As editors, everything we do is intended to support our authors and help them obtain the best possible results from their writing process. It is the goal of each of us to make our work together thorough, professional, instructive, and rewarding, even enjoyable. We want to get you over the finish line—hopefully with a marketable book you can be proud of.
Reading our bios and then contacting us by email to learn more is the most effective way to know—in that instinctive way that sometimes guides decision-making—if a particular editor has the right experience to assist you and is a good fit. Please contact each of us separately (no blanket queries!). Meanwhile, as you are trying to decide how to proceed, you may be asking some of the same questions we often hear from prospective clients. To help you get started, here are a handful of answers.
What do you do? How do you work? What do you charge?
Though we are professionally associated in an informal way, meeting together regularly and sometimes referring clients to one another, we each operate independently. Therefore we have each developed different ways of working with our authors; we also charge differently (by the hour, by the page, or a flat project fee), offer different types of editorial or related services (such as project management for clients who self-publish), and may work on different categories of books (illustrated, collaborations, fiction only, nonfiction only). Some of us specialize and some are generalists. So it’s important to read our individual pages and follow up with those of us you might like to work with.
Do you edit books for children?
Thanks to Harry Potter and other changes in content and reading tastes, the traditional lines between books for teens or young adults, and books for adult readers, have blurred. None of us edit picture books or books for elementary school readers. A few of us do edit for the next market up, books for teens or young adults, or books that may cross over between these markets. Take a look at our bios to learn which of our editors work in this area.
“I am looking for someone to copyedit my book.”
Funny, we’re asked about this all the time. The answer is, we aren’t copyeditors. Copyeditors are trained to correct grammar, punctuation, incorrect usage, and small lapses in logic and continuity. True manuscript editors, like the members of our group, can perform manuscript assessments, granular line-by-line edits, and/or big-picture developmental or content editing. We also focus on issues regarding story and structure, voice, pacing, plotting, organization of material, character development, dialogue, the quality of an argument or the elegance of the prose—and more. Copyeditors do not come into the picture until we have finished our work.
Experience doesn’t have to be expensive, but inexperience can be wasteful.
We work just as routinely with people who have published widely and successfully as with new writers. Some of our established clients ask for our help because they are at an impasse on a particular project. They want to experiment with a new format or genre or move their project in a more productive direction. Some with books under contract want an experienced pair of eyes on their manuscripts before delivering them to their editors. New writers usually come to us having worked alone, or with a coach, in a workshop, with a local editor, or in a writers' group. They may have circulated their manuscripts among friends and colleagues, good readers all, and made revisions. But often, that is not enough. The detailed comments and direction from editors who have spent their professional lives working with writers every day can move your project to an entirely new level. Someone who has been a senior acquisitions editor at a top New York publisher (some of us also held executive and management positions) offers a different perspective and kind of expertise. We know what a manuscript needs to succeed and have the creative and technical skills to help you bring it to that level. And we know the New York marketplace—the agents and editors who make the decisions, what their expectations are, and what they are looking for—because we have been there ourselves. Our fees—as noted above—may differ, but they are commensurate with our years of experience.
Will My Manuscript Be Published?
A professionally-edited manuscript or proposal is like a resume: it won’t land you the job but it should give you a chance to get your foot in the door. No independent editor you speak with should ever promise that working with him or her will either attract an agent or secure a commitment from an acquiring editor. We simply won’t say that, and you should ask hard questions of anyone who does. However, some of us may assist you with your pitch or in constructing a strong query letter and plan for submitting to agents and editors; some may exercise their discretion and put you in touch directly with agents or editors. Still, these are not guarantees.
Each of us can share with you many stories of working with clients who do go on to find agents, get book contracts, or self-publish successfully. But each of us can also probably recount a more disappointing story. Sometimes a manuscript, however revised and improved—even ones we love and poured our hearts into—still doesn’t find a publisher. Competition is keen, and the marketplace is changing and unpredictable. Our members will do the best job we can for you. That’s the one promise we can make.