You’ve written a complete draft of your book, but it hasn’t reached its full potential. You’re not sure exactly why it falls short, or you know what’s wrong but don’t know what to do about it. I’ll read it with four primary questions in mind. What is the book trying to be? What are the book’s strongest and weakest elements? How can you revise it so as to take more advantage of the former and minimize or eliminate the latter? I’ll make notes in the file pertaining to these questions and summarize my thoughts in an editorial memo.
A substantive edit differs from a manuscript critique in terms of the extent and specificity of my responses. Rather than an overview of various aspects of the manuscript, I’ll suggest changes, usually noted in the file, wherever I think they are needed – for example, moving or deleting a paragraph, condensing or expanding a scene in a novel, or streamlining a digressive chapter. A substantive edit is appropriate when the broad contours of a manuscript are more or less set.
A response to an excerpt from a manuscript, whether or not you have finished writing it, can sometimes help you see the whole more clearly. I’ll read a chapter (or several, depending on their length) with the same questions in mind as in a manuscript critique. I can share my thoughts either in writing or over the phone.
Your manuscript is ready for the spotlight, but not quite ready for its close-up. A word that hits a false note or a sentence the meaning of which narrowly eludes the reader can have an outsize impact on a book’s reception. A line edit attends to the smallest details, such as word choice, word order, the order and length and rhythm of sentences, and punctuation. The goal is to make the prose resemble a piece of glass – smooth and transparent.
A good proposal casts a book in the most interesting possible light, identifies its audience, and makes an argument for why people will want to read it. Agents and editors want to be convinced that a book will be successful, but they also bring to a proposal ideas about what a successful book is. Whether editing or writing a proposal, I can give your manuscript a better chance to meet the challenges of the publishing marketplace.
All of these services can be tailored to suit the kind of book you’re writing, your goals, how far along you are in the writing process, and your writing practice.