The Substantive Edit is the most comprehensive service I provide. It includes a complete manuscript critique, but in addition, I provide you with suggestions that will help to improve the manuscript. This edit is highly developmental in nature. It will help get to the nuts and bolts of what needs to be fixed with suggestions on how to fix it. The Substantive Edit includes line editing of sentence structure and paragraphs and some rewriting, but not proofreading.

The elements of plot, structure, characterization and pacing are the things that will make or break your manuscript. Many authors, particularly self-published authors will hire an editor to provide proofreading when in truth the manuscript has larger structural issues or problems with characters or plausibility issues that are hard for the writer to see because the writer is so familiar with the story. These larger issues will keep a manuscript from being published. An acquisitions editor or an agent will not turn down a great story because the writer is weak on comma usage. They will, however, reject a novel when larger issues exist such as undeveloped characters or weak plot or bad pacing, because these things require too much work to be fixed. Reviewers will also give you a bad review for these issues, because they are hard to overlook. This is why substantive editing is so important. You may only have one chance with an editor or agent. Make sure your manuscript is as rejection-proof as possible.

What you will receive

A phone call to discuss my findings/comments, a detailed red-line edit throughout the document in Microsoft Word and a detailed write up (often 3 – 5 pages) that discusses the strengths and weaknesses of the plot and characters. With plot, I look at overall premise, the main conflict, the flow of one scene to the next, the black moment/final climax, the resolution, and places where the story is redundant, goes off track, or moves away from the main plot. The write up will also evaluate any sub-plots and whether or not they are well-integrated into the story and add or detract from the main story line. With characters, I provide a detailed analysis of the main characters’ Goals, Motivations, and Conflicts, and discuss how those could be strengthened or better-utilized in the story. I also discuss how those characters fit into and enhance the plot and make suggestions for minor characters roles.

I will make comments directly into the manuscript itself, as well as the summary at the end of the manuscript. However, please note that a Substantive Edit will not include proofreading (punctuation, grammar and spelling). There will be some, particularly when I see blatant errors, but the purpose of this edit is to deliver suggestions for rewriting. Proofreading is never done at this stage of writing. (See Proofread Only service. )

Please note that while I will do some rewriting, this is just to give you examples of how to execute what I have noted. I don’t write, rewrite, or correct your manuscript for you. So rewriting will be heaviest at the beginning of the manuscript.

Does this sound like what you need? Want to know how to get started? Or is what I’m saying making sense, but you’re not sure what the end product will look like? I recommend we start with a First Chapter Edit sample.


In order to receive a sample, please submit the prologue or portion of the first chapter of your manuscript and synopsis of the story. The writing sample must be at least 750 words.

What you will pay:

Substantive Edit is only available for a full manuscript. Prices for a Substantive Edit are estimated as follows. A manuscript that requires substantially more work will have to be submitted so the price may be determined:

  • 25,000 – 45,000 words $650 (novella length)
  • 45,001 – 55,000 words $750
  • 55,001 – 65,000 words $850 (short fiction)
  • 65,001 – 80,000 words $950
  • 80,000 – 85,000 words – $1000
  • 85,001 – 95,000 words $1,100
  • 95,001 – 105,000 words – $1,200 (long fiction)
  • 105,000 words and up $ 50 for every 2500 additional words.

Delivery of a Substantive Edit is between 15-21 days depending on the word count and the work required on my part. A final delivery date will be provided once the first chapter sample is completed. Second review of manuscript can be contracted. A 20% discount applies.

Please contact me at  to inquire.



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