If you’re reading this it’s either because you’re curious to know how I can help you with your novel, or you have way too much time on your hands and like clicking buttons. If you’re here because of the novel thing, keep reading. (If you like clicking buttons, feel free to click away. Then consider getting a job as an elevator operator. Seriously, it’s all about the buttons. Just imagine the job satisfaction. Plus, you get to wear a cute uniform. Ask for one with brass buttons. You know why.)
I am offering three editorial services for aspiring (and perspiring) novelists. I don’t have a complex fee schedule and you won’t find any sprawling spreadsheets illustrating all the different ways you can give me your money. My editorial services are for writers who have worked hard on their novels, have written a first draft and a second and a third and a fourth and have cleaned up grammar and typos and formatting and are ready for an editor’s assistance to take it to the next level.
In other words, this isn’t your first draft. It’s not your rough draft. It’s not a collection of ideas slapped together in search of a point. It’s a complete novel. Maybe not a great one yet, but finished.
Don’t worry. If you’re not sure which editorial service you’re looking for, I’ll help you figure that out.
The first service is something I call the Editorial Review. (I know, it’s not very original. If you want, you can call it The Green Pen of Helpfulness. This will make sense in a moment. Probably.) I’ll read your manuscript cover to cover, then offer my evaluation of your novel in a 6 to 10 page document, noting areas in need of improvement and your strengths. I’ll point out editorial issues that might be keeping you from landing an agent or catching an editor’s eye. I’ll tell you what I think about your plot, the believability of your characters, and the quality of your writing. An Editorial Review often is just enough information to point you toward revisions that can dramatically increase the chance for publishing success.
The second service, The Red Pen of Life and Death (told you), is a more in-depth analysis of your novel. This service is designed for those of you who are getting good feedback on your novel (it’s your fifth draft, right?) but still no offer of representation. What you’ll be getting with The Red Pen of Life and Death is exactly what I give authors when a publishing house assigns me as their editor. This is where the typeface hits the page (yeah, lame, but better than “rubber meets the road”). I’ll read your manuscript cover to cover and provide specific editorial suggestions throughout (using the Comment and Track Changes features in Microsoft Word, when possible). I’ll also include editing examples for many of these suggestions. And, I’ll even spend up to an hour on the phone with you to talk in general about the book as well as answer any lingering questions you might have about my notes. Sometimes it’s the little things that make the difference between an interesting, well-written novel and a compelling, must-publish-this-now novel. I’m reasonably skilled at uncovering those little things.
The third service is a Comprehensive Edit (colloquially, The Purple Pen of Publishing Pulchritude) that includes a big picture edit (similar to the Red Pen above), followed by a detailed line edit after you’ve made your changes to the manuscript. This is designed for authors who are intending to self-publish, and want the book to be in the best shape possible before…hiring a copyeditor to make sure it’s even in better shape before hitting publish on Amazon or wherever. See what I did there? I emphasized the importance of hiring a separate copyeditor even after the line edit. Copyeditors are the unsung heroes of all manuscripts. They find things we don’t. But before they get the manuscript, the line edit will make things as clean and neat and lovely as possible. I promise. Oh, and also with the Comprehensive Edit, we’ll chat on the phone or via email or Skype throughout the process as needed. Because editing is a lonely life and I could use a friend. Well, that, and it’s easier to sort out plot and character issues via conversation than smoke signals.
A few notes:
- The Red Pen of Life and Death is not a line edit. I won’t be dotting all the i’s and crossing all the t’s or correcting every grammatical error. As your noveldoctor, I will focus on identifying the bigger issues that need work, then offer a customized prescription to help cure those problems. Oh, you’ll still get plenty of little editing marks (have antacid handy when opening the file) – and I’ll dot some of those i’s and cross some of those t’s as I see them, but this is a macro-edit (or “developmental edit”), not micro-edit.
- I‘m a kind-hearted editor, but I’m not going to sugar-coat the truth (as I see it). If I think your novel is “beyond saving,” I’ll say so. I’ll do my best to offer direction, but I’m not going to give you false hope if I don’t think your novel has much of a chance finding success in the traditional publishing process. I don’t like this part of my job. But thankfully, I’m only one voice in a choir of editors and book doctors. Perhaps someone else will see something I missed. I hope so. I promise I’ll unabashedly cheer for you when your debut novel eclipses J.K. Rowlings’ aggregate sales numbers. I want you to succeed.
- And here’s my little disclaimer: I can’t guarantee you’ll sign with an agent or get published if you take heed of my editorial suggestions. (Anyone who promises this is lying, drunk, or has photos of a publisher in compromising positions.) But I sure hope you come away from the process feeling like you’ve learned something of value – something that makes you a better writer.
- EVEN MORE IMPORTANT UPDATE THAN USUAL 04/11/17: I am booked through July, 2017. Next available editing opportunity is…August. And here’s some (not breaking) news – I’m taking on fewer projects this summer because I have another book to write (here’s a link to the most recent one, in case you’re terribly curious: Stolen Things) and have limited editing time due to recently taking on the role of legal guardian for my 5-year-old granddaughter. But never fear – I’m enlisting the help of my equally-talented brother to expand my editorial influence. While he’s building his own freelance business, I’ll be playing mentor/supervisor for his work. So here’s what that means – if you don’t want to wait for my next available slot, you can hire the Tim/Steve Combo Platter (for either the Editorial Review or the Red Pen services). Tim will do the actual editing, but then I will weigh in on his work, adding any additional notes from my little editorial perch. The price is the same (I get a small percentage of the fee, enough for a pound or two of bacon; Tim gets most of it), and while I won’t be primary editor, you will still be getting my eyes on Tim’s notes after he has done his work. Tim’s a smart and funny guy and I’m sure you’ll enjoy working with him. Click here for a little more info about him. This is probably a limited time offer because I figure he’ll be well-established in a few months and won’t need any assistance from his older brother. You will still need to contact me to arrange the Tim/Steve combo.
- NOTE: It’s entirely possible that I might pass on the opportunity to edit your novel, due to available time and/or lack of “connection” with the project. Don’t feel discouraged by this. I just prefer to work with projects that resonate most with my interests. The good news is that I have a wide variety of interests. The bad news is that I still only have 24 hours in a day and some of those are for sleeping.
So you want to know how much this is going to cost you? (Did you scroll down here before reading the longwinded intro above? Yeah. I would have, too.) Here are the fees. Note: Many projects qualify for the starting rate, but first novels and books that are more than 90K words will typically have a higher fee. (For example, a Comprehensive Edit of a 125K word novel would likely cost $2600 or so.) This will be determined before we commit to working together. Generally speaking, if your project is more than 150K words, I’m probably not your editor.
Editorial Review: Starting at $800
The Red Pen of Life and Death: Starting at $1600
Comprehensive Edit: Starting at $2200
That’s it. Simple, really. I ask for half of the fee up front (at least a month before the scheduled start date to secure the spot in the queue and hold us both to the deadline fire) and the rest upon delivery of the editorial note and/or marked-up manuscript*. You can use PayPal or send me one of those old paper things they call checks. I’d even consider bacon, but only if it’s really good bacon and I have space in my refrigerator.
If you opt for the Tim/Steve Combo Platter, you’ll pay Tim the entire fee. I’ll make sure he takes care of my share of things so you don’t have to worry about that.
Okay, now all you have to do is email me. We’ll figure out the details.
Please note: I do my level best to stick to the agreed-upon schedule, but words and stories are temperamental little beasties. And so is my granddaughter, whom I am caring for full-time these days. Sometimes that schedule gets wonky (and/or shot to hell) and I have to adjust start dates and deadlines. It’s not like I’m trying to delay your project – it’s just that I really invest myself in every project I work on, and sometimes those projects turn out to be much bigger on the inside. (TARDIS reference achieved.)
*With one exception: The remaining balance for Comprehensive Edits is divided into two halves. The first is due upon delivery of the first round edit notes. The final payment isn’t due until the second edit has been completed and the manuscript is in your sweaty little hands.