Have you written a novel?

The Book Doctor can help you get it in shape to submit.

Please note: I am not accepting new clients for the remainder of 2016. Please use the CONTACT form to inquire about working together in 2017.

You can also enroll in my email course, WRITING FICTION.

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Whether you’re writing your first novel, or you have a few unpublished novels tucked away in a drawer, I can help you polish your book to send out to agents and publishers.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
About the Book Doctor

About the Book Doctor

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.
jenniferpaddockMichelle helped me enormously with my novel. She’s kind and generous, but she’s also a tough critic. By seeing things that I could not, she gave me big-picture notes on plot, character, point-of-view, and dialogue. On my manuscript, she marked where the problems were and then wrote out solutions. She also tried to make sure that the book stayed mine. She never imposed her personal style but wanted me to find my own. I cannot recommend Michelle enough. She is a wonder! Jennifer Paddock

author, The Weight of Memory, Point Clear

“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.

Houston, TX

Short Story & Personal Essay Critique

  • Substantive editing of a short story or personal essay of up to 5,000 words
  • Critique will focus on characterization, voice, point of view, scene vs, summary, plot, and any other relevant issues
  • Receive line edits where needed, as well as a written critique with suggestions for improvement
  • Turnaround time is seven business days
  • For stories up to 3,000 words, the price is $229.
  • Please send your story as a Word doc after payment to bayareabookdoctor at gmail dot com. You will also receive an email requesting your manuscript.

*Packages are for manuscripts of up to 85,000 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.


Manuscript Critique, Revision Critique, 2 Phone Consultations
  • Includes all of the features of the Silver Package

  • Also includes:

  • 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