What kind of help do you need?
Even the strongest work can benefit from professional editing. Perhaps especially.
Because you can’t edit your own work and have been immersed in the project, you may not know what your book needs. If you aren’t sure, ask for a diagnostic, and I’ll tell you.
If you are ready to take your work to the next level
This work is at the macro level. This involves identifying and addressing issues with
- story arc
- central conflict
- character development
- genre appropriateness
- flagging of plot holes and factual errors
- realism of fight scenes
- writing style
- technical issues like grammar, spelling, usage, and punctuation.
I make comments in the manuscript itself that include suggestions for revision and I generate a report that can be anywhere from ten to fifty pages, with quotes and examples. Developmental editing gives you a road map for how to fix these issues yourself, especially since I make comments where I see problems. This service is appropriate for books that may have consistent, big-picture problems.
Playwright Anton Chekhov once wrote in a letter: “One must never place a loaded rifle on the stage if it isn’t going to go off. It’s wrong to make promises you don’t mean to keep.”
over 100,000 words: 5 to 6 cents a word
up to 100,000 words: 4 to 5 cents a word
I require a $750 deposit to hold your spot in line and you pay the remainder in installments, with the last payment before I return the edited manuscript. The word count is for the number of words in the original manuscript.
If don’t want in-text comments, you can have a manuscript evaluation, which is the report only.
up to 100,000 words: $1,500
up to 200,000 words: $1,800
up to 300,000 words: $2,000
over 300,000 words: let’s talk
I require a $500 deposit to hold your spot in line and you pay the remainder in installments, with the last payment before I return the edited manuscript.
This work is at the story level. It means making sure that characters appear and events occur in the right order, there are no unnecessary story lines, and there are no loose ends. This involves my making changes to the manuscript itself. It is possible to bundle this service with line editing.
A book with a successful structure:
- begins in the right place
- proceeds coherently
- orients the reader to who’s doing what
- makes the reader understand why a character acted
- ensures that the behavior of the characters makes sense
- ensures that all the characters serve a purpose in the book
- and ends in a way that there aren’t any loose ends in the plot.
Often the issue starts at the beginning of the book, especially with science fiction, fantasy, and dystopian fiction. The author has done a great job of worldbuilding or has devised a background and history for each character. It’s hard to understand that the worldbuilding and background work is a reference, not the story itself. How much of that background ends up in the story is a matter of skill. It can be hard for an author to see whether enough is enough, if it bores the reader, or if it bogs down the story.
Occasionally, the beginning of the book is very polished and then the rest of the book falls off. There are issues with coherent structure or story. The book starts with action and stops for background. Sometimes the initial action isn’t taken up again for chapters. Occasionally, the funeral happens and then the character shows up, and it’s a police procedural and the character is definitely dead. This is not sloppiness, this is “The author began this section in May 2021 and came up with the subsequent section in November 2021.”
She dropped the magazine on page 4, and on page 38, she has infinite ammo.
I charge 5 cents per word, with the word count being the length of the original manuscript. I require a $750 deposit to hold your spot in line and you pay the remainder in installments, with the last payment before I return the edited manuscript.
Stylistic or Line Editing
This is editing at the sentence and paragraph level. It’s adjusting the length and structure of sentences and paragraphs so they don’t go on forever or look like a wall of text. It’s reordering sentences in the paragraph to make the point easier to see. It’s editing tone and word choice to make the story fit the genre and the circumstances of the story. This also involves editing dialogue, tightening sentences, and rewording text that creates an unintended effect. It is possible to bundle this service with structural editing.
For instance, let’s take a look back at the thriller in the previous section:
She walked into her apartment and immediately felt that something was off. Her cat was staring fixedly down the hall at her bedroom door, and her hackles were up.
From her bedroom, she heard the sound clothing makes moving against clothing—the sound of a person getting up. Her bedroom door opened and she heard heavy footsteps coming down the hallway.
She turned around and opened the door. Someone was running after her—someone big. She smelled him as she ran. In the hallway, she kept yelling “Call 911!” As she ran, she heard him stop. A neighbor must have opened their door to investigate.
She made it down the stairs and to the parking lot.
Her car was in its spot. Should she keep running? He’s faster than she is. Anyone is faster than she is. She prayed that he wouldn’t catch up with her as she was trying to get into the car. She managed to get the key in the lock, cursing herself for not having an electric key fob. But he was right behind her.
She spun around and push-kicked him in the gut, then advanced and punched him the face.
There’s no discussion of the breed of the cat, the habits of the cat, or the cat’s name. There’s no discussion of the neighbor who must have opened the door.
It also involves removing extraneous detail, adding needed detail, or changing a detail that is wrong. For example, in Phoenix, Arizona, you can’t take a subway. In Virginia, the county prosecutor is a commonwealth’s attorney, not a district attorney. A WWII Nazi can’t use a Glock.
I charge 3 to 5 cents per word depending on the needs of the manuscript, with the word count being the length of the original manuscript. I require a $750 deposit to hold your spot in line and you pay the remainder in installments, with the last payment before I return the edited manuscript.
Plot Holes, Fact-Checking, and Research
Even the best-written, gripping stories can have factual problems that ruin them. Even a badly written fight scene can torch a good book. Some factual errors can even nuke the premise.
You can’t go wrong hiring a subject-matter expert. I am a former prosecutor who has a black belt in Krav Maga and also edits forensic psychological reports. My fight school teaches us how to defend against weapons attacks and mass shootings. I can assess the written violence in your book. I’m also a trained researcher, as you can see by my list of publications in different fields. As long as you don’t need me to research the validity of the equations of your math genius character, I’m skilled in ensuring that factual errors and plot holes don’t cause serious problems with your book.
I bundle this service with developmental, structural, and line editing.
This involves correcting errors in spelling, punctuation, grammar, usage, and mechanics. This does not involve imposing the personal preferences of the editor on the style and voice of your book. But some words need changing because they create an unintended meaning.
In order to copyedit properly, especially in fiction, an editor needs to know the difference between a rule and a style choice. Also, in fiction, a copyeditor needs to know which rules can be broken.
I charge between 1 and 4 cents a word, depending on how clean the manuscript is. In fact, for squeaky clean manuscripts, I have charged less. I require a 30 percent deposit to hold your spot in line and I take the remainder in installments, with the last payment before I return the edited manuscript. The word count is based on the word count of the original manuscript.
I do not specialize in proofreading, but I can refer you to editors who do. Proofreading is the last stage of editing. It involves a final check on a manuscript after it has been formatted for publication. It is a check for things like misspellings, pages with only one word on it, punctuation problems, or inaccurate pagination.
If you are ready to take your work to the next level