Therese Arkenberg's home on the web

Open to new projects!

Posted by on Jun 15, 2022 in Blog Posts, Editing, Featured, Work and Career, Writing Advice | 0 comments

I visited this blog the other day, probably to get the link to my article “12 Words to (Almost Always) Cut” (which today I’d title something more like “12 Words to (Almost Always) Replace” or “12 Words to Watch Out For,” though with the latter I’d lose the cheeky use of two of those twelve words in parentheses). And to my surprise, dismay, chagrin, and other emotions, I saw the last time I’d posted an update was to tell everyone in September that I was immersed in plentiful projects until October 2021.

To my further chagrin, dismay, etc., I saw that back in September I was talking about working on a new version of the Starter Guide for Professional Writers.

I’m still working on that new version! It’s going more slowly than expected, which for that matter was true of the original Starter Guide, too. I’ve never met a piece of solid advice I didn’t want to pass on, and the challenge is winnowing down and organizing all the ideas I want to share.

I also wasn’t spending all my time on the Starter Guide, because of course I’ve had some amazing client projects to dive into. And as a look at my schedule shows, I still have some excellent projects on my plate, but I also have a bit of room to add more for the next few months!

Are You My Dream Client?

I’m delighted to work with writers at any length—short stories, articles, books, multi-volume series—and in any genre—science fiction/fantasy, thriller, historical fiction, romance, nonfiction and memoir, prose poetry, a crossover of many forms.

The quality I love best in my clients is a passion for storytelling craft that shines through as an interest in the impact of word choice, sentence structure, pacing, point of view (POV)—a passion that makes them someone who is to words what a master movie director is to camera angles, lighting, and color in a shot. Or who wants to become that way. And who is seeking the help of another eye to reach that mastery. (Movies have editors, too!)

A note on POV: as a reader, and this comes through in my editing as well, I tend to prefer a deep level for point of view. First person, third person, second person, all can be great—and the distinction between them is really a matter of pronouns (“I” vs “they” vs “you,” respectively)—but like many of the acquisitions editors purchasing fiction to publish, I cringe at head-hopping. Meanwhile I love to hear a character’s heart pound in terror through the rhythm of the short words he narrates with or to feel the glow of his joy in words that evoke warmth and shine; I want to share the taste of the flavor on her tongue and to listen in on her inner monologue as she adjusts her cunning plan.

I want to help all your book’s future readers to have that deep and thrilling experience.

The line editor is supposed to be a book’s ideal reader, the one who asks all the questions and heads off all the problems in a book so that it’s satisfying—rather than maddening, confusing, or just too dull to finish—to other readers.

-George Witte, “This Just Needs a Little Work: On Line Editing” in What Editors Do

Do you have a manuscript with a strong voice (or a voice you want to strengthen), characters whose perspectives you can’t stop seeing in, scenes you want to linger in your readers’ heads, sentences so memorable we catch ourselves quoting them in our next days’ conversations? I’ll be honored if you consider sharing it with me.

I offer free sample edits on 1,000 words to all writers who fill out this form. You can also contact me directly at tarkenberg199[at]

I’m available for hire on Upwork and Fiverr, but if you are already here on my website, reading my contact information, I can tell you that hiring me directly will save us both money by avoiding those websites’ transaction fees! (If you didn’t know, Fiverr charges a 20% transaction fee to me, meaning I earn 80 cents for every $1.00 I’m paid, and from the buyer’s end, a $5.00 tip I gave recently cost $7.28 with added transaction fees. Upwork’s transaction fee to freelancers varies from 10-20% and it charges clients an additional 2.75% payment processing fee. Certainly these websites deserve payment for the service they provide in helping clients and freelancers find each other, but it’s a steep payment, especially if we’ve already found each other.)

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My Editing Style

Copyediting is defined as “revising written material to remove grammatical mistakes, inconsistencies, and repetition.” I do that⁠ thoroughly—but not only that!

My line-by-line feedback goes beyond removing mistakes: I look for ways to help your unique story come alive in a clear, smooth flow of ideas, a “fictive dream” your reader doesn’t want to wake from. Throughout the process, I offer advice to develop your writing and self-editing talents even further.

Because of this, I’m seeking authors who don’t only want to write “well enough,” nor is my feedback only to make a book “good enough”: my ideal client relationship is one where we both learn from each other, stretch our talents to new heights, and innovate for stronger storytelling and an unforgettable reader experience.

I use Tracked Changes and offer explanations for my edits so your voice is always respected, and the final choice for any change to be made is yours. It’s not uncommon—I say this as an author who has worked with many editors myself—to agree when an editor points out something about a paragraph could be improved, but to have a different idea about what to add, remove, rephrase, or reorder.

provide stellar copyediting and developmental feedback
I work in partnership with writers, making edits through Tracked Changes and comments using Microsoft Word’s review features. We can also use Google Docs or other file formats⁠—just ask.

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Rates are determined primarily by turnaround time, and cost by time logged on the edit. For this reason, self-editing your manuscript before hiring me will prove both creatively and financially rewarding. All manuscripts should receive at least two editing passes from their authors (once for content and structure, once for word choice and flow) before bringing an outside editor on.

I’ve found that some of my “most popular advice” can be streamlined in a pre-edit stage for a manuscript, where I offer guided suggestions for the author to incorporate on their own, leading to a smoother and faster edit when I come on. To encourage clients to pre-edit, I charge an incentive rate for pre-edited manuscripts. That said, the clients I’m currently seeking have probably, as part of their general interest and commitment to strengthening their styles, already incorporated much of the advice I would give in a pre-edit (deepening POV by reducing filter words, enlivening the story by replacing be verbs, wrangling ‘just’s and ‘that’s, using correct dialogue punctuation, and so on). When giving a free sample edit on 1,000 words, I’m happy to advise on whether a pre-edit could be helpful—just ask!

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Pre-Edit and/or “Patient” Discount RateStandard Rate“Rush” Rate
‣60+ days for book-length work

‣3+ weeks for short stories

‣Progress on editing this project may be paused while I prioritize rush orders

‣Standard delivery times (<60 days for book-length work and <21 days for short stories) can be available to pre-edited manuscripts at the $35/hr rate
‣30-60 days for book-length work

‣1-3 weeks for short stories

‣Progress on editing this project may be paused while I prioritize rush orders, but will still arrive within the listed timeframe
‣Less than 30 days for book-length work

‣Less than 7 days for short stories

‣24-hour turnaround on short pieces may be possible

‣I may set aside other projects to prioritize yours

‣This rate may have limited availability

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