Need Help with Your Novel or Memoir?
Work one-on-one with a bestselling author and veteran writing teacher.
Get your novel in shape to send out to agents and publishers.
Whether you’re writing your first novel, or you have a few unpublished novels tucked away in a drawer, I can help you polish your book to send out to agents and publishers. If your goal is to self-publish, I can help you make sure that your book is professional so that it stands out from the thousands of independent titles released each week.
I’ll look at the big picture of your novel or memoir–story structure, style, plot, characterization–and pinpoint where your book is lagging. I’ll suggest new scenes that need to be written, structural rearrangement, and specific ways to deepen character. Paying especially close attention to the first fifty pages, I’ll show you what might prevent agents and publishers from giving your manuscript a serious read. I’ll also suggest ways to streamline the prose, tighten dialogue, and improve narrative pace.
Finding the Right Fit
Working with a book editor is a very personal process. You want to know that your novel or memoir is in good hands and that the editor will help you make your book the best it can be while honoring your distinctive voice and your vision.
Whether you’re writing literary fiction, mainstream fiction, a cross-genre novel, or memoir, my goal is to help you revise your book in order to catch a publisher’s eye and keep readers turning pages. I believe that a book should be made of beautiful sentences and compelling characters, but it should also be entertaining. Unputdownable is never a bad thing.
A Very Close Read
Critiquing a novel is an intricate process, and it requires many hours of close and careful reading. That’s why I accept only a very limited number of clients–a maximum of two per month.
After reading your manuscript, I will make detailed suggestions that may include new scenes that need to be added, ways to develop your characters more fully, notes on stylistic issues that are weighing down the prose, pacing concerns, how to deepen thematic and emotional resonance, and more.
While many editors charge separately for line editing, I find it almost impossible not to make suggestions on how to improve the prose on a sentence-by-sentence level. Overwrought sentences can cloud the beauty of an otherwise skillful novel or story. For that reason, every critique package includes some line editing.
What We Talk About When We Talk About Fiction
Every novel presents its own challenges, and the issues I focus on in your novel will be determined by the needs that arise as I read your manuscript. However, here are some of the things we might address:
- Tighten structure
- Improve dialogue
- Deepen characterization
- Streamline descriptions
- Find the heart of your story
- Identify weak points in the plot
- Crystallize the book’s theme
Are We Right for Each Other?
I am open to literary fiction, mainstream fiction, literary thrillers, “cozy” mysteries, young adult fiction, and memoir. I am also happy to provide feedback on individual short stories and story collections. If you are working in the genres of fantasy, romance, erotica, or children’s fiction, your work will be better suited to an editor who specializes in those genres.
Michelle Richmond is the author of four novels, including Golden State and the international bestseller The Year of Fog, and two award-winning story collections. She is also the editor of the anthologies Flash in the Attic: 33 Very Short Stories from Fiction Attic Press and Modern Shorts. Her stories and essays have appeared in Glimmer Train, The Missouri Review, The Kenyon Review, The Believer, Oxford American, Playboy, The Wall Street Journal, and many other publications. Her articles on craft have appeared in Writers Digest and The Writer’s Chronicle.
Michelle has taught in the MFA programs in creative writing at the University of San Francisco and California College of the Arts, and has served as Distinguished Visiting Writer at St. Mary’s College of Moraga, Bowling Green State University, and Notre Dame de Namur University. She holds an MFA from the University of Miami, where she was a James Michener Fellow. She is the founder and publisher of Fiction Attic Press.
“It benefitted me immeasurably to brainstorm with you today about how to tweak scenes. Thank you for digging deep with your suggestions to help me clarify the characters’ motivations.
I also appreciate your openness about the publishing industry… You have gone above and beyond.”Crimson P.
How It Works
Please note: In order to give each manuscript my full attention, I work with only one client at a time. The next available date is mid-July of 2015. If you would like to work together, please contact me as soon as possible to reserve your spot.
1. From the options below, choose the package that best fits your needs. Click “Inquire” at the bottom of the package to schedule a free introductory phone consultation, submit sample pages, or send a message.
2. If we decide that we are a good fit, we will decide upon a schedule. I will read and annotate your manuscript carefully.
3. I will then provide a written evaluation of your book, with detailed suggestions on how to improve structure, plot, characterization, dialogue, setting, theme, pacing, description, and anything else that is relevant to your book. Evaluations are typically 5-7 single-spaced pages. You will also receive a marked-up manuscript with extensive margin notes and some line edits (see packages for details).
4. After you’ve had a chance to read and think about my written comments, we’ll schedule a consultation by phone or video chat. I’ll answer any questions you have, expand on my written comments, and help you establish a plan for revising the book.
Please note that the Silver and Gold packages are for a manuscript of up to 280 manuscript pages. A manuscript page should be typed in a standard font (font size should be at least 12), double-spaced, with margins of at least one inch on all sides–about 250 words per page. For books longer than 280 pages, $10 per additional page will be added to the base rate.
BronzeFirst 50 Pages Critique
Choose this if you are applying to MFA programs or residency programs or sending a writing sample to an agent.
Written critique of the first 50 pages of your manuscript, including line edits
- Are your opening chapters doing everything they should to engage the reader, introduce characters and conflict, establish setting, tone, and point of view, and move the story forward?
- Does the pacing lag at any point in the first 50 pages?
- Do the opening chapters make it clear why this particular story is being told at this particular time, from this unique perspective?
- How clean and clear is the prose?
- Have you given the agent, editor, or reader-at-large every reason to keep reading and ask for more?
SilverManuscript Critique & One-Hour Consultation
Choose this if you have completed a draft of a novel or memoir.
Comprehensive written critique of your manuscript & a one-hour phone consultation
- I will read your manuscript carefully and provide detailed feedback and suggestions on anything that is relevant to your book, including (but not exclusive to):
- plot, characterization, point of view, structure, style, dialogue, theme, and narrative voice. I will make specific suggestions on how to improve various aspects of the book.
- This package includes some line editing. If extensive line edits are needed, however, additional charges apply.
- A one-hour phone, video, or in-person consultation to discuss the critique
- Writers who are preparing to send a novel or memoir out to agents and publishers
- Writers who have written a rough draft and need help developing the story idea
- Writers who want to get a book in shape before self-publishing
GoldManuscript Critique, Revision Critique, & Two Phone Consultations
Choose this if you are committed to revising your novel within the next six months.
- Includes all of the features of the Silver Package.
- detailed written evaluation of your revision
- advice on comps (comparable books) and how to submit your novel to agents and publishers
- One-hour phone, video, or in-person consultation to discuss revision
Not quite ready for a critique? Get your writing life on the right track with private coaching. I’ll help you identify and overcome obstacles to your success. Then I’ll guide you to a more productive and rewarding writing life. Coaching is recommended for those who a) do not yet have a manuscript that needs developmental editing or critique or b) writers who have already been through the editing process and need help navigating the publishing landscape.
Links & Resources on The Art of Editing
Read about the importance of professional editing for self-published authors. The article appears in Publishers Weekly.
The voice and style of some of our most celebrated authors was shaped, in large part, in collaboration with their editors. Read the fascinating correspondence between F. Scott Fitzgerald and his editor, Maxwell Perkins.
Subscribe to my writing and publishing podcast.
“When you write a book, you spend day after day scanning and identifying the trees. When you’re done, you have to step back and look at the forest.”