Whether you’re planning to self-publish or seek traditional publication via a literary agent, here’s how I may be able to help you:
(For children’s & young adult fiction only, excluding picture books)
Sometimes called structural editing or developmental editing, for a manuscript critique I would read your full manuscript and give detailed feedback on points such as plot, themes, characterisation, point of view / voice, pacing and market suitability (for example, if you’re pitching your novel as young adult but I think it’s more suitable for the adult market or vice versa, I’ll let you know). The critique looks at how a manuscript works as a whole, and identifies both strengths and areas to work on.
As this kind of editing requires specialised experience and knowledge of particular genres, I offer this service for children’s and young adult fiction only. Because it is an indepth, somewhat personal type of editing, I also only work on manuscripts that I feel my skills would be a good match for, so I will ask to see a brief synopsis plus a sample of your writing before agreeing to provide this service.
(The next stage of editing after this is usually line editing, which is a detailed, sentence-based level of editing, designed to really polish the writing and enhance the author’s voice. I do not currently offer line editing as a service.)
Submission letter / synopsis review
If you’re sending your manuscript to literary agents, you’re almost certainly going to need to send a covering letter and a synopsis along with your sample chapters. One of my roles is as a submissions inbox reader for a literary agency, so I know how important these elements are to get right.
I can proofread your letter and / or synopsis for you to correct spelling or grammar mistakes, and also offer advice on whether what you’ve written is appropriate and engaging.
(For most genres & age ranges, excluding academical texts)
For a copyedit, I would edit your full manuscript for spelling, grammar and punctuation, including capitalisation and hyphenation, ensuring that these elements are correct and consistent. I would check basic facts (e.g. looking out for historical innacuracies and ensuring brand names are correctly spelled) and story consistency (have your main character’s eyes changed colour?). I am always respectful of the author’s voice and will not rewrite sentences unless they are incorrect, but I will make suggestions if the meaning of your sentences is unclear. Copyediting also involves some standard formatting, e.g. making paragraph style and chapter headings consistent.
Copyediting does not involve helping the author improve their writing in a stylistic sense, e.g. rewriting sentences so that they read more elegantly or convey more atmosphere. This is line editing, which is not a service I currently offer. This article from NY Book Editors details the differences between line editing and copyediting in a clear way, with examples.
If you’re hoping to publish traditionally rather than self-publish, the publishing company will undertake the copyedit so there’s no need to have a copyedit done before you send your manuscript to literary agents. However, if you are very worried about your spelling and grammar and think you need help fixing it before you send to agents, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
(For most genres & age ranges, excluding academical texts)
This is the final stage before publication, where I will check for spelling and grammar mistakes, typos, and any errors that may have been introduced by converting to your final format (e.g. Word to PDF).
You might think that you can skip copyediting and go straight to a proofread – perhaps you’ve had a friend who is good at spelling go through your manuscript already. This article from NY Book Editors explains the difference between copyediting and proofreading, and hopefully will show why a copyedit is essential!
Again, if you’re hoping to publish traditionally then this stage will be undertaken by the publisher. I would not advise paying for a proofread in this case, as you’ll likely be going through a few rounds of edits on your manuscript with the publisher – a proofread should be a final polish after all other editing is complete.
- The Society for Editors and Proofreaders‘ FAQ page includes detailed answers to questions including what copyeditors and proofreaders do, and why and how to use the services of copy-editors and proofreaders.
- Writers & Artists is a respected and reputable resource for authors and illustrators, with a wealth of knowledge including articles such as What does a literary agent do?, How to find a literary agent and Beware vanity publishing.
- The Society of Authors is a trade union for all types of writers, illustrators and literary translators, at all stages of their careers. Some of their guides and useful articles are free even to non-members. If you’ve been offered a publishing deal, you may like to read What sort of deal are you being offered? and their article on vanity publishing.
- The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators is an international non-profit organisation offering membership to both aspiring and established writers and illustrators of children’s books. The British Isles chapter offers events such as masterclasses and critique groups, and runs Undiscovered Voices, an annual competition for unpublished and unagented children’s book writers and illustrators living in the EU.
- BookTrust has some great Tips and advice for young writers.
Recommended books on writing
- On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
- Get Started in Writing Young Adult Fiction by Juliet Mushens
- Get Started in Writing for Children by Lisa Bullard
- On Editing: How to Edit Your Novel the Professional Way by Helen Corner-Bryant and Kathryn Price