I’m John – yes, I know the URL suggests “Sean”, but that’s just the name I’ve most recently written under so let’s stick to my real one for this – and I’m available to provide freelance editing services for fiction or non-fiction, self-published or traditional, in both US and UK English. My rates are very reasonable, I take pride in my thoroughness and attention to detail, and I aim to ensure as prompt a turnaround time as possible.
Why would you need an editor?
There are somewhere over 300,000 novels and short stories self-published per year, rising all the time, alongside regular mainstream published fiction. The one thing that just about everyone following the ebook boom suggests is that any writer self-publishing should look at employing an editor. Likewise, many writers, particularly those relatively new to the craft, working towards traditional publishing can benefit from having a skilled pair of eyes on their material before they go to submission. As a writer, it’s very hard to see flaws, particularly broader story ones, within your own work because you’re closer to it than anyone else will ever be.
I’ve been a trade journalist, both full-time and freelance, for 16 years and counting, including working as an editor on a number of publications. I’ve also been a professional genre fiction writer for 12 years, with eight books published by houses in the UK and US, as well as several short stories by commission, and my work has been translated into a dozen languages worldwide.
I’ve been both editor and edited, and so I fully understand what’s useful and what’s not, and how to frame advice and constructive criticism. In addition, while I’m British, all of my published work has been US-set, I’m currently published by Polis Books, and a considerable chunk of my full-time journalism was for a US news service. I’m therefore capable of handling English language work from either side of the Pond and beyond.
My fees are, I hope, extremely reasonable and I always try to provide an accurate estimate of likely turnaround time for editorial work because I know that as a writer you don’t want to be left in the dark for weeks at a stretch. Completion time will depend on the amount of work needed, and on the amount of other work I have on my plate, but I’ll always try to keep you informed and provide as accurate an estimate as possible. I have never yet missed a deadline. I’m happy to perform a trial edit on a sample of your work in order for you to determine whether I can meet your needs.
What work have I done?
Since turning freelance in 2012, I’ve worked on dozens of stories, ranging from 130,000 word novels to 1,000 word short stories, across just about every single genre, whether written for submission to agents, publishers, or publications, or for self-publishing. I’ve worked with first-time writers, as well as those with plenty of experience. While most of my clients are from the US and the UK, I’ve also worked with authors from Canada, New Zealand, Africa, and Asia. In the past six months (as I write this update in July 2014), I’ve edited somewhere in the region of 750,000 words in total, across a wide spectrum of genres, lengths, and editing types, for both traditional and indie publishing. To my knowledge, all of the authors in question have been very happy with the care given to their work, and several have already become repeat clients. Below are just four examples of past work that cover a wide range of lengths and work types between them.
What can I do and what does it cost?
A variety of things from a simple overview report to a full heavy edit, all priced accordingly, and all in US dollars. As well as describing what each involves, I’ve included snippets of the type of feedback you might expect below for illustrative purposes. They’re only little fragments, obviously (and, for what it’s worth, we’re looking at a fictitious pulp SF novel). While examples and descriptions are couched in terms of fiction, though, I’m happy to work with any kind of material, and there’s likely to be very little I haven’t already dealt with.
- A basic manuscript critique means I’ll read what you give me and let you know what I think of its plot, characters, story, style etc. as well as potential ways to improve things as needed.
Example snippet: “I liked the character of Annie Automatic. She has a good amount of depth, has a strong arc through the story, and the details of her background are neatly interspersed through the manuscript without ever becoming an info-dump. However, I felt her relationship with Jack needed work; it starts almost out of nothing and then there’s never any doubt about their feelings and no real threat to, or tension within, their relationship. It fell a bit flat for me, and robbed the finale of some of its drama…”
A basic critique costs 0.2 cents per word. That’s $5 for a 2,500 word short story, $100 for a 50,000 word novel, and $160 for an 80,000 word novel.
- A detailed critique is much deeper and lengthier. I’ll go through the story scene by scene, looking at all aspects of it and analyzing it in far greater depth and suggesting possible fixes for any problems I uncover and improvements that might be made.
Example snippet: “In this scene, Annie finds herself being duplicated by the shapeshifter, and while the description of the shifts and the subtle realization of what she’s facing are fine, there’s too much commenting on slow, subtle changes in the alien’s voice and face before the final reveal. I would remove at least a couple of these because the reader won’t need so many pointers and even if they haven’t figured it out, that’ll just mean they identify with Annie’s shock at the scene’s close…”
A detailed critique costs 0.5 cents per word. That’s $12.50 for a 2,500 word short story, $250 for a 50,000 word novel, and $400 for an 80,000 word novel.
- I can copy edit your manuscript. This means going through the document itself, fixing typos, spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors and returning the edited version to you (for preference, as a .doc file with change-tracking so you can see what’s been done where). On a simple copy edit, I won’t provide feedback on the contents, just fix technical errors. Copy editing is generally carried out as the final stage before a book goes to market.
Copy editing costs 0.5 cents per word. That’s $12.50 for a 2,500 word short story, $250 for a 50,000 word novel, and $400 for an 80,000 word novel.
- A developmental edit means looking at absolutely everything, line by line, scene by scene, and suggesting ways to fix and improve everything from punctuation to word order to a scene’s emotional impact, but leaving you to make the changes. A developmental edit will be by far the most lengthy and in-depth option on this list (and includes, by its nature, copy editing corrections). Ideally it’d be carried out in stages with rewrites between each, but I understand that that’s not often practical (many people only look for an editor once their work is completed). I can handle follow-up queries and checks as needed, and the advice I give for a developmental edit is in-depth and thorough.
Example snippet: “The ending to the last scene promised a lot that you don’t deliver on here; the shock of Jack’s seeming death seems to have been lost on everyone at the start of this one. While I understand that Annie is driven to push on, no matter the cost, it seems strange that there aren’t at least a couple of references to her inner emotional conflict. I would include a line before the deal she makes with the Slug trader like: ‘When the Slug’s face appeared on her screen, Annie forced herself to bury her anger. She was a pro, and had to look it if she was to get what she wanted from this sleazeball.’ Then carry on with their conversation. It’s enough to show the reader she’s still carrying an emotional scar, but it doesn’t break the flow of the action. While she’s a hard-edged character, you’ve got to be careful not to make her seem totally cold or unsympathetic…”
A developmental edit costs 1.5 cents per word. That’s $37.50 for a 2,500 word short story, $750 for a 50,000 word novel, and $1,200 for an 80,000 word novel.
- A full heavy edit includes everything a developmental edit does, but means I also physically make the changes I’d suggest and rewrite accordingly, as well as explaining the what and the why of it. Obviously this means someone else monkeying directly with your work, so if you’re not comfortable with that idea, don’t go for this.
A heavy edit costs 3 cents per word. That’s $75 for a 2,500 word short story, $1,500 for a 50,000 word novel, and $2,400 for an 80,000 word novel.
What are my terms?
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with queries or work requests. Payment needs to be made up front via Paypal, for everyone’s ease and peace of mind. While other work and life commitments will mean that completion times may vary, I will always endeavor to keep you appraised as accurately as I can, and I’m quite happy to give estimates before any editing work is booked. If you provide me with a short sample from the story you want me to look at, I can provide a more accurate estimate. And if you want to be sure I can do the job you want and would like me to test edit a similarly short sample, I’m happy to do that too.