Manuscript Review FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions


What happens after I make my payment?
Within one week a CNF staff member will contact you to find out whether you have any deadlines by which you need your feedback, and to provide instructions for submitting your writing for critique. If you have not heard from us within one week please contact our Director of Education, Sharla Yates, at

Does my manuscript need to be ready to submit when I register?
No. You can register now, and when we contact you we will schedule a date by which to submit your manuscript, based on your needs.

Will the critique I receive help me get my piece published in Creative Nonfiction? 
No. Pieces that are submitted for the Manuscript Review service will not be published by Creative Nonfiction or In Fact Books, as this represents a conflict of interest. However, the service can help you prepare to submit your work elsewhere.

What if my piece is shorter than 3,500 words, or in between the two word limits? Can I submit more than one piece?
You can submit up to two pieces if the total word count falls within a given word limit. However, the total length of your critique will remain the same, and will be split between these two pieces. If your pieces total more than 3,500 words but fewer than 5,500 words, you must choose the 5,500 word option. If you do not yet know how long the piece you plan to submit will be but want to reserve a space, choose the 3,500 word option, and we will contact you for additional payment if you end up submitting a longer piece.

Is there any "wiggle room" in the word limits? My piece is only 5,700 words long.
In order to ensure that the instructor has time to give everyone detailed and constructive feedback, word limits will be strictly enforced. If your piece is slightly over the word limit please edit it for length, just as you would if you were submitting it for publication. 

How detailed will my critique be? Is sentence-by-sentence editing included?
Critiques will be approximately two single-spaced pages (1,000 words) long. Critiques will address issues such as structure, description, narrative arc, use of language, etc. While the instructor may identify specific paragraphs that are working well or need improvement, sentence-by-sentence editing is not a part of your critique.

Can I send the instructor specific questions that I hope to have answered about my piece?
Yes. When we contact you with information about how to submit your essay/excerpt we will include information on how you can send specific questions for the instructor to address in your critique.

Can I contact the instructor with follow-up questions after I read my critique?
The manuscript critique process is a one-time exchange between the writer and the instructor, so it is not possible to send follow-up questions. We may be able to schedule a follow-up phone/Skype/email conference with the instructor, pending availability, but there would be an additional charge for this service.

I’m sending a book excerpt; how will the instructor understand how this fits in with the rest of my book?
We recommend that you send an excerpt that has the potential to function as a stand-alone piece (which the reader does not need any additional information to understand, though the ending may be inconclusive or a “cliffhanger”). This is typically the best choice if you hope to submit your excerpt for publication, for a contest, or for a book proposal. However, if you wish to submit a piece that requires context to be understood you may include a book summary of up to 200 words that explains your book and the excerpt’s place within that larger project.

I still have questions about this program—whom do I contact?

If your question is not answered here you can contact our Director of Education, Sharla Yates, at


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