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Jan 31, 2021

Pro-Critiquer Interview Series with Brandan R.

Brandan R profile on CritiqueMatch
A warm welcome to Pro-Critiquer Brandan R

CritiqueMatch: Tells us about your critiquing/ editing journey. 
Brandan: I started off critiquing about a decade ago on poetry websites as well as helping other students at my college with their non-fiction pieces. It wasn’t until I joined CritiqueMatch about a year and a half ago to find partners to improve my own writing that I really delved in critiquing and editing fiction. It’s an amazing thing to see how much my own writing and skill in the craft improves alongside theirs when I help them with their stories. Since then, I accumulated over a dozen CPs and helped critique and edit ten complete novels (two of which have since been published) ranging from sci-fi/fantasy, to romance, young readers, and horror. In addition to these, I’ve gone through handful of novellas, and multiple short stories and poems alongside dozens of single chapters and narrative outlines. 

CM: Share a fun fact about you.
Brandan: I’m a huge geek, through and through. I grew up on science fiction and fantasy—reading, watching, and playing games in the genre—and have never lost the desire to keep living off it. Things such as Dungeons & Dragons and other TTRPGs, Star Trek, Star Wars, Stargate, the Expanse, Doctor Who, Lord of the Rings, Marvel, the Cosmere, (and many, many more) have influenced the way I write and look at other people’s writing. Even though I’ve branched out in other directions since my youth, such as horror and romance, my first love in SF/F. If you tell me that’s what you want to be looked at, I doubt I’d be able to say no!

CM: Why did you want to pursue freelance editing?
Brandan: Put simply, I fell in love with the process during my time on CritiqueMatch. My own successes using CM aside, I made several long-term friends utilizing the platform and, more importantly, a core group of diverse writers that share my passion for writing that I’ve come to depend on for every project I undertake. I found myself looking forward to helping other writers figure out what works and what needs to be tweaked in their novels or stories and I feel an immense amount of pride in my partners as I re-read their drafts and the improvement is palpable. When I learned about the freelance opportunities that the CritiqueMatch was offering, I jumped at the opportunity. It’s something I love, so why not?  

CM: Describe your critiquing/ editing style. How do you differ from other editors?
Brandan: For every critique I undertake, I’ll read the submission at least twice—four or five times depending on how much work it needs. My first reading is always straight through without any edits so I can get an idea of the story, its pacing, plot, and characters. After that, I’ll read it again and begin to add in-line comments or notes (depending on what kind of critique I’ve been asked to do). While I may pick apart the narrative a lot, possibly making it look overwhelming, I try to always give suggestions to improve it. I’ll also add comments on what really hooked me. While I examine and critique on every aspect of the writing, my personality and education tend to lead me to focus most heavily on worldbuilding that’s been included in the text, including culture, taboos/mores/folkways, and history. If you have a magic system, expect it to be picked apart as I help you figure out exactly what the rules work, if its consistent, and—on occasion—even the philosophical questions relating to it.  

CM: Can you describe the typical profile of your clients?
Brandan: The bulk of my clients would be considered beginners, but I have worked with multiple self-published authors to help improve the new projects and work they’ve already released into the world. I’ve also had the pleasure to work with two traditionally published authors who have entrusted me with the first chapters of their books to determine if the story, characters, and plot was worth pursuing, or even what book they should work on next. For everybody I work with, beginning writer to established author, I put my full effort into the critique, giving honest feedback, suggestions for improvement, and encouragement to continue. 

CM: Beyond the traditional editing services, is there anything else you help your clients with?
Brandan: One of the hardest things in writing a novel apart from getting your thoughts on the paper, is to plan what will happen in the narrative. While some people simply write, others plot everything in advance. Sometimes, the plotting doesn’t look coherent or make sense—perhaps they got stumped at what plot points were necessary. I’ve worked with both my critique partners and paid clients on helping flesh out those story maps and give suggestions to help smooth the narrative and get ready for starting their alpha drafts. Some forms of plotting and planning I’ve helped with include: the basic story structure, Save the Cat beat sheets, Kishōtenketsu, the snowflake method, hero’s journey, and freeform planning. 

Genre Specialization

Genres/sub-genres you’re accepting clients for:
  • Science Fiction/Fantasy, Romance, Horror, Short Stories, Literary Fiction
  • Non-fiction, Poetry, Children’s/Middle-Grade Literature
What you’re not interested in:
  • Erotica, fan-fiction

Client Testimonials

Client: B.G., Paid Critique, Dec. 2020  
“Wow! The final chapter of Book 1 and I am blown away by commitment to helping me improve my writing skills and diligence for over ten months! I am so happy to work with you, you've brought me a long away from where I started!”

Client: W.A., CP Critique, Aug. 2020  
“A wonderful critique! You pointed out a lot of details and mistakes that I didn't notice before, and your thorough suggestions helped me improve my story significantly. I'll definitely heed your advice. Thank you so much!”


First, a little bit about myself so you know what perspective I’ll be looking at your writing from. Professionally, I am a museum curator and a college administrative specialist. I have a Bachelor’s in liberal arts with minors in history and behavioral studies, a Master’s in history focusing on ethnography and folklore, and I’m currently pursuing a graduate certificate in digital curation and a Ph.D. focusing on ethnography and anthropology. 

I have a fantasy/romance novella being traditionally published later this year and is the first in a series of novellas and short stories. I also have short stories, poetry, and non-fiction pieces published in online and physical literary journals and anthologies. I’m an avid reader, artist, and TTRPG player. I’m engaged, have a daughter, and a plethora of pets, including four cats, five silver pheasants, and a turtle.

All that said, the bulk of my writing is in the Science-Fiction/Fantasy genre. While I am most comfortable and perhaps most helpful editing pieces in that niche, I have no problem with any genre and have helped edit and critique everything from non-fiction to romance, horror, Children’s, YA, NA, and poetry. As you might have guessed from my degrees, much of my focus when working with other authors is on world-building (history and culture), character interaction, and pacing. If you have a magic system, expect it to be picked apart. Just know I’ll never tell you something doesn’t work without also giving you suggestions for improvement.

Brandan R profile on CritiqueMatch

Jan 28, 2021

Interview with Reagan Rothe - Black Rose Writing

Reagan Rothe spotlight
A warm welcome to Reagan Rothe, creator of Black Rose Writing, an Indie Press located in Texas, and a fellow published author. 

He currently serves on Ingram’s Publisher Advisory Board and is a Social Media Certified Professional. Rothe has contributed to IBPA's Independent, NetGalley Insights, and other reputable literary channels. 

He lives with his beautiful wife, Minna, and has two children, Lena and Walter Lee. 
Reagan Rothe picture
CM: Share a fun fact about you. 
Reagan: I’m a scratch golfer with a career low round of 64 (-8). I’ve had 3 open-heart surgeries, which hold the lead against 1 career hole-in-one.

CM: How did you decide to create your own publishing company? Tell us a bit about your journey at Black Rose Writing. 
Reagan: Through my journey as a fellow author, I wanted to improve upon my experiences and create something more personable and transparent. I started by publishing a few titles when I had free time, doing this part-time from 2006 – 2009. Then in 2009, based on the data and passion I had for publishing deserving authors and give them a chance, Black Rose Writing became my full-time career. We’ve grown financially each year since 2009, adding new staff and teams.

CM: How many authors/books do you work with per year? 
Reagan: We are publishing just over 200 titles per year. This number hasn’t increased in the last two years, as we continue to focus on marketing our authors/books more than increasing our book output. The breakdown for 2021 is almost 50-50 for new authors and our current authors—which is really exciting to know that we have over 100 titles being released in 2021 by authors we’ve already published at least once.

CM: How involved with a book are you, past the editing stage?
Reagan: I’m still very much involved with every title we publish. While I don’t design the covers, format the interior, or personally copy edit a book anymore, my time is spent more perfecting a book’s metadata, marketing strategies, and reviewing our data (such as paid ads or reaching out to media).  

CM: How do you acquire books? How has the process changed during the pandemic?
Reagan: We still acquire titles based on our online submission form. I review every submission query, and then based on the strengths of the query, decide whether to accept a manuscript for further review. Once a manuscript has been requested, it gets assigned to one of our acquisition reviewers. Our process has not been directly impacted by the pandemic. 

CM: Who are some of the rising stars in Mystery or Fantasy genre that we should keep an eye on? 
Reagan: For Black Rose Writing, we have several authors on the rise for mystery and fantasy. For fantasy, readers should check out JR Konkol, Elle Lewis, and Christopher Monteagle. For mystery fans, check out Len Boswell, Bill Percy, Clark Viehweg, and A.J. McCarthy.

CM: What is the demand for stories set in a COVID-19 world?
Reagan: I’ve received some pitches from our current authors and new submissions with a COVID-19 angle or impact. I don’t feel there is a strong demand, more of a slight uptick in writer’s using this current event to try to jump on board. I also don’t feel there is a large wave of readers just waiting to not only live through the pandemic but also read about it in their next thriller. 

CM: Can you name a few virtual events that you will attend in the following months?
Reagan: Black Rose Writing will have a presence and online booth at AWP2021. As for future events, such as the Book Expo, we are still waiting on the announcement for whether they will be virtual or in-person. We will make a decision closer to the event date(s) based on the safety of our team and families.

CM: Name a book you recently read and can’t stop thinking about. 
Reagan: I read a bunch of great titles in 2020, but the series I’m most eager about completing is Joe Abercrombie’s The Age of Madness. The final book in the trilogy is due out late 2021, and I’ll read that book within a few days. The First Law world he created and its characters are just too good if you love hardcore fantasy. 


Wish List

Genres/sub-genres you’re acquiring:
  • Fiction: Action/Adventure, Chick Lit, Children’s Book (with full illustrations only), Fantasy, Graphic Novel, Historical, Horror, Humor, Inspirational/Spiritual, LGBT, Literary, Mystery/Suspense, New Adult/Coming of Age, Paranormal, Romance, Science Fiction, Thriller, Women’s, Young Adult.
  • Non-fiction: Biography/Memoir, Business, History, Inspirational/Spiritual, Self-Help, Sports, True Crime
What you’re not interested in:
  • Poetry


2 Black Rose Writing Author Examples
(This list includes affiliate links)

The Five Wishes of Mr. Murray McBride by Joe Siple, 2018
Special Access by Mark A. Hewitt, 2013

Do you accept un-agented submissions? Yes

Jan 19, 2021

What areas of publishing are oversaturated more recently?

It's hard to chase publishing trends but knowing what areas of the market are over-saturated could be helpful for writers pitching their stories to agents and editors.

We asked the question "What areas of publishing are over-saturated more recently?" to 6 literary agents in the fall of 2020. Here's how they responded: 

Mary C. Moore, Kimberly Cameron & Associates:  Publishing tends to be cyclical, so what I say may be oversaturated now, will change quickly. However, we are on the tail end of a YA royal fantasy glut, and I would guess that we will see an oversaturation of witch fantasies and horror in the near future, as a lot are being bought up right now. MG in general enjoyed a big surge these past two years, so it may be harder to sell in soon, like YA is, but hopefully not. Personally, I think WWII and superhero stories are overdone, but they are still regularly hitting the shelves. The “Girl” titled thrillers have calmed down a bit, but are still a hard pitch. The reality is, if you have a fresh take on any genre/story you can break through, no matter the state of the market. But you need to know the market to understand what a fresh take would be, so read, read, read. And be reading current books!

Jackie Williams, The Knight Agency:  Interesting question! I think it's more challenging to stand out in the YA market, particularly YA fantasy nowadays. The concept needs to be super strong and fresh. I've seen a lot of great YA books not get the coverage they deserve, and more recently, editors who have the option of acquiring both YA and adult books shift more towards adult fiction.

Felicia Eth, Felicia Eth Literary Representation: Recently we’ve seen a plethora of dystopian novels, dependency memoirs, and lots of historical novels attempting to redress racial and multicultural issues.

Dawn Dowdle, Blue Ridge Literary Agency: Mysteries have become oversaturated in the last couple of years. I feel there are still plenty of readers, but editors have become much more selective in acquiring mysteries due to the market.

Malaga Baldi, Baldi Agency: Trump! Enough Memoir.

Linda Glaz, Hartline Literary: I know most editors have recently been very full of historic and historic romance, and were leaning toward contemporary and suspense, but my guess is, we will see suspense getting full very soon here. Hopefully, that will be good news for historic authors. Contemporary romance never seems to see dark days.

Check out more literary agent interviews with our Agent Spotlight Series!

About is a free platform where writers, beta readers, and editors connect and exchange feedback. Join us today! No subscription required.

Jan 12, 2021

How hands-on in the editing process are literary agents?

A literary agent's job is to sell the book, not necessarily edit it. Yet, many agents help authors polish their books prior to sending it to editors. But how hands-on in the editing process are agents really? The answer? It varies significantly by agent, but many provide detailed feedback! 

Here's how 10 literary agents responded: 

Jill Marsal, Marsal Lyon Literary Agency:  It really depends on the manuscript.  Some authors come in with manuscripts in very strong shape and might need just light edits whereas others may need more editorial feedback.  In the latter case, I am hands-on and will go back and forth to try and make the manuscript as strong as possible.  For a debut author who has never written before, there tends to be more feedback and editorial focus whereas a bestselling, experienced author might need more help with career building, marketing, and branding rather than editing. 

Mary C. Moore, Kimberly Cameron & Associates:  I tend to be heavily involved in the editing process, although less so than I was at the beginning of my career. Again, it depends on the individual, but I expect no less than one round of revision with a new project, and on average, do three rounds of revision. These revisions are focused on big picture developmental edits; I rarely if ever, do line-editing for my clients.

Jackie Williams, The Knight Agency:  I'm very hands-on. I love supporting the author and creating a dialogue on how to improve the manuscript. And every manuscript needs something different. My editorial comments are entirely at the author's discretion, but it's one of the best parts of the job to get creative with the author and figure out the solutions needed for their book. 

Felicia Eth, Felicia Eth Literary Representation: The answer here varies from project to project but on the whole, I am quite hands-on. Rarely does a project get sent out by me where the author hasn’t gone through one or two revisions, and I can recall one project which was a first book, where the author revised the proposal 8 or 9 times, but I did end up getting him a $100,000 advance. But honestly, I’ve worked just as hard with books that sold for $7500. 

Annie Bomke, Annie Bomke Literary Agency: I am very hands-on.  I usually go through anywhere from two to eight drafts of a manuscript before I send it out.  I’m a compulsive grammar-corrector, so my comments always cover copyediting as well as big picture stuff, like character development, plot and writing.  

Dawn Dowdle, Blue Ridge Literary Agency: Every book goes through full editing with me before it is queried to editors. 

Malaga Baldi, Baldi Agency: I am not an editor instead, more of a cheerleader.  There are many superb editors turned agents. Most of the manuscripts I represent are written at a top level.  If there is a manuscript I believe needs work, and I am Gaga over it, I suggest to the potential client a handful of paid for editing former editors. This does not guarantee publication and the author pays for the editing out of their own pocket.

Linda Glaz, Hartline Literary: Probably a LOT more hands-on than my clients would like. I am fanatic about getting a proposal in its absolute best condition without annoying typos and obvious inconsistencies. I want an editor’s first take to be: “Now, THAT’S great work!”

Duvall Osteen, Aragi Inc: Quite, especially at a macro level. First, I work with authors on bigger picture edits, and edit more via asking broad questions rather than line by line. Of course, there is also a time when focused editing is necessary, and that takes shape based on the individual needs of the book, and the work style of the author.

Heather Jackson, Heather Jackson Literary: Very much so. It is so very difficult to sell a book and made much more so if you don’t present the absolute best version of a proposal or manuscript that you can to the editors you are pitching.  They are bombarded every day from every angle, and as such, their lists and their mindsets are tilted towards a reason to say no.  I like to try and remove as many reasons for that “no” as possible before we send out, so as to give an author the absolute best shot at a good sale and a good home.  And even then, most of the process of selling the book is filled with rejection, even when making a ‘big’ sale.   

Check out more literary agent interviews with our Agent Spotlight Series!

About is a free platform where writers, beta readers, and editors connect and exchange feedback. Join us today! No subscription required.

Jan 5, 2021

How many authors do literary agents represent?

Querying writers frequently wonder about their chance to get a literary agents. An often asked question is:

How many authors do literary agents represent at any given time?

The number may reveal an agent's activity, workload, selectiveness, or network. Well, no need to wonder any more! We asked 7 literary agents. Here are their responses:

Mary C. Moore, Kimberly Cameron & Associates: It’s constantly fluctuating, but I usually have around 20-25 clients, with around 10 super active clients (i.e. clients that are in the middle of a project whether it’s being written/submitted/negotiated). I’ve found over time my list has become very curated around the authors, i.e. I’m looking for strong writers with interesting backgrounds, voices, and perspectives that I feel I can really help have a long career. So these days, although I’m always excited about the projects I sign, I’m more excited about the writer themselves when I offer representation.  

Annie Bomke, Annie Bomke Literary Agency: Right now, I have 22 clients.  While there are certain genres I gravitate towards (like mysteries and historical fiction), over time I’ve found myself broadening the list of genres I represent.  For instance, last year I sent out the first memoir, interior design book and horror novel I had ever represented.  If you had asked me a year before if I had any plans to work on those genres, I probably would’ve said no, but the right projects came along that made it easy to say yes.

Dawn Dowdle, Blue Ridge Literary Agency: I represent approximately 60 authors. People sometimes say that is too many. You have to remember that not everyone is at the same stage at the same time. Some are writing their next book and so there isn’t anything I need to do at that time other than disburse royalties to them. Some I am editing their manuscript and that takes more interaction or some I am querying. Once the query letter goes out, then it’s just checking back with the editors and keeping the authors notified of responses. Early on I had to realize that, while I would like to be an author’s agent for their whole career, that might not happen. Sometimes an author’s writing changes and they don’t fit what I represent. Sometimes an author’s book’s sales are low and they really don’t need an agent any longer. Sometimes an author stops writing for one reason or another.

Malaga Baldi, Baldi Agency: About 50.  Some authors have books out now, others are between books, others not active. My list has grown.  I still hunt for the books I wish to represent

Linda Glaz, Hartline Literary: I have 54 at the present. Many are currently on sabbatical for various reasons, but most are actively writing and pursuing publishing credits. Obviously, I’ve learned how important the agent/author relationship is long term, and have adjusted to the different personalities who are amazing to work with, and those who aren’t. I try very hard to stick with “amazing.”

Duvall Osteen, Aragi Inc: I represent roughly 45 clients, but only about half are active at any single time. A few of my authors are professionals in other fields, so they may really only write one or two books. I don’t typically take on clients who only plan to write one book, but in each case, I loved the person and the material so much, I was happy to be a part of the work. My author list hasn’t really changed over time, and I don’t anticipate that it will – I am committed to representing authors whose work I love, and that looks wildly different all the time. You’ll find a lot of diversity on my list, of material and among my authors. I have broad tastes, so I’m always eager to read from a wide variety of voices and styles.

Heather Jackson, Heather Jackson Literary: I currently represent 40 clients at various stages of the publication or pre-publication process, but I try not to ‘sell’ more than 12-15 titles a year so that I can be deeply involved in every aspect of the book’s path to readers.  I believe that the sale to a publisher isn’t the endpoint, but rather the start; I try to use the years I had on the other side of the desk to build a bridge for the author, so they can understand the publishing process best and I can help shepherd them through each step.  The beauty of becoming an agent—and the primary force behind my decision to become one—is that the editorial and creative concepts can be and have been broadened out to all of my interests, not just one segment of the marketplace. As an editor, I could work on one particular genre; now I can work with authors who write commercial fiction, narrative non-fiction, and of course, the more practical non-fiction that I have been lucky enough to have had success with throughout my years as a publishing professional. So I’m ridiculously lucky to be able to ‘play’ in the field of the ideas that excite me most while helping authors to find homes for their brilliance and creativity. 

Check out more literary agent interviews with our Agent Spotlight Series!

About is a free platform where writers, beta readers, and editors connect and exchange feedback. Join us today! No subscription required.