Find your writing rhythm.
Whether you need a writing coach, an online writing class,
or manuscript critique, The Book Doctor can help.
Learn to write your novel, one scene at a time.
About the Book Doctor
Welcome to Bay Area Book Doctor! I’m Michelle Richmond–author, educator, and writing coach. During my 20-year writing career, I’ve faced my share of setbacks. Through countless rejections and endless revisions, I persisted and built the writing career I wanted. I feel grateful for the opportunity to live my writing dream, and I started Bay Area Book Doctor to help others live their dreams too. I’m just as passionate about helping other writers as I am about writing. Learn more about my books and teaching background.
Have a look around the site, and please use the contact form to tell me what challenges you’re facing, what you’re working on, and how I can help you find your writing rhythm. If you work best one-on-one and need intensive guidance on your novel, memoir, or other writing project, check out my writing coach page. If you are self-motivated, enjoy working at your own pace, and want to learn how to write a novel, then my online writing classes are a great fit. And if you’d like to receive my newsletter, filled with practical advice on writing and publishing, subscribe to The Caffeinated Writer.
Book Editing and Manuscript Critique
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Whether you’re writing your first novel, or you have a few unpublished novels tucked away in a drawer, I can help you polish your book to send out to agents and publishers.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 two to three clients per year. 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
If you don’t yet have a complete manuscript but you do have a project in mind, you can benefit from hiring me as your writing coach. When you sign up for one-on-one coaching, you’ll receive monthly critiques and video coaching sessions to help you meet your full potential as a writer. Whether you want to finish your novel, start your memoir, write short stories, apply to writing residencies, or submit your work for publication, I can help you define and achieve your goals.
Manuscript CritiqueGet your book in shape to send out to agents and editors
Comprehensive written critique of your manuscript and a one-hour 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.
- A one-hour phone or video consultation to discuss your novel
- PLEASE USE THE FORM BELOW to tell me about your project and inquire about availability. I work with only one client at a time and book at least two months in advance.
CoachingWork one-on-one with Michelle to achieve your writing goals
- Are you serious about your writing? Do you want to finally finish your novel, start your memoir, apply to writing residencies, or submit your work for publication? If your answer is yes, then it’s time to consider working with a writing coach. I can help you define your goals, understand where your project fits in to the publishing landscape, meet deadlines, know where and how to submit your work for the greatest chance of success, and more.
- Two one-hour video coaching sessions per month
- A written critique of up to 30 pages of writing per month
- Two personalized coaching emails per month
- During your coaching sessions, we will discuss the writing you submitted and I will answer your questions and guide you toward next steps
- Billed monthly, cancel any time
- Monthly Coaching is currently fully booked. If you would like to be added to the wait list, please use the form below to tell me about your needs and why you want to work with a writing coach.
Elite Coaching Program6 months of targeted attention to help your writing-based business succeed
- Are you a professional seeking to tell your story in a book or blog that will help your personal brand stand out?
- Are you someone who has an amazing story to tell in the form of a memoir?
- Are you a novelist who needs help finishing a project?
- Then my Elite Coaching Program is for you.
- The Elite Coaching Program is a six-month, personalized service that includes video coaching sessions, written critique, personalized goal-setting and assignments, and more. With Elite Coaching, you receive the following services and benefits:
- 24 half-hour video coaching sessions (or telephone sessions if you prefer)
- 24 personalized assignments; one new assignment provided at the beginning of each week
- 24 personalized coaching emails
- Feedback on your writing twice per month: 12 written critiques of up to 25 manuscript pages each (50 pages per month)
- Accountability to help you stay on track
- Personalized progress tracking worksheets
- Personalized goal planner
- Response to your emails within 24 hours
- I have no formal training as a writer. Can I still benefit from the program?
- Absolutely! The highly personalized nature of the program means that I will meet you wherever you are in your writing journey. I’ll help you identify the skills you already possess and develop the ones you need in order to tell your story effectively, passionately, and clearly.
- I want to write a book to support my personal brand, but I don’t know where to start. Can you help?
- Definitely! I’ll help you identify your book’s core message and how to communicate it most effectively. Together, we’ll come up with a plan and format for your book. We’ll begin by creating an outline, and I’ll give you weekly assignments to help you stick with it.
- I am working on a novel, and I’m lost. Can you help?
- Yes. I am passionate about helping novelists at every stage in their careers! I will help you do the deep character work every novel needs in order to succeed, craft a compelling plot, understand the best point of view for your novel, ground the story in place and time using significant detail, and make the most of theme so that your novel resonates with readers. If finishing the novel is your albatross, I’m here to help you see your story to completion. Once you have a complete draft, I’ll help you navigate your publishing options.
- I want to write a memoir, but I don’t know where to begin. Can you help?
- Yes. I’ll help you craft true events into a compelling narrative. We’ll focus on the challenging work of winnowing your story to its heart, staying true to actual events while being respectful of the real-life characters. We’ll do scene work and story charting with the same attention we would pay to a novel. Once you have a complete draft, I’ll help you navigate your publishing options.
- I am a professional who wants to write a blog to support my business. How can you help me?
- I’ll help you brainstorm specific blog topics to reach your unique audience, and we’ll devise a blogging schedule that works for you. I’ll provide feedback on your blog posts to make sure you’re telling the story you want to tell, with the authority you need in order to present yourself as a leader in your field.
- The Elite Coaching Program is a significant investment. Do you offer discounts?
- Yes, you’ll save $1,500 when you pay for the program up front (for a total of $10,500)
- How can I sign up for the Elite Coaching Program?
- Use the contact form to tell me about your project and your needs. We will set up a free video or phone consultation to determine if we are a good fit for each other. If we are, we will decide on a schedule to begin our work together.
- What if you decide we aren’t a good fit?
- I want you to be happy and successful! If, after our free consultation, I don’t think we are right for each other, I willl recommend someone who better suits your needs.
- What if I change my mind?
- You can cancel your monthly payments at any time to end the coaching program. If you purchase the package up front and decide at any time that coaching isn’t right for you, you can cancel and receive a prorated refund, based on how long we have been working together.
*Packages are for manuscripts of up to 95,000 words.
*Please add $195 for each additional 10,000 words for the Silver Package, and $265 for each additional 10,000 words for the Gold Package.