NEED AN EDITOR?
You’ve finished the last sentence of your book, turned off the computer, and gone out for your celebratory drink. Now what?
My advice is to wait at least a month without taking even a single peek at your manuscript. It takes at least a month, sometimes two, to get a fresh perspective. When you look at it again, you’ll see your writing more the way a reader would. You’ll see all the stuff that needs to be fixed, added to, fiddled with, and permanently deleted.
Next, ask some reader and writer friends to read your work, preferably ones who’ll give you honest feedback. If many of them are giving you the same advice, take that advice.
When you’re as happy with your work as you think you’re going to be, and before you send it off to publishers, agents, or decide to self-publish, consider hiring a freelance professional editor, preferably one who specializes in memoir writing if that’s your genre. Why?
Let me count the ways…or actually, just tell you a few of them.
After all the work you’ve done, your manuscript deserves the chance to compete in the very crowded market. Your readers deserve to get what they paid for. Readers expect books to be not only edited properly, but also well-written. With all the millions of books out there that are beautifully written, why would anyone waste time on a book of low quality? Have you had the experience of trying to read a self-published book only to come across grammatical errors on the very first page? I have. Or you see that the writer has no focus, or doesn’t know how to create a scene, or write description, or use dialogue, or doesn’t understand that clichés kill writing, and quite possibly didn’t pass Grade 10 English? The main problem I come across is new writers don’t understand they have to show, not tell. They use adverbs instead of strong verbs. They use adjectives, sometimes even generic adjectives, such as ‘weird’, or ‘bizarre’ or ‘romantic’ when they should be cutting those out entirely and showing us how someone or something is ‘weird’ or ‘bizarre’ or ‘romantic’, letting the reader come to her own conclusions. Show, don’t tell is the number one rule of writing, yet so many new writers haven’t learned to master this. (Writing is hard! I know!)
If these concepts are new to you, hiring an editor is the bare minimum you can do. But so many writers decide to skip this crucial step, crossing their fingers things will work out okay.
They usually don’t and you’re left with a book that gets rejected by agents and publishers, or else a self-published embarrassment that only your friends and family buy out of obligation.
A professional editor will coach you to find your main theme, cutting out rabbit trails that lead nowhere and don’t fit the theme. An editor will see if you’re getting preachy or self-helpy (often hard for the writer to see because he or she is too close to the material). A professional editor will challenge you to let readers in, so the writing is authentic and the author shown to be vulnerable and human.
I could keep going on all the hundreds of reasons why it’s important to hire an editor but you probably already know it’s important.
If you’d like to hire me, I have over 20 years experience in editing and writing and I would love to polish your work so it sings. I can cut out the clutter, ensure that every sentence is clear and necessary, and tweak your writing so it says what it needs to say. As a published author with Penguin and Random House, I understand the need to preserve your style yet make your work professional and error-free. Whatever sort of writing you’re submitting and whatever you’re looking for in an editor (proofreading, full edits, coaching, consultation) I’m up for the job and always make my deadlines. I’m also a former English teacher, a grammar stickler, and have a broad knowledge base in a variety of fields. I look forward to helping you!
My special interests are:
Memoir, Travel, Humour, Personal Essay, Themes of Family, Health, Childhood, and all Fiction. For memoir, I’m drawn to writing that’s lyrical, honest and blends introspection with real-world experience.
I will read, assess and write editorial comments and suggestions on a sample portion of your manuscript for free (as a trial to see if we’re a good match) and from there, we can decide next steps. You can decide if you want to continue with substantive editing on the entire work along with detailed line editing, or more of a consulting/coaching relationship.
So what is substantive editing? When you have a complete manuscript you’re ready for substantive editing (also known as structural or developmental editing). This is the first step all authors take between finishing their first draft and seeing their book in stores.
This Manuscript Review package provides detailed feedback on your book in the following areas:
- Character development
- Thematic development
- Writer’s Craft
- Detailed line edits addressing the above topics
- Editorial letter summarizing the overall feedback
- 1 hour Zoom consultation to discuss the work
- (Additional rounds of edits can be added to this package at a discounted rate.)
To contact me, email: laurie(at)lauriegough.com
“I’m delighted to have Laurie as the Associate Editor of our Memoir Writing Ink program — and so are our students! They rave about Laurie’s incisive feedback and how much she helped them improve their writing. Highly recommended!” ~Alison Wearing, award-winning writer, performer, and creator of Memoir Writing Ink.
“It is rare to find an editor with intuitive as well as analytic instincts. Is it because Laurie Gough is both writer and editor? She has a writer’s instincts for what drives and layers a story, draws out characterization; she has an editor’s scalpel for how to carve out the extraneous. Working with Laurie through several drafts of my short-story “Appropriation” was a stimulating challenge and just what I needed for the “now” in my literary career. She pushed some limits, tested my courage, dug deeper into what motivated the protagonist, and planted seeds that propagated between drafts. Even after eight published books, a writer still needs the fresh eyes of a neutral professional editor. What better time than before you submit to a publisher or competition? Working with Laurie gave me hope again!” ~ Darlene Madott, award-winning author of, among others, Dying Times, Stations of the Heart and Winners and Losers (published by Exile Editions and Guernica.)
“I can’t say enough positive things about working with Laurie Gough. Her editing of my memoir was honest, insightful, perceptive, and most of all, encouraging. I learned so much about the craft of writing through Laurie and what makes a memoir come alive. She took me from zero to sixty and now I’m a published author. Thank you, Laurie!” ~Rob Imbeault, author of BeforeI Leave You: A Memoir of Suicide, Addiction, and Healing.
“Laurie is an incredible writer and editor. She helped me with a non-fiction book I was writing, and I was amazed at how she was able to hone in on the core of the story and make it much better, clearer, and more dynamic. The comments she provided me were invaluable and I learned so much. I’ve no hesitation to recommend Laurie. She’s the best!” ~Lissa Cowan, author of Milk Fever (published by Demeter Press).
“Laurie is an astute editor, with great instincts for language and the human condition. With a light, deft touch, she quickly sizes up what needs to be done to improve a story or essay, and offers practical, realistic advice. Laurie really catches the nuances! ~Diane Bracuk, author of the award-winning short story collection, Middle-Aged Boys & Girls (published by Guernica).
“Working with Laurie on revising my chapters has been a wonderful experience! She has really put wind in my sails to help me move forward with my work-in-progress memoir!” ~Anne Boyd Rioux, author of seven books including the bestseller Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy: The Story of Little Women and Why It Still Matters (Norton 2018).
“I wasn’t even sure I NEEDED an editor until Laurie Gough got her hands on my novel. She worked her magic, nurturing me through the sometimes challenging “letting go” process, and helped turn The Ark Of The Oven Mitt (longlisted for the 2022 Stephen Leakcock Medal) from an unwieldy mess into something I’m proud of and readers seem to love. She cared deeply about the project and I’m forever grateful for her skills and dedication to my work.” ~James Gordon, Canadian singer-songwriter.
“As a first-time author with the usual newbie’s challenge to “show, don’t tell”, Laurie Gough’s edit of my memoir was priceless. Her work was timely, poignant and succinct, but not overbearing. She helpfully pointed out repetitive tendencies that slowed the flow, but also highlighted my strengths. Her second round of editing helped me to finish and publish a book I started nine years ago! Laurie made a huge positive difference in my life, which I will never forget. I recommend her services highly, with zero reservations.” ~ Heidi Jurka, author of The Makings of a Psychic.
“Laurie’s insightful and disciplined work was such a gift. She is a sensitive and precise editor – equally adept at the basics of punctuation and the nuances of story telling. I was grateful for and challenged by her input.” ~Marion Adler, actress, writer, singer, award-winning lyricist
“Laurie’s eye for the overall theme and through-line in writing is just as sharp as her eye for detail. Her feedback is prompt, and bull’s-eyes!” ~Peter Newman, physician, author, and recipient of the Mimi Divinsky Award for Narrative in Family Medicine.
“Laurie has great insights and is very meticulous with every paragraph. She’s so generous and warm and I truly felt she wanted to help me. Also, her rates are incredibly reasonable considering her years of expertise. You can’t go wrong with Laurie!” ~Dawn Matheson, travel writer and author of: Guelph: Perspectives on a Century of Change 1900-2000.
“Laurie Gough steered me through the early stages of my writing, teaching me the essential “show not tell” principle. She guided in a straightforward manner, reinforcing the positives and pointing out areas needing work. Through her editing feedback and suggestions, I became a stronger and clearer writer. She talked me through periods of discouragement by assuring me that writing is always worth it!” ~ Jo Sorochinsky, author of the award-winning Dancing With My Father (Amsterdam Publishers)
“Laurie gives insightful, timely, clear, and encouraging feedback. She approaches writing with integrity. I highly recommend her as an editor!” ~Ann Cavlovic, environmental writer and playwright, author of the award-winning, Emissions: A Climate Comedy.
“I am so impressed with Laurie’s editing! I have never come across an editor who can work as fast and as comprehensively as she can. I so appreciate the level of detail she provided me and her obvious care in my getting it right. She brought out the best I am capable of!” ~Emille Currie, writer, Faculty at University of Alberta
*NOTE: I edit fiction as well as nonfiction but Reedsy only lets you choose one for some reason.