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 four 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. The first three 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.
The fourth option is for those of you who are still struggling with that first draft. You haven’t made the story the best it can be yet, you haven’t gone through it with an editorial eye – and you’re wanting some help to give it shape. You may not even be finished with it. What you really need is an editorial consultant – a collaborator, as it were. Someone who can help you refine your ideas and turn them into a manuscript worthy of careful editing.
Don’t worry. If you’re not sure whether you’re ready for options one-through-three or option four, I’ll help you figure that out. I’m a helpful kind of guy.
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.) This is the sort of thing I do for publishing houses that are interested in a project and yet aren’t convinced it’s right for them or that it’s “ready for prime time.” 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. It’s also a great service for those of you who are already contracted for a novel and have completed it, but it’s just not working for you (or the publisher). Worried about the sophomore slump? Let’s talk. 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. Because copyeditors are the unsung heroes of all manuscripts. They find things we don’t. We like copyeditors, don’t we. Yes, we do. 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.
Okay, that fourth option? I’m calling this Story Consultation. And let’s give it a color, too. I like blue, so we’ll go with The Blue Pen of Story Shaping. With this service, you send me your work in progress, and I will spend 5 hours a month on your project for a specified time-frame, offering specific feedback, brainstorming new ideas to solve plot or character problems, and generally playing the role of editorial collaborator to help shape your novel into something that feels complete and compelling. This is not a line edit. I’m not dotting i’s or crossing t’s. I’m not going to go through the story cover to cover and fix it once we’re done. It’s all big picture stuff. That said, I’ll probably still tell you if you’re forgetting to dot those i’s. Helpful, remember? Think of this as hiring an “editor on call” who can help you as you write/revise/fix your manuscript. Those five hours a month can be divvied up a variety of ways. Most will be used up by my time spent reading and responding to your story (chapter by chapter or however you want to send it). But I will also make myself available to chat on the phone. You might think five hours isn’t a lot. But I’m efficient. I can do a lot in five hours. And just to let you know – I won’t be starting a stopwatch every time you send me an email. I’m not a lawyer. I won’t start charging you more for every little thing that takes me over that five hour mark. As long as we’re reasonable here, I’m happy to be flexible with that. (However, hours are not transferable to another month. That’s not how time works. You can’t save it up and make the later days longer. I’ve tried.) Ask me for more info on this and I’ll gladly tell you. It’s a new idea for me. I want it to work for both of us.
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.
- IMPORTANT UPDATE 02/18/15: I am completely booked through May, 2015, and starting to book projects for June. I’ll be happy to add you to the queue for June or beyond if you’re interested. Keep in mind I’m also cutting back on my editing (a little) so I can focus more on my writing. Just wanted to give you fair warning.
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.) Well, assuming your manuscript falls between 50K and 100K words* (use that Word Count feature in your word processor), these are the fees:
Editorial Review: $700
The Red Pen of Life and Death: $1500
Comprehensive Edit: $1600-$3000, depending on word count and other more nebulous criteria.
The Blue Pen of Story Shaping: $200 a month, with a 3-month minimum commitment.
That’s it. Simple, really. For the first three services, 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’re interested in considering either service, 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. 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.)
*Does your manuscript fall outside of that word-count range for the Editorial Review or the Red Pen service? We’d better chat.