You’ve got questions, I’ve got answers. If you don’t find what you’re looking for here, please feel free to send me a note.
What do you edit?
Books. Reported articles. Essays. Stories. Web content. I edit fiction and nonfiction, and prefer working from a completed draft, be it your first or your twenty-first.
What kind of editing do you provide?
I offer substantive, line, and copy editing, as well as manuscript critiques. You can hire me for a sample edit if you’d like help with a short excerpt or want a sneak preview of what it would be like to work with me on a longer project. Or, if you’d prefer to work in a more open-ended way—to improve your writing in general, or to stay on track as you try to finish a project—you can sign up for writing coaching.
Terms like “substantive editing” and “copy editing” mean different things to different people. For more details about what I mean, please see my list of editorial services.
Whom do you help?
My clients have included previously published authors, experienced journalists, academics, bloggers, nonprofit organizations, and first-time authors. I’m open to working with anyone, provided we’re a good match.
How can you tell if we’ll be a good match?
Subject matter is important, but it’s hardly the only consideration. I’m an enthusiastic reader of many subjects and can get jazzed about books on a wide variety of topics—e.g., dance and music, race and identity, health and the body, gender and sexuality, politics and power, the environment, social justice issues, cultural histories, food and drink, travel, education, science, technology, family and parenthood, language and usage, and literary and media criticism. In real life, I have an irrational loathing of bugs and an aversion to raw onions. But if you’ve written glittering fiction starring an entomologist (or a bug) or the most fascinating history of onions, I may be into it. So try me.
When I review a potential client’s work, I ask several questions: Am I interested enough to spend several weeks or months with this? Do my knowledge and skills align with what this writer seems to need? Am I confident I can help make this piece of writing better? Will I be able to complete the work within the writer’s desired time frame? If I can answer yes to these questions, you’ll receive an enthusiastic proposal. If not, I’ll suggest you keep shopping.
What kind of feedback can I expect?
The nature of my notes and editing will vary depending on the type of editing we agree you need. If we end up working together, no matter which service you choose, I promise to be frank, thorough, and respectful of your vision. I take pride in helping to transform and elevate a piece of writing while maintaining the author’s voice. If, through reading my notes, you learn something about the craft of writing that you can carry with you as you embark on revisions or future projects, all the better.
For a little more insight into the way I think about editing, please see this Q&A. Its focus is developmental/substantive editing, but much of what I say about my approach applies to other kinds of editing as well.
You might also check out what some of my clients have said about me.
Can you provide a free sample edit?
Sorry, no. I do offer sample edits, for a fee. If we end up working together on a full project, I will deduct the cost of the sample edit from your final bill—so at that point, it becomes free, in a way. But as a freelancer, I can’t afford to give away work, even if it’s only an hour’s worth. Think of it this way: Would you ask a stylist for a free first haircut? A massage therapist for a free sixty-minute session? A plumber for a free emergency repair? Probably not. So I hope that you would approach me—a person who trims, massages, and repairs prose for a living—the same way you would any other professional: as a skilled provider of a service worth paying for, whom you will work with again and again if satisfied with the initial result.
Can you find me an agent?
No. My career has been devoted to the craft of writing, not the art of selling it. I can help you polish your manuscript, proposal, and query letter, but I’ll have to leave the connection-making to you. I can tell you that the best advice I’ve heard from agents over the years can be boiled down to a single point: do your homework. For starters, you might try reading this, this, or this.
If we work together, am I guaranteed to get published?
No, unless you’re self-publishing, of course. But when you work with a capable editor, whether that winds up being me or someone else, your manuscript will be the better for it, and therefore more likely to impress whoever may encounter it down the line—agents, editors at traditional publishing houses, the audience champing at the bit to read your magnificent words. You’ve landed on this website because you want your work to be the best it can be, and I’m here to help with that, should you choose to hire me.
I’d love to work with you. How much will this cost?
It depends. I calculate fees based on the nature and extent of editing required and the amount of time I think it will take to complete each project. Before we begin working together, I’ll request an excerpt of your manuscript (or the whole shebang) for evaluation. I’ll next send you a proposal detailing the kind of work I think the manuscript needs and an estimated timeline and fee structure. If you like the proposal, I’ll send a proper contract and we’ll be on our way.
A heads up: editing is often more expensive than many writers anticipate. When I edit, I do a minimum of two full reads on a manuscript, and often more than that. And I am not only reading, but also thinking, questioning, suggesting, verifying, fixing—all of which requires an intense level of attention and devotion. And time. To better understand the investment you’re making when hiring an editor, I strongly urge you to read this article and this one. Then, once you contact me, we can talk specifics.
This all sounds great. Can you start tomorrow?
Probably not. I often book work weeks or months in advance. If you have a book-length manuscript and I’m already working on other clients’ books, I won’t get to yours right away unless I wrap a project ahead of schedule or have a cancellation. If you’d like help with a shorter piece (an essay, a chapter, an article), I may be able to fit you into my schedule more quickly. Best bet: send me a note detailing the length of your project (in words), the type of editing you seek, and your ideal time frame. If we’re a good match, I’ll slot you into my schedule at the earliest opportunity.