The author/editor combo can make or break a best seller.
My philosophy is help don’t hurt. I’m here to nurture and enhance your work, which includes safeguarding and preserving your voice. I’m also judging the effectiveness of the work—the same way your readers will—and I strive to make the intended message as clear and concise as possible for optimal flow and impact on readers.
When I find an issue, I point it out. That’s what you’re paying me for, right? But my “red pen” has a pom-pom attached to the lid, and I’m also going to tell you what you’re doing right and how that’s enhancing the manuscript so you’re mindful of that strength moving forward and find it easier to duplicate successful formulas in future work. Every writer has unique strengths and weaknesses. Recognizing strengths can become a guide to improving weaknesses. As such, my feedback has many layers.
There is no one-size-fits-all in editing, which is a big part of why it is so important to venture beyond programs and apps with generic spelling and grammar checks by hiring someone who is professionally trained to edit your work.
I love what I do. I feel fortunate to have received the education and opportunities I had to enhance my writing abilities, and I relish the opportunity to share that knowledge by helping other authors improve and hone their craft to pursue their dreams as well.
That said, I don’t work with everyone who approaches me. You can read more about that in the responses below under “Is There Anything You Won’t Edit?” Most importantly, I’m very invested in my clients’ success, and I care—as much as you do—about us being a great team because I’ll be promoting and cheering you on every step of the way.
Do I need an editor?
No. You’re the most amazing writer who ever lived. Why are you even on my site? Go buy a keg and ten pounds of Lit’l Smokies, rent a bounce house, then invite everyone you know over to celebrate your fabulousness. 😘
All writers need an editor. Those “perfect” books by your favorite authors went through at least one primary editor then multiple proofreaders before hitting the shelf of your favorite bookstore. It’s damn near impossible to read our own work objectively. Hiring a trained eye is an essential step in producing a professional-quality novel.
(You should still do the keg and bounce house thing, though. Just because.)
Am I ready for professional editing?
If your manuscript is complete and you can answer yes to one or more of the following scenarios, you're ready for professional editing:
1. You have no idea what to add or change at this point.
2. You'd like to receive feedback/guidance on the overall work and/or structuring the content.
3. You spend more time fantasizing about winning awards than revising the manuscript.
4. You're banging your head against the wall or desk while trying to figure out what to do now.
5. You've been banned from your local coffee shop for table hoarding. (Kidding—just go to the other place.)
What are your credentials and training?
I was raised by a Grand Wizard in a Himalayan cave. For thousands of years, I meditated cross-legged while hovering above a bed of lush green clover near a babbling brook and studied nothing but words, language, and the art of storytelling in every culture that's ever existed on earth. (How awesome would that be!?)
But seriously, I've been freelance writing for over twenty years and professionally editing since 2010. I have both traditional and indie publications. My publication credits include poetry, short fiction, technical writing, nonfiction, and a fiction novel, The Light in the Sound. I studied Psychology, Creative Writing, and Journalism at Indiana University, graduating in 2008. I have an MFA in Creative Writing with an emphasis in Fiction from Spalding University, Louisville, KY; however, I completed an additional year of mentored study in poetry after graduation. During graduate school, I interned as an editor with The Louisville Review and Dzanc Books. Post-graduation, I taught composition, literature, creative writing, and persuasive rhetoric courses on campus for Daytona State College and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, then online for Southern New Hampshire University.
(This info and more can also be found on my About page, sans the Grand Wizard.)
What is your specialty?
My MFA emphasis was in fiction, but I’m also credentialed to teach poetry and attended many lectures/seminars on creative nonfiction and screenwriting. Not to mention my internships and teaching years. You can find more information about that here.
I’m at the top of my field. My “specialties” are character development, sensory detail, plot, pacing, dialogue, and action, and those apply to all genres.
I've professionally edited everything under the sun, and my personal publications include poetry, nonfiction, technical writing, short stories, and fiction novels.
My roots are literary, so I pay close attention to character development and especially enjoy character-driven work. (This is where my undergrad studies in psychology come in handy.)
I have also edited a lot of nonfiction as well as children's books. I greatly enjoy both.
My range is vast. I'm the “Jane of all writing trades.” As mentioned in other responses, I don't work with everyone who comes my way, though. If your project is a stretch for me—generally due to extensive research requirements, such as for an academic textbook, or requires too much structural editing because your voice and craft aren’t developed enough, I'll pass.
Please also refer to the section below titled “Is There Anything You Won't Edit?" and feel free to review the reference letters from my clients found here.
Will you edit my genre?
Most likely, yes. I don't have a favorite or preferred genre. I love variation. I thrive on jumping from fiction to nonfiction to screenwriting and back again. Vampires, witches, space exploration and tech, romance, magical realism, epoch fantasy, horror, literary, diet/nutrition, marketing, sports, and everything in between—bring it on. I can't stress enough how much I prefer variety in my work.
Otherwise, please refer to the section above titled “What's your specialty?" and the section below titled "Is There Anything You Won't Edit?"
Is there anything you won't edit?
I don't work with everyone who approaches me, for a few reasons…
1. I'm generally booked 8-12 weeks out, so my schedule needs to be conducive to your publishing goals.
2. Your work needs to be developed enough that it doesn't need a total re-write. As I mentioned above, my goal is always to preserve your voice. If your grammar is so confusing and muddled that I'm revising almost every sentence, your writing isn't developed enough to have a voice yet for me to preserve. That's just me ghost-writing and getting supremely underpaid to do so. Point being, it doesn't do anyone any good. For ethical reasons, I don't take on clients who need a total re-write.
3. I'm somewhat selective about the purpose and intended meaning of the manuscript. Not every story has to be layered with meaning or upbeat or have a happy ending—certainly not. But I don't work with manuscripts that are filled with hate-driven author rants, or that promote violence against women, abusive relationships, oppression, or hatred of a religion, race, or gender.
4. I generally pass on projects that have extensive research requirements, such as textbooks, depending on the length. I enjoy working on educational books for children.
Should I submit to agents and/or publishers before indie-publishing?
That depends on your goals, marketing abilities, budget, and how long you're willing to wait for publication. Traditional publishing always takes much longer than self-publishing, by years. The industry “standard” is a minimum of 2-5 years for traditional publishing, though it's notoriously longer.
These days, competition is so abundant and fierce that you need to submit publish-ready work of equal or greater quality to what's on the shelves in bookstores to avoid landing in the slush pile. So whichever publishing route you plan on pursuing, once you finish your manuscript draft, hiring a professional editor is the next best first step.
How are you different from “bad" editors I've worked with in the past (or heard about)?
There are many types of bad editors. I won't cover all of them here because that would get tedious and maybe even a little strange (ha), but the most common are:
1. The fraud: no degree, no experience, just a self-professed “love of writing" and willingness to take your money.
2. The educated novice who offers all types of editing, but has really only ever proofread term papers, a single novel, or short stories—all for friends.
3. Those who I like to call “Bad Hairdressers." You know the type…they pay zero attention to your requests and give you the cut and/or color THEY think will look best on you.
4. Otherwise, the rapid-fire “editing" sites online are just running your work through automated spellcheck, and you can do that on your own. Don't pay for that.
How do you justify charging for a sample edit?
Do you work on days off for free at your job?
Please note that I sell an in-depth sample edit. That means I'm going to send you back 10 publish-ready pages as an example of how I'll handle your entire novel. Unfortunately, there are writers who go around scamming free sample edits of short stories they're submitting to literary magazines and journals. I learned that the hard way. Also, considering how much a full novel edit can cost, $45 is a very minimal investment for you to find out if we'll be a good team.
*I will do a 5-page sample edit for free.
I’m also happy to do a complimentary assessment with no edits and give you a broad overview of what I feel your writing needs, including a quote for editing the full manuscript.
How do I know you won't steal my work or idea?
Busted. That's been my evil plan from the get-go. Muahahahaha…What's your name again?
I can't help but chuckle whenever I hear this. It's a common “newb" writer concern. Many moons ago (more than I'll admit), a fellow student asked our creative writing professor this during class and he laughed pretty hard. At the time, his reaction seemed kinda rude, but now I understand.
Getting published (traditionally) isn't easy and getting people to read your work (no matter how you’re published) is even harder. It doesn't matter whose name is on it—yours or mine—no one is going to care until you make a name for yourself, which is a very time-consuming, painstaking process. And if I'm going to put that much effort into building a readership, you can bet your arse it'll be for my own work in my own unique voice, which I'm pretty darn proud of—when not being kicked out of coffee shops for table hoarding. Kidding, that's never happened to me. Maybe.
Sure, there is the occasional manuscript theft or plagiarism story that goes viral, but that’s usually already published work or a dispute between co-writers or co-workers who were in a relationship and/or sharing a computer.
Also, not many authors can build a career on a single book, and I’m not a big fan of the movie Misery, though Kathy Bates’ performance was fantastic.
If you're worried, take a copy of your manuscript to your bank or a local mail store and get it notarized before emailing it to me. Will that hold up in court? I honestly have no idea, but I'm not going to steal your work anyway, so it really doesn't matter. 😉
Should I also hire a proofreader after line or structural editing?
Last I checked, industry-standard “allows" for 1 error per 10k words. Though we're always striving for perfection, editors are only human, and it really does take an army. Big-box publishers generally send a manuscript through a primary editor (that would be me in this scenario), then at least 4 proofreaders.
Obviously, proofreading or copyediting is a “one-off." But I often recommend hiring a proofreader after line or structural-editing, which is heavier. I will proofread any manuscript I edited (after recommended revisions have been applied) for only $0.005 cents per word, but I recommend a fresh set of eyes. Qualified eyes, that is. Not much irks me more than an unqualified, post-editing proofreader mucking up my work. What a waste!
If you'd like recommendations for qualified proofreaders, please let me know. My network is vast.
Post line or structural-editing, your volunteer readers (AKA fam and besties) can become a fabulous team of proofreaders to finish polishing a professional-quality manuscript. 😉
Also, reading a good ol' fashioned printed version of your manuscript, and/or reading your first printed book proof, is a fabulous way to make a final pass with “fresh" eyes.
How do you set your rates?
My rate structure is based on the EFA industry standard median price ranges. However, I am at the top of my field, so my rates are often lower than comparable editors because I strive to keep my services as accessible as possible. I feel fortunate to be in a position where I can do that.
Detailed info on my pricing can be found here.
How do I calculate what I owe?
The total owed is calculated based on the word count of your manuscript, ensuring there are no surprises. All projects totaling $300 or less are billed upfront. Otherwise, I charge 50% upfront and 50% upon completion. If needed, I also offer payments divided into three equal installments for projects exceeding $5,000. (The project has to be paid in full before the completed edits are delivered.)
(manuscript word count) x (price per word) = total
If you’re getting a
$0.03 per word line-edit
on a 50,000 word manuscript,
the formula is:
50,000 x 0.03 = $1500
Do you have a contract?
Yes. The gist of it says that you retain all rights to your work and owe me nothing beyond editing (unless you hire me for other publishing-related services).
I'm happy to send you a copy of the contract for review before deciding to work with me.
I want to receive feedback as I'm writing. Do you offer something like that?
Yes! Manuscript Coaching focuses on smaller sections at a time while you're working toward a completed manuscript.
You send chapters or short stories weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly. This is ideal if you're looking for a writing coach who will review each chapter or section as it's written and give a comprehensive critique, addressing structure, content, focus, audience, consistencies in voice, tone, and point of view, as well as plot and pacing, realism in dialogue, character development, all stylistic elements, and overall substance—and help you stay motivated. 🙂
Info on editing options and pricing can be found here.
What will our author-editor relationship be like?
After we've sorted out the details, and you've given me the green light (i.e. sent your full manuscript), I disappear for a bit. For me, the conversation really begins after I've read the full manuscript—aka explored your demented (or not) psyche for a while, so I prefer not to say a whole lot until I'm finished. In the meantime, hopefully, you won't wander around town fretting. (Feel free to send worried 2 a.m. emails; to which I'll respond reassuringly the next morning.) After I'm finished editing, though, it's on! I'll be scratching at your bedroom window (proverbial) in the middle of the night with a crazed expression, whispering, “Is this a bad time to talk about the sequel?"
In all seriousness, I hope we'll be an awesome team and my guidance and cheerleading will help you cross the publication finish line with stride and confidence, so by your second or third publication, you'll feel like an ol' pro.
I also offer a full suite of publishing services—more info on that here—but even if you're only working with me for editing services, I'm always available for one round of post-editing Q&A on your revisions, and discussion on your new writing and publishing goals.
Do I need to schedule in advance?
That depends on your goals. For full manuscript edits, I am generally booked 3–4 months out. If you’d like to reserve a time beyond 6 months out (to correspond with when you anticipate finishing your manuscript), I require a $200 deposit that's deducted from the 50% upfront portion when I receive your full manuscript.
Please note: I do not offer a “rush" service option.
What are the steps to get started?
Send me an inquiry via email or through the form linked here with details of your project and the word count, then we'll decide if the next best step is a sample edit and/or a project assessment. Either option will include a custom price quote. After that, we'll determine the schedule for your project (based on my earliest opening). Then I'll guide you through each step thereafter.
I'm also happy to schedule a phone call.
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