Professional Member of ACES (American Copy Editors Society), Editorial Freelancers Association, Publishers Marketplace, and Word Weavers International, Inc.
PUBLISHING TIP: If you have a nonfiction book idea and are pursuing traditional publication, you may not need to write your entire book before you approach an agent or a publisher. You will typically need 1–3 solid chapter samples (about 50 pages) to include with a book proposal along with a solid platform of expertise and/or readership. A memoir, however, often needs to be fully written with a substantial platform before a traditional publisher will consider taking it on. If you’re unsure how to proceed down the publishing path, contact me. The publishing world changes rapidly, and agents and publishers have differing requirements. I do my best to keep my finger on the pulse of this world.
Note: In your research, you’ve likely noticed different editors use different names for similar services, and you’re probably thinking, “Get it together, editors!” I’m with you—we need to have a worldwide convention and get it together! Well, until that happens, I have done my best to clarify each service I provide. Please do not hesitate to ask me any questions.
Manuscript Critique/Evaluation (with written report)
This service is for anyone who has written a solid first draft and is ready for a set of trained eyes to provide suggestions for content and structural improvement. It’s especially important for those with publishing intentions or those who’ve had trouble selling their manuscript to an agent or publishing house.
This critique will focus primarily on content: I will note strengths and weaknesses of the manuscript, concerning elements like organization, structure, plot, pacing, and characterization. I will also alert you to confusing or problematic areas, plot or narrative gaps, and error patterns. Depending on your goal for the manuscript (traditional publication, e-book, or self-publishing), I will offer ideas to enhance its marketability as well.
This critique will be typed up into a content-rich letter for you to keep. I often include links to additional resources that speak directly to your problem areas; it’s the teacher in me.
Picture Book Critique (with in-text comments and written report)
While picture books have a much lower word count than, say, a novel, a solid critique is no less important. I will make in-text comments and also include a content-rich letter for you to keep, packed full with suggestions and resources.
Developmental Editing (intensive critique)
In my definition, a developmental edit is a more intense critique in that it involves suggestions for content development, organization, and clarity on a book, chapter, and paragraph level. I will suggest ideas for content improvement and alert you to plot/narrative holes and places of confusion. (I will not correct grammar and punctuation in this pass, but I will alert you to error patterns—small-scale errors will be fixed at the copy edit stage.) I will mostly insert comments, but I may add transitional words or sentences or draft a few lines to share an idea for content development. This service also includes a detailed critique letter packed full of information and resources.
This edit is focused on structural development, organization, and clarity. It may involve rearranging chapters or paragraphs for impact or clarity; adding transitional words or sentences; and clarifying content on a sentence-by-sentence level. What makes this service different from developmental editing is the freedom you give me to edit—essentially, you are giving me permission to edit your draft as I see fit.
This type of editing may range from a small-scale moving around of paragraphs and sentences to, perhaps, a larger-scale restructuring of chapters around a different theme. I recently had a client whose small two-page story sandwiched in the middle of his nonfiction manuscript was so full of energy that we used it as the metaphor for the whole book, rearranging chapters around this theme.
(Other Names: Line Editing)
Once you are satisfied with your work’s content and structure, it’s time for a copy edit. I will go through your manuscript—line by line, word by word—with an eye toward fixing grammatical and punctuation errors and making sure style is consistently applied.
Items covered in this edit include:
- Fixing grammatical and punctuation errors
- Checking the spelling of proper nouns and names (if the name is a popular one, say of a political figure or celebrity; family and friends’ names are your responsibility)
- Keeping a style sheet to ensure terms, numbers, etc. are treated consistently within the manuscript
- Pointing out basic stylistic issues (e.g., clichés, jargon) and inconsistencies
This edit focuses on language and voice—in a novel, this may involve making sure characters sound the right age (e.g., a junior high kid and not an adult) or as if they're from the right time period. If you’re writing a novel set in Civil War America, for example, it’s important to make sure the language matches the period, or the word or phrase can jar the reader out of the story’s dream. Remember the plastic water bottle in the Downton Abbey promo pic? Think that but in story. In nonfiction, a stylistic edit could mean eliminating jargon, breaking up long sentences for readability, reducing wordiness, and fixing passive voice. While a copy edit does include a basic fix up of these issues, a stylistic edit focuses primarily on style (sentence variety, word choice, etc.), voice, and clarity.
Traditionally, proofreading occurs once a manuscript has been typeset and is the final step of the editing process before the book goes to print. By this stage, your content is rich and organized well, and the sentences are smooth, readable, and interesting. There are no grammatical errors. Proofreading is the final once-over for any straggling typos, misspellings, and errors.
I can edit both Microsoft Word and PDF files; Word is preferred.
Book Proposal Critique
IMPORTANT: Please let me know which literary agents you are submitting to before I evaluate the proposal, as each agency’s requirements differ. Book proposal writing and revision help is also available, if desired.
For this service, I will read through your proposal, making in-text comments and putting together a formal critique letter. In this evaluation, I will note strengths and weaknesses within each proposal element while also offering suggestions for improvement. After the query letter, the proposal is a nonfiction writer’s most important marketing piece in his or her quest toward publication. Fiction writers will also have to submit proposal elements, such as a novel synopsis and about-the-author page.
Query Letter Critique and Revision
Your query letter is the most important element in your proposal package. This letter is the first piece of writing an agent or publisher will read, so it has to be your very best work: compelling, well structured, and letter-perfect.
For this service, I will read through your letter and provide suggestions for improvement. You will then revise your letter and resubmit it to me. I will look over this revision and make any additional edits.
Researched Agent List
Let me help you find the best agents for your manuscript! I will conduct solid research to compile a list of at least six agents and/or pub houses (if desired) that seem a good fit for your work. This list will include the reasons I chose each agent—information that will help you tweak your template query letter to each agent.
Book Cover Copy and Reviews (Blurbs)
I am skilled at writing About-the-Book and About-the-Author copy; let me write these promotional pieces that will entice readers to buy your book. This service is especially important for authors looking to self-publish. I am also skilled at reviews, having been a review columnist for a number of years.
SOCIAL MEDIA PROMOTIONS RESEARCH AND CONSULTATION
Let me help you promote your books(s) via social media (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn Groups, blogs, etc.). Relationship-building is one of my greatest strengths. Let me help you find your book's target audiences and reach them via the most relevant social media to those audiences. Promotion is a particular passion of mine, and I will bring this passion to your book, honing in on what makes it marketable and how you can reach those markets.
CONSULTATION AND COACHING
I provide consultation and coaching (encouragement, guidance, instruction) in such topics as the following:
- How to write a book
- Staying motivated while writing a book
- Writing a memoir
- The publishing process
- Finding an agent or a publisher
- Building one's platform
- Social media 101
- Grammar and punctuation basics
- Time management for writers
Also visit the Writing Coaching page.
OTHER LITERARY SERVICES
If your manuscript is information-rich, you would benefit from having it fact-checked. I will double-check facts and figures, ensure quotation accuracy, and point out places of potential legal consequence. (NOTE: I am not a lawyer. If you plan on publishing a memoir with details concerning others, I highly recommend having it read by a lawyer before publication. This way, you can prevent any potential legal backlash.)
My background has trained me to be an excellent researcher! If you are pressed for time and need some quality, reliable research materials for your project, let me gather those for you.
I can create or edit your citation pages, if desired. I have experience working with a number of citation styles.
My keyboarding classes taught me well, and I am a swift typer. No looking at the fingers for me! If this task is a chore to you, I can help.
Remember, the initial 15-minute consultation to assess your needs is free.
Please contact me to set up a consultation.
“Write the kind of story you would like to read. People will give you all sorts of advice
about writing, but if you are not writing something you like, no one else will like it either.”