If you’re reading this, that’s a good sign. It means you’ve reached a point in your writing where you’re ready to go beyond what you can do with your current skills and the feedback you can get from your writers group, online critique-swap websites, your mother, et cetera.
Your friends and family may love your work, but the truth is very few of them have the skill and training to show you what your book needs in a way that can both raise your skill level and get you closer to landing an agent or a book deal.
I offer three basic services to do just that: Developmental Editing, Copy Editing, and Line Editing. Point your mouse over at the headings on the left to see descriptions these services.
I’m also perfectly open to doing other things as well: ghost writing, book proposals, query letters, editing your PhD thesis, et cetera. and let me know what you have in mind.
Developmental editing means I read your manuscript cover to cover, take an enormous amount of notes, and write you a report on what I find. Writers who have an agent or editor at a publishing house working with them will be familiar with the “editorial letter,” a detailed letter citing issues for an author to address before the book is ready to publish. These days, with writers needing an essentially perfect manuscript just to get an agent in the first place, I provide that level of experienced analysis and feedback.
My developmental editing reports are typically twenty to twenty-five pages, and cover everything from writing craft issues of mechanics and style, down through deeper issues of premise, plot structure, and character development.
This is a great service if you’ve been through several drafts of a book, are getting good feedback from people who see it, but aren’t getting the attention from agents and publishers that you’d like. Chances are you have some subtle issues in the book that are making them say no.
Whatever the problems may be, I’m pretty good at finding them.
I will also point out the areas where your book and your writing are strong. I will suggest ways you can be even stronger, and strategies for using your strengths to their greatest effect.
This is a basic copy edit pass, where I fix any spelling, punctuation, and obvious grammar issues. It’s nothing fancy. It won’t improve your writing significantly.
What you’re paying for is to make sure all the fiddly mechanical issues are correct. You’re paying me to catch the embarrassing mistakes that will otherwise serve as an easy excuse for an agent or publisher to reject your work.
This is a great service if your manuscript is as done as you care to make it, and is otherwise ready to send out on queries.
You can—and should—spell check. But no one has yet invented a spell checker that reliably catches when you’ve used the wrong homonym. Grammar checkers, while useful for business writing, often cause more trouble than they’re worth for creative writing. And as far as I know, nobody has yet included a punctuation-checker as part of a mainstream word processor either.
Until they do, consider hiring an eagle-eyed copy editor.
This is an intensive line-by-line edit of your work, to address issues of writing craft. Unlike simple copy editing, line editing can improve your writing dramatically. However, line editing does include copy editing, for the simple reason that I can't line edit without also catching mechanical errors too.
Line editing will fix problems such as over-using adjectives and adverbs, breaking up overly long or run on sentences into shorter pieces that flow better, improving variety in sentence length in passages that have a monotonous feel, and so forth.
Line editing will not fix deeper issues, such as cases where you’ve violated the “Show, don’t tell” rule, plot holes and outright inconsistencies in the story, sub-plots that slow down the pacing, et cetera. I may well suggest what you ought to do about these deeper issues, but they are more properly the writer’s job to fix.
This is a great service if you are confident that the underlying story is what it should be, in terms of character development, plot, stakes, pacing, and the other elements of story-craft, but you still want help making the writing flow smoothly.
Come on. There are no guarantees in the publishing industry.
The sad reality is great books can stay mired in the slushpile for years while sloppy books somehow make it onto bookstore shelves. This happens all the time. There is no cure for excessively bad luck, nor any recipe for uncommonly good luck. All you can do is stack the odds in your favor.
At the end of the day, that’s all any book doctor can do for you: help you get your manuscript into the best possible shape so that luck favors you more than it opposes you.
But there’s still a lot of luck involved.
Click here for prices for each service, to request a proposal, or order one of my services.