As a book doctor, I work with writers as a mentor and teacher, and on particular projects as a developmental editor. I also freelance for agents and publishers, and advise experienced writers on specific books and their careers in publishing.
I don’t offer hard and fast solutions or quick fixes, but like to raise matters that help writers take their work forward; a friend I recently helped with her manuscript thanked me for asking ‘penetrating questions’, and I take that as a compliment. I particularly enjoy helping writers to develop their style and voice and find a strong focus for their stories. I work on various types of imaginative storytelling – literary fiction, fantasy, science fiction, historical fiction, crime, popular fiction – as well as many areas of nonfiction, especially memoir, natural history, garden writing, travel, and history.
I describe some of the ways in which I currently work with writers below. I try to adapt to the needs of specific writers, projects, and contexts, so if you’re interested please get in touch with some details of what you’re hoping to achieve, and we can take it from there. If I am unable to help, I might be able to suggest an alternative.
Editorial reports and mentoring
I offer different types of reports and feedback.
* A manuscript review covers: narrative content (e.g., overview of story, concept/theme, character, setting, genre conventions); narrative style (e.g., structure, narration, POV, showing/telling, pace and suspense, mood); a brief assessment of prose style and voice; and an assessment of the potential readership/market. I often find myself making suggestions for further reading too. A report is 2,500-3,000 words (and sometimes longer).
* An editorial critique covers much the same territory but focuses a little more on details: nuts and bolts of the storyline as well as particular examples of prose style. This can be useful for beginning writers who want specific guidance about aspects of craft such as voice and style, or for writers who are further down the line in their drafting and are seeking more detailed editorial input about ways to create more impact with their stories. It’s not a fully comprehensive edit, as it’s assumed the work is still in a stage of drafting; it’s more like a diagnostic, e.g., using selected line edits in the text to illustrate broader suggestions. A critique is usually longer (maybe 4,000-5,000 words or even more – or sometimes I use Comments on the manuscript itself).
* A preliminary review is useful for writers who’re embarking on a new project and keen to get feedback on, e.g., a synopsis and sample material from the opening.
* A nonfiction proposal review covers an assessment of a nonfiction proposal in addition to sample chapter/s and a cover letter. (If you are assembling a proposal, you might find this post helpful: How To Write A Nonfiction Book Proposal.)
* I can also provide tailored consultations for writers who’re interested in building their own course of studies in writing (e.g., along the lines of a DIY MA/MFA in creative writing, which I proposed in this post on my blog).
* If I have availability, I occasionally offer mentoring for specific projects or aspects of writing, as well as phone/Skype or in-person consultations (I am based in West London).
Let me know what you are looking for, and I’ll see if I can help.
I don’t offer comprehensive copyediting for writers right now, though I am occasionally able to offer more detailed line editing, e.g., for writers who’re working on style and voice and have manuscripts that are still in development.
* It can be useful to send me a brief commentary, e.g., describing a manuscript’s status, specific aspects of feedback from readers, information on submissions or your own publishing history, anything relevant on this work’s genesis and development, or any other questions you might have about the manuscript. And maybe put any spoilers at the end of your note, so I can be sure only to read them afterwards – ultimately, I read as a reader, and like to enjoy (and test out) any surprises in the story as they arise.
* If you have an existing synopsis and/or cover letter, they can also help me to help you, e.g., with suggestions about how to present the book to agents or editors.
* Format: I prefer to read manuscripts in serif fonts such as 12pt Georgia or 12pt Times, double- or 1.5-spaced and paginated (and at this stage it avoids confusion if the page numbers start on the very first page of the document, even if this is a cover page).
* Timing: I tend to have work booked in four to eight weeks in advance. Scheduled manuscripts often slip so I can sometimes fit things in sooner. Certain time periods are blocked out in my schedule for other commitments; in 2017 this will include time in April, a month around July/August, and December.
* Payment: I usually quote on the basis of seeing a manuscript (or sample of a manuscript), and understanding what the writer hopes to achieve. In the first instance, you can drop me a line telling me what you might be looking for. I appreciate that resources are sometimes limited, so I can work within a budget if that seems practical for both of us.