“I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning and took out a comma.
In the afternoon, I put it back in.”
~ Oscar Wilde
For a fiction manuscript, I assess the material for plot, character development, narrative flow, dialogue, and voice, among other things. Nonfiction manuscripts are assessed for organization, clarity, and accessibility. I provide an in-depth report, usually three to five single-spaced pages in length for a book-length manuscript, detailing the work’s strengths and weaknesses. The report includes revision suggestions, which may be minor or extensive. I also make notations on the manuscript itself, which enables me to target comments to specific problems. I am available for phone consultations as well.
Line editing consists of correcting spelling and grammatical errors, and also more substantive editorial work. I look for and correct common errors, such as repetitive word use, overuse of adjectives and adverbs, and passive-voice sentence construction. I also edit for clarity; for instance, eliminating run-on sentences, smoothing awkward transitions, and correcting point of view problems. Finally, I fact-check names, places, dates, etc.
Some stories are worth being told, yet the author has little facility or interest in writing. The manuscript might, therefore, need extensive reworking that goes beyond a simple line edit. I will rewrite sections of a work as required, making certain that the original and rewritten sections blend seamlessly.
If you are submitting a story or an article to a magazine, or a book-length work to an agent or a publisher, chances are you’re going to need a query letter. Along with synopses, query letters can be difficult to write well, but a high-quality query letter is essential. In a query letter you must explain what your work is about; who you are and why you have the qualifications to write your work; what successful, already published authors or writings you or your work can be compared to; and that you are offering a highly polished and valuable story, novel, memoir, self-help book, etc. All that in one page, and in lively, engaging prose. I read many, many query letters while working for publishers, and have worked with many authors on their letters since then, and can help you craft one that achieves all of the above goals and that will hopefully prompt an editor or agent to ask for your material.
Read more about editorial help after the book is written.
We have all read books and articles in newspapers and magazines that have typographical mistakes. To an extent, these are inevitable because humans make mistakes. But sometimes the mistakes are there because the text was poorly proofread before publication–or not proofread at all! This is the last step before publishing, and it is crucial. Proofreading your own work helps, but because you know it so well by the time you get to that stage, you may not notice the mistakes as your brain automatically fixes them. A fresh eye can be helpful in spotting that misplaced or missing comma, or noticing that it should be diary and not dairy.
Blogs have become essential marketing tools for published writers. Although blogs are intended to be less formal than, for example, query letters, and the subject matter should lean toward the casual and away from the weighty, you still need to post blogs that intrigue readers, are well written, and will entice people to read more of your work. I maintain three blogs of my own and extensively read other blogs, and can guide you as you begin your own blog, giving you confidence to push that post button.
Need something short edited fast? I can handle that. Maybe you’ve written a blog post that you want to post immediately but need a fresh eye to look it over. Or you’ve finally written a query letter for the story or article or novel you’ve had sitting on your desk for a month, and you need to make sure it’s pluperfect before you send it out. Or you’ve written a business proposal that your boss needs by the end of the week. So long as you are only looking for line editing and not substantive work (that is, you don’t need advice on the actual content), I can edit and get the letter or blog post back to you quickly.
Read more about editing for blog posts or online articles.