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Too often, writers stick with ordinary nouns and add emphasis with adjectives (or adverbs to stiffen boring verbs). It also becomes boring to read about red roses, “bright red” lipstick, mocha skin, when there are so many brilliant color words! Specific writing, strong words, evocative colors, these will make your sentences alive in your readers’ minds. This entry was posted in elements of writing and tagged colors, feelings, writing on February 19, 2016 by Lori Stone Handelman, PhD.
Generally speaking, editing costs differ as a function of the kind of editing you’re seeking.
Years ago when I was considering my own rates, I surveyed every editor online who provided a clear description of his or her rates — and was so surprised by the great number who were vague or cagey about it.
I am a psychologist, which means I am keenly attuned to human and interpersonal truths, and this is important no matter who your characters are, where they live, or when they’re moving around in time. I worked in the field of publishing for years as an acquiring editor, which means I understand how publishers think about potential books they may sign. I have been doing this work for more than 10 years and my clients come back and refer me to others. My own writing earned me admittance into the Yale Writer’s Conference, a competitive workshop.
One thing I noticed when I surveyed other editors’ websites was that many seemed to be a clearinghouse of sorts, where you submit your document and it is returned to you, but you do not know exactly who performed the work. This entry was posted in choosing an editor, rates, working with an editor and tagged editing rates, price for editing, what does editing cost on February 18, 2016 by Lori Stone Handelman, PhD. My previous post discussed voice — that aspect of writing that everyone talks about but that is anything but clear and straightforward. Edit it slightly, just to polish this voice as that person’s voice, and then set it aside. Take notes and pay special attention to the level of detail and insight you brought to the main character’s understanding of the events in each sample. Your voice, even in carefully crafted writing, is authentic and honestly your own — recognizable. Of course you might need to find unique voices for different books, and you absolutely need to find voices unique to your characters, but that’s a topic for another post.
This entry was posted in elements of writing, humor, memoir, non-fiction, novels, short stories, voice and tagged voice, writing exercise on February 17, 2016 by Lori Stone Handelman, PhD.
The story is set in a fictional Irish city, and the author is Irish — so perhaps you can hear that accent in the rhythm of the sentence. A woman who lives in New York City and her grown daughter, visiting from a small town in the south, are together when they witness a mugging. When a character has a distinctive voice, you should be able to know who’s speaking even without attribution.
This entry was posted in elements of writing, voice and tagged characters voices, technique, voice, writing on February 10, 2016 by Lori Stone Handelman, PhD. I just received another email from a potential client describing a nightmare scenario with an editor she found online, yet another tale of the editor disappearing, or complaining and expecting the client to help with his personal problems, or taking months and months and then delivering very little in response. This does not mean that it’s also in my interest to flatter you, to tell you that you are a perfect writer! Because I generally have a queue, and you may be waiting in line several weeks, I promise to keep you updated with my best estimate of when I will begin work. This entry was posted in choosing an editor, working with an editor and tagged editor, hiring an editor, how to find a book editor, how to find a professional editor on December 9, 2015 by Lori Stone Handelman, PhD. The Alliance of Artists Communities provides a helpful directory of residencies (and a set of filters in the left column to help you narrow on important dimensions).
Poets & Writers also provides a nice directory of residencies, conferences, and festivals. Colonies and residencies provide you with private quarters, meals provided (usually), and the luxury of time to yourself to write, while still giving you the opportunity to spend time with other writers and artists in residence — usually at shared evening meals. And once you finish writing your book, don’t forget to commission an evaluation of it to help you get to the next draft, or get it copy edited before you send it out! This entry was posted in RESOURCES and tagged book festivals, writers colonies, writing conferences, writing residencies on January 31, 2015 by Lori Stone Handelman, PhD.
They become very anxious about speaking to me or writing me, certain that I will be critical of them.
Here are a couple of recent examples of things that have been shared with me, always with a wink of certainty that I will be outraged as a grammar Nazi . If you are not writing in a specific setting that requires formal business language, for instance, or for a publication with a rigid style sheet, you have more freedom with the way you use language; this is the essence of style! Just exactly like father if father had known as much about it the night before I went out there as he did the day after I came back thinking mad impotent old man who realized at last that there must be some limit even to the capabilities of a demon for doing harm, who must have seen his situation as that of the show girl, the pony, who realizes that the principle tune she prances comes not from horn and fiddle and drum but from a clock and calendar, must have seen himself as the old worn-out cannon which realizes that it can deliver just one more fierce shot and crumble to dust in his own furious dust and recoil, […] carry him up the front steps and through the paintless formal door beneath its fanlight imported pane by pane from Europe which Judith held open for him to enter with no change, no alteration in that calm frozen face she had worn for four years now, and on up the stairs and into the bedroom and put him to bed like a baby and then lie down himself on the floor beside the bed though not to sleep since before dawn the man on the bed would stir and groan and Jones would say, ‘Hyer I am, Kernel. Granted, you are not Faulkner, or McCarthy, or Marquez, Rushdie, or Joyce, but the voice of your book is uniquely yours, and the voices of your characters should be uniquely theirs. This entry was posted in copy editing, working with an editor and tagged copy editing, grammar, style on January 30, 2015 by Lori Stone Handelman, PhD.
Lori Stone Handelman, PhDI am a professional editor; I hold a doctorate in psychology, and I worked in the publishing industry for six years acquiring psychology and related titles.
Custom rates are also available if what you need falls between these standard levels of editing. Order now to get started today with proofreading or editing, to improve and polish your writing or prepare and format it for publication.
Take a trip to a paint store and look at the varied (and sometimes crazy) names of colors, but choose carefully. Proofreading is less expensive than copy editing, which is less expensive than developmental or substantive editing. I felt uncomfortable charging by the hour, as I wanted my rates to be clearly defined and completely predictable to my clients.

Considering the average rates posted by the Editorial Freelance Association, mine are considerably lower! Remember, you’re telling someone who knows you very well, so simply relax and tell it the way you would tell it without stopping to choose your words. Perhaps it’s a writer of romance novels, so the point of that writing is description and emotion. Sticking with my examples above, if you first wrote your story like Hemingway (or Cormac McCarthy, or another writer who favors a spare style), write another version of your story the way Rushdie, or Gabriel Garcia-Marquez, or another writer of that embellished, elaborated style would write it.
If your story is about something your child or pet did, you might be writing for a relevant magazine. It couldn’t have been written by anyone but you! Your voice is a developing work in progress.
Let me start with a sentence from page two of the first chapter of City of Bohane, by Kevin Barry. Voice is really about what a character pays attention to (the crooked teeth, of all things), how he describes it (vandalized graveyard! They should be realistic people, individuals, each in the world attending to the things that matter to them — and those will not be the same things. The woman has lived in NYC for 20 years, and the daughter has never lived in a large city and this is her first time visiting NYC. It sounds scary, and it sounds like you ought to automatically have it, so come back and we’ll explore a little more.
Not only does this upset me for my potential client, whose trust has been tarnished, it upsets me as a professional editor because it tarnishes ME with the same rusty brush.
As a freelancer who supports herself entirely with this work, it’s in my own interest to take care with communication and time management!
In fact, my obligation to you is to give you my best professional opinions, my best professional assistance, and to do so with transparency and timely communication. When I complete a job, I update those waiting in the queue with a brief note and revised estimate. I work on nothing but your project, and in fact I keep my phone unplugged and only take calls by appointment, because I stay completely focused on your work until it’s finished. It’s such a funny world now, with 100% online relationships, and I know that sometimes you just want to know you’re interacting with a real person—especially for those who are entrusting their books to a complete stranger! If I’ve prepared an evaluation, you can ask me as many questions as you like, for as long as you like, until you understand my feedback.
It’s hard to know what kind of questions to ask when you are just beginning the process of hiring an editor, and unfortunately (like so much in life) you often learn what you should have asked after something goes wrong. You may write at the dining table with kids running around, or on a laptop in a spare room while everyone else in the house is sleeping. I joined their mailing list and receive monthly notices of deadlines; in addition to providing me that information, the monthly email serves as inspiration to keep working on my own writing! Conferences are useful places to learn new things and meet other writers, and some provide you an opportunity to share or promote your own work.
Make the most of the time you spent writing it and be sure it’s as polished as it can be.
My own writing features split infinitives, comma splices galore, and probably an overuse of my favorite punctuation mark, the semicolon.
It isn’t exactly an anti-rule book, but it does understand and explain that language is a living thing and that style does not adhere unyieldingly to hard rules.
As a result, I have deep experience in evaluation and development of both manuscripts and proposals, book editing, manuscript and proposal editing, and writing. Just send your document or a portion of it (at least 10 pages) for a free estimate and sample edit. I know a writer who carries a notebook with her and records luscious words she encounters so she can use them in the books she writes, and in fact her novels feature such a beautiful vocabulary they are a pleasure to read. When some of my clients asked about hidden charges, I was surprised to learn that this practice is at least somewhat common. In evaluation, I read your manuscript closely and provide extensive comments, at a page level and at a summary level, so it made sense to me to charge by the page instead of by the word. When I submit my own writing for feedback and editing, it is important to me that I know who I’m working with, and that I have the possibility of direct and personal communication. If the process of writing or typing interferes because you automatically edit (true for most writers), then dictate it and transcribe the story exactly as you spoke it.
Again, polish, hone, rework until this version of your story sounds as close to the selected writer as you can possibly make it.
If you are reporting on an accident or crime, the newspaper or magazine you are writing for will have a very specific voice! In the second exercise, how did you capture the difference between your voice and your friend or acquaintance’s voice?
Not just the fact that it is casual, obviously — does your voice in this story feature long or short sentences? Not just a graveyard, but a vandalized graveyard with the headstones knocked over I assume), and what he thinks about it (we all have our crosses). A woman who had a terrifying childhood would likely see threat in all kinds of places, so even in an ordinary situation the words would be freighted with slight hints of that anxiety, even if others wouldn’t see it that way.
I have a thick Texas accent, and in New York City people sometimes seem to assume I am stupid when they hear it — so I try to eliminate my accent in professional settings. If two people witness the identical situation, they will not describe it the same, and those differences are captured in their voice. And perhaps you even assume different backgrounds, maybe even different social classes between the two women. As you will learn if we work together, you can count on me to be straight with you, and to do so with as much humor and kindness as I can.
If I see that the work is going more slowly than anticipated, I update you immediately with a revised estimate.

For instance, if I am working to meet a deadline, I may need to finish that job before writing you if your request is complicated, but even then I will promise you when I’ll write a full response. Maybe you just want to hear my voice (I have a thick southern accent) or interact face-to-face. This communication is part of the fee you’ve already paid, so there is no extra charge.
The bullet points above give you a sense of the kinds of questions you should ask any editor you are considering hiring. If only you could just get away for a week or two, go somewhere else and finish your book . The best editor will honor and respect your voice as a writer, but be your ally to make it even better. I bring all this experience to my role as your editor; I take great pride in the work I do with my clients, and will be happy to talk with you about your manuscript. Using just the right word in just the right moment provides a thrill for writer and reader alike. Those clearinghouse-type sites may have slightly cheaper rates, but that’s a risk I am unwilling to take with my own work, and this is an important reason I have set up my business and website to be as clear and informative as possible.
I have developed a very useful exercise to help writers understand differences in voice — useful because it forces you to look very closely at what differentiates voices. Now write the same story the way you think that person would tell a friend of theirs if they had been there and witnessed the same event.
Read a chapter of their prose and then write the very same story you’ve been writing, doing your best to write it exactly as that writer would. For instance, the New York Times and the New York Post may cover the same story, but their headlines are likely to be quite different. What specifically did you include (or exclude) so the story would sound the way it would if they told it? Importantly, it jumps the reader out of the seamless flow of the book and into mental efforts to pronounce the words. It’s in my own interest to fulfill my promises to you, to meet my obligations, because I want you to come back. Being straight means I tell you what you’re doing well and I tell you places you could improve it, and how. This is my professional career, and my responsibility is to do the work I have promised I’d do, as I have promised to do it. You might check the FAQ page on my site — I’ve collected the various issues that my clients and potential clients reliably ask!
The best-known residencies are probably Yaddo (in Sarasota Springs, NY) and The MacDowell Colony (in Peterborough, NH), both of which tilt heavily toward already-published (and frequently well-known) writers. In other words, don’t look at your own words and replace them, re-imagine the event itself as the other person would see it, and then do your best to tell it as they would tell it. When you write it in the voice of the first favorite author, what changes did you make to capture that voice?
When I am speaking casually to friends, my language is dynamic, I use slang and colorful sayings, and I cuss a lot. I’m glad to speak or Skype, and I need to set an appointment for these kinds of communication because I am always immersed in a project. Once we’ve worked together, I am an ongoing resource for you, and will always be glad to hear from you. But what if you haven’t already published a couple of books, a piece in The New Yorker, or won a National Book Award?
This would have completely changed the dreamy voice Faulkner used, punched holes in the airless tone he achieved so well. This version of your story will force you to look very closely and identify the specific elements that are responsible for the voice or style. I heard the sentence in my mind with that accent, and I didn’t need the words misspelled to give it to me because it was there in the sentence already.
I have pet phrases, and I tend to see the world in my own way, which is that the world is filled with beauty and everything is wonderful.
So, for example, if your manuscript is more complicated than I’d anticipated, THAT is a reason the work might go more slowly. Rushdie’s style features very long sentences with varied punctuation and a lot of embellishment, along with in-depth understandings of the different people in a scene. Do you project others’ experiences into the story (and if you do, how do you tend to identify those — are you more often cynical, for example)? If your character witnessed a robbery but wasn’t directly affected, would he or she even mention it at home later? So the very fact that I change the way I speak also communicates something about me, right? But what if the woman had survived a vicious beating earlier in her life and had become an anxious, fearful person? Now what might she say? What they say reflects voice, and how they say it reflects voice.
If you chose a romance novelist, you probably emphasized the way the main character felt, perhaps her longings, his needs.
The accents were flowing so thickly in my mind when I read the book that I got the idea to read it aloud, believing it would automatically produce the melodious Irish accent.
Some people do not change the way they speak, so that unchanging voice is an important aspect of their character. Try to transcribe it so someone who doesn’t know you would read it aloud and sound as close to you as possible. My own speaking voice always includes asides, interjections, and tangents.) As you work to develop your own writing voice, pay attention to these specific details, and allow them to be part of your writing voice.

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