I've worked as a professional editor and writer for over thirty years and am a member of the Editorial Freelancers Association. Why not let me put that experience to work for you?
I will read your manuscript and give you my professional judgment in an editorial letter. This letter will cover the strengths and weaknesses of your manuscript and my suggestions for enhancing the former and fixing the latter. After you review the letter, I will make myself available to you for discussion by e-mail or Skype.
Developmental editing is a much deeper dive into your book than the assessment above. It's the kind of work editors used to do on the manuscripts they acquired: what Maxwell Perkins did when he edited a book by Hemingway or Fitzgerald. It's become something of a lost art in today's publishing world, as editorial focus has shifted more toward marketing and sales. That's why many established writers hire qualified freelance editors . . . like me.
As a developmental editor, I work closely with authors to identify and fix problem areas in a manuscript. This includes character, plot, structure, and voice. I'm tough and thorough. If I believe you have taken a wrong turn and are harming the potential of your story, I will say so . . . and suggest ways to get back on track. At the same time, I will never seek to impose my personal taste or style upon any author or manuscript. With me, the story always comes first.
I can't guarantee that after working with me at this level your novel will be accepted by an agent or by a mainstream publisher or small press—if, indeed, that is your preferred route to publication—but I can guarantee that it will be a better novel. Chances are, you will also be a better writer.
If you seek to hire me as a developmental editor, and I accept the job, it means that in my professional opinion, your manuscript has potential and can be honed to publishable quality. I will not work as a developmental editor on anything that I do not feel can be improved to this level.
As the monolithic edifice of the traditional publishing industry cracks and crumbles under an onslaught of self-publishing and hybrid publishing models, I believe that quality still counts: now more than ever. Writers today have more opportunities than ever before. Yes, there are risks and uncertainties aplenty, but I firmly believe that we are in a golden age for writers.
I was the science fiction and fantasy editor for iPublish.com, the e-book and print-on-demand division of Time Warner books, where I edited fifteen novels and story collections. Many of those books involved close editorial work with first-time authors, guiding them step by step through the revision process. In a number of cases, those writers went on to successful, ongoing careers.
I have also edited novels for Del Rey Books, TokyoPop, and Night Shade Books, among others, including works by Hugo Award-winning authors Michael Swanwick and Mike Resnick. You can view some novels I had the privilege of editing here.
A copy-editor looks at a manuscript in a different way than a developmental editor. Copy-editors check for problems with grammar, spelling, and punctuation. But that is only part of the job. A good copy-editor also fact-checks where necessary, ensures that elements of plot and character are internally consistent, and points out problems in story logic.
My copy-editing clients have included Harlequin, Baen Books, Tor, St. Martin's, scifi.com, Kensington, and Small Beer, among others. Here are some books I've copy-edited.
We all know that we should not judge books by their covers, and yet we often do just that! And many more of us, I suspect, pick our books not only by their cover art but by the sales pitch that appears on the jacket flap, back cover, or website. This kind of copywriting is an art unto itself, and I have a many years of experience crafting copy that grabs readers so that they, in turn, grab books. Compelling cover copy is a key component of any successful self-publishing plan, but many traditional publishers will let you try your hand at it as well, so why not present your editor with something that will satisfy you both? You can see a sample of my efforts here. Even though I specialize in science fiction, fantasy, horror, and other branches of speculative fiction, I have experience in all genres, with many bestselling titles to my credit (at least copy-wise!).
I can also help you craft a query letter that will pique the interest of even the most jaded agent.
I am in demand as a freelance editor, copy-editor, and copywriter not simply because I am skilled at what I do. There are plenty of skilled freelance editors in the world. But I bring a valuable extra perspective to my editorial work.
The perspective of a professional writer.
I have a Master's Degree in Creative Writing from The City College of New York and am a graduate of the prestigious Clarion Writer's Workshop. I am also a member of the Science Fiction Writers of America. I teach creative writing in the Master's Degree program at Southern New Hampshire University's College of Continuing Education, as well as at Gotham Writers' Workshop and UCLAExtension.
My first novel, Waking Beauty, was chosen by Locus magazine as one of the outstanding first novels of 1997. It was also short-listed for the Tiptree Award. Yay, me!
My next book, Tumbling After (2005), was praised by the Washington Post as “a fully realized novel by significant new voice.”
My third novel, Dracula: Asylum, published in 2006, was the officially sanctioned sequel to Universal Pictures's immortal classic Dracula, starring Bela Lugosi as the Count. An Amazon reviewer called it "better than it has any right to be." I accept that verdict with pride!
A collection of my short fiction, Everland and Other Stories, was published in 2009 by PS Publishing. It contains the Nebula Award finalist "Left of the Dial" and the World Fantasy Award finalist "Everland." The collection as a whole was also a finalist for the World Fantasy and Shirley Jackson awards.
My fourth and fifth novels, The Emperor of All Things (Transworld, 2013) and The Watchman of Eternity (Transworld, 2015), were well-reviewed historical fantasies in the clockpunk genre.
I think it's fair to say that I know a bit about writing. I understand the writing process in a way that many editors, however talented and dedicated, don't, because they've never written a novel, never sweated through the doubt or soared on updrafts of white-hot inspiration.
Simply put, whether you're writing science fiction, fantasy, horror, or some speculative mash-up of them all, I know where you're coming from. I know where you want to go.
And I can help you get there.
"I would recommend Paul to any author, whether traditional or independent, seeking to strengthen his or her manuscript. His blend of proofreading, copy-editing, and light developmental editing was perfectly tailored to my needs. Paul has a keen eye for contradictions, potentially unclear passages, and actions which are inconsistent with established characters. One element he advised me to expand was even favorably noted in my Kirkus review! As a result of working with Paul, it is now glaringly obvious to me when a book hasn’t been thoughtfully edited. I look forward to collaborating with him in future."—Meg Pechenick, Ascending (The Vardeshi Saga, Volume I)
“Have you ever spent an hour looking for your hat only to have someone finally tell you that’s it’s on your head? That someone is Paul Witcover. He’s that voice of reason. He’s the candle flame in the darkness. He’s the unsung hero of the process. He’s the editor that will save the writer from herself.”—Jasper Williams
“I was lucky to have Paul as an editor. I felt he understood my motivations in writing, yet he also disciplined me to stay true to my work’s intentions. He helped me to sort out a myriad of challenges found in my draft: matters of characterization, narrative voice, and the movement of my story. His critique was extremely thorough, yet very supportive. He has made me a better writer by helping me to see what I was unable to see in my own work. I highly recommend him!”—Ted Connelly
“When I contacted Paul for his editorial services, I expected the high level of competency and professionalism I received based on his various exemplary reviews and reputation as an editor within the industry. What I didn't expect was the level of consideration and thought he put into the process to truly ‘get’ what I was attempting to create. The result of this ‘going above and beyond’ more than validated my choice of selecting Paul to edit my work and gave me a finished product that exceeded my expectations.”—Michael Weinberger
“I couldn’t be happier with Paul’s editorial services. Paul line-edited my work. He went through every page writing lots of those dreaded red marks along the margins, but those suggestions helped color and shape my science fiction novel into a richer story. I am indebted to him. As an editor with years of experience, and a writer himself, he has the experience to enhance your work. Your story will stay your story, but he will not shy away from telling you how you can improve it. I listened, and I know my book is much better for it. I’m lucky to have worked with him and I wouldn’t hesitate to utilize his services again. Thanks, Paul!”—AD Hawke, Candy Savant