How does the process work?

In a nutshell: you send us a Word file containing your manuscript, we edit it and send it back. (Scroll down for details about payment)

Need more detail? We use Track Changes. If there’s something to say, we’ll write you a letter, either at the beginning of the edited manuscript or the end. If you’re getting a proofread, don’t expect a letter. If you’re like 90% of the clients around here, you’ll be working with Susan, who is a very chatty editor. Her comments often take the place of an overall letter, and they often create a story of their own. Be warned: she likes to make fun, especially of herself. Sometimes of the character (especially if they are TSTL). Rarely of the client until we know each other better.

What are your rates? Why can’t I find them on this here website anywhere?

My rates do tend to run high, but given how many of my clients wind up on best-seller lists, I think I’ve earned it. If you need a more exact figure, I’m actually on the low end of the Editorial Freelance Association’s suggested rates. The best way to approach editing with me is with a budget in mind and then we’ll work together to fit your scope of work into that budget. I’d rather lose a few bucks than lose you to an editor who may not be as good as I am.

What if I want more than one edit on a single manuscript?

For a second or third revision, I charge half the original amount. That means by the time we’ve gone over your manuscript three times, you’ll have paid double your original editing amount. Any more revisions than that are free — but I have yet to have a client who hasn’t done the hard work necessary to make their book publishable after I’ve worked on it three times. And yes, even if you’re paying half, you get the same amount of time allotted to your manuscript. I don’t skimp on quality, only the price.

Will you send me a written contract, or do we work under an implied contract?

Generally, we work under an implied contract that looks like this: You send manuscript. I send invoice (so you have it for taxes), you pay it, and then I give 100% or more. Then I send the marked-up manuscript back and stand on the sidelines and cheer your success. And remain on call to answer questions.

However, I do have a formal contract if that’s how you roll. It does not have legal language and all that crazy stuff; it’s as straightforward as I can make it (Okay, I copied it from a colleague I love to refer my clients to). If you’re more comfortable signing a legal document, that’s fine by me. There are certain circumstances where I am also more comfortable doing that.

What are your busy and slow seasons?

Good question! February, March, and December seem to be my slowest months. I’m not certain why, but if you want to have the best chance of sending me a manuscript that I can start that day, those are the best times to reach me.

In terms of busy, July, August, September, and October seem to be the months in which everyone wants me. I have no idea why, unless you’re all just that prolific over the summer.


How far do you usually book out — or, how much lead time do I need to give you?

Often, as much as six to eight weeks these days. I moved to a Send When Ready schedule in 2016 and that worked until 2021, when everyone needed me at once. So now I ask for a head’s up when possible. There’s more detail about this below.

If you aren’t willing or able to wait, I will be glad to refer you to a colleague or friend. It won’t be me and I can’t vouch for their prices or their work, but you’ll at least have a starting point to search from.

How does your calendar work?

I use a paper calendar, so I pick up a fountain pen, uncap it… Oh, you meant more generally.

Yes, I used to assign every client a start date, and I’d mark it on my calendar and hold my clients to it. What happened was a couple of things: clients would rush their projects in order to hit a target date, and feel free to explain how that means you’re producing the best book possible. Or clients would wait until the last minute to say, “Nope, need more time!” — if they didn’t disappear entirely. Of course, a third option under that method was that things would run smoothly, but smooth sailing isn’t a reason for change, so let’s focus on the problems.

And the problems were twofold. First, as I said, authors weren’t handing over the best book possible. That’s not fair to them. Or I’d be left with no work — and therefore no income — for the week. I’d wind up scrambling to redo my calendar, see who was ready… it wasn’t good. It produced a lot of anxiety.

So when I healed from my accident, I made the change to Send When Ready.

Six years later, I’m pretty busy, so clients generally tell me when they expect to need me and I save them space, but I’ll still take work on a first-come, first-served basis — meaning if four clients want me in January, it’ll be first-come, first served, but if you want me in February and send your manuscript on January 1, it’s going to wait for the other January promises.

Yes, I’ll do my best to work in emergencies. I can’t believe how often my clients get ghosted by others! But I’m here to have your back.


Huh? What’s this about an eye injury? Don’t editors need to, you know, see?

Yeah… West of Mars almost became Cyclops Editing: I do more with one eye than everyone else does with two.

The short version is that a bicycling accident almost stole my right eye. The outcome, as of the moment you’re reading this, is that in addition to a perfectly fine left eye, I do have a right eye and it does work, but it does NOT like artificial light. It turns red and freaks people out, so it’s a very very good thing that I work from home, in natural light. And no, when it turns red, it doesn’t hurt. For one, the eye has very few pain receptors. For another, what I was born with were fried in the accident. It just grosses out those who choose to look.

What does this mean for you and my my work as an editor?

Absolutely nothing

Well, okay, it does. It means you don’t have to worry about me dumping my clients and taking on a more financially lucrative office job.

What sort of file do you accept for editing?

Word documents only, please. This is so we can utilize Track Changes, which is the greatest invention since Scharffen Berger chocolate – and even that’s not as good as it used to be, thanks to a sale to Hershey.

Can I send you a .pdf for you to edit?

Sorry, no. Word documents only please.

Can I send you a Publisher file for you to edit?

Sorry, no. Word documents only please.

Can I send you a Powerpoint file for you to edit?

Sorry, no. Word documents only please.

Can I send you an .epub for you to edit?

Sorry, no. Word documents only please.

Can I send you a .mobi file (Kindle) for you to edit?

Sorry, no. Word documents only please.

Can I send you a…

Unless you’re going to offer me chocolate, the answer is probably Sorry, no. Word documents only please. This includes if the offer is for a pink elephant. I’m not sure what I’d do with a pink elephant, to be honest. And I’d have to jack my rates so I could feed it, and you guys don’t want that.

How do I pay?

Oh, you were going to ask how do I send you money?

I send an invoice via Intuit. You can pay with a bank transfer via the invoice, or even use a credit card, but I also take PayPal. If you prefer to use PayPal, please two do things: Use the address on the invoice, not the address we’ve been using to chat, and please let me know because I don’t get notifications from PayPal.

Sometimes, we’ll take a bank draft or money order. Even more rarely, we’ll take a personal check. We’d better know you really well to take a personal check. It all has to be in hand before we start working on your manuscript, though.


PLEASE DON’T JUST SEND MONEY TO SUSAN. WAIT FOR THE INVOICE, AND MAKE SURE YOU SEND PAYMENT TO THE ADDRESS ON THE INVOICE. If you send money to Susan’s personal account rather than the business, it will be returned and you will be responsible for any fees PayPal incurs.

Can I have a refund?

Sorry, no. Once work has begun, we can’t offer refunds; you’re paying for our time as well as our output — and generally, other people want the same time we’re devoting to you. If you have a problem, contact us immediately and we’ll work to resolve it. The longer you wait, the harder it will be to make you happy. Not because we won’t do what’s needed but because you’ll have sat and stewed and may not come at the problem in the right frame of mind.

What is Susan’s favorite or best level of editing: content, line, or proofreading?


That’s a weird answer, but the simple truth is that I wouldn’t offer a service I wasn’t passionate about.

So from Susan’s point of view, since she’s the owner and editor around here, it goes like this: every level of work is Susan’s best and favorite. That’s not to say that after four proofreads in a row, she’s not itching to get into something meatier. And vice versa, too. But on a regular day, if you catch her in the grocery store or flag her down when she’s outside, Susan will be inclined to tell you that she loves it all. It’s useless to try to do a content edit on a manuscript that only needs a proofread. But when she can roll up her elbows and play in the muck of a struggling manuscript, it’s heaven. When she can sit and whiz through the proof of a really good story that’s almost ready to be published, she’s in heaven.

Everything in moderation, you know?

Now, some clients may think that an editor can only excel in one area. Obviously, I disagree. The key to being a really good editor (dare I say great?) is the ability to give 100% to each manuscript, on *its* terms, not mine. And that, for me, is the thrill and the challenge.

Will you post a review of the book for me once it’s published?

Sorry, no. I view it as a conflict of interest to review a book I’ve worked on professionally. After all, I have a stake in your book, even if it’s only emotional.

If you’ve done a content or line edit, can you suggest a good proofreader?

I’d love to! I have a few friendly editors I adore and would be glad to refer you to. I can’t vouch for their rates and most of them I know better personally than have judged their work (because ick!), so your feedback after I refer you out is always appreciated. I want to help you make the best book possible, and that means we have to work together, in all sorts of ways.