Updated: Authors & Editors That Can Touch Up Your Manuscript & Query Letter

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Recently, I had my friend Katherine Locke touch up two manuscripts by authors I’ve signed. She offers editorial services when she has the time, and I really wanted her thoughts on these two particular books. One is a New Adult novel with LGBTQ themes, and the other is a YA novel about a ballerina. Katherine writes New Adult and her books happen to be about ballet, so she was the perfect person to have working on these two novels.

If you haven’t picked up Katherine’s books in her District Ballet Company series, please do. One of them, Turning Pointe, is even free!

But wait. Why have someone else looking over the manuscripts by the authors I’ve been signing?

Well, here’s the thing, writerly types. I can still miss things that need work. Generally when I’m picking up an author, I’ll have read through their manuscript pretty quickly (if I’m in love with a manuscript, I read it like I read any book… by devouring it), and when it comes time for edits, I’ll read it again, slowly, making notes. Then usually another time. And then again.

By the time we’re ready for sub, I’ve likely read the book four, maybe five times. At that point, I’m probably missing stuff. If I didn’t catch it by the fourth or fifth read through, I’m not going to. This is when another set of eyes is SO key. This goes for my work process as an agent and as a writer, as well as any author working on a query letter or a rough manuscript. They’ll catch things you might have missed, and pick up on issues that are closer to them.

TL; DR: More eyes, means a better letter or a better book.

After getting such fantastic results from Katherine, I thought it might be a good idea to roundup other authors and editors that offer up freelance editorial work. Because who better to help you work on that query / manuscript, then someone who has been there before? Authors and editors know what solid queries and manuscripts should look like, having read and written so many.

So… here we go!

Last Updated: November 29th, 2015

Katherine Locke (@Bibliogato): As I mentioned above, Katherine Locke is the author of the District Ballet Company series, a digital exclusive New Adult series with Carina / Harlequin. She knows her genre well, and works on Young Adult, Romance, and middle grade books. She offers up help on query letters, full reads, and line edits of manuscripts. [Website]

Laura Lee Anderson (@LLAWrites): Laura, like me, is an author with Bloomsbury’s digital imprint Bloomsbury Spark. Her novel, Song of Summer… well, you’re going to have a lot of feelings after reading it. Have tissues ready. She looks at query letters and full manuscripts. [Website]

Lauren Spieller (@laurenspieller): Lauren’s one of my favorite book people on Twitter. She’s interned in publishing and worked on a number of manuscripts for authors that have books due out soon. You can check out her testimonials here, and of course follow her on Twitter. [Website]

Rhonda Helms (@RHelmsBooks): Rhonda is a super prolific author, with books published by Simon Pulse, Kensington, and Spencer Hill Press. You can learn more about all her books on her website. She freelance edits, and you can learn more about her rates and past clients on her editorial site. [Website]

Nicole Frail (@nfrail17): Nicole’s an editor over at Sky Horse Press (they picked up one of my author’s books recently), and she’s also written a few non-fiction titles of her own. You can check out her rates here. [Website]

Cait Spivey (@CaitSpivey): Cait’s also an editor, working with Reuts Publications, and specializes in YA and New Adult. Here’s a bit about her interests from her site. “I specialize in YA and NA speculative fiction (sci-fi, fantasy, magical realism, paranormal, etc.). I LOVE projects with strong women, diverse characters (including LGBTQ, race, ethnicity, disability, etc), and surprising plots.” [Website]

Nicole Tone (@nicoleatone): An author / editor who works at Panda Moon Press and has a novel coming out with REUTS at the end of 2016, Nicole’s available for freelance editing. Contact her for more information regarding her services. [Website]

Kisa Whipkey (@KisaWhipkey): Kisa’s author editor over at REUTS available for freelance editorial work. She likes working on fantasy, sci-fi, contemporary, mystery, some horror, and short stories / novellas. [Website]

Amanda Foody (@AmandaFoody): A YA author repped by Folio Literary, Amanda does query critiques, for free! She specializes in YA and MG queries, so only send her those. Details on her blog. [Website]

Meredith Rich (@MeredithJHRich): Meredith is the superstar editor over at Bloomsbury Spark, and acquired my YA novel! If she made that readable, you better believe she can work on your book. She’s available occasionally, particularly for query edits and genres outside what she acquires. Contact her for availability.  [Website]

Liz Furl (@LizLazzara): With words on The Huffington Post, Good Men Project, Bustle, and more, Liz has an impressive publication history. And she runs a lit journal! Contact her regarding availability for edits. [Website]

Tessa Gratton (@tessagratton): According to Twitter, author Tessa Gratton (check out her novel Blood Magic, which came out with Random House in ’11) is available for select projects. Contact her for availability. [Website]

E.C. Myers (@ecmyers): The author of Fair Coin, Quantum Coin, and The Silence of Six, Eugene is an awesome YA author that I’m a big fan of. And guess what? He offers up some freelance editing services! Manuscript critiques and the like. Drop him a note regarding availability. [Website]

Jon McGoran (@jonmcgoran): An author with Tor, Jon’s DRIFT series is a favorite of mine. Drift, Dead Out… all killer thrillers, that you should be reading. He’s taught a number of writing courses and novel editing classes, and is available for select projects. Drop him a line, especially if you’re working on thrillers or mysteries. [Website]

Hanna M. Fogel (@hannamfogel): Fun Fact, Hanna used to be my intern back when I was at Quirk Books. She was a superstar, and has since taken the leap into the publishing world. She’s looking to freelance edit books in fantasy for any age, as well as MG and YA titles. You can check out her rates on her blog. [Website]

Caitlin R. O’Connell (@Caitlin_Renata): A freelance editor, Cait works on query letters and full manuscripts, and she’s got some super reasonable rates! Check out her site for more details. [Website]

Kat Howard (@KatWithSword): Kat’s an author with Saga and a published short story writer with over 30 shorts out there in the world. And she has a Ph.D in literature, you guys. Check her site out for more info regarding what she edits and her rates. [Website]

J.A. Weber (@jawlitagent): Julia’s not just an editor, but a rockstar literary agent. Who better to scope out your manuscript and give you notes? She does everything from full manuscript edits to working on query letters. Details on her site. [Website]

Have someone you’d like to add to the list? Are YOU that someone? Email me! ericsmithrocks at gmail dot com!

This Week in Recommended Reading: 11/25

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Every week, I give away free books to my students at Peirce College, where I teach freshman composition. I pick these books up for $1 or so at used bookshops, flea markets, sidewalk sales and the like, in an attempt to find fun books my students will enjoy. To try and inspire them to read more. 

For a little more info on why I do this, check out the first post here.

Here are the books I gave away this week and why. Skipped last week, as I was out and about doing book events, but then came back hard with these reads.

Shelter Me by Juliette Fay: I actually hadn’t heard much about Fay until I picked this one up. Talked to the students a bit about her books, and dished this one out… and promptly bought another copy at the used bookshop to read myself.

Blackbird House by Alice Hoffman: Because Alice Hoffman is amazing? Done.

Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner: The other day, one of my BookRiot crew asked me who the most famous writer in Pennsylvania was, and I listed a handful of folks… then my super editor Meredith Rich chimed in with Jennifer Weiner, and I was super mad at myself. Because she’s amazing. So today, I dished out Good in Bed, and talked to the students about one of Philly’s awesome authors. This one went fast.

The Apartment by Greg Baxter: I’d remembered seeing this book here and there, so when I spotted it on the cheap, thought it would make a good read for one of my students. It went quick.

This Week in Recommended Reading: 11/9


Every week, I give away free books to my students at Peirce College, where I teach freshman composition. I pick these books up for $1 or so at used bookshops, flea markets, sidewalk sales and the like, in an attempt to find fun books my students will enjoy. To try and inspire them to read more. 

For a little more info on why I do this, check out the first post here.

Here are the books I gave away this week and why. You’ll notice that I’ve got another copy of The Last Policeman in this week’s roundup. Hey, I love that book. Can’t help myself. This week’s theme was Eric’s Favorites, as Nick Hornby, Ben H. Winters, and Richard Russo are some of my favorite authors. Also, I just so happened to find two Nick Hornby books for $1 the other day. Yay!

High Fidelity by Nick Hornby: My favorite book ever and one of the reasons I wanted to become a writer.

The Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters: So yeah, I gave this away last week. It’ll pop up a few more times before the semester ends, I’m sure. One of my favorite books, period.

Straight Man by Richard Russo: I feel like this is one of Russo’s most underrated books? I adored Empire Falls, but this book… ah, this book is just so so funny. It really shows off his comedic chops, and as an English professor myself, it makes me really happy. Gave me a chance to nerd out over his books with my students.

How to be Good by Nick Hornby: Eh, not one of Hornby’s best, but a good one. Giving away this one and High Fidelity gave me a chance to prattle about my favorite author for a while, and talk about their favorite writers as well.