Need professional, thorough, and insightful fiction editing at an affordable price? What a coincidence! That’s exactly what you’ll find here.
I offer four types of editing services: a developmental review, line editing, copy editing, and an all-in-one package for short stories/first chapters. You can scroll down for the prices.
Before I describe these services, let me explain a bit about my editing philosophy. I have worked with good and bad editors. The bad editors all had one thing in common: they viewed their opinion as unquestionably superior, and forced themselves on the writing at the cost of the author’s voice and the story’s heart. In some cases they vastly overrated their own abilities (and way overcharged). The good editors, though, were an absolute joy to work with, both as a writer and co-editor. A good editor respects above all the author’s voice, and the voice of the story. She understands what the author is going for, in terms of both story and language, and every suggestion she makes–and they are only suggestions, but based on a vast experience and deep understanding of what works and doesn’t–functions to enhance the author’s desired effect in terms of plot, character, theme, language, etc. A good editor is both ruthless and respectful, unflinching in telling it to the author as they see it, but in a manner that is friendly, kind, considerate and, above all, constructive. A good editor wants to help you turn your story into the absolute best version it can be. A good editor wants you to succeed.
If you’re wondering whether or not you need an editor: you do. Even Cormac McCarthy needs an editor. The question isn’t do I need one, but who do I need? I understand good writing–what makes it work, what holds it back, and all the little details in between. Depending on the type of editing you choose, the goals and outcomes differ, but in a general sense, here are some of the questions I can help you answer, with solutions toward achieving your desired outcomes:
- Are your characters (a) unique and (b) alive?
- Is your opening grabbing the reader and pulling them headfirst into the story?
- Is your ending weak, disappointing, ineffective? Does your story skid to a too-abrupt stop or fade out forever, losing all impact? Both are common. Does it adequately resolve the protagonist’s journey?
- Is your protagonist stumbling around a messy middle? The middle of the story is the most important in terms of maintaining reader interest. It’s what they’ll use to frame their description of your novel to others. Yet it’s here where writers relinquish their grip over the plot and lose readers to gain bad reviews.
- Is your dialogue intriguing, economic and sufficiently credible without being overly realistic? Is there subtext, conflict and effective characterization?
- Are the actions of your characters believable in terms of their psychology and the story world? Writers often only see the contrived nature of their characters’ actions and scenes when someone else points them out.
- Do clichés litter your plot, language, characterizations? Are you drifting too far from or sticking too closely to genre conventions? I am an avid reader and can spot a cliché a mile away (wink).
- Are you overdoing it with description? Or are you one of the rare kind who give too few details of the intricacies of their story world and the characters who inhabit it? I can help you find the sweet spot and trap your readers firmly in your story.
- Is your reliance on passive voice and adverbs or excessive use of simile and metaphor killing an otherwise thrilling tale?
- Is unnecessary backstory and exposition blocking the reader from experiencing the immediate excitement of the journey as it happens right there with the protagonist? I can help you filter out all the backstory you don’t need and weave all that you do into tiny, clever and much more effective snippets of dialogue, action, thought, and even setting.
- Is your story home to a fully-fleshed-out, psychologically complex, interesting protagonist but an antagonist that no one could care about or sympathize with? A major thrill for the reader is in the complexity of the antagonist and the moral conundrum it places the reader (and your protagonist) in.
- Are some characters and scenes totally unnecessary? Could they be combined into another, or removed entirely? Does every single scene and interaction relentlessly push the story forward to a gripping and inevitable conclusion?
- Could the story themes be better and more fully expressed? Or are they too obvious and could be more subtle and complex?
- If you’re about to self-publish, is your manuscript 100% free of typos, spelling errors, grammatical failings, awkward syntax, repeated words, over-use of alliteration and other techniques, empty words, distracting paragraph placements?
These are just the main questions I consider when reading a story. There are many, many more, and every story is as unique and complex as its author. Each story demands a custom approach and perspective, but at the same time, stories haven’t changed all that much since they made audiences laugh, weep and shriek at the amphitheatres of Ancient Athens. I will help you shape your story and enhance its voice so that, like the sirens of the oceans around Ancient Greece, it sings as sweetly as it can, lures the reader in, and keeps them trapped in its depths.
My prices are considerably lower than the average editor’s, and this is largely because I know how damn near impossible it is to earn money as a writer these days. I don’t want to rob you. I’m extremely passionate about editing and love working with writers and helping them see their vision fulfilled, and I adore reading, so those are forms of payment in themselves. My competitive prices also bring me a lot of clients, so it balances out. (You will come across a lot of editors charging three, four and five times what I do for the same services, and believe me, they are not five times better at their job. Price is in no way indicative of quality–this is the internet. Choose your editor wisely and be sparing with your hard-earned cash.)
This focuses on the big picture. The overall structure of the story, the characters’ journeys, plot and character arcs, pacing, characterization, the impact of the beginning and ending, themes, symbolism, foreshadowing, and big picture comments on elements of your writing style: description, over-use of passive voices and techniques, dialogue, imagery, and lots, lots more (it depends on the story), but anything that’s consistently negatively affecting your story. Depending on the story, I may structure my review chapter by chapter or more liquid, but no matter which way I do, it will be clear, chronological and easy to understand. I will also critique particularly important scenes that simply aren’t working, and any other things that jump out to me. I will read your manuscript in full as if I’m a reader who just bought it to get a feel for the story and its characters and voice before switching the editor mindset on. That comes on for the second read-through.
The developmental review comes in the form of a written document of extensive commentary (generally around 10 pages) on these various elements of your story’s big picture and areas you could improve upon. It will include specific examples of your writing and the edited versions. I also give detailed special attention to your story’s opening, and will line edit your first chapter up to 3,000 words using Track Changes in Microsoft Word to show you how to improve on intricate details of your writing–skills you can apply to the rest of your manuscript. We can also email back and forth after you receive the review and you can ask any questions you may have.
A developmental review comes after you have written a few drafts and gone as far with the story as you can yourself, but before line and copy editing, because the changes you make following a developmental review will be extensive and all-encompassing. You will learn more from a good developmental review than you would in ten writing workshops, and I include throughout every review comments on what I like about your writing, and what you’re doing well.
Price: €0.003 (0.3 cent) per word, rounded to the nearest hundred. A standard-length 100,000-word novel would cost €300.
Turnaround: 2-3 weeks on average, but each story is unique and some demand more time than others. I never rush a job, and give every manuscript my utmost attention.
This is a very thorough and intensive examination of your writing in terms of language: voice, tone, style, grammar, word choice, imagery, tense, repetition, etc. Line editing has two main functions: to make your writing as clear and concise as possible, and to make your story sing as sweetly as it can. It is a final gloss on your story, ensuring it is as professional and effective as it can be, and free of all errors.
In my line edit of your manuscript, I will cut all the flab of your writing–the excess words and sentences that are cluttering up the pages and stunting the forward momentum of the story; fix all grammar, syntax and punctuation errors, and remove areas of unnecessary repetition of both words and ideas; replace poor word choice; tweak and replace weak imagery to ensure it is effective and vivid; cut excess description and add to areas that need more; remove unnecessary backstory and weave it into the immediate action of the story; fix tense changes; smooth out sentences and paragraphs to ensure they read clearly and logically and are easily visualized and understood–sprawling sentences often become shorter, clearer sentences, keeping the reader immersed; ensure paragraphs begin and end in the right places; enhance the rhythm and musicality of the story. Most importantly, my line edits will never sacrifice your voice, but will enhance it, because I am well aware that sometimes voice demands certain things be kept in. You can email me after you receive your edited manuscript and ask any questions you may have. I will read your manuscript in full as if I’m a reader who just bought it to get a feel for the story and its characters and voice before switching the editor mindset on. That comes on for the second read-through. Although a line edit is strictly language-based, I will sometimes comment on big picture things I notice along the way, and some areas and things that could be improved. I can’t help myself!
My line editing includes copy editing and therefore is the last draft your manuscript goes through after a developmental edit and before publication. This means you only ask me to line edit your manuscript when you have entirely finished with it and are ready to send it out to agents and publishers, or are ready to publish it yourself. This is a very exciting time for both of us, because I get to read a very nearly finished manuscript in all its glory, and you get to receive a 100% finished manuscript at last. Line edits are performed entirely with Track Changes in Microsoft Word, so you will receive it back with all the changes and marks in red, and will have the option of accepting or rejecting them individually, and I will often comment on my changes in the margins, allowing you to learn, like with a developmental edit, more than you would in ten writing workshops.
Price: €0.004 (0.4 cent) per word, rounded to the nearest hundred. A standard-length 100,000 word-novel would cost €400. If I have already performed a developmental review of your manuscript, I will line edit your revised final draft for €0.003 (0.3 cent) per word (€300 for a 100,000-word novel).
Turnaround: 4 weeks on average, but each story is unique and some demand more time than others. I never rush a job, and give every manuscript my utmost attention.
This is the very last process right before publishing and is extremely important for authors intending to self-publish. Copy editing is the difference between your novel being taken seriously or dismissed as an amateur mess riddled with typos and errors. Copy editing focuses only on errors in the language as it is and does not seek to improve upon that which is not an error. This means that when copy editing, I won’t make your sentences sound better, improve imagery, cut excess description, enhance rhythm, etc. I will focus on errors of grammar, syntax, punctuation, word choice, spelling, and will fix typos. If you are interested in a more thorough edit and enhancement of your writing that includes copy editing, you should choose line editing (above).
With copy editing, I will make sure your finished manuscript is flawless and absolutely professional, and believe me, this can be the difference between your self-published novel being a hit and a flop. Nothing aggravates readers more than typos and grammatical errors. I will ensure your punctuation is correct and effective for what you intended, including those tricky semi-colons and dialogue conventions, and this may involve changing and switching around sentences. I also adhere to American or British English, depending on your preference.
Price: €0.002 (0.2 cent) per word, rounded to the nearest hundred. A standard-length 100,000 word-novel would cost €200. If I have already performed a developmental review of your manuscript, I will copy edit your revised final draft for €0.0015 (0.15 cent) per word (€150 for a 100,000-word novel).
Turnaround: 2 weeks on average, but each story is unique and some demand more time than others. I never rush a job, and give every manuscript my utmost attention.
Short Story/First Chapter Developmental Review and Line Edit
This is exactly what it sounds like. I will give a detailed, thorough developmental review of your short story or first chapter of your manuscript, exactly as described above, as a number of pages of extensive commentary. I will also line-edit the entire story/chapter as described above with Track Changes in Microsoft Word. And once again, you will learn more from a good developmental review and line edit than you would in ten writing workshops, and I include throughout every review comments on what I like about your writing, and what you’re doing well.
Be aware that because this includes a developmental edit, what you get back won’t be a finished story because you will be revising it afterwards. The function of the line edit in this case, then, is to show you where and how your writing can be improved, and you can apply those skills when revising your story. This review-and-edit is in-depth and intensive.
Price: €20 per short story/first chapter of up to 2,000 words, and €40 per short story/first two chapters of up to 5,000 words. Anything longer than that has to go the normal route of the above categories.
Turnaround: Within a week, generally.
How to Avail of These Services
All services must be booked in advance. These tend to fill up quite fast, so it can be good to plan ahead when your manuscript will be edited, and book early. *My next available slots begin at the end of February, but short story/first chapter all-in-one edits can begin within a few days, generally.* I require a €50 booking fee to secure your edit, and then the remainder of half the payment within a week of starting, and the second half upon finishing the edit. So, if you’re booking a €300 edit, I need €50 to reserve your place, another €100 before I begin, and the remaining €150 after I finish.
I accept only fiction manuscripts. I specialize in literary fiction and psychological thrillers, thrillers, noir and neo-noir, dark fiction, genre-crossing work and other such genres, but I read widely and am comfortable with all genres. I’m more concerned with the characters and vibe of the story rather than what genre it falls under, in terms of my own personal tastes. This does not mean I will automatically accept your manuscript, however. I am not like some editors who will take anything at the expense of personal connection with the project. A good editor is passionate about the project she is working on, believes in it, loves it, and knows she can help it become its best version. So, I will only take on work I connect with. And I don’t do samples. I’m too busy for that, and I like to spend a long time reading and getting to know stories in full before I switch on edit-brain.
Query me at firstname.lastname@example.org with a basic synopsis of your story and attach to the email the first two chapters as a DOC file, and I’ll get back to you and let you know if we’re a good fit. If you’re querying your short story, attach the whole story.
For me, the editor-author relationship goes beyond mere business, and I will continue to be a source of help for you after the initial edit, and will maintain an interest in your career, so keep me updated of your future milestones! I love hearing from authors I’ve worked with. Maybe you’ll want to work with me again.
Philip Elliott / Editor-in-Chief