A professional editor can make all the difference for a book that sells.
Professional editing is a necessary investment in the preparation of a book. A good editor is not your friend, the English major in college. The best value is in hiring a professional editor with years of experience helping bring authors’ voices forward clearly. A good editor can make sure your book has what it needs for commercial value, which is what prospective agents and publishers want. For self-publishers, a good editor can can make all the difference for a book that sells. Your book deserves readers and you deserve success.
I have been an editor for thirty-five years. Before becoming an independent (indie) editor twenty years ago, I was an editor at a national magazine, Women’s Sports & Fitness. After that, I worked for book publishers, including Ten Speed Press, Chronicle Books, and Ortho Books, editing travel books, cookbooks, self-help books, and more.
I have been a developmental editor, a substantive editor, a line editor, and a copy editor (using the Chicago Manual of Style, the industry standard in book publishing). As an indie editor, I have edited hundreds of memoirs and other nonfiction manuscripts. I also have edited anthologies, including my most recent book Girlhood in America. My clients are new and experienced writers. They have been professors, lawyers, doctors, philosophers, scientists, psychologists, musicians, retirees, and entrepreneurs. You can read about some of my published clients here.
The types of editing I do:
Structural issues and completeness of content are the central focus of a developmental edit. Developmental editing considers the broader strokes of a book, important in its earlier stages. I provide detailed notes in the pages and in review notes with return of the manuscript.
Developmental editing concerns big-picture issues in a book. It describes a collaborative partnership between author and editor, during which an idea or partial manuscript is transformed into a complete book. With memoir, in developmental editing the first concern is the visibility of the main concept, or “spine” of the story. It’s from this core that all else comes. I look for the take-aways, the essential relatability in the story—the universality in the personal story that’s needed. I help plan a story structure that will reflect the author’s growth; this is the character arc, or narrative arc. I address the elements that make a memoir a page turner: pacing, scene construction, character development, inclusion of sensory detail, management of time, and consistency of voice.
A developmental edit starts with a free 15-minute consultation.
Coaching can be helpful when you have a manuscript in development or have an idea or an outline to work from and can use guidance, feedback, and support as you write your book. Be sure to check out my coaching services.
When your manuscript has gone through its necessary revisions and you have done everything you can on your own, it’s time for a substantive editor.
How do you choose which kind of editing you need? If you want help planning the structure of the book and want feedback and course correction as you write, you want a developmental editor. If you want to write the book and then be shown how to improve it, you want a substantive editor.
With substantive editing, I review the big-picture topics, as described for developmental editing. The difference is that I have your entire best effort in front of me at once. I give you notes in the manuscript and along with an editorial letter (several pages) that reference specific pages and explains more about what you’ll see in the marked-up manuscript.
A second edit usually follows, after you complete the revisions you’ll make on the reviewed draft.
I use Tracked Changes in Word to show the edits made and allow for your consideration of the edits before accepting them into the final manuscript. I edit for clarity, suggesting what can be omitted to keep the writing vivid. I note passive sentence structure and overlong sentences. I correct punctuation and spelling, mark inconsistencies in name spelling and capitalization issues, and query the author regarding facts that will require checking.
Requested rewriting, or what may be called light ghostwriting, is available for an additional fee.
Anthologies are books created from collected writings by various authors often on a particular topic. I have published two anthologies and besides editing can offer advice regarding the use of interview transcripts and consult on structure and content.
I review completed manuscripts, providing several pages of notes and notes in the manuscript (using Tracked Changes). In a consultation, I read for all of necessary aspects I outline above, for developmental editing: the visibility of the main concept, or “spine” of the story, structure, pacing, scene construction, character development, inclusion of sensory detail, management of time, and narrative voice (guiding narrator, reflective narrator). I make notes in the manuscript about where these elements are working and where they are not. A follow-up 60-minute phone call in the fee.
With nonfiction, I consider the outline and structure of the book and make sure the voice and format is the most appropriate for the topic.
Developmental editing: I provide an estimate based on manuscript length (word count). My rate is $150/hour. Half of the estimated fee is due two weeks before the scheduled date to begin the work with the balance due when the manuscript is returned to you. There is usually a revised draft prepared for my review. The fee for this second review is $135/hour.
Line editing: For ready manuscripts, I edit using Tracked Changes (in Word or Pages). My rate is $110/hour. Half of the estimated fee is due two weeks before the scheduled date to begin the work with the balance due when the manuscript is returned to you.
Suzanne Sherman’s input has taken my memoir to a level I would never have attained without her. I keep being amazed at her ability to hone in on problem spots, restructure the chapters, identify the emotional heart of the story, and improve my overall writing. I have worked with other editors but none have come close to providing what Suzanne has contributed, and I am beyond grateful for her expertise, dedication, and encouragement. — Jason Blume, Hit songwriter and author of 6 Steps to Songwriting Success, Inside Songwriting, and This Business of Songwriting (Billboard Books)
I appreciate and admire Suzanne’s work and professionalism. I think she may be the finest editor I’ve ever encountered in my long career. — Lewis Vaughn, author of over 20 books, including Star Map: A Journey of Faith, Doubt, and Meaning
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