Editing Services

If you need an experienced, sharp-eyed editor to help you lift your manuscript up to the next level, you’ve come to the right place. I provide both developmental and line/copy editing for novels and short fiction, at reasonable rates. My special areas of interest include fantasy, science fiction, and mysteries. Editing of nonfiction on topics in music and music technology is also available by special arrangement. I’m not interested in romance, erotica, horror, or memoir.

But first, let’s hear from a satisfied client:

“Jim is the kind of editor writers most urgently need, irrespective of context. Apart from being intimate with his writing for years before I even began, I got the chance to work with him as he edited my six-hundred page tome on music production, Real World Digital Audio (which did well enough as to be translated into popular Polish- and Russian-language editions). That was a titanic challenge both of project management and interpersonal communication, and Jim manages to be tough, clear, and capable of focusing on each and every word while still moving the larger effort ever forward. He’s the sort of editor I’ve since aspired to be.” –Peter Kirn

To be clear, Peter’s book was nonfiction, but it was a large project, and any project I work on gets processed by the same intra-cranial wetware.

Developmental Editing. In this process, I look primarily at the big picture. Does your plot move well? Are your characters believable and well rounded? Will readers understand the characters’ motivations? Is the story premise fresh? Are there any logical inconsistencies in the plot? Is the tone of the prose appropriate to the story? How have you handled the viewpoint and flashbacks? With fantasy and science fiction, how have you handled the world-building? I will sometimes offer suggestions for changes that I feel would make the story stronger.

Along the way, I keep an eye on lower-level issues such as word usage and punctuation. I will alert you to any patterns that I notice, such as missing quotation marks or misused words, but I won’t mark every low-level problem that snags my eye. My assumption in developmental editing is that you will want to do some rewriting, and that you’ll want a copy-editor to go through the manuscript with an eye to detail after you add or change some of the material. It would be redundant effort for me to copy-edit while doing a developmental edit.

Line/Copy Editing. My assumption when hired to do this type of edit is that your story unfolds exactly as you want it to. I may notice larger developmental issues, and may comment on them briefly, but my focus will be on your prose. Is your usage of commas, hyphens, and other punctuation up to a professional standard? Are the grammar and word usage correct? How about capitalization? Are your descriptive paragraphs well balanced? Does your dialog read smoothly? Do the pronouns have antecedents? Are any special terms (such as alien words in science fiction) spelled consistently throughout?

There are certainly some variations in what is considered correct grammar, and I try not to be pedantic. Especially in dialog, nonstandard grammar and spelling may be both desirable and effective. Occasionally I also see sentences that, while technically flawless, are awkward or stilted. I will sometimes suggest optional changes that you may want to consider.

My Rates. For the time being, I’m offering a rock-bottom introductory rate of 5/8 cent per word for fiction. This works out to $500 for an 80,000-word novel. For short fiction, a $100 minimum will apply. Clients pay half of the fee up front, via PayPal. Final payment of the remainder of the fee must be received before I deliver the edited manuscript.

Not sure you’re ready to send me money? Contact me (via midiguru23 at gmail dot com) and send me an initial novel segment of 3,000 to 4,000 words. I’ll go through it for free, so you can evaluate my editing. (There’s no easy way to do this with short stories; sorry.)

My Qualifications. My primary qualifications in fiction are as a writer rather than as an editor. In the late 1980s my agent sold novels I had written to both Del Rey and Ace. I’ve also had a few stories published over the years in Fantasy & Science Fiction, Asimov’s, and other magazines. I’m currently active in self-published fantasy; the first three novels in my epic, beginning with The Leafstone Shield, are currently available in e-book form on Amazon.

As an editor, I have worked primarily in nonfiction. until Backbeat Books was acquired by Hal Leonard Publishing, I was the series editor of Backbeat’s music technology series, called Power Tools. I edited Real World Digital Audio for Peachpit Press and the third edition of The Guide to MIDI Orchestration. (I’m incorrectly shown on Amazon as a co-author of the latter title.) Prior to my work on these books, I was on the editorial staff of Keyboard magazine for more than 25 years. At Keyboard I handled all phases of editing, from planning special issues through technical and line editing to copy-editing, proofreading, and making last-minute corrections in a page layout program.

My expertise in fiction is by no means limited to writing, however. For several years I was part of an active critique group that focused on science fiction and fantasy. Reading one another’s manuscripts with a critical eye and offering supportive commentary was what we did. I also have a groaning shelf of how-to-write books by others, which I have read and absorbed over the years — everything from John Gardner’s The Art of Fiction to Scott Meredith’s Writing to Sell.

If you have a story to tell, I can help you tell it well.

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