As a full-time freelance editor, the most rewarding work I do is to guide writers to publication, whether memoir or other nonfiction work. As a writing coach, I help writers figure out what it is that they truly want to say: what the story is that they are burning to tell. Because every writer has a different story and goal in mind, I work collaboratively as a midwife, to coax, craft, package, and launch that work out into the world.
I offer step-by-step guidance as writers undertake a range of projects, though the majority of my work is helping memoirists develop their book manuscripts for agent representation and publication.
My services include the following:
Whether you have a full draft of a manuscript or are just setting out with a burning desire to tell your story, or maybe have a sample chapter or two that you have workshopped but want to get into pitch-perfect shape, I offer full developmental editing to ensure that your story is both true to your vision and sellable in the ever-changing publishing world.
A developmental edit (or read)
Includes feedback that forces you to distill your story into a compelling pitch and gives you a concrete plan for any restructuring or rethinking that you need to undertake so that readers are brought into the world you create and want to stay there. This includes my dive into your manuscript to show you how you can tell the story only you can tell, with concrete and specific edits and queries, as well as detailed editorial steps for improvements and next steps.
Or midwifing, as I like to call it, often starts with a developmental edit and feedback, and then moves forward to not only identify and build on your narrative arc, but includes the editing and rewriting it takes to get there. This includes a personalized plan and schedule that ensures that you craft your manuscript for maximum impact and authenticity—that it is the story you want to tell in a way that will resonate with readers and that will be positioned among cultural currents and similar books that will attract agent and publisher attention.
Though many agents and editors often request sample pages before asking for a proposal, they are still used in the publishing world to as a sort of very intelligent cheat sheet for your manuscript. Going through each section in turn—About the Book, About the Market, Competing Titles, Chapter Summaries, About Publicity, and About the Author, I work step-by-step with writers to demystify this document, which has inspired fear in many. But it shouldn’t. Written in your voice and not in report-ese, it can actually be the best way for writers to look at their story in the bigger culture around us, to craft a tight and compelling pitch that inspires an “a-ha, I want this” in agents and editors, and helps you position your book—that answers the questions What’s your book? Why should readers care?” It can be thought of as a map of your book, a bird’s eye view to help others understand why it matters to you and how it can matter to others.
I have helped writers get book deals over the years with Harper Collins, Little, Brown, Running Press, Broadway Books, Chicago Monthly Press, Potomac Books, and others.
Essays and Reportage
Often the best way to get at the crux of your book, or simply if you have a story to tell in a shorter form, or both, is to write a personal essay. Though the death knell for the essay sounds every few years, it is still one of the best ways to tell a story that burns to get out. I work with writers to brainstorm ideas for essays, to work on, in the words of Anne Lamott, “shitty first drafts,” and to shape, trim, and revise until you bring this out into the world in the way you envisioned. I also work with writers to shape and edit their reported stories. I have worked with writers to craft their work for outlets like the New York Times, the Washington Post, Salon, Vice, and Marie Claire
I offer a free half-hour Skype or phone consultation to talk about what you are looking for and how to get there, as well as rates. Contact me here.