Therese Arkenberg's home on the web

Manuscript Editing Services

[W]e’re all writers. Writers aren’t just people who author books, articles, promotional material, or web copy. We write (in our minds, on the page, or on the screen) every time we communicate. The words we choose and the way we choose to use them determine whether our communication is successful.

-Sam Horn, in POP!

In the same way, we are all editors: every time we make a choice of word or phrase, we seek the most effective option, and sometimes that means choosing again as we revisit our writing. I offer authors a second eye, the benefit of my training as a licensed copyeditor, and educational resources to strengthen their current and future manuscripts.

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 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

Fill out this Google Form with details about your manuscript and editing needs to receive a personal editing sample for your project.

Working with Therese was one of the best things I did to launch my writing career. She is more than just an editor; she has also been my writing coach and cheerleader.
I put writing on the back burner for thirty years to teach high school. Therese never made me feel my rustiness. She lovingly edited every single sentence—tweaking words, making suggestions, and even providing a mini-lesson when needed. It was exciting to watch the daily improvements in my writing as we worked together. She offered numerous resources that I use with my students and share with other authors. She edited my debut novel, StumpStrong, and was instrumental in putting together a query package for my Miranda Albright Mystery series. Her suggestions helped me land a traditional contract with my dream publishing house, where I hope to have a long career. I wholeheartedly recommend Therese.

Nicki Pascarella, author of StumpStrong and Troubles in Bellmount (forthcoming)

About Me

As a published writer, I learned to edit by being edited, in workshop settings with other writers & readers and when being published in online and print formats by professional editors. (And then I learned a whole lot more about editing when I earned my Copyediting License from the University of San Diego extension program!)

That’s how I want the editing experience to be for my clients: educational. By learning a few new things and developing a new technique or two each time we edit a manuscript together, you’ll be honing your craft and creating the foundation for a sustainable writing career.

The [developmental] 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.

T. Hahm

In editing, I focus on the words on the page as a tool to shape the reader’s experience, evoking suspense, passion, terror, awe, and so much more.

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.

Thanks for the suggestions and edits! You were the best of the freelancers I hired. You went far more into detail and even explained why you were suggesting this or that. I loved it. That’s exactly what anybody would ask for when asking for help. I hope you keep that up! Helps a ton!

Diego Saavedra

Services

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

My line-by-line feedback goes beyond removing mistakes: it seeks to enhance the power of your voice by increasing the vivid emotional impact of your word choice, sentence structure, pacing, and more. I help your unique story come alive in a clear, smooth flow of ideas. Throughout the process, I offer advice and propose guidelines to help develop your writing and self-editing talents even further.

You know what it’s like to come back to a hotel room in the afternoon and find that housekeeping has been there and everything is all fresh and put to rights? That’s how a copy editor would like you to feel when you see the editing. If you can view extra-duty editing as a mint on the pillow, all the better. What we don’t want is for you to feel insulted by the need for cleaning.

-Carol Fisher Saler, The Subversive Copy Editor

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.

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.

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.

Proofreading: I only offer this service, checking for “typos” and stray punctuation, on manuscripts that have already been line-by-line edited by me. This ensures we’ll have been able to address any larger opportunities for improvement that might also be present.

Developmental Editing: For a deeper evaluation of plot, character arcs, and overall style, I provide 3-8 page Developmental Memos. These are best done before line-by-line copyediting, 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 (for a previous client’s novel, with her gracious permission).

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.

Market Research, Queries, and POD Formatting
Alongside polishing the manuscript to the next level, I can also help you pursue your plans for publication, whether that includes:

  • Preparing your query letter and synopsis.
  • Finding publishers, literary agents, journals, and/or contests to submit your manuscript to.
  • Formatting books for Print-on-Demand paperback and hardcover publication through Amazon or Lulu (doing this the right way can earn you more royalties!) and/or for ebook publication through Kindle, Smashwords, and other distributors.

Thank you so much for your editorial comments and assistance with my book proposal. I got a publisher that is a wonderful partner in the genre of my current manuscript. Your knowledge of the particulars of use of words is exceptional and your comments are always insightful. Your timely input helped me feel joined in what could have been a daunting process.

Lisa
format your book for print on demand
I specialize in formatting fiction and memoir or creative nonfiction: laying out text beautifully and efficiently on the page. If your book is image or chart-heavy, another book formatter may serve you better.

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…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.”

Sue Wood and Alice Lundstrom

Rate Sheet

The #1 bottleneck I face in my work is scheduling edits⁠—fitting in all of the clients who want to work with me and delivering each manuscript in time to meet any publishing deadlines they face. By pricing based on schedule, I hope to smooth out that bottleneck (wait, that looks like a mixed metaphor…but one doesn’t untangle a bottleneck, either… Okay, I’ll stop self-editing for now and get on with my rate information):

Base Rate for all services: $40/hour. Time: for book-length manuscripts, 60-90 days between my receipt of the manuscript and my delivery of the edits to you. For short fiction (under 10,000 words), 3-14 days.

“Rush” Rate: For book-length deliveries shorter than 60 days. $45/hour.

Discount Rate: When I have more than 90 days to edit the manuscript, and/or you take advantage of my guided self-edit service: $35/hour.
(In fact, if you have more than 90 days before your manuscript needs to be done, doing the guided self-edit is probably an excellent investment of your time while I complete the projects ahead in my queue.)

I handle payments through check, PayPal, or Zelle (for smaller amounts). A deposit is paid when the manuscript is sent to me, and the balance after I deliver edits. Payments may be made in installments for your convenience.

A very quick, rough estimate abased on wordcount: most manuscripts work out of about 1 cent per word, plus or minus 20%. An 80,000 word novel would thus total around $800, with $640 at the low end (huzzah for pre-editing!) and $1,050 at the high end (perhaps if the dialogue punctuation has to be corrected on every page or there’s lots of run-on sentences).

About the guided self-edit: In this service, I use find and replace to highlight particular “issue words,” identified through my years of editing experience, for you to address on your own before sending the manuscript back to me. Rather than having me read through the entire manuscript, addressing the same words over and over again (while billing my hours), my experience and the highlighting can create a “shortcut” that’s faster and makes self-editing easy for the writer: You’ll go through the manuscript and revise to use the issue words fewer times⁠—not removing all of them, since they have their uses, but catching where they aren’t the best option (like where characters ‘smile’ five lines in a row, or 80% of the verbs on an entire page are “to be”). The manuscript that comes out at the end of the process will be more polished, turbocharging the line editing & proofreading that follow. 

I use a similar highlighting process in my own self-editing, and I’ve had some success with a few authors using the pre-edit approach, so I’m now expanding to offer it more generally. When clients pre-edit, my editing of their work goes faster, saving me time and them money, and it also produces a more polished, deeper manuscript. And it’s not only a matter of saving money–pre-editing helps you to strengthen your own voice by choosing different words.

About late fees: Because my schedule is so tight, it’s very helpful if you can deliver the manuscript on the date we’ve agreed for me to expect it by. However, life happens, and the creative life in particular can be unpredictable! So, the late fee of $10 per day only applies if the deadline cannot change. That is, the late fee is waived if you extend the deadline by however many days your manuscript delivery was late.
An example: Our agreed-upon deadline is August 31, and our agreed-upon date for you to send the manuscript to me is July 31 (so I have a full month to do the edit). However, we made this agreement in May, and due to an unexpected game-show win you spent all of June on a cruise, getting very little writing done. So your book isn’t finished and in my hands until August 5. If you still have August 31 as a hard deadline, I can make it, with a $50 rush fee. Or, if you can extend the deadline to September 5, the fee is waived.

I hope this strikes a balance between being mindful of my time (because it’s not just my time, but also that of the other clients I’ve scheduled) and accomodating your real life in all its complexity.

I am available to hire on Fiverr and Upwork, but if you’ve found your way to this website it will probably be more efficient to hire me directly (Fiverr and Upwork take fees and surcharges).

My Clients Keep Saying Wonderful Things About Me (more testimonials):

***

[H]ands down one of the top people operating on Fiverr, and you owe it to yourself to hire her.

Douglas Esper

***

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.”

Thank you for reading all the way to the end! You must be very interested in my services, so why not fill out this form to receive a free sample edit?