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Cobalt Blue: A Novel

A novel for courageous readers and seekers, COBALT BLUE is a turbulent, gorgeous ride into sacred sex..

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Manuscript Feedback & Career Consulting Services for Writers

I offer market-oriented feedback on fiction and nonfiction, in book-length or shorter forms. I also consult with writers about career issues such as approaching agents and editors.

My expertise is based on more than thirty years as a freelance writer, with novels published by Simon & Schuster and Penguin Putnam, two nonfiction books, and articles appearing in publications such as Cosmopolitan, Family Circle, More, Travel & Leisure, and Huffington Post as well as in most of the major American newspapers.

Clients’ Results

Writers I’ve worked with have published at houses including Simon & Schuster, Viking, Wiley, Kensington, Workman, W.W. Norton, Dalkey Archive, Pilgrim, Touchstone, Berkley/Penguin as well as smaller presses, journals, magazines, newspapers, and online publications.

Critique Services & Career Strategies for Writers

I will read your manuscript and provide you a written report on my view of what’s working particularly well and any suggestions I have for improvement. My comments will cover characterization, plot, structure, pacing, and language. I also do a lot of marking on the manuscript to show examples of what I’m commenting on. Included in the price is a 15-minute phone call (call-and-catch-me) or email for questions about the critique. Additional time or scheduled phone sessions are billed at the consultation rate below.

Critique Fee Schedule

For Stories, Books, Excerpts

PagesPage RateMinimum* (see explanation below)

*Minimum means that, for example, a 12 page manuscript critique would cost $110, not the page rate for the longer manuscripts in that category. The page rate kicks in when the length of the manuscript would add up to at least the threshold minimum amount. That means that, for example, a 40 page manuscript critique fee would come to $200.

For a book proposal or query letter, what I do is a line-edit, sometimes with suggested wording, and thus charge a $150 minimum.

I also offer the option of paying based on time spent, and this works well, for example, for someone who simply wants to run a paragraph by me. For this, I charge $2 a minute with a $20 minimum.

All rates are based on standard doubled-spaced pages of copy (275 words per page).If you have questions about what rate will apply for your manuscript, send me a copy, and I’ll give you a quote.

My page rates for critiques are lower than many of the writer consultants who, like me, have written or worked for major publishers or national publications. In order to make this possible, I charge for the little bits of time, like phone calls. That way you have the option of getting a bare-bones service or as much time from me as you wish.

Consultation on writing & the business of writing

I will answer, as best I can, any questions about the business of writing, on matters including agents, rights, copyrights, payment, publishers, resources, or simply the next best step in your writing career. You and I will meet in my office, talk by phone, or exchange e-mails, as you choose. My rate for these is $2.00 a minute by phone or email, with a $20 minimum. For meetings in my office, the fee is $75 per half hour or $125 per hour.

If we set up an appointment to talk at a particular time, whether by phone or in person, I charge a half hour minimum. If you have just a question or two, it’s more economical to call and catch me in; I’ll answer as well and quickly as I can.

Line Edit Text

On a copy of your manuscript, I mark every word or line that could be strengthened, noting as well, words, lines, scenes that are particularly effective. If I feel some cutting or changes in sequence would strengthen a manuscript, I will be as specific as I can about where I think that should be done. This is an edit concerned with the substance of the story, not with the fine points of punctuation or with proofreading. For a book, the most cost-effective use of this service is to get a line-edit of 25 to 50 pages and then apply any suggestions you find helpful to the rest of your book. If you’re considering this for a longer manuscript, I’ll be glad to have a look at a few pages and tell you at no charge whether I think the book is far enough along to warrant this.

My charge for this is based on a look at the manuscript to get an idea how much time will be involved. I charge no fee to take such a look.

Other services to writers

If there is some other possibility you would like to consider, please get in touch first by email and let’s discuss it. These custom services might include:

  • Suggestions for restructuring of a manuscript without any line-editing.
  • A list of agents or publishers who handle your style of work
  • A consultation with your writer’s group either by speakerphone or in person.
  • A brainstorming session on how to present an idea, or on your next career move.

How I Work

Turn-around time is usually about three weeks from the time I have the complete package. If I need substantially longer, we’ll talk about that. If you need something done in a rush and I have time open, we can negotiate a rush charge.

Unless you say otherwise, I assume it’s okay to mark on pages.

When I do line-editing, I am primarily concerned with the writing, rather than, for example, making sure that you always spell “gray” with an “a” and never spell it with an “e.” I do mark spelling and punctuation problems to a reasonable level of accuracy, as good as an agent or editor generally expects. If what you want is absolutely consistent copy-editing, I’m not your best bet.

In my suggestions, I take care not to tamper with a writer’s distinct voice; I feel pretty strongly about the value of a wide diversity of voices in print.

I can’t guarantee that anyone I work with will get an agent or get published. I offer you my best advice: what I’d do if the work were mine.

Sending the Manuscript:

Feel free to email me your manuscript and I’ll make my suggestions and comments on a digital copy. Or, if you prefer to send hard copy, enclose a stamped self-addressed envelope or box for return. I don’t take responsibility for manuscripts.

My mailing address is:

Peggy Payne
410 Morson Street
Raleigh, NC 27601

How to Pay: To use Paypal, please click the Pay Now button at the bottom of the page. Otherwise, please enclose the check with the manuscript if you’re shipping hard copy or, if you’re emailing your pages, please send it by snail mail at the same time.

I tailor my services to what your particular project requires. Get in touch with me and we’ll figure out if I’m the right person for you and what I can do to help you get your work finished and out into the world. Send me an email (peggypayne (at); or call: 919 368-1092 (I don’t charge for that initial brief conversation).

In any event, as the colleague of mine that you are in this solitary business, I wish you well.