How I edit
Content is king.
Whether you’re a brand new author just feeling your way through your first publishing steps or a seasoned pro looking for new ways to hone your craft, you will see an immediate boost in the creative quality of your work from consulting with a good Developmental Editor. Some people call what I do “story editing” and to others it’s “content editing”, but I take care to nurture more than just your on-page story. My feedback encourages you to think about both the big picture—say, the future of your series—and the fleeting, itty bitty ones (like choosing punctuation for a tricky dialogue cadence). Because I work with you as a partner to help fill in the editing and planning gaps for your specific project needs, I call this developmental editing, and it’s a synergistic combination of structural, substantive, and line editing. I do not currently offer standalone line editing, copyediting, or proofreading services for full manuscripts (See my Patreon Pro Levels for micro-edits and short critiques).
We’ll put it in writing.
After we agree to work together, I’ll send you a Freelance Editorial Agreement (contract) outlining exactly what services I will and won’t provide for a particular project. You’ll have the opportunity to suggest any changes to the contract before we get started, and we’ll tweak it until we both feel good about the deal.
I offer two kinds of full-length Developmental Edits
If you’re looking for a quickie edit of a manuscript excerpt or a consultation on plot and character arcs, check out my Pro Levels on Patreon.
Below are the standard (baseline) services I offer for each type of Developmental Edit. Note that all the editing services I offer are single-phase: you send me the manuscript, I provide the edits, then you make your changes independently. If you prefer a multi-phase, cooperative style of editing, we can set that up as sequential developmental edits of various types, but each editing pass will be scheduled, contracted, and executed independently. A Comprehensive Edit does not replace a dedicated Line or Copy Edit.
I will read the manuscript and comment on the…
- Pace: Does it lag anywhere? Is it too fast in places?
- Continuity: Is the reading experience smooth and pleasing? Do any sections of text feel illogical or non-continuous, or otherwise jar the reader out of the overall story arc?
- Plot: Is it believable? Is it exciting? What may make it pop or inspire greater emotion?
- World-building: Does the text provide natural immersion in the story world? In what ways could this be improved?
- Characterization: Are the characters appropriately relatable, likable, complex, or despicable? How can they be improved to inspire a closer bond with readers?
- Voice: Are the characters’ (and author’s) voices consistent? Are they too similar to one another or too disparate from intent of the story? Suggest occasional rephrasing to this end.
The focus is on the story. In a critique edit, I don’t make in-line changes or leave comments in the manuscript. I’ll gather my observations and suggestions in an a thorough Editorial Report that you can use as a guidebook for your story edits. My Editorial Reports are in-depth, detailed Microsoft Word documents that often span between 12 and 40 pages long, depending on story length.
A Critique is perfect for authors who:
- Want an overall evaluation of the condition of a manuscript before committing to a full editing timeline
- Feel very comfortable in their personal style and voice and simply want story feedback
The rate for a Critique Developmental Edit is $0.010 per word plus the base fee of $150*.
For manuscripts shorter than 22,500 words, the flat fee is $340.
A Comprehensive Developmental Edit includes a detailed Editorial Report, and I also leave comments, suggestions, and in-line manuscript notes to dig even deeper into the story. Where a Critique is high level, a Comprehensive story edit is exhaustive.
In a Comprehensive edit, I occasionally line, copy, and substantially edit where I feel those changes add punch or value to a character or scene. I also highlight** suggested areas for further improvement. However, I do avoid copyediting or any editorial changes which don’t contribute to the intended feel of the story or its emotional impact on a reader.
A Comprehensive Edit is ideal for authors who:
- Are motivated to drastically improve both their story and prose in a single editing pass
- Need help tuning their character voices
- Want more nuanced feedback on specific scenes and concepts
- Feel pretty good about their story but can’t quite pin down what it’s missing or how to elevate it to the next level of POW!
The rate for a Comprehensive Developmental Edit is $0.016 per word plus the base fee of $150*.
For manuscripts shorter than 14,000 words, the flat fee is $340.
**If you have trouble distinguishing between highlight colors in a MS Word document, let me know upfront and we will work out an alternative to my highlighting system.
*My base editing fee is $150. The per-word rate (above) will be added to the base fee to calculate the total cost. This allows us to set aside time for follow-up questions or brainstorming (about an hour total), as well as all the project setup and administrative communication.
How to get started
Let’s talk about your story and timeline goals. To help me better understand what you need out of an edit, fill out the Contact Form below and let me know…
- What genre* do you write in primarily (contemporary romance, romantic suspense, YA romance, urban fantasy, etc)
- Generally, how long do you expect your stories to be (approximate word count—55k, 80k, 110k, etc)?
- What sorts of feedback are you looking for developmentally (character development? storytelling voice? pacing health? etc)?
- Do you already know what type of edit you prefer (Critique dev versus Comprehensive dev)?
- How much writing experience do you have? Are you currently published? How would you classify your current skill level in storytelling?
- Are you writing with the intent to self-publish or to submit a story to a publisher (if so, which publisher and line)?
- How much advance notice do you need if a spot opens up? Do you have any specific time frame limitations?
The reason for some of the questions above is only to help me better guesstimate how much editing time I may need for your story. The question marked with an asterisk * is also important, because I specialize in romantic fiction where the romance is central to the story. The sub-genre matters less—I’ve edited contemporary, paranormal, historical, sci-fi, and fantasy—but because my skillset is so romance-centric, I prefer to focus on adult romances rather than other types of stories with romantic elements (like romantic suspense, urban fantasy, or young adult).
I’m often asked if I offer a sample edit. The answer is no. I’m happy to discuss the specific reasons why, if you like, and chatting privately is a great way to get a feel for whether we’ll be a good fit.
I require full payment before beginning work, and my calendar often books up 5-7 months in advance, so please try to give yourself as much of a time and financial cushion as possible to avoid delays on your project. My timeline for finishing an edit depends on the type of edit (a Comprehensive takes longer than a Critique), the length of the book (short? novella? epic?), the nuances of the story (are there complicated accents or native customs I’ll need to research?), and the level of finesse and writing skill demonstrated in the narrative.
Invest in your craft.
Editing—particularly Developmental—is not cheap, and I’ve found that you generally get what you pay for. If you’re wondering whether working with me is worth what I charge, I can only point you toward praise from other authors I have worked with. My rates are based on a combination of the standard suggested range for developmental editing; the economy of the region I live in (San Francisco Bay Area, California, USA); and the years of experience, depth of insight, and spectrum of creative thinking I bring to our partnership.
Here are a few things to think about. If any of these statements makes you feel a little queasy, then consider how you can work Developmental Editing into your budget.
Readers are more impatient than ever, and many will make a stop/go decision about your book on the first page, and then again before the 30% mark.
The publishing industry, especially in romance, is extremely competitive, and honing the quality of your voice can immediately boost your chances of making a living from your passion.
You only get one chance at an amazing first impression.
Make it count.