What I do and why I do it

As an editor, I offer a single service – in-depth manuscript editing. This includes providing line edits, marginal comments and suggestions using Microsoft Word tracked changes, and separate comprehensive feedback, both overview and chapter-by-chapter.

The separate feedback I provide deals with overall strengths and weaknesses in the MS, and then focuses specifically on, for example, plot, structure, pace, setting, character development, plot-holes and small niggles, believability issues and style. Chapter-by-chapter feedback allows me to pinpoint repetition or contradiction, as well as mapping trends throughout the whole MS as I read it. I will sometimes offer a list of suggested further reading, and ideas about where a manuscript might go next.

I am a hands-on editor and I enjoy engaging with a manuscript at several levels, which is why I only offer this one service. In my experience, it’s much easier and more efficient for me to provide really specific and useful feedback by doing an in-depth edit than by staying at overview level. (It also makes my fingers itch if I spot a typo or other error and am not able to suggest correcting it on the spot!)

I specialise in children’s, teen and YA fiction, but I have also worked on adult historical fiction, romance, thrillers and biography. I have also worked on picture-book scripts.

Why I do it

I love helping writers make their books better.  I enjoy calibrating my mental instrument panel for each individual author and MS, and ensuring I strike the right balance between refining what’s there and preserving the writer’s voice. Seeing a subsequent draft that’s moved on by leaps and bounds from an earlier one and knowing that I’ve provided the focused suggestions and tweaks that enabled the writer to unlock much more of their work’s potential makes me ecstatic. It’s my dream job.

I also think it’s not for everybody. I believe criticism of this kind has to be both robust and sensitive if it’s to be really useful. It has to be rigorous enough to help the writer refine his or her content, but it should also recognise that a book comes from a deeply private place, and represents a significant investment of time, hope and self.  I pride myself on offering feedback which remains focused and constructive at all times, even if a book’s destination is more likely to be the bottom drawer than the bestseller list. Very few people get it right first time – writers learn by doing, and by ‘failing better’ next time.