EDITING, CRITIQUING, AND CONSULTING SERVICES
What I offer:
I offer manuscript services including proofreading, copyediting, general critique, and consultation. Besides being the author of Moth and Spark, I have an MFA in Fiction Writing and a Ph.D. in English literature. I have taught creative writing, composition, and literature, and have extensive workshopping experience. I know the difference between “lie” and “lay” and wholeheartedly endorse the Oxford comma.
Proofreading: $40 an hour, half hour minimum.
Copyediting: $50 an hour, one hour minimum, up to 4 hours. After 4 hours, the rate is $12 per additional 1,000 words, up to 100,000 words total. If your manuscript is more than 100,000 words, let’s talk.
Critique: $100 for up to 5,000 words, and $15 per 1,000 words thereafter. (8,000 words would cost $145, while 80,000 words would cost $1,225.) If your manuscript is more than 100,000 words, let’s talk.
Consultation: This will vary by the nature of the consultation. The base rate is $75 an hour.
Email me at email@example.com to discuss your project.
Proofreading: line by line careful read of your manuscript for punctuation and spelling errors, missing or duplicated words, inconsistent spellings (for example, of a fantasy character’s name), and grammar errors. Proofreading is about form and correctness. If your manuscript is pretty clean, it will be much faster for me (and cheaper for you) than if you have grammar errors in every other sentence. Proofreading should not be requested until the draft is otherwise finished.
Copyediting: line by line careful read for awkward or confusing sentences, word choice, paragraph breaks, clichés and stereotypes, predictable plot twists, internal inconsistencies (e.g. character’s hair color changes or an event is referenced which is never described) and other things that might get in the way of an enjoyable reading experience. Copyediting is to some extent about correctness, but it is also about the scaffolding of structure and style you are using. I will point out that something is ambiguous, but it’s up to you as to whether you want to leave it or change it.
Critique: analysis of the entire work with suggestions for improvements. I will talk about character development, plot, overall structure, voice, where the narrative seems lively and where it feels flat, what works really well for me and what actions or events I don’t believe, places that make me say “Huh?”, and similar global aspects. You’ll get back an annotated manuscript and an edit letter with suggestions. Rereads are also possible, at a fee to be negotiated.
Consultation: this will vary by the project, but it might include anything from reading two different versions of the same text (e.g. first vs. third person, past vs. present tense), making suggestions about how to restructure the novel, brainstorming what happens next, identifying redundant characters or more compelling storylines, and other problem solving. This is appropriate for early stages of the manuscript or the stage in revision where you have chucked five chapters and don’t know where to go next. Sometimes it really helps just to have someone to talk through what’s going on in the story and ask questions that help you clarify your intentions. We can do this in writing, via Skype, or both.
What’s not included:
Advice on writing a query letter, marketing help, or any guarantee of sale.
What kind of work to send me:
Copyediting and proofreading can be done for any manuscript.
With regard to critiques and consultations, my taste is broad. For pleasure I read speculative fiction (both adult and YA), crime novels, horror novels, historical novels, thrillers, spy novels, and some literary fiction. I like writing that plays with language and structure, and I like writing that tells a good fast-paced story with twists and surprises. I like unclassifiable work and work that falls between genres.
There are a few forms that I am probably not your best reader for. I don’t read a lot of romance novels, “women’s” fiction, “chick lit,” or non-speculative YA, so while I am happy to offer general critiques in these genres, I am not as familiar with the conventions and tropes that the market expects and can only address the manuscript on its own terms and not within the larger context of the genre. I am usually bored by middle-class Americans having mid-life crises or family dramas.
What I won’t take:
I’m not interested in pornography, overtly ideological fiction à la Ayn Rand, or work that gets its jollies through gratuitous violence, misogyny, racism, homophobia, or other forms of hating on differences. This doesn’t mean that I won’t read something that includes a racist character or is about the consequences of violence; it means that if your work is a spewing forth of intolerance, hurting, and self-justification, I’m not interested. If you’re Cormac McCarthy, send it in.
If I take on work and then discover that I can’t approach your project with a good critically objective eye because I am too freaked out by a murder scene or am getting the creeps from evil directed at a child (or something similar), I’ll return the project, retaining only a small fee for my time.
Don’t tag your dialogue! Anything other than “said” or “asked” is almost always overwriting, especially when it comes with every utterance. “She said angrily” and “She thundered” are equally excessive. There are times when the extra adverb or the strong verb are appropriate, but they are few and far between.
Dialogue used for exposition (“As you know, Bob”) is one of the things I am most likely to jump on. Your narrator is there to narrate and convey information. Use it!
Watch your habits. If you end every chapter with a person taking a drink, that gets old fast. If your dialogue always follows the same pattern (e.g. paragraph of speech, paragraph of thought, paragraph of speech, paragraph of thought. . . . ) it becomes tedious.
If you’re bored with what’s going on, the reader will be too.
Structure and plot are often related. If you’re stuck on the plot, there may be unnecessary or out of order or missing scenes in the earlier part of the story. Conversely, if you can’t decide on a structure, you probably aren’t sure what you are writing about.
Read. Read, read, read, in a variety of forms and genres.