Kestrel’s Way Editorial Services

KestrelWingsWhen your words need precision, grace … and wings.

I love my work. But more importantly, I love yours. A former award-winning newspaper journalist, I understand the importance of clarity, brevity, and craft. As a lifelong bookworm, I care deeply about language, heart, and intelligence.

Whether you are writing a page-turner science fiction novel, or an intricate exploration of the relationship between science and law in relationship to climate change, I want to bring out the best in your book. I respect the blood, sweat, and tears you’ve shed getting the manuscript to my door.

I created my company, Kestrel’s Way Editorial Services, more than a decade ago to pursue my passion and help other writers succeed at theirs.  Sampling of KWES booksAs an editor, I have decades of experience, both breadth and depth. I was an award-winning newspaper reporter and editor for fifteen years before turning to book editing. For the last fifteen, I have worked for New York publishing companies like Benchmark and Simon and Schuster, and with indie authors publishing their first (and tenth!) novels.

A few of the many titles I’ve worked on are at left: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, by Benjamin Alire Saenz, winner of the Michael L. Printz Award and the Stonewall Book Award; The Immortal Game by Joannah Miley, winner of the Dante Rosetti Award; Touching the Surface by Kim Sabatini, winner of the Alice Curtis Desmond Award; Epidemic: The Battle Against Polio by Stephanie True Peters; Mark Twain by Debra McArthur; Terrorism by Lila Perl; and Miranda Law: the right to remain silent by Ron Fridell.

I’ve worked with hybrid publishing companies, and seen the publishing process from the inside out. I can advise you about how to make your book better at every stage, and help you find other professionals to take the next step when the manuscript is ready. I can assist in the preparation of query letters and elevator pitches, or I can direct you to book cover artists and book designers if you decide to self-publish.

Services

Manuscript Editing is my premier service. This encompasses everything from a light copyedit to a heavy line edit. I work with each client to determine what they need and want from this crucial step in the creation of their book before I begin work. Let’s talk!

The copyedit, they say, is the part of publishing that turns a manuscript into a book. It’s the process by which your written words take the step from a private work to a public one. My edit will enhance what’s good in your work, catch the errors and imperfections that could mar it and cause embarrassment or bad reviews, and help smooth rough edges in transitions, organization, sense, wording, style, and grammar.

People sometimes mistake copyediting for spell-checking. Spelling errors are important, but usually a very minor aspect of most copyedits. The most crucial aspect, in any flavor of a manuscript edit, is the editors’ attention to every word, as opposed to a broad-brush grasp of story or argument.

In editing your work, I will make logical decisions about style and usage, based on industry-recognized reference works such as The Chicago Manual of Style and Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. In consultation with you, I will create a style sheet that will guide all future work, including your initial review of the manuscript after I have finished it, additional edits, and the final proofread. The style sheet can also guarantee consistency in subsequent books in a series. I will note the name of every character and place name. I will check your math, the names of real places, consistency between one part of the book and another, timelines and scene changes in fiction, and the coherence in nonfiction.

Light copyedit to line edit. All copyedits involve an initial consultation to determine the scope of work. You and I together determine what level of editing will best suit your needs. All copyedits involve the creation or use of a style sheet. Yours will include your chosen idioms and grammatical options, as well as significant or frequent style rules that come up in your particular work or in most works, such as the treatment of numbers and numerals, capitalization, hyphenation, and the like. Beyond that, you may have already had detailed edits done in the developmental phase, and need a light hand as far as sense and organization. Or you may be seeking a line edit, in which I give full attention to organization and presentation, dialogue, transitions, and continuity.

freekestrelpicIf a line edit ends up catching many problems, and results in portions of the book being rewritten, you may want to consider having a followup “light copyedit.” I am happy to oblige in either role, or, if there is a period of two months at least in between, both. (Doing repeated copyedits in succession tends to reduce the effectiveness of the editor because, like the author, we begin to “know what you meant.”)

In all cases, as your editor, I honor your voice. My goal is to be invisible, my presence only observable in the fact that readers are not distracted by any errors or awkwardness, but instead become completely absorbed in your book. Contact me, and let’s discuss how to make your book its best!

Developmental or Content Editing. With subjects that particularly interest me or about which I have a special knowledge, I offer content editing services for completed manuscripts. I do not work with authors in the early phases of writing, before the book is complete, but can make referrals to editors who do. Some people use the term “developmental editing” to apply only to unfinished manuscripts, so I often refer to this service as “content editing.”

In developmental editing, I will address the content of the work more radically, helping you determine the best way to present the story or information. In fiction, this encompasses creating a “hook” that draws the reader into the story, character development, plot, and pacing. In nonfiction, it includes careful analysis of documentation, coherence, persuasiveness, and making the writing more engaging. Fiction or nonfiction, this is a collaborative process, often with several rounds of editing, returning the work to you, emailing, consulting and working together to make your book both strong and beautiful.

My areas of interest and expertise: In fiction: Young Adult, Middle Grade, Mystery, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Speculative Fiction, Paranormal, Women’s Fiction, Suspense, Nature or Survival stories, and Literary Fiction. In nonfiction: High School and Middle School books, Constitutional Law, Sociology, Psychology, Gender Issues, Geology, Anthropology, Philosophy, and Animal Behavior. This is a partial list. When in doubt, contact me and we’ll talk!

Proofreading is the final step. I strongly encourage clients for whom I have copyedited to seek another editor for proofreading. The benefit of “fresh eyes” on a polished work before it goes to print is hard to overstate. These fresh eyes should be skilled, not just friendly ones.

Sometimes authors are tempted to proofread their own work – and they should! More than once! But they also need a professional set of eyes that knows how to read and apply a style sheet, and will read every word analytically, critically, carefully. I have seen many self-published books “proofread” by friends or family members. Even if they are English teachers or highly educated, these allies may not have the specific skills needed to catch every error. But you can bet some readers and reviewers will!

I rarely proofread any more, but occasionally am available to undertake proofing of a professionally copyedited book, especially for former or current clients, or clients of colleagues. Contact me, and let’s figure out how to get your book polished to a lustrous shine!

Assessments. Many authors want a professional assessment of their work before they are ready for an edit, or after the edit, before they seek an agent or publisher. I am happy to read the entire work and write a 500-700 word assessment of its strengths and weaknesses, making specific suggestions about how to improve, and recommend next steps in the publishing process. Another option is a brief read-through of the first few chapters, after which I can give an assessment of voice, style, and hook, and make recommendations that you apply to the remainder of the work. If you need services I can’t provide in a timely fashion, I am happy to make referrals to professionals I know and trust. I want to help you succeed. Contact me and we’ll figure out the best way!

Before the Edit

But wait! Before you fork over your hard-earned cash and your manuscript … do you really need an editor?

Well, for authors, editing pays. It pays in getting your message across, in the capacity to capture your readers’ attention, and in efficiency, time, and money. An unedited manuscript is generally something only a mother could love. And, yep, in this case you, Author Dearest, are “Mom.”

But that doesn’t mean you need to pay for all  the editing you need.

And that brings us to … what the heck is editing, anyway? Many writers when they first approach an editor may not be certain about what kind of help they need. Editing is not a monolithic unit of work, like attaching widgets on an assembly line. Write … edit … cover art … SPROING! Out comes a book! Uh … no.

In fact, about the only time you aren’t editing is that first flush of creative outpouring (or jaw-clenching determination, if the muse does not smile). After that, you’re editing. The first edits, of course, are the author’s own. Otherwise known as the “second (or third, or fourth, or …) draft.”

Dos and Don’ts of writing the first draft of your novel

Do … keep writing. Crafting and re-crafting that gorgeous first chapter is well worthwhile … after you’ve finished the first draft of your book.

Don’t … wordsmith a lot. Later, you can fix your grammar and punctuation, or ponder just the right simile. For now, get the story down.

Do … spend time getting to know your characters, even if it means writing something you know doesn’t belong in the book.

Don’t … agonize over that scene that just isn’t working. Skip it. Make a note to yourself about the plot points that need to be accomplished and move on.

In nonfiction, with obvious exceptions, the same applies. Make your outline, sure. But relax if you need to write things as you get the information and interviews, and organize later.

Now, say you’ve finished that first draft … and it’s full of pedestrian writing, disjointed storytelling, head-hopping and stream-of-consciousness reflections on irrelevant background material … Celebrate! A first draft is a massive achievement!

And … welcome to editing. Read over your manuscript, noting problem areas and tweaking language as you go. Fix everything you possibly can before you look for an editor. The better your manuscript, the less expensive the professional edit! Fix that scene you skipped, make sure your character’s motivations and development are coherent, and polish, polish, polish the dialogue. For nonfiction authors, the focus will be organizing your material, improving your narrative voice, and making sure you have all the information you need, no more, and in the right order!

Next step is a beta read. The more volunteers you have, the better. This is the place for your mom, your best friend, that guy down the street who will read anything as long as it’s (Fill In Your Genre Here), members of your writers group who owe you favors, etc. Take their responses, fix the ones that make your book better, ignore the rest, and repeat as needed. NOW you’re ready for Kestrel’s Way Editorial Services!

Costs

When you’re ready, contact me and we’ll discuss your manuscript or short story or query letter needs. But, so you can ponder expenses in your spare hours, here are some general facts and figures:

Developmental edits: $30/hour

Copyedits: $27/hour

Assessments: $27/hour (Or $300 for a 500- to 700-word assessment of a 250-300 page manuscript.)

Proofreading: $24/hour

Surcharge of 10% for rush jobs; discount of 10% if I ask for an extension on a deadline.

If you are a new client, I will do a free read of a 10-15-page sample of the book, so I can more accurately assess how long it will take and give you a ballpark estimate. I am also willing to make bids on a per-job basis, but that bid will be based on my best guess of how long the work will take. I also am willing to work within your budget, doing what I can within the time allowed, although that may reduce the scope of the work.

Contact me, and we’ll discuss what will best serve your needs and your budget!

Kestrel’s Way Editorial Services, when your words need precision, grace … and wings.

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