Book Editing

I love books, and I love helping authors to bring their passion projects to fruition. I also know, from my experience as a writer, that every manuscript needs another skilled eye to reach its full potential. My goal is to help you achieve yours: telling the story or making the argument you’re dying to share, in the voice that reflects you, to the audience you want to reach.

I have a particular expertise in the life sciences, from a PhD in cell and microbiology and several years writing about neuroscience, but I have covered a variety of topics as a writer and can edit many kinds of books:

  • Narrative nonfiction
  • Object biography
  • Memoir
  • Autobiography
  • Biography
  • Science
  • Journalism
  • History
  • Essay

Testimonial                                                                                                  "Amber is a masterful developmental editor. I was blown away by the deep thought she put into closely reading my manuscript chapter; she asked smart questions, offered specific structural solutions, and crystallized the work's themes. Amber excels at both big-picture thinking (what is this story really about, and how can you best convey that?) and identifying the detailed edits needed to make the writing sing. Plus, she gives her feedback in a friendly, encouraging way and makes it clear that she believes the writer knows their material best. I wholeheartedly recommend her to anyone seeking a thoughtful, thorough edit of their book manuscript.”                                                                   Roberta Kwok, freelance science writer

Types of Editing

There are many levels of editing, and it can be confusing to work out what you need.

I do developmental editing of book proposals and manuscripts. That means:

  • I focus on the content and structure of the manuscript.
  • I look at issues like pacing, flow, and style.
  • If you’re presenting an argument, I make sure the logic makes sense and moves from one point to the next in a way the reader can follow.
  • If you’re telling a narrative tale, I ensure that setting, plot, and character work together, each at the right level of detail for the story you’re telling.

The “return” of a developmental edit is the editorial letter, in which I lay out issues I’ve identified and suggest possible solutions. I’m very aware that this is your book, and no one knows it better than you. You may have better solutions than the ones I’ve proposed, or you may feel certain suggestions aren’t right for you; that’s fine.

In addition, I do line editing (also called substantive editing), often in combination with a developmental edit:

  • I go through the manuscript at the paragraph, sentence, and word level, pointing out places where any issues arise, and suggesting alternatives or solutions.
  • I identify places where voice or tone are inconsistent or don’t fit your goals, and suggest changes.
  • I identify areas where your meaning isn’t clear, and suggesting alternatives.
  • I seek places where very long sentences would work better as two or more short sentences.
  • I look for wordiness or repetitive sections, and suggest trims.
  • I suggest where a better structure or word might make your point more effectively.
  • I identify cliches where you could make the point better in your own creative words.

Overall, line editing is meant to polish your prose while maintaining your voice. In this case, the “return” is a marked-up manuscript, with comments and changes, tracked so you can accept or reject them.

These edits are different from copy editing, proofreading, or fact-checking. I’m not out to catch every typo or dangling modifier, or to double-check the spelling of every name or place. That said, I do tend to notice misspellings and grammar issues, and I will certainly flag them as I go along.

My Process

When should you get a developmental or line edit? Probably not on your very first drafts. There’s plenty more you can do yourself, before calling in a professional.

As a writer, I know I eventually reach a place where I’ve done all I can. Maybe I think the article is pretty good, or maybe I know there are problems but I can’t quite put my finger on them. That’s when the seasoned eye of an editor can help me take my work to the next level.

If you’re at that point, reach out and let’s talk about your project. I want to hear about your goals and any concerns you have. To make sure we’ll work together well, I usually do a small contract first, for one to three chapters. That allows us to get to know each other before we go forward with the entire book.

I charge on a per-project basis. Payments are in two or more installments. My contracts include up to two free hours of consultation after the edits are returned, with further discussions billed at an hourly rate.

© Amber Dance 2016