- What do you edit?
- How does it work?
- What sorts of editing do you do?
- Editorial Letter
- Developmental Edit
- Line Edit
- Copy Edit
- What about ghost writing?
- How much will it cost?
- How long will it take?
- Can you find me an agent?
- Can you find me a publisher?
- Can you format my manuscript?
- Can I come back for another round?
What do you edit?
Fiction, creative non-fiction, memoir, self-help, prescriptive. All lengths.
For other types of writing, drop me a line. Let’s talk
How does it work?
You may already have an idea of the sort of edit you are likely to need. For everything except an editorial letter, you email me a sample of your writing from somewhere right around the middle of the manuscript. Not the beginning (because you’ve probably worked really hard on that) and not the end (because you may have either rushed for the finish or polished it for a final shine); neither is likely to be representative of the bulk of your work.
I like about 5,000 words for a work above 40,000 words; if your project is shorter, about 10% of the overall length.
I read it carefully and assess what’s required and how long it will take. Sometimes it’s not all that straightforward to get a good sense of the type of edit you need, so I may do a sample edit on 500 words and return it for your inspection. That way, we can figure out how to make my vision of what’s required align with your vision of what you want done. I make a proposal and you decide whether you’re interested in pursuing the recommended edit, whether you’d like to modify the scope of work, or whether you’d prefer to put your edit off.
For an editorial letter, all I need is the manuscript’s word count and a brief summary from you of genre and content (nothing fancy; this can be a simple email).
Once we agree on the scope, we sign a little contract that clearly outlines the deliverables, the date of completion, and the price. You pay me a deposit and your manuscript goes into my queue.
As the work progresses, especially if it’s a longer manuscript or I am unsure how you want something handled (these are your words, after all, and your story), I may check in with you for clarification.
After I return the edited work to you and you have had some time to go over my changes and/or suggestions, you have the opportunity to meet with me via video conference for a debriefing session in which you can ask any follow-up questions. The debriefing session is included in the price of the edit.
What sorts of editing do you do?
Different editors use different terminology or approaches; here’s what I do.
The most succinct service I provide is a zoomed-out assessment of your manuscript in the form of an editorial letter. I provide, in broad strokes, feedback on organization, theme, narrative arc, story tension, character development, tone, dialogue, plot, message, etc. (as relevant, depending on your genre). The letter runs no more than four pages long. It is not a detailed, fine-grained analysis of your work, and I do not mark up your document or make any comments directly in your text.
This is a good option for you if you are a confident writer, already have some ideas about what your manuscript needs in the way of revisions and how to tackle them, and simply want a quick second opinion. It is also a good choice if you’re thinking about a developmental edit but are unsure whether you want to spend that much money. If you follow an editorial letter with a developmental edit, half the cost of the letter is credited towards the price of the D.E.
This is also known as a substantive edit, and is my most detailed approach to your manuscript. When doing a developmental edit, I read with rabid attention to the same issues as in the editorial letter, but I dig a lot deeper into each. Does the story start in the right place? How does the story work? Does the flow take the reader on a journey? Are there confusing speed bumps? Where? What doesn’t belong in the story at all? What’s missing? Do the scenes follow in the right order? Can the narrative pace be speeded up with more exposition, or are there sections that would benefit from being slowed down? In a prescriptive manuscript, is there enough story woven into the text to make the message relatable? Does the text stay on message throughout, with a clear logical flow?
Is there enough scenic depiction? How are the reader’s senses engaged? Are there any continuity errors? Do the characters change? Are the protagonist(s) and antagonist(s) active on the page? Do the characters have agency? What do they want? Does the dialogue fulfill the functions that dialogue must? Is the central narrative question clear from the get-go, and is it addressed throughout? How does the ending relate to the theme and the narrative question? Are there any dangling threads? Where, and how might they be resolved? Are there any sub-plots? Do they engage the reader? If you’re writing straight genre fiction, are you mindful of genre tropes and reader expectations?
What you get when I am done is a (sometimes very) lengthy and detailed document, addressing these questions and any other issues of story or craft relevant to your manuscript. You also receive a “reverse outline” (an outline after the fact) that lists and summarizes chapters by scenes, locations, and characters, and my impression of the chapter–what works and what might need another look. If I want to draw your attention to a particular issue in the manuscript, I comment on it in the margin. Sometimes I include edits within the text itself to illustrate a particular technique for increasing rhetorical power or impact if I think you might benefit from adding that technique or skill to your toolbox. I don’t, however, make those sorts of changes in the entire manuscript.
A developmental edit is a good choice if you have written your way to a finished first draft, and have perhaps done some revising on your own. Maybe you’ve spent some money on an editorial letter but it just isn’t quite enough. You’re struggling to make your story come alive on the page. If you sense that your narrative strays off the rails but you just can’t quite figure out how to make it come into focus, a developmental edit is for you. With my feedback, you will get deep insight and have ample information to steer your revision process.
This is sometimes referred to as an extended, or heavy, copy edit. I look for any and all opportunities to power up your writing. I make edits directly in your manuscript using MS Word’s Track Changes function. I address wordiness in general, word echo, flabby dialogue, unnecessary chit-chat, missing or unnecessary dialogue tags, excessive internalization, muddled stimulus-response progressions, point-of-view violations, changes in narrative distance and so forth, and generally tighten up the prose. I may move chunks of text around wholesale, or combine and strengthen sentences. I strive to use only your words, taken from your writing. If an edit requires a new segue or transition, I will make a stab at providing one but also flag that in the margin for you to approve or reject.
If I notice continuity errors, characters acting out of character, plot holes, and the like, I will point out them out via margin comments, but I will not delve deeply into any of those issues. They are more properly the purview of a developmental edit. For efficiency, I will not explain every single edit or change I make in the manuscript, though I will comment if I come across the same issue over and over again. That way, you can explicitly add a new technique to your toolbox.
What you get back from me is your edited manuscript with margin comments and my edits marked up using MS Word’s Track Changes function. I also provide a copy of the manuscript with my changes accepted, because a line edit can sometimes leave the original text looking like a Halloween party gone wrong. Once I start moving entire sentences and paragraphs around, it can become very hard to follow what, exactly, I changed and why. I usually recommend looking at the “accepted” or cleaned-up version side-by-side with an original version, rather than trying to wade through each edit individually. If relevant, I generate and provide a style sheet. (A style sheet is a document listing spelling or expressions in cases of ambiguity. A style sheet helps keep us both consistent.)
A line edit is a great choice once you are certain that your story flows well, engages the reader, doesn’t have dangling threads or unresolved plot issues, stays on theme or on message, and is told in the order you envisioned. It is not a great choice if you’ve only just finished your first draft.
Also called a light copy edit. This is a word-by-word check for grammar, spelling, word choice, and punctuation. If you wish me to copyedit your manuscript, I will assume that the sentence structure and prose arrangement are exactly how you want them. I use the Chicago Manual of Style and the Merriam Webster dictionary (online version) for reference, unless you let me know that you prefer a different style guide or dictionary. If you don’t have a style sheet yet and your manuscript includes material that diverges from CMOS or MW, I will generate one.
This is a good choice if you’ve already been through a line edit. If your command of grammar, spelling, and punctuation is good, this will be a quick and inexpensive edit.
This is a collaborative undertaking between you and me. After I read your work, we meet (via online conference) and get to know each other and the vision you have for your project. Then we work together closely to bring that vision to fruition. You might consider it an iterative hybrid between a heavy line edit and a developmental edit. You submit writing to me on a regular basis and I provide feedback, in writing and in person (online).
Every coaching situation is unique. My approach is to honor each writer and each story by holding space for the creative endeavor. Coaching might be a good choice for you if you thrive on ongoing feedback, appreciate help with setting priorities, and benefit from deadlines.
This is a final read-through of a ready-for-publication, formatted manuscript. It is meant to confirm that a book is accurate, without error, and ready to be published. Proofreading should uncover any last minor issues. With due diligence upfront there won’t be many changes, if any, but the reading must be done with extreme care and focus.
What about ghost writing?
If the idea of writing that book sounded good but now you’d rather put your eye out with a poker, let’s talk. Maybe between us we can get your story into the world.
How much will it cost?
Editorial letters cost $200 for manuscripts up to 40,000 words, $300 for 40k – 80k words, and $400 for 80k – 120k, with an additional $100 charge for every 10,000 words above 120k. If you decide to go on to a full developmental edit, 50% of the price of the editorial letter will be applied to that cost.
Developmental edits, line edits, and copy edits are priced depending on how much time they will take. A developmental edit of an 80,000-word manuscript will usually cost somewhere between $1,500 and $2,000. Very light copy edits come in at under the low end of that range; substantial line edits can exceed $2,700. I charge $50 per hour of manuscript work, but if you are like most people, you’d rather be quoted a price for the whole job. That’s why I need a sample of your work up front. Best thing is to get in touch for a quote. (We can also work out a payment plan if that helps.)
Coaching costs $350 per hour-long online meeting and includes detailed critique/analysis of up to 7,000 words. You can pick the frequency of our meetings, from twice monthly (or more) to quarterly, depending on need and budget.
The cost of having me ghostwrite your book depends on many factors, among them how well you’ve fleshed out your concept and how much time I would spend interviewing you about it, learning about the research you have done, or digging up other resources. It is unlikely to cost less than $10,000 unless it is a very simple project.
How long will it take?
I strive for a quick turnaround, but delivery dates are dependent not only on how long your particular edit will take but also how busy I happen to be. When we sign a contract, it will include a start date and a delivery date. If it looks like I won’t be able to finish by the delivery date, I will let you know in plenty of time. If you are in a rush for your project to be done, please let me know ahead of time and I’ll try to accommodate you, within reason. (Other clients want their work done on time, too!)
Can you find me an agent?
Can you find me a publisher?
Again, sadly, no.
Can you format my manuscript?
No. I am strictly a words person; I don’t get involved with formatting, either for print or for e-publication.
Can I come back for another round?
Of course! If you’ve already had me do an editorial letter, going into a full developmental edit makes perfect sense.
Editing projects typically progress from developmental edit to line edit to copy edit to proofing. If you are looking for a second developmental edit after you have made significant revisions, it’s better for some time to pass so I avoid mentally “filling in the gaps” from having read your manuscript before.
I’d be delighted to be part of your journey.