- What do you edit?
- What sorts of editing do you do?
- Editorial Letter
- Developmental Edit
- Line Edit
- Copy Edit
- Ghost Writing
- How does it work?
- 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.
What sorts of editing do you do?
Different editors use different terminology or approaches. Here’s a summary of the different types of edits as I do them.
The most succinct service I provide is a zoomed-out assessment of your manuscript in the form of an editorial letter, sometimes called a short manuscript review. 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.
Think of this as an architectural sketch.
A letter, no more than four pages long, summarizing what works in your manuscript and where you might want to take another look. 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 will give you some solid starting points for revision by yourself if you are a DIY writer.
Who needs it: 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. The letter will give you some solid advice on where to start making revisions. An editorial letter 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. Here’s a selection of questions I think about as I do a developmental edit:
- 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? Do they inform the main story or distract?
- If you’re writing straight genre fiction, are you mindful of genre tropes and reader expectations?
Think of this as the framing of your story house.
A marked-up manuscript. I will suggest changes to improve narrative arc and story flow. I will flag places where story beats are missing, and make margin comments about any other issues I think need your attention. I will move sections of text for improved story structure or narrative tension if that goal can be achieved without needing substantial rewriting. Sometimes I include edits within the text to show you how to increase rhetorical power or impact. (I won’t make many of these types of changes since a developmental edit usually triggers a fair bit of rewriting by you. Spending too much time polishing the prose makes no sense if large chunks will be changed anyway.)
You will also receive a (sometimes very) lengthy and detailed document, addressing issues of story or craft relevant to your manuscript and addressing some or all of the questions above.
You may receive a “reverse outline” (an outline after the fact) that lists and summarizes chapters by scenes, locations, characters, and my impression of what works and what might need another look, especially If your manuscript contains a large cast of characters, a multitude of settings, and complicated sub-plots.
Who needs it: 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. If you’re struggling to make your story come alive on the page, you sense that your narrative strays off the rails, or 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.
You can choose to have me do a single pass developmental edit, or you can choose to purchase a multiple-pass edit. If we work together for multiple passes, the process becomes iterative. I will re-read your manuscript after you have addressed the issues raised in the previous pass and give you feedback on your changes and direction for more work, if required. I highly recommend a two-pass approach.
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. Here’s a selection of craft issues and techniques I look for in a line edit:
- Excessive wordiness
- Word echo
- Placement of power words
- Scenes that go on too long
- Flabby dialogue
- Unnecessary chit-chat
- Missing or unnecessary dialogue tags
- Excessive internalization
- Muddled stimulus-response progressions
- Point-of-view violations
- Changes in narrative distance
By line-edit time, I work on the assumption that the structure of your story house is sound. Think of this as the finish carpentry.
An edited and marked-up manuscript, using MS Word’s Track Changes function. The edits will include deletions and moves. I may move entire chunks of text 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 my words in the margin for you to approve or reject. For efficiency, I will not explain every single edit or change I make in a margin comment, 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. (Note: If I notice continuity errors, characters acting out of character, plot holes, or similar, larger issues, I will point them out via margin comments, but I may not make suggestions on how to fix them.)
A copy of the manuscript with all my changes accepted. I include this because a line-edited manuscript can sometimes look like a Halloween party gone wrong. 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 the original marked-up version to help you not get lost in the details.
A style sheet, if relevant. (A style sheet is a document listing names, unusual spellings, or unique expressions, especially in cases of ambiguity. A style sheet helps keep us both consistent.)
Who needs it: 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 or proofread. 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.
Think of this as the varnish top coat in your story house.
Your manuscript marked up to comply with Chicago Manual of Style and the Merriam Webster dictionary (online version), 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.
Who needs it: 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 final read-through of a ready-for-publication 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.
Your manuscript marked up for spelling and punctuation according to Chicago Manual of Style and Merriam Webster dictionary (online version), unless you prefer a different style guide and dictionary.
Who needs it: If you’re about to upload that document to KDP, this is that last cleanup step to make it sparkle.
This is a collaborative undertaking between you and me. We meet (Zoom or other online conference tool, or in person if possible) and get to know each other and the vision you have for your project. Then we work together to bring that vision to fruition.
Think of it as hiring a general contractor to oversee the building of your story house.
Regular online meetings. You choose the frequency. One week prior to every meeting, you submit up to 7,500 words of writing. I support you in any way you need: from talking about your book’s theme and message all the way to the nitty gritty of how to punctuate dialogue. No writing issue is too big or too small. And if you’re completely blocked, we might just commit to spending a quiet hour in each other’s company, writing. There’s nothing like an hour of dedicated time at your keyboard to get the juices flowing again.
Recap emails, in which I summarize the issues we talked about in our meetings.
Your writing submission marked up and edited to illustrate how to fix or approach whatever craft issue you’re grappling with.
A link to an unlisted online video recording of our meeting, in case you didn’t take notes or you want to mine some of the conversation for your writing.
Who needs it: Anyone who wants the embrace of ongoing support, feedback, and accountability. Every coaching situation is unique. I honor each writer and each story by holding space for the unique creative endeavor. Coaching might be a good choice for you if you appreciate help with setting priorities and thrive on deadlines.
You want a book to bring your message to the world. Maybe it’s part of your value proposition and maybe it’s a memoir that’s been burning inside you. But you’re smart enough to know that you are a subject matter expert, not a writing expert. Writing a book is a skill like any other skill, and you have neither the time nor the interest to master that particular one. I will help you explore your concept, flesh out an outline, interview you about your subject matter, use your research or dig up resources, and generate the text.
A clean manuscript ready for formatting and self-publishing.
Who needs it: If you thought the idea of writing a 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 letter: $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 edit: Project fee for the first pass and hourly at $50 per hour for additional passes, $40 per hour for existing clients. A single-pass developmental edit of a grammatically clean, 80,000-word manuscript will usually cost somewhere between $2,000 and $3,500. The time required for additional passes after the first is highly dependent on the amount of work you put in, but usually most of my heavy lifting is done in the first pass.
Line edit and copy edit: Project fee based on a writing sample from the manuscript. Light copy edits of an 80,000-word manuscript may come in at about $1,200; substantial line edits can exceed $3,500. Project fee is based on $50/hour for new clients, or $40/hour if I have already completed a developmental edit on the manuscript.
Proofreading: $0.012/word for straightforward prose. If your proofreading job requires me to double-check names or spellings online, $50 per hour.
Coaching: $250 per hour-long online meeting, which includes critique/analysis of up to 7,500 words, an emailed meeting recap, and a link to the recorded meeting video. You can pick the frequency of our meetings, from quarterly to weekly, depending on need and budget.
Ghostwriting: Starts at $20,000 for a very short, simple project. Be prepared for a quote in the range of $40,000 and up.
Payment Plans: Absolutely!
Where do I sign up? Get in touch!
How does it work?
The first step is to decide on the type of edit you need (and I can help you figure that out). Then I assess your manuscript so I can propose a project price. Here’s how that works:
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).
For a larger scope of work, for everything except proofreading, 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.
Once we agree on the scope, we sign a 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.
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 traditional publisher?
Again, sadly, no. But I can put you in touch with a bunch of very creative freelancers who will help you self-publish a gorgeous-looking book, if you’re open to that route. Start by checking out the professionals listed on Media Alchemy Guild.
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. Again, check out the professionals on Media Alchemy Guild.
Can I come back for another round?
Of course! Editing projects typically progress from an editorial letter to a developmental edit to a line edit to copy edit to proofing. Sometimes, one or several professional editors do all these edits; sometimes, you can enlist friends and beta readers to help you move towards your goal. You could pay for an editorial letter, then get developmental feedback from beta readers, then get a single pass developmental edit or, if you’re confident in your story, go straight into a line or copy edit. Or, you can elect to go from an editorial letter straight into a full developmental edit with me. Or you can skip the editorial letter and dive right into the developmental edit. Or, if you’ve worked with other editors on a developmental edit or line edit, you can hire me for a copy edit or proofreading pass.
We can mix and match the types of service you need according to your vision for the finished project. We can decide upfront to work together through the entire process: coaching or evaluation, developmental edit, copyedit/proofing.
Whatever your needs, I’d be delighted to be part of your journey. Send me a note. Together, we can make your story shine.