Editorial and Educational Services
I help unpublished authors prepare manuscripts for self-publishing or submission to agents and traditional publishers.
Please be aware that I am currently booked through October 2013. I'm happy to accept inquiries and make arrangements for projects in November and beyond. Due to limitations on my available time for freelance work, I only respond to inquiries on Tuesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays; thanks for your patience.
- To evaluate the first three chapters of the manuscript and determine the degree and type of editing it needs: free.
- To provide a sample edit or critique of up to 1000 words: free.
- To read the manuscript and provide an in-depth critique of structural elements: $9 per 1000 words.
- To provide a line-by-line and scene-by-scene line edit of the entire manuscript, focusing on story and language: $21 per 1000 words.
- To reread the manuscript once you've revised it and provide a brief follow-up analysis: $6 per 1000 words (revised length).
- To copy edit and fact-check the manuscript if it doesn't need any further developmental editing: $18 per 1000 words.
- To proofread a manuscript that is otherwise completely ready for publication or submission: $9 per 1000 words.
- To write or revise a query letter and synopsis or jacket copy: $6 per 1000 words of manuscript if I have already read the manuscript, $9 per 1000 words otherwise.
- To discuss your book over IM: $30/half-hour, plus $3 per 1000 words of manuscript if I have not already read it.
I also offer a developmental editing package deal that includes an initial critique (after which you revise the manuscript); a line edit (followed by further revisions); a final analysis of the revised manuscript; writing or editing a synopsis, query letter, and/or jacket copy; and four hours of IM conversation—all for just $32 per 1000 words, a 25% discount over purchasing those services separately. If your manuscript is 100,000 words long, you'll save over $1300!
I'm happy to work on short fiction as well as novels. My minimum fee for any project is $150.
If you have any questions about these services, feel free to email me.
Frequently asked questions
What does an evaluation look like?
You email me your complete manuscript. I look it over and write back, usually within a couple of days, with my recommendation of where to begin the editing process. If the book doesn't yet feel fully formed, or if I spot the warning signs of big structural issues, I will generally recommend starting with a critique. If the structure of the book is solid, I'll suggest line editing to tighten up the prose and characterizations. If the prose is already polished, copy editing will catch any stray errors of fact, word choice, or internal inconsistency.
What does a critique look like?
I read the manuscript from beginning to end and write up a detailed critique with examples drawn from the text. The critique addresses large-scale issues like pacing, character development, exposition, and plot structure. Here's a quote from a recent critique:
I think this is generally a very strong book. Here's what worked especially well for me:
* Your prose is smooth, and you have a good handle on tricky things like scene-setting and transitions from one space to another. I found a few typos and inconsistencies, but nothing major.
* I especially enjoyed the slow development of the romances and friendships; that felt very real, and was a lovely contrast to the way that instant attraction tends to lead very rapidly to lots and lots of sex in most contemporary romances as well as the frequent portrayal of college students as completely oversexed and irresponsible. Very nice work there.
* The dialogue feels age-appropriate and genuine. I'm impressed by how well you avoid beginner mistakes like people saying one another's names all the time, and by your inclusion of things like "Let me braid your hair" that people say to one another a lot in real life but that never make it into books.
Now that I've bolstered your ego, here are the areas that I think could use some work:
* The details of college life are lacking. I assume it's something like the present day, since there are cellphones and texting, so how can an entire crowd of college kids go an entire semester without once mentioning Facebook? College students are generally very politically active, but I don't see any discussion of current events. There's no mention of anyone having a crush on a professor or a TA. These aren't things you need to describe a lot, but sprinkling them throughout the text will help to really bring the setting to life.
* One place where you actually include too much detail is in the description of people's movements. I know you already worked on this, but it could still use more trimming. Trust the reader to fill in the gaps. You don't need to explain that someone moved some pillows so he could lie down; just say "He lay down" (or "He flopped back" or what have you). "Let me braid your hair" can stand on its own; no need to follow it up with descriptions of hair-braiding. One wonderful thing about books is that readers get to exercise their imaginations and collaborate in building up a picture of a scene. Allow them that pleasure rather than dictating every single detail. They may imagine things a little differently than you do. That's okay! What matters is that it feels real, which only requires that the information you do provide be internally consistent.
What does line editing look like?
Line editing takes place within the text. I use Microsoft Word's Track Changes feature to make my suggestions, so you can individually accept or decline each one. During line editing, I will recommend changes to specific words and to the organization of sentences and paragraphs, all in the service of highlighting your literary strengths and keeping the reader enthralled. I'll also call out character inconsistencies and specific instances of problems like infodumping, vagueness, and unrealistic behavior. Here's a quote from an edited manuscript, with my changes in bold:
I ran past the counter,
knockingbanged open the office door to the back with my shoulder, and lurched into the back room just in time to see a heavy-browed cretin with a buzz cut and tiny, piglike eyes hurl my father bodilyacross the room.
Dad saw me
evenas he skidded across the floor. "Jimmy! Get out of here!" he shouted. [Wouldn't the breath have been knocked out of him? Maybe "wheezed" instead.]
What's the difference between copy editing and proofreading?
Copy editing examines the manuscript for inconsistencies and includes an element of fact-checking. A copy editor will catch things like the moon being full twice in two weeks, or a reference to a Beatles concert taking place in 1982.
Proofreading is the very last stage, after all the editing and revising is done, and is solely about fixing typos. Unpublished authors may want to have a proofreader go over a manuscript before sending it to an agent; self-publishers should always send a proof to a proofreader before declaring a book ready for sale. As a rule, I do not proofread manuscripts I have edited, on the theory that it's always better to have another set of eyes looking out for mistakes.
Contracts and payment
I always provide a written contract in plain English; I will only perform services and send invoices as laid out in that contract. This sample contract for a line edit will give you an idea of my usual terms. It's very important to me to keep you in the loop from beginning to end, and I expect you to do the same for me. My motto is "No surprises." If you have any questions or concerns at any time, you can always email me.
I usually request 50% payment up front and 50% within one week of project completion. I accept online payment only, via Dwolla, Serve, or Popmoney. Popmoney is available to customers of participating banks; the other services let you set up an account for free. If you have not used an online payment service before, please allow at least ten days to set up your account and link it with your payment method (Dwolla and Popmoney work with bank accounts only; Serve works with both bank accounts and credit cards). I prefer and recommend Dwolla. I do not accept payment via PayPal.
If you have any questions about these terms, feel free to email me. I'll be glad to work with you to create a contract and fee arrangement that makes us both happy.
Services for publishers
I provide project editing, copy editing, proofreading, and research services on a contract basis. Some of my recent work:
- Serving as editor-at-large for issues 1, 3, 4, and 5 of #24MAG, for which each issue is created start to finish in 24 hours.
- Line editing Just Enough Research, A Book Apart, projected publication 2013.
- Project editing The Wonderful Future That Never Was, Sterling Publishing, 2010, and its sequel, The Amazing Weapons That Never Were, Sterling Publishing, 2012.
- Copy editing and proofreading several cookbooks and home repair and remodeling titles, Sterling Publishing, 2009-2011.
- Line editing, copy editing, and fact-checking More Funky Things to Draw, Hinkler Books, 2011.
- Copy editing short science fiction and fantasy stories published at Tor.com, 2010–2011.
- Scanning, copy editing, and standardizing language elements for The Best of Larry Niven, Subterranean Press, 2010.
- Editing a wide variety of health and medicine content for About.com Health, 2010–2011.
My areas of expertise include fantasy, science fiction, horror, romance, biography and memoir, history, dance, music, art, crafts, cooking, home repair, carpentry, architecture, design, science, medicine, and mathematics. Rates vary depending on the type of project, deadline, etc.; please email me for a quote.
Seminars and workshops
I teach a variety of seminars and workshops, all of which can be easily adjusted for an audience of children, teens, or adults. For seminars, there's a flat fee of $200 per hour (most of my seminars fit easily into a 45- or 60-minute class period). For workshops, I usually charge between $50 and $100 per person depending on the length and intensity of the workshop. I'm happy to discuss lower rates for schools and nonprofit organizations; please inquire. Here are just a few of the classes I've taught recently.
I offer one-day and two-day writing workshops for writers at all levels, focusing on various aspects of writing craft that can be applied in any genre and to any length or style of work. For the one-day workshop, students provide me with work in advance and then we discuss each piece in a round-table format. This works very well for writing groups and classrooms. For the two-day workshop, I start with a brief discussion and then go right into assignments: first a quick one to complete right then and there, then a slightly longer one to complete overnight. The two-day workshop is ideal for writing conferences and conventions.
"The Basics of Book Reviewing" workshop
This workshop, ideal for children and teens, encourages participants to approach books critically and to turn their findings and opinions into a cohesive review. Following a simple outline, your students will be writing and discussing books in no time! I also include a brief discussion of the ethics of book reviewing, particularly the importance of being honest as well as understanding that opinions vary and should be expressed as opinions ("I didn't like it") rather than facts ("It was awful").
"How Publishing Works"
Ever wonder how a manuscript turns into a book? This seminar gives you an overview of both traditional publishing and self-publishing, covering every step from typing "The End" to holding the finished book in your hands. Students of all ages love learning that publishing goes beyond writing and editing to include agents and contracts, artwork, design, production, publicity, and even bookselling and royalties.
"I've Finished My Book! Now What?"
"How do I get an agent? Do I really need one? Should I self-publish or try traditional publishing? What about e-books?" These questions and more will be answered in this in-depth explanation of everything an unpublished writer needs to know, including frank discussions of different profit models. This lecture is great for writing groups and can also be adapted to a one-on-one analysis of your book and personality so I can help you decide which type of publishing is right for you.