Editing services FAQ


Mr Edit graphicWhat's your editing specialty?

For fiction, I prefer adventure stories, thrillers, crime dramas, humour and general fiction. I'm not the best person to ask about chicklit, romance stories, medical dramas, or fantasy, but I can help out occasionally. So feel free to ask. Having written and sold many sci-fi short-stories, I've got some experience of this genre. Also, I can deal with horror storiesup to a point. But broadly speaking, I don't like anything sick and nasty.

For non-fiction, I'll look at most projects, with special interest in the automotive, aviation, nautical and military sectors. I also handle travel books, how-to books, legal books, social commentary works, biographies, art and photography projects, and history and science books. I prefer not to handle religion, cookery or fashion.


Do you give manuscript appraisals?

Yes I do. I'll write a comprehensive report on both fiction and non-fiction, and, where applicable can advise on photography matters. My advice is always frank, so be sure you want to hear an honest opinion before submissionbut keep in mind that any editor's advice is merely opinion and may differ considerably from the opinion of other professionals. See Prices for details of costs.


How do you want to receive material?

By email attachmentbut initially I would prefer to receive an ordinary query email outlining the project together with a telephone number if a verbal response is needed. Attachments should be in any of the major word processing programs.


Are you connected with any literary agency or publisher?

Not in any professional or business way. But I have a few contacts, mostly for private submission of my own work. To help preserve editing integrity, I prefer not to make any recommendations.


Can you guarantee that my manuscript, once edited, will be published?

Unfortunately no. No editor can do that unless he or she has direct involvement with a publisher or printerwhich is not always a healthy arrangement from the point of view of a writer. The best an editor can do is to polish and prepare a manuscript and give general advice on submission. However, good editing will almost always increase the prominence of a project.


Will you write my query letter for me?

Yes, I can handle this. A solid query 'pitch' is crucial to a successful book submission. It's often your first and only chance at getting your manuscript, or sample chapters, read. In the early days of my own manuscript submissions I made many mistakes, and still make mistakes. Writing a book, remember, isn't the same as selling a book. And keep in mind that query letters are as subjective as anything else. Not every agent will respond in the same way. Some want personal details at the outset. Some don't. Some want only a synopsis. Some want sample chapters too. Some like a little flattery. Some hate it. There is no one-size-fits-all formula, but there are certain tricks and devices that appear to work. See Query Letters for more details.


Do you use other editors?

No. Never. Everything is a personal one-on-one service. Manuscripts that come to me, stay with me. I may, however, suggest that your manuscript is better handled by someone else, or that a specialist editor/expert should take a look at your project after I have done all that I can. But I can't and won't make any personal recommendations. Writers should always make their own enquiries regarding the professionals they employ.


Can I meet you personally to discuss my project?

Yes, in principle. But keep in mind that it won't always be very practical. I'm based in London, England, and generally travel around the home counties. But please keep in mind that face-to-face meetings may not make sense from a cost point of view unless the project is reasonably substantial. But we can discuss this and see if we can reach a compromise.


I have a book idea. Can you write it for me?

Possibly. See the section on Ghostwriting and keep in mind that a ghostwriting commission can be very expensive, with prices ranging from around 3000 to 15000or even higher depending on the amount of research required. Good writing is intensive work. It usually takes between 3 months and 6 months to complete a novel of 100,000 words. A 50,000 word automotive book, meanwhile, might take take a similar amount of time, largely because of "research lag". Ideally, you're best advised to try and write your own book. It can be tremendously rewarding and will almost always be cheaper.


Will you steal my ideas?

No. See the section on Editing for more on this. But generally speaking, there are no guarantees with any professional that your information will be safe. It's a hard truth, but that's how it is. That said, there may be one or two other options to help mitigate the risks. If you have serious concerns regarding your project, email me.


Are you a published writer?

Yes. Over a 25 year period I've written millions of words, mostly in the automotive sector. I've also written and sold many short stories, and have written 13 novels. However, I'm still looking for a publisher for my own books which tend to be fairly low-key crime adventures that, by their nature, are not always a very attractive publishing deal. See the Samples section and judge for yourself if I'm suitable for your own project.


Do you handle short stories?

Yes. The market for short stories, however, isn't huge. Which means that unless you're established, it might be difficult to get a publishing deal. But if you've been given a magazine commission and need some help "breaking through" or polishing a draft, I might be able to help. Email with details for a more considered response.


I'm an American writer. Would you be able to edit my work?

Possibly. You might have a novel that's partly, or entirely, set in the UK and need a local editor to handle a given section or chapter. I can handle that easily enough. British writers are generally better at writing in an American "voice" than vice versa (as evidenced by, say, Lee Child's successful Jack Reacher series). I suspect that that's largely because in Britain we have greater exposure to US TV and movies. I can handle editing projects from most of the English speaking worldbut understandably there will always be scope for error, so a thorough proof reading and re-read will be required.


What other experiences do you have that might help me make a decision about your suitability?

Writing and editing are my core skills. But I've got experience in engineering, welding, public relations, social & community work and photography. I also worked for many years as a private investigator. My personal interests include playing the guitar, reading, poetry, art and travelling.


Do you work on a commission basis?

Unfortunately noat least, not on pure commission. But I will  consider a mix of straight fee and commission if it makes sense to both parties. Editing projects can be expensive, so I'll do what I can to accommodate all offers.


Mr Edit YouTube videos


Meanwhile, here are some of my You Tube videos that might be of interest to you. Hope you enjoy them.

You Tube video for writers and authors


Mr Edit. Let's talk about dialogue





You Tube literary agent video help


Mr Edit. Pitching fiction to a literary agent.





You Tube video - how to write fiction


Mr Edit. 5 Minute Fiction Fix.





You Tube video for authors and novelists


Mr Edit. Let's talk about tautology.




Links for writers


Preditors & Editors. Here's where you can check out the credentials of literary agents and publishers. A must for any writer.



Creative Helps. Helpful resource for the creative community. Articles, links and tips.



Nick Daws' Writing Blog. Lots of useful posts on all aspects of writing, both for print and online, plus a guest post for anyone who wants to make a contribution. Check it out.





Back to the top






Creative writing






Special features


Darley Anderson, literary agent

Darley Anderson, top UK literary agent, on books,
publishing and success

Zo Sharp, thriller writer

Zo Sharp, creator of the

action-packed Charlie Fox series of books

Jeff Kleinman, literary agent

Jeff Kleinman, New York literary agent, talks shop

Creme de la Crime logo

Crme de la Crime:

An interview with

Lynne Patrick,

publisher and managing editor of a smallerbut


publishing house.

Editing tips

Tip 1
Try and find an editor with direct experience of the subject and/or scope of your projectbut keep in mind that occasionally a fresh perspective can pay dividends. What you really need is an editor who is at least "sensitive" to your requirements. There are plenty of commercial editors to choose from. Pick slowly.


Tip 2
Edit your editor, which means always question your editor's judgement. And opinion. Broadly speaking, professional editors have useful and reliable insights into literary projects and can work wonders with manuscripts. But editors are fallible too and may not handle a project exactly the way you want it handled. So don't be coerced. Be advised, but don't be bullied.


Tip 3
Don't pay 100% up-front for editing work. Instead, work-out an incremental deal with your editor and be prepared to negotiate. Most editors will give you pricing guidelines, but projects vary enormously.


Tip 4
Avoid sending your manuscript to an "editing pool" where your work will be handled by unidentified editors. You may well get an excellent service from such companies, some of whom promise to track your various projects and use the same editor each time. But it's impossible to be certain of what you're getting without some form of one-on-one communication. So unless it's a relatively small and straightforward project, insist on personal contact.


Tip 5
Always ask for samples of your editor's work and study them carefully. A few lines here or there is insufficient to make a judgement. Ask for substantive excerpts. I suggest at least a couple of thousand words. That doesn't, however, guarantee you've got a good editor. So do some research and trust your instincts.


Tip 6
You may want to consider the sex of your editor. Male editors can handle projects by female writers, and vice versa. But the question of "sensitivity" arises again. So think carefully on this question and be confident with whoever you employ to work on your manuscript.


Tip 7
Can an editor also be a proof reader? My experience is that proof reading is generally a very different skill which requires a very different mindset. Editors tends to be more creative (no disrespect to proofreaders), whereas proof reading is a more mechanical skill. There is some crossover. But most publishing houses will have a dedicated proof reader somewhere in the chain, which supports my view.