine. I’ve also taught Advanced Writing courses and Writing for Publication classes at two separate Indiana universities. So why use Barbara’s professional editing and critiquing services? Simply put, she’s a pro writer and editor herself, and I recognize the fact that even experienced professional journalists can benefit from her long personal experience evaluating manuscript drafts and offering an honest, objective critique of their strengths and weaknesses.
“I was not disappointed. Her detailed report on my latest book manuscript was meaty and helpful. Our follow-up telephone conversations and email exchanges were likewise beneficial, allowing me to pinpoint, polish, and revise certain parts of my draft in need of further attention. In the Acknowledgments section of my latest book, I publicly thanked Barbara for the helpful critique ‘… of my writing, the book’s contents, word flow, and overall readability.’ There is no doubt that Barbara Brabec made a good book even better, and I sincerely appreciate her assistance and spot-on advice.” - M. R. James, author of Hunting the Dream—A Memoir
• “I am a first-time author and an old country boy from Texas. So, not only do I talk funny, but I write funny, too. (Sounds like two strikes out of three to me.) I’d written this 106,000- word ‘slab of beef’ memoir titled Of Shadows and Footprints and asked Barbara to take a look at it. Of course, I thought it was so good that I was continually busting buttons off my shirt. Ultimately, I lost count of the number of times she told me that it was the toughest critique she’d ever done. I figured I was headed to that last strike. But after digesting all of her comments—some delivered with an angel's touch and others sounding like the crack of a whip—I pulled my boots up and began to critique the book myself. What a nightmare, as I incessantly experienced my feet going to sleep. But then . . . it happened.
“What I learned from Barbara’s critique enabled me to rewrite and self-edit the manuscript from 106,000 to 67,000 words, during which time I turned it into a ‘filet mignon’ suitable for her copy editing. This experience was magical for me, and Texans aren’t real big on hocus-pocus stuff. In the end, her expertise made me a believer in my own book, and I’m here to tell you that angels do most certainly live among us; one of them is named Barbara.” - Joe Bell, author of Of Shadows and Footprints—The Memoir of a Man Who Spent Fifty Years Battling His Inner Demons
Ed. note: Joe went on to write a wonderful collection of short-story eBooks that I had the pleasure of editing and designing book covers for.)
• "From the very first phone conversation, Barbara made me feel I had a project that interested her and was worth pursuing to be published. More importantly, she took a personal interest in my writing, and with her years of experience and keen eye for detail proceeded to go through my book manuscript. Not only did she help me with a critique and advice to improve my story, but she also educated me on things such as passive and active voice, story structure, areas that needed further explanation for the reader, and grammar changes. Barbara also gave me compliments on my writing where she thought I did well, and that meant so much to me to have the confidence to move forward to publication. I am blessed to know her and I give her the very highest recommendation for her services and attention to an author’s needs.” - Linda Ann Lewis, author of Golden Memories—A Timeless Story of First Love and Enduring Friendship
• “Although we’re sometimes loathe to admit it, all writers need a second set of eyes checking our manuscripts to see if we said what we think we said, and said it in a way that’s clear and pleasing to the reader. And those eyes must belong to a qualified writer/editor who knows the territory, not your spouse or second cousin who have never published anything. Writing a memoir escalates this need. The writer is far too close to the material to see it—or to notice if some necessary details never made the journey from memory to written page. I had Barbara check out my memoir of growing up in the Salvation Army. She confirmed some things I thought I knew, made me feel good about parts of the story that really sang, and pointed out some things I needed to improve. I didn’t really want to hear about what was lacking, but Barbara showed me the way to a much better book.” - Bette Dowdell, author of On We March: A Memoir of Growing Up in the Salvation Army
• “As I was working on a new book, I decided I wanted a fresh set of eyes to look it over before I sent it on to my publisher. So I asked Barbara to critique my manuscript and make comments about plot structure, pacing, and character development. I absolutely loved her input and was able to jump back into my story equipped with her sound suggestions. Having my new book in Barbara’s capable hands was the right decision for me, and I expect to work with her on other books in the future.” - Cassandra Darden Bell, author of After the Storm and other books.
Ed. note: A later note from Cassandra reported, “I just got word from my editor that the manuscript you critiqued for me was returned from the copy editor and sent straight to typesetting with only minor edits. Trust me, this has never happened with one of my books. When I told my husband, he said, ‘Barbara is worth every penny and then some.’ I am certain that putting the time, effort and money in on the front end will produce a better book . . . and isn’t that the point?”