Therese Arkenberg's home on the web

Manuscript Editing Services

The Manuscript Doctor: Whether it takes a prescription for punctuation, a checkup for character development, diagnosis for the denouement, or major plot surgery, I’m here to help make your manuscript into a healthy story.

My clients include indie writers, first-time novelists seeking agent representation, memoirists and activists, two sisters publishing their late mother’s book, a romance author going strong with 10+ novels, and multiple finalists in international short story competitions.

A full description of my services and rate guidelines is available in this file: Manuscript Doctor Services and Rates. This page provides an overview.

Alex F. says:  “I can’t say enough about the timely and thorough manuscript evaluation I received from Therese.  Her detail-oriented critique not only provided me with invaluable suggestions with regards to the overall structure of my story but, just as important, also touched upon how to fine-tune the subtle aspects of my novel to create a more superior read.  I look forward to utilizing her skill set again during the editing phase.”

To contact me about a manuscript review, including a free sample edit, email tarkenberg199[at]yahoo.com. I can also be contracted through my Upwork profile.

For feedback on short stories, query letters, and other quick work, check out my Fiverr page. Payments are managed through PayPal and start at just $5!

What to expect

I’m happy to provide a free sample edit on up to 1000 words (about 3 pages) of your story to see if we’re a fit. This is available for prospective manuscripts of 30,000 words and up.

  • Copyediting: I earned my Copyediting Certificate from the University of San Diego-Extension Program and work from a thorough knowledge of the Chicago Manual of Style, while flexibly accommodating authors’ individual preferences.
  • Line-by-line edits: beyond grammatical corrections, I analyze your work and message to help tailor your writing for clear, vivid flow of ideas. My feedback evaluates pacing, content, and word choice. Throughout the process I offer advice and propose guidelines to help you develop your writing talents even further.

Michael E. Kmiotek says: “Therese copy edited my novel and did a great job. She offered many helpful suggestions and continues to respond to questions in a timely manner. I highly recommend Therese Arkenberg if you need fast and accurate editing.

My suggestions are made with inline comments and Tracked Changes using Microsoft Word’s review features. We can also use Google Docs or other file formats–just ask.

Developmental Editing
My inline comments include feedback on plot and character development. For a deeper evaluation of plot, character arcs, and overall style, I provide 3-8 page Developmental Memos. These can be delivered alongside a line edit or be done beforehand, since a story may change substantially in developmental edits. If you’d like to know more about this service, I can share an example memo upon request (from a previous client’s novel, with her gracious permission).

T. Hahm says: “The memo alone is like a writing seminar targeted at my particular story. Therese Arkenberg’s insights and editing skills were nothing short of remarkable. She seemed to know my characters better than I did.  I was most fortunate to have found her.

Market Research, Publishing Strategy, and POD
After polishing the manuscript, we can develop a plan for revisions and ultimate publication, including:

  • Finding anthologies, journals, and contests to submit your short story to.
  • Researching literary agents and preparing your query letter and synopsis.
  • Building a plan to self-publish and promote your work.
  • Formatting manuscripts for Print-on-Demand paperback and hardcover publication through Createspace or Lulu and/or for ebook publication through Kindle, Smashwords, the Google Play store, and other distributors.

Timeframe and Payment:
I can offer a specific timeframe based on my current schedule and the needs of a particular project. Short stories can take as little as 48 hours, novels between two weeks and two months.

Please email me at tarkenberg199[at]yahoo.com with the details of your project for a specific estimate of timeframe and fee. Please include the length of your story in words, not pages, as the same number of words can fit on different numbers of pages based on font choice, paragraphs, and spacing.

I accept funds through PayPal or by check, usually half upon receipt of the manuscript, the remaining half upon delivery of completed review. For your convenience, I am happy to negotiate alternative payment plans or methods on an individual basis, including Western Union money transfers for international clients.

You can also hire my services through Fiverr and Upwork (formerly Elance).

Client Testimonials:

Douglas Esper says: “…hands down one of the top people operating on Fiverr, and you owe yourself to hire her.

Sue Wood & Alice Lundstrom say: “We began last spring after uncovering a story, which our mother wrote for her grandchildren and our children. She had put a note on the cover of this manuscript; please try to publish this for all children to read. In honor of our mother, my sister and I began the process of trying to get this manuscript published. We really didn’t know where to begin.

Meeting Therese was a God-send. She has prompted, helped and encouraged our efforts to get Mom’s story out of our boxes and hands….Without Therese’s editing help and direction on how to submit work for publication, this story, Shadow, the True Story of a Sandhill Crane, would still be a hidden manuscript in a box in one of our basements or attics…

Therese helped us decide what our market audience would be. What age group was this book going to reach? Where there environmental groups that would be interested in marketing such a book? What publishers should we submit the draft to? What would a contract look like with a publisher? What time lines do they use?

Therese gently and logically took us through all the steps we needed to think about when trying to find and publish Mom’s book. My sister and I did not know how to start or complete the process of  making the story into a real children’s book.

Our Mom’s book has been accepted for publication and both my sister and I know this would not have been possible without Therese’s expert help.”

Jeff Jorczak (writing as Cody Leet) says: “Therese was one of the beta readers for my new novel Spheria. The depth of her analysis and feedback were invaluable. She caught some very subtle continuity issues that I had not even thought of. Her love of sci-fi and technology also helped me in particular since this book was heavy on science. Last, the detail of her notes was amazing, nearly a paragraph by paragraph analysis of what worked and what didn’t. I already asked her if we could working together again on my future projects. (and if you use her as a result of this recommendation, I get first dibs!)” 

Alero Dabor says: “I do not think I would have completed my memoirs without Thesere.

From the moment I started working with Therese, she has offered invaluable suggestions that empowered my story. Her understanding of what I was striving to achieve is truly commendable.

Therese is an exceptional editor. I will recommend Therese to anyone I know who is looking for an editor.”

Cynthia “Cyn” Duby says:  “I was very leery of hiring an editor and now I don’t know what to do without one!  And, there will never be another editor for me than Therese.  She is extremely thorough, makes excellent suggestions, and has tightened up my novel, improved the way the story arcs, and has given me, not only global suggestions, but also incredible line by line edits.  My writing has vastly improved and my confidence has grown immensely.  She not only is a very talented writer and editor, but she also knows the business and, knowing that I seek publishing, has that in her mind when editing and when we correspond.  My manuscripts will never leave home without her expert eye catching my errors, my repeated phrasing, and cutting the unnecessary words and confusing phrasing.  If you want your manuscript the best it can be to send to agents or publishers, use Therese.  However, if you want a pat on the back telling you how “nice” it is, don’t.  Be prepared for corrections, be prepared to hear that there are changes, and then smile knowing every change, every edit is making your work the very best it can be.”

Zahara Heckscher says:  “Therese is a talented writer and editor. I highly recommend her for manuscript review. She provided essential big picture suggestions for my novel with excellent ideas for conflict and character development as well as a close read with page by page comments to improve the draft. She made excellent and specific suggestions that improved my novel—and helped me strengthen my craft as a writer.”