WHAT IT IS. An editorial letter is always the first step in the editing process. A first draft, no matter how well thought out, is often written in a burst of inspiration. The editorial letter is the chance to start putting some real shape onto the collection of words you have amassed. It consists of a six to eight page letter that will give feedback on broad strokes areas on topics such as characterization, structure, pacing, and setting. Editorial letters usually won't give you targeted feed back on things like individual scenes and prose style. (In the cases when they do, it's often to illustrate an issue that goes across the manuscript.) Editorial letters aren't just right for first drafts, however; they can be employed several times in the publishing process until the bones of the novel are truly set.
MY PRACTICE. I've written hundreds of editorial letters and have learned over the years that it is the best chance to root out issues that otherwise can linger--one might even say fester--up until the book is on the shelves. If a character isn't working for the first draft, and I suggest deleting not improving, chances are that character will not work in the last draft, no matter how much effort goes into tweaking him and her. Therefore, I go for complete honesty and total thoroughness with the editorial letter. I deliver my advice clearly and strive to come up with solutions.
After we've agreed, I read the manuscript in silence, with the internet off (my best bet is a nearby cafe whose wifi if finicky). This usually takes me a day or two, depending on the length of the manuscript. I read all manuscripts on my Kindle for iPhone and take notes through the iPhone notes app as I go along. When I'm done, I email the notes to myself and start a file in Scrivener. The file contains the manuscript, the notes, and what will be my editorial letter. I organize the notes by topic (Structure, Characterization, and so forth) and then go back and turn them into full sentences, adding in observations and thoughts that weren't contained in the notes.
Next, using the split-screen setting in Scrivener, I skim through the manuscript one final time, jotting down additional notes into the letter-in-progress. After I'm done going through the manuscript a second time, I'll refine the letter again, turning the notes into sentences. Writing the letter usually takes about a day. I'll sleep on it and proofread, copyedit, fine-tune, for an hour or two the next day. Then it's off to you.
CONSIDER AN EDITORIAL LETTER IF. Your manuscript has never been looked at by a professional editor before. You have shopped your manuscript to agents who have told you you need to make major changes in plotting, characterization, structure, etc. You have never hired a professional editor and just want to dip your toe into the waters and figure out if it's best for you.
OUR PRICES AND PAYMENT DETAILS. Our editorial letters cost .015 cents per word. Most cost between $750-$1200. We do payments half on agreement to work together and half on delivery of the letter. We prefer checks and also accept Paypal. All Paypal payments come with a 3% surcharge.
SPECIFICATIONS. We work with manuscripts that are in Microsoft Word (easy to convert to for most other formats) and are double-spaced, contain 1.5-inch margins, and are in 12-point font.
Fill out a form at the bottom of the home page, and we'll get back to you with a proposed price and timeframe within 24 hours. You can also submit the first ten pages for a free sample. Samples will be delivered within three business days.