FAQs: What do you want to know today?
Q: “Can you help me to get my story published?”
A: That's my purpose in life: to help you get your work ready for your readers, and then get it into their hands!
The publishing landscape has changed dramatically over the last two decades, giving writers many new ways to connect with their audiences. Online publishing, self-publishing, print-on-demand, and e-books have all altered the old dynamic—the one where traditional publishers functioned as gatekeepers.
But if you want to forge a genuine rapport with your readers, what hasn’t changed is the importance of a quality product. Your book should be a really good read—and that means careful editing, by a skilled professional.
Between us, we’ll make your story just as good as it can be. Then I also do any (or all) of these tasks for you:
draft a story synopsis (“cover blurb”) for you, plus an author bio
help you to write query letters to agents and/or publishers
use my industry contacts to find you a cover designer
lay out your ebook and/or paperback, and upload it to Amazon
create an epub for you, so you can sell it to Kobo readers
give you tips on marketing strategies
set up a simple website for you, to promote your book.
Q: “What can you do for me?”
A: Depending on what level of editing you choose, your story will get better. The change can be either a modest improvement—a few tweaks, a couple of fixes, a quick brush-up—or else a full makeover. You decide what suits you best.
As well as tidying up your MS, I also:
help you to find your own unique voice
teach you to be a “self-correcting” writer
increase the likelihood of your book being accepted by a publisher—
or, if you plan to self-publish, of selling lots of copies.
If you live in Ottawa, Ontario, you may also be interested in attending one of my
Q: “What are your qualifications?”
A: I have all the qualities of a good fiction editor, which I describe in this blog post.
Q: “Can you evaluate my story?”
A: Absolutely. Manuscript evaluation—providing a detailed, hands-on critique—is a big part of what I do. Such constructive criticism from a professional (sometimes called a “beta read”) is an excellent way for you to get the tools and information you need, to fix some of the story problems yourself.
This “semi-DIY option” is much more cost-effective, for authors on a budget, than hiring an editor to do all the heavy hitting.
Q: “What’s a fix note?”
A: It’s part of a manuscript evaluation: the report I prepare for you, assessing your story and outlining how it can be improved. View some sample fix notes.
Q: “Will you edit just a sample chapter?”
A: Sure—it’s a common opening move for authors to send publishers a sample chapter, to gauge their interest in your story (and whet their appetite for the whole book). You may want to polish up just a part of your MS for now, and commit to a full edit only if you get a positive response.
When I do a partial edit, my fixes and observations will tell you:
how my editing style suits your writing style
how fast the full edit is likely to go (and how much it’ll likely cost)
whether you have any persistent bad habits, which you can correct yourself in future drafts—thereby saving on editing fees.
One thing this approach can’t assess, obviously, is the overall organization and cohesiveness of the story. That will have to wait for a full-length edit.
Q: “How do I review your edits?”
A: MS Word’s “Track Changes” function lets you view and accept (or decline) my corrections, additions and deletions. I also use the Comment feature to write queries or notes for you. Then I create a “clean” version of your text, so you can read it undistracted by the changes.
Most writers—especially if we haven’t worked together before—prefer me to send back their edited text a chapter at a time, for them to review. (The response I usually get is: “This is brilliant, I can’t believe how good my story looks now!”)
Q: “What if I want to rewrite after your edit?”
A: I hope you will! Part of my job is to encourage authors to see their work with new eyes, and to explore alternatives in their story.
With my input, writers often tackle their narratives with fresh enthusiasm— streamlining plots, adding or deleting characters, redefining relationships, altering their voice, refocusing scenes. Often a writer will take my suggestions and go off in a completely new direction, creating something different and exciting.
This kind of work is the most rewarding for me. It often turns into an episodic project: instead of my devoting a block of time to producing a finished edit, the author and I go back and forth in a cycle of writing, evaluation or editing, and then rewriting.
Q: “Can I hire you to actually write my story?”
A: I've recently added ghost writing to my lineup of services. If you have a good idea, but you're short on time or talent, I can work with you to get your vision onto the page.
Q: “What’s your timing like?”
A: Usually when authors contact an editor, they want the job done right now.
When you’ve worked on your book for months or years, and it’s finally finished, naturally you want to get moving on it fast.
Still, good editors are much in demand. I often have a line-up of large and small jobs waiting, and can’t always get to your project immediately. If I estimate that your book will take me fifty hours to edit, I’ll have to schedule up to three weeks for it; so I may have to slot it in for a month or two hence.
But you could always get lucky: I may have just finished a big project, and be looking for a story like yours to work on next.
Q: “How much does it cost for you to edit my book?”
A: As with everything else in life, when you hire an editor, you get what you pay for.
I always tell my clients (and they usually agree) that one hour of my work is worth two hours from a less experienced, efficient, and insightful editor.
My "starving artist" rate for fiction authors is $40/hour (much reduced from my corporate and government rates of $50–$80).
The specific timing of a book edit depends on several factors:
how long your story is
what editing level you prefer
the challenges your text presents
how much back-and-forth the process requires.
I use those factors to estimate the probable cost of editing your MS. But as is often the case, unforeseen difficulties can throw off the quote; my estimate is only a guideline.
As a general rule, a professional edit book edit costs between $2,000 and $5,000.
If you're on a budget, the best option is to begin with a manuscript evaluation.
Q: “How do we start the process?”
A: To book my services, or to get a quote, just send me your MS. I'll check its word count, and the style and quality of your writing, and decide whether I can help you.
For inexperienced or first-time authors, I nearly always recommend starting with a manuscript evaluation. It often happens that a story has potential, but isn't yet ready for the editing stage: more writing work has to be done first.
If your story does seem ready for editing, and if time permits, I usually edit a few sample pages for you. That shows you what to expect from the process, and how my editing style suits your writing style.
I also prepare an estimate of how long a full edit will likely take, and how much it will cost. There's no obligation to this step: I know you’re probably collecting quotes from several editors, and deciding who's the best person for you to work with.
Q: “Do I have to sign a contract?”
A: Few of my clients require it; but if you would like a formal agreement, I do have an official contract. It specifies the exact scope of the work you want done, along with your budget and your timeline. It also contains a confidentiality clause.
Q: “How does your billing work?”
A: When I haven’t worked with a writer before, I ask for advance payments.
The process works like this.
You send me a few hundred dollars (by Interac transfer, PayPal, or TransferWise).
I work on your MS for the paid number of hours, and send you the edited text.
You review it, and give me any guidance or feedback on the work.
We repeat these steps until the job is done.
If your question isn’t answered here, contact me and let's talk about it.