Need some help with your book?

Wrestling with your manuscript alone can be a frustrating experience, and it's hard to find beta readers who will give you honest feedback. Maybe you're not ready to spend thousands on a developmental edit... but the truth is, you don't need to!

It is critical that your first chapter sucks them in and keeps them reading. There’s no use editing the full book if you lose readers in the first chapter.

We’ve set up a unique “first chapter critique” service which includes up to 5,000 words (which should actually include 2 or 3 chapters… or a prologue, preface or intro). Not only will this be an instructive developmental edit, pointing out exactly where your weaknesses lie and what you can do to make them better, it’ll also include:

✓ genre expectations

✓ target audience

✓ character sympathy

✓ scene depth

✓ catalyst or inciting incident

✓ writing style & fluency

✓ pacing and intrigue

✓ conflict and suspense

✓ fatal flaw or core lack

✓ feedback on weak writing

 publishing advice

Your First 5000 Words

Most people spend way too much time and money "perfecting" a book that has no audience. I've taught authors at writing conferences, on cruise ships, and in castles. My writing resources have 3 million views and I've published about 25 books on my own. You can get most of my content for free, or hire me for personal feedback (it's so much faster).

I'll go through your first few chapters, figure out your strengths and weaknesses, your target genre and audience, and even edit your blurb or pitch. Because the book won't matter if you can't get anyone to start reading, and nobody else will point out the critical problems. It's the fastest way to figure out your value and offer, so you don't waste time on the wrong things.

Is it done?

Not sure if it's good enough yet to publish? I can tell you exactly what shape it's in and what you need to do next, so you can get unstuck.

Is it good?

That's probably the wrong question. The writing matters less than you think it does, and it's easy to waste time and effort on the wrong things.

But I can tell you if it's good enough for a certain audience, because I know the market.

What's next?

Need help figuring out what to do with you manuscript once it's finished? I can help! I won't promise a publishing deal, but I will give you simple instructions and help you set realistic goals.

Full Manuscript Critique

I enjoy the popular first chapter critiques – it’s a quick way to figure out why you’re losing readers, whether your intro ticks all the right boxes and is appealing and satisfying. And I’ve also been keeping busy with a handful of ghostwriting projects and clients, where I can make big changes and help build up a messy rough draft into something professional and marketable.

Where I truly shine, however, is figuring out the heart of your story, the most impactful way to reveal the dramatic bits, and suggest tweaks and plot and character developments that will make everything tighter and more emotionally impactful.

So I've decided to offer a “manuscript critique” service, which is basically one round of passive developmental editing and a 10 to 15 page report that helps you identify and fix the biggest issues in style and structure, while gaining confidence about your manuscript and publishing opportunities.

It's much cheaper than what I'd normally charge for a developmental edit, because I'm slow and meticulous... often leaving hundreds and hundreds of comments. And that’s valuable, but it can feel overwhelming. This is an overview or evaluation, not a detailed edit or proofread, though I will of course point out some common issues or problems.

Unlike most editors, who will just clean up your story, I can spot problems and actually suggest creative fixes that will make your book much stronger. It’s like an organ transplant, maybe… or CPR. Your book has all the right pieces, but it’s not breathing. We’ll shock it with ten thousand volts of electricity and see if it can stand on its own two feet.

Choose a Pricing Option

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What if my book isn't finished yet?

Don't worry, getting a first chapter critique is a great way to start because I can help flesh out your outline or story structure, so you can keep working without getting stuck. Buy now and I'll be here to help whenever you're ready.

Can I get a refund if I'm unhappy with my purchase?

Sure! Few other editors would give you a money-back guarantee, because they can't get back their time. But I'm not worried, because I've worked with hundreds of authors and the only times I've given refunds were when I was too busy or booked to edit their work. I always overdeliver and I'm truly one of the best.

But if you don't think so for any reason and aren't happy with my critique or comments, I'll refund you 100%.

Do I get a coaching call?

I’m an introvert with a sleep disorder, so scheduling coaching calls is absolutely not my favorite thing. But I also know it can be a fun, personal value-add and sometimes you just need to talk through your book ideas out loud to resolve them yourself or make new discoveries.

For the moment, I'm offering a 30-minute coaching call (as a bonus) for my $297 first chapter critique service, and TWO 30-minute calls for the longer editorial manuscript review (one before, one after).

I’ve previously charged $500 for an hour of coaching, so to get the 5000 words of critique + 30 minutes of my time for $297 is a pretty good deal. And getting a full book critique for $997 with two coaching calls… insane. But you’re worth it and I’m stretching out my comfort zone. It’s probably not something I’ll offer again.

Why should I hire you?

Honestly, I'm not really "for hire". I've never bothered with slick sales pages or websites, because I don't need to work that hard to get clients. If you don't know who I am already, this probably isn't for you. But if you are wondering what skills I bring to the table, or "PROOF" that I can actually do this - (I know how hard it is to vet editors!) - I'd check out some of my free resources. Most authors make repeatable mistakes that anybody can learn. It'll just take you longer.

PS. If you want credentials, I spent 10 years getting a PhD, am a USA Today and WSJ Bestselling author, and have been featured in CNN. But more importantly, I invest everything I earn into new/free tools for authors, so you can ask around about me, or check out the hundreds of raving reviews on my main self-publishing course.

Is this book editing or proofreading?

Neither, actually – there are some newer tools for proofreading, and although it’s very tedious and time-consuming, it’s not a high value skill. It’s important, sure, your book should be clean! But fixing the typos won’t actually make it better.

Copy editing or line editing usually helps revise and rewrite a little, but not too much. It makes it better by removing flaws, mistakes, redundancies, errors or weak writing.

We do offer those services in our normal packages – but we charge $0.06/word to do all that and offer deep, insightful editorial critique and comments in our “Perfect Murder” package. But some authors want the heavy stuff and not the light stuff, and we haven’t had a service for that yet, so this is us trying something new.

As I mentioned, a lot of editors offer this service already, and since there are newer tools to proofread and edit, we’re going to focus on this direction: the high value, high skill feedback on your actual story, so you can make it better. We can do this at the beginning, if you’re still planning and plotting; or at the end, when you have a pile of notes and a rough manuscript but you know it just isn’t working, or ready to publish.

Pricing details for the manuscript critique service

I’m pretty flexible, so round up or down. Most people charge by 50K or 100K, but I know that most manuscripts are in between or above (mine are typically 75K or 130K).

65K should be about enough for a rough draft that needs fleshing out.

130K is probably a little full of bloat that needs trimming or reducing.

I can help with either. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out by email, but keep in mind by the time I reply back to you, these spots might be gone already.

$997 full manuscript review

You can checkout with Paypal HERE, or you can also get this discount from my course platform here (and get a few book marketing courses and bonuses automatically).

BONUSES! (Literary services)

I’m still insecure about doing the coaching calls I offered up above, so I’m giving you an option. Sometimes, it’s great to talk with someone and bounce ideas around. You can learn a ton in 30 minutes of 1-on-1 with me. I’m offering it because I think you might want it. And technically it’s less work for me (it’s just talking about stuff I know about).

But I’m reluctant because I feel like I can get faster results for you by just doing the work myself – which is a chronic problem I have; trying to take over and control everything. But I’m adding this info here, as something you can trade your coaching slots for, if you (like me) are an introvert who doesn’t really want to chat anyway, or you’re a busy extrovert who is short on time and needs a marketing expert to just hone up your sales copy so you can sell more books… I’ve got you.


Our literary services are meant to help you quickly fix core issues in your book that could kill its success. Don’t overspend on editors who will polish the story you have, without first considering your book’s commercial potential. If you want to get a head start on your book marketing and ensure the ultimate success of your project, we recommend starting with these literary services before you hire one of our professional editors to go deeper.

Market Analysis and Metadata optimization

Make it easy for readers to find you! We’ll identify the right market for your book, and suggest the keywords and categories to help readers find your books online. SEO experts will help position so that it gets discovered organically on Amazon or Google. 

Blurb Revision and Amazon Page

We’ll help make sure you correctly categorize your book and choose the right keywords, but getting found isn’t enough. You need a blurb that actually sells the book. We’ll rewrite the blurb to balance the fine line between discoverability and intrigue. We’ll also help you create 3 brilliant “hooks” you can test in your marketing or sales copy. 

Author Platform Assistance

Before saying yes to your book, agents and publishers are going to review your author website and social media profiles, to make sure you’ve put some effort into building a platform and developing a relationship with their readers.

If you’re self-publishing, your platform will be even more important, because success will depend on cultivating fans and connecting with other authors in your genre. You’ll need to build a list of beta-readers to get reviews on your book quickly, or your book will be dead on arrival. 

We’ve built several online courses on building an author platform, setting up your website and email list, getting social media followers quickly, and how to communicate with your fans. But we also have an “Author Platform Audit” service I’ll add here – basically I’ll make a short review video going over your whole platform, point out some quick wins or red flags, so you can take action before you run into problems or waste money on a failed book launch (if your book doesn’t convert the right audience into buyers and readers).

Testimonials from happy clients

“I have started a book several times over the past few years but the main problem has been just how do I do this and achieve a professional outcome? I have looked at several options but none have seemed right for me and many were over complicated to grasp. Your way of explaining is absolutely brilliant and within a couple of days I have learnt more than I have in years. I have been a frustrated author for a few decades and the main problem was how to get started and you have 100% solved this for me. Anyway, mega thanks again, really appreciated.” – Annie JumeauAuthor

“I can’t thank you enough for taking the time to do a developmental edit on this. It was above and beyond and is greatly appreciated. It was exactly the guidance I needed to hear, and I would have waited three weeks for that, let alone a few days. Your insights will go a long way towards making this the best novel it can be.” – Mikael CarlsonThriller Author

“Your suggestions have been wonderful! There was a lot of input you provided that I had not even considered, and will definitely help overall! Looking forward to going through the remainder of your suggestions tomorrow! Thank you again for your time!” – JackyPersonal Memoir

“Finally, someone with the skills for analyzing a novice writer. Before meeting Derek Murphy, the “agents” I met in the publishing industry did nothing but side-step my requests for evaluation. It is now evident to me that the rubric which measures whether your book is sell-able or dead in the water, is literary experience. Your analysis combined honest evaluation with the goal being to produce a better book. I believe, this type of feed-back is essential to ANYONE who is writing.” – Dr. George A. MungerPhD

“Thank you so much for this. I got the edits and I’m really happy with the extensive notes you made. It really does help. I think I’m going to do a major re-write. Your input was so super helpful. – Marc

“This is EXACTLY the kind of feedback I was hoping for. Most appreciated. I have been continuing to tweak the story, but your feedback has really given me things I can sink my teeth into!” – P. J. ViscioHorror Author