Memoir and Fiction Editing Services
Manuscript Copyediting and Critiques
"Marcia is a professional. Her feedback and suggestions are honest, exhaustive and constructive. She offers flexible plans to meet your needs and budget. Believe me, her prices are well worth the results. Having worked with many literary professionals, I can honestly say that if there are editors more talented than Marcia, I haven't met them."
--Lou Macaluso, author of The Warming Sicilian Son, a memoir (BrickHouse Books, 2012) and In Search of Sal, a novel (Moonshine Cove Publishing, 2013)
"Heartfelt thanks to my editor, Marcia Trahan, for her guidance, support and unwavering determination to bring this to fruition."
--From the acknowledgments for I'm Your Daughter, Too: The True Story of a Mother's Struggle to Accept Her Transsexual Child by R. Madison Amato
"After struggling to write my memoir, I knew it was lacking something. Marcia was invaluable when it came to helping me figure out what that something was. She not only edited and polished my rough manuscript, but assisted and supported me with a variety of other issues along the way to completion. I consider her a great professional resource."
--Donald R. Dempsey, author of Betty's Child (Dream of Things, 2013). Read the Kirkus Review of this title here.
"Marcia deserves special thanks for her help in critiquing, editing and formatting my manuscript. She has an uncanny knack for coming up with elegant, simple solutions that elude me. The world needs more of her positive, gentle direction."
--Ilana Waters, author of the middle-grade fantasy novel, The Adventures of Stanley Delacourt: Book I of Hartlandia
References available upon request.
I specialize in personal narrative: memoir, personal essay, and other types of life writing. I've also assisted writers of literary and mainstream fiction on a diverse array of projects, from young adult novels to experimental short stories. I’m equally comfortable working with beginners and experienced writers. I can help at any stage in the process, from brainstorming to polishing a final draft; and I'm happy to work on short pieces as well as book-length manuscripts.
In the forms of memoir, essay, and fiction, people have brought me stories and meditations about a wide range of subjects: childhood, adolescence, family history; love, marriage, parenting; illness, disability, recovery; travel narratives; death, dying, grief; and spiritual journeys. I don't think of particular subjects as "taboo.” I encourage writers to push past their internal (and external!) censors, to say all that they need to say.
Scroll down for the full instructions on inquiring about my services.
I accept copyediting projects on a selective basis. A thorough copyedit involves correcting grammar, punctuation, spelling, usage, and sentence and paragraph structure. Depending on your needs, it can also include rephrasing for clarity and help with standard publishing industry manuscript formatting. Whether I’m working online or with pencil and paper, I mark all changes so that the writer can see my revisions clearly and compare them to the original draft.
How much will it cost? If you need copyediting only--just the corrections described above, without feedback on the content--you can take advantage of a lower rate: $30 per hour, with a 2-hour minimum. This option appeals to writers who have already received extensive feedback and simply want to give their work a professional polish before they approach agents and publishers, or before they self-publish.
In most cases, I copyedit at between 2,000 and 3,000 words per hour. The fee for your particular project will depend on the kind of help you need, your total word count, and your budget. I offer a 10 percent discount for full prepayment on all projects of $300 or more.
Here's how it breaks down:
--Option 1: Say you have a 60,000-word novel manuscript, and you need help only with grammar, punctuation, spelling, usage, sentence and paragraph structure, and light rephrasing here and there for clarity--what I call the basics.
So: 60,000 words divided by 3,000 words per hour = 20 hours. 20 hours x $30/hour = $600, or $540 if you're able to prepay in full.
--Option 2: Take that same 60,000-word manuscript. Say you need help with grammar, punctuation, spelling, usage, and sentence and paragraph structure, plus a fair amount of rephrasing for clarity and help with formatting. This means I work at a slower pace.
The math: 60,000 words divided by 2,000 words per hour = 30 hours. 30 hours x $30/hour = $900, or $810 if prepaid in full.
Keep in mind that these are general examples, not actual quotes. The fee for your project may differ according to your specific needs. I can give you a firm quote when you email me with your word count and your choice of Option 1 or Option 2.
Not sure which option you'll need? I can give you quotes for both and help you determine what's best for your project. In this case, I'll ask to see a page or two of the manuscript by email attachment or pasted into the body of an email message.
If you're looking for feedback on the content of your work, you'll need a critique. As an editor, I can give you an objective evaluation as well as a blueprint for revision.
When I critique a manuscript, whether fiction or nonfiction, I provide an honest, thorough, straightforward assessment of the work. I examine all of the elements of storytelling: prose; sentence and paragraph construction; characterization, pacing, dialogue, sensory details, and other aspects of scene writing; chapter structure, overall narrative arc, and emotional/psychological impact.
How much will it cost? My rate is the same for all levels of critique: $50 per hour, with a 2-hour minimum.
Pricing varies according to the total word count of your manuscript, the level of detail you're looking for, and your budget.
Here are some options, based on the time it takes to provide the detail you need. I offer a 10 percent discount for full prepayment of $300 or more.
Keep in mind that these are general examples, not actual quotes. Your project may differ according to your specific needs. I can give you a firm quote when you email me with your word count and your choice of critique option.
Manuscript review: This is the least time-intensive critique option, and therefore it's the least expensive. I'll give your work a careful reading but will not make margin comments. All feedback will be presented in a summary. I'll address what I feel are the most pressing of the issues outlined above; or you can ask me to focus on the issues which are of greatest concern to you. I'll outline overall strengths and weaknesses and provide specific advice on revising the manuscript. If requested, I’ll also offer an assessment of the manuscript's potential for publication.
On a manuscript review, I cover about 6,000 words per hour. Say you have a 60,000-word manuscript: 60,000 words divided by 6,000 words per hour = 10 hours. 10 hours x $50/hour = $500, or $450 if prepaid in full.
Detailed critique: This option covers all of the storytelling elements outlined above; or you can ask me to focus on particular issues. Regardless of length, I read each work twice--once to get a sense of the content and a second time to make comments. I write or type comments directly on the page, offering specific suggestions for improvement: a scene which might be expanded, an idea which needs clarification, a section of text which could be deleted or moved in order to improve flow.
I also point out the strengths of the piece: insightful, moving, or humorous lines and passages; engaging depictions of people and places; fresh, original language that expresses the writer’s unique voice. I make notations on approximately two-thirds of the manuscript's total pages.
On a detailed critique, I cover about 3,000 words per hour. Returning to the 60,000-word manuscript example: 60,000 words divided by 3,000 words per hour = 20 hours. 20 hours x $50/hour = $1000, or $900 if prepaid in full.
As part of the detailed critique, many writers find it helpful to receive a critique summary containing my overall impressions and recommendations. A short story or essay might warrant a 1- to 2-page summary, while a book-length work usually requires 3 to 6 pages. A summary adds another 2 to 3 hours to the total. On our 60,000-word example, the total for 23 hours becomes $1150, or $1035 if prepaid in full.
If you want a critique that’s different from the options outlined here: I try to be as flexible as possible in accommodating individual needs. Tell me what you’d like to see.
If you have a specific amount budgeted, and it doesn’t fit any of the options I’ve outlined, let me know what it is, and I’ll let you know what I can provide for that amount. For example, a somewhat less detailed critique that provides margin comments on one-third to one-half of the manuscript's pages may give you all the feedback you need.
Please do not send an attachment unless I request one. Introduce yourself first by email, and give me a chance to reply. Your initial inquiry and my answer will help us determine whether we’re a good fit. This saves time and effort for both parties, and it also keeps my inbox from filling up.
Scroll down for the full instructions on inquiring about my services.
Online or paper?
Regardless of your manuscript’s length and the type of copyediting or critique you request, you have two choices when it comes to method of delivery:
1) You can email the file as a Word (.doc or .docx) or .rtf attachment. (I use Word 2010 and can handle documents produced by any version of Word. If you use another program, .rtf may be the best way to go.) I'll make all comments and corrections on a copy of the file in colored font and return your work by attachment. If you’ve requested a critique summary, I'll email it as a separate document.
Note: I strongly recommend working by email. It's by far the more efficient method for all types of copyediting and critique. It does not require specialized tech knowledge on your part. If you can send and receive attachments, we can work by email. If you prefer having a hard copy of the edited manuscript, you can print the returned file just as you would print any other file.
2) You can send a hard copy and include a self-addressed envelope with enough postage for the manuscript's return. I'll make comments and corrections in pencil and return the work using your stamped envelope. If you've requested a critique summary, I'll print the summary and send it with the manuscript.
Note: Working by hard copy is more expensive, since you'll be paying for printing and postage.
If you’d like to inquire about my services:
**Email me at email@example.com and tell me about your manuscript.
If you answer all of the following questions in your initial inquiry, I can get a broad sense of your work and provide a quote or range of quotes that are specific to your project.
--What is your genre?
--What is your subject?
--What’s the approximate word count? (Very important in determining quotes!)
--What are your goals for the work?
--Which copyediting option(s) interest you?
--Which critique option(s) interest you?
--Are there specific aspects of the manuscript which you feel need more attention than others?
Note: I try to respond to all inquiries within 24 to 48 hours. If you don't get a response within 2 days, that most likely means I have not received your email. In that case, please resend the email to firstname.lastname@example.org and copy the message to my personal account, email@example.com.
**It’s a good idea to contact me 2 to 4 weeks before you plan on sending work. A short story or essay generally takes 1 week to copyedit or critique, while a book-length work takes at least 2 weeks. However, the start date depends on my availability at the time of your inquiry. My schedule literally changes by the day and can fill up very quickly, so your best bet is to inquire as early as possible.
**Based on the information you provide, I’ll reply with an initial price estimate; I may ask to see part of the manuscript before giving an estimate. I’ll also give you a specific time frame for completion of the work.
**Once we agree on a price and other details concerning the copyedit or critique, I’ll draw up a contract and email it for your review. I will reserve your time slot once I receive two copies of the contract with your signature and payment of one-half of the agreed-upon price, or the full payment if you choose to take advantage of the 10 percent discount. If you opt for paying in 2 installments, the remaining balance is due immediately upon completion of the work. The 10 percent discount applies only to fully prepaid totals of $300 or more.
**I accept personal checks, money orders, and e-check, instant transfer, and credit card payments via PayPal. If you choose PayPal, I’ll send you an email invoice which will contain a link to PayPal and include instructions on completing the transaction.
All inquiries welcome!
Are you feeling stuck in the middle of a project which seems as if it will never be finished? Are you struggling to find the time and motivation to keep writing? Do you find yourself wishing that there were someone you could contact for suggestions and support? If you’ve answered “yes” to any of these questions, a mentorship might be for you.
The structure of a mentorship is something we design together. Contact takes place via email, phone, or both, so that the mentorship works no matter where you live. In addition to copyediting and critiques, I offer suggestions on overcoming obstacles, reading recommendations, personalized exercises, writing deadlines—whatever I can reasonably provide to give you the encouragement and practical help every writer needs.
My rate for mentoring services is $50 per hour, with a 2-hour minimum. Once you prepay for a block of hours, you can use those hours according to scheduled times or as needed. You'll receive a 10 percent discount for prepayment of $300 or more.
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to discuss mentorship.