J.C. Kelly

Book Critique and Manuscript Editing

Novel Editing"J.C., a self-published novelist herself, understands the concerns other writers have about getting a respectful critique of their book.”
Anna Schuttenhelm, Writer

I take on a limited number of editing projects in areas that interest me.  My preference is for novels, but I also work on select nonfiction and children’s fiction.  I provide a comprehensive service that includes an insightful book critique of structure, plot, characterization, setting, dialogue, and tone.  On the copyediting side, I check for wordiness, awkward syntax, excessive repetition, diction, grammar, spelling, and punctuation, with a strong focus on clarity and concision.  Whether you are preparing to send your manuscript to agents and publishers or opting to self-publish, you need to make your manuscript the best it can possibly be.  The best book editor is also a good writer with firsthand knowledge of what goes into composing and refining a book-length work, along with a good memory to spot inconsistencies and accidental repetitions. 

In addition to my experience as a novelist, my formal training at NYU forms the foundation for my editing skills.  The classes were taught by senior level editors who work for the major New York publishing houses.  This affords me unique insight into the expectations of commercial publishers.  One thing that was emphasized in the classes was to avoid interfering with the author’s voice.  After all the effort you’ve put into creating your book, you don’t want to risk giving your work to an editor intent on rewriting your book the way he or she would write it.  I will preserve your unique voice while improving your book’s narrative flow.

I address the following substantive issues when editing your manuscript:

Structure/Plot: Examine the logic of a story or argument.  If needed, change the order of items to improve the logical flow.  Remove extraneous sections that fall outside the scope of the book, or suggest the inclusion of sections that might be needed.  In the case of fiction, my focus is on the overall pacing and movement of the action.  For example, I alert the author if the beginning is too drawn out or if the ending isn’t properly set up, and suggest ways to remedy the problem. 

Characterization: Determine if the main character(s) are sufficiently developed.  Are the characters believable?  Are they consistent?  Do all the characters serve a purpose in the plot?

Setting: Setting creates meaning.  Story, setting, and characters need to interact in a way that is relevant.

Dialogue: Is dialogue used correctly?  Dialogue should move the story forward and reveal character.  Query the author if the dialogue does not ring authentic, and suggest ways to correct the problem.

Tone: Determine if the tone is consistent and appropriate to the subject.  If problematic, query the author and suggest ways to correct the problem.

I edit using the Track Changes feature in Microsoft Word.  When I e-mail back the completed edit, the changes will appear in a different font color. Alternatively, you can review the changed manuscript without all the editorial marks if you so choose.  There will also be queries to you indicating further revisions that need to be done, along with a suggested method for doing so.  You will go through each correction and click on “Accept Change” or “Reject Change” depending on what you decide to do about the editorial suggestions.  If you are uncomfortable with electronic submission, you can mail a CD or paper copy. 

For a free sample edit and price quote, please fill out the form below.  Rates range from three to six cents a word, depending on the level of difficulty of the edit. 

First name:

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Title of book:

Word count:

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of project
(250 word max):

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