Editing Services by Ronlyn Domingue. Manuscript critiques, developmental editing, and copyediting from an internationally published author with 15 years of experience.
As an author—like you—I understand the triumphs, joys, struggles, and blocks which are part of writing a book. I’ve felt the frissons from jotting a perfect line, the despair when the words vanish, the anticipation when pieces fit into place, and the strange intimacy with characters in another world.
I know, too, the objectivity and skills necessary to take a manuscript to the next level, not only for my own books but also for writers who’ve worked with me as an editor. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and the parts must be scrutinized down to their basic elements, chapter to scene to sentence to word. Inconsistencies must be discovered then resolved, gaps found and filled. One must be vigilant about clichés, dialogue tags, conjugation, and other such details.
As an editor who writes, I balance the technicality of Craft with the mystery of Art. A literary form of alchemy, perhaps.
My intent with every writer I work with is to —provide frank, thoughtful, and holistic feedback; —reveal the potential yet untapped, both in you and your book; —offer concrete guidance to ease the revision process; —kindle your excitement for the project; and —bolster your confidence in what you’ve done and what you’ll accomplish next.
I’m primed to help a writer who plans to —get an agent; —deliver a finely wrought manuscript to her/his editor; —self publish; or —approach small or university presses.
EXPERIENCE AND CREDENTIALS I hold a MFA degree in creative writing from Louisiana State University, taught composition and fiction writing at the college level, and served as a fiction editor and co-editor in chief of New Delta Review. In my positions within the private, public, and nonprofit sectors, I’ve written and edited corporate presentations, research reports, agency newsletters, and federal, state, and foundation grants. During the past 15 years, I’ve edited and mentored writers of fiction and nonfiction, from short stories to memoirs.
I’m also the author of four novels. The Mercy of Thin Air, my critically acclaimed debut, was published in 10 languages and was a fiction finalist for the 2005 Borders Original Voices Award and 2006 SIBA Book Award. The Mapmaker's War and The Chronicle of Secret Riven, Books One and Two of the Keeper of Tales Trilogy, are available now; the third book, The Plague Diaries, is forthcoming in August 2017. My essays and short stories have appeared in New England Review, Clackamas Literary Review, and Shambhala Sun as well as on mindful.org, The Nervous Breakdown, and Salon.com. For a complete list, visit http://www.ronlyndomingue.com/booksetc.
GENRES AND TYPES OF PROJECTS A skilled editor can edit almost anything. However, as a writer, you want someone who has experience with and enthusiasm for the project you’re doing. We’re more likely to be a match if your work overlaps with at least one of my interest areas.
Fiction (novels, novellas, short stories, books in a trilogy or series) Contemporary/mainstream/general fiction, speculative fiction (fantasy, magical realism, fabulist, slipstream, paranormal), literary fiction, and historical fiction. Although I’m open to a project that’s YA, science fiction, romance, horror, thriller, or mystery, I recommend you seek out another editor who’s more familiar with those genres. Dystopian or post-apocalyptic fiction, or any story which involves excessive, graphic violence or abuse toward animals or humans, won’t be a fit for me.
Nonfiction (books and essays) Memoir/autobiography, narrative nonfiction, creative nonfiction, and books for general audiences. I’m a curious sort who’ll read about practically any subject, but we’ll have a stronger connection if your work involves psychology, spirituality, feminism, social justice, human rights, holistic medicine, or environmentalism.
The First 100 Pages This is for an author who wants an objective response to her/his book’s opening chapters, whether s/he is thinking through a revision or planning to contact agents or editors soon.
You’ll send a Microsoft Word file (.doc or .docx), formatted in the standard 12 point Times New Roman font, double spaced, with 1 to 1.25 inch margins. Send the first 100 pages, up to 25,000 words. My response will focus on point of view, dialogue, setting, character development, pacing, scenes, and plot. I’ll alert you to your writer tics and quirks (we all have them), include some line edits, and share my impression of the story’s flow as well as what threads and details readers will expect to follow in the rest of the book. The first few pages are crucial when you’re trying to catch the eye of an agent or editor, and I’ll make recommendations for improvement, if they’re needed.
By a set deadline, you’ll receive the file with some Track Changes and an editorial letter with my evaluation, suggestions, and questions. The letter will be between three and 10 pages long and focus on your book’s particular needs.
My flat fee is $500.
Manuscript Critique This is for an author who wants a detailed assessment of a complete draft but who doesn’t need someone to guide her/him through the next stage.
You’ll send a Microsoft Word file (.doc or .docx), formatted in the standard 12 point Times New Roman font, double spaced, with 1 to 1.25 inch margins. I’ll take a piercing look at the main elements—point of view, dialogue, setting, character development, pacing, scenes, plot, form, and theme. As I’m reading, I’ll mark places where you could compress or expand your narrative, alert you to your writer tics and style quirks, point out areas where facts are in question, and note gaps, repetition, and inconsistencies. In most cases, now is not the time for line editing, but I’ll make some suggestions. All the while, my intuition will search for what’s not on the page—what’s hidden underneath, trying to be heard, waiting to be revealed. I’m spooky-good at this.
By a set deadline, you’ll receive the file with Track Changes and a detailed editorial letter with my evaluation, suggestions, and questions. (Be prepared for many questions.) The letter could be as short as three pages or as long as 30. My approach isn't cookie cutter, and I don’t use checklists. The response you receive will be as unique as your own work.
The time involved to read and critique a book-length manuscript— 50,000 words (200 pages)—typical range 13-18 hours 75,000 words (300 pages)—typical range 19-24 hours 100,000 words (400 pages)—typical range 25-30 hours 125,000 words (500 pages)—typical range 31-36 hours
My fee is $100 per hour. As part of this package, after you’ve had a chance to ponder my remarks, we’ll have one hour-long phone conversation to discuss burning questions and stirring ideas.
Keep in mind, a cohesive manuscript written in a clear style will take less time to critique than one in which the author is still working to pull the story together and/or has dense, complex prose.
NOTE: If you’re trying to decide between a critique of the first 100 pages or the complete manuscript, keep this in mind. Often, a writer will tinker for months with a book’s first chapters, so those are tighter than the rest of the work. I’ve read manuscripts which started off well but began to veer off track soon after the 100 page mark. Getting comments on polished pages won’t be helpful when the remainder needs attention. Especially in early drafts, a book is still sorting out what it wants to be. The hints are scattered throughout the story, beginning to end. When I’m working with a finished draft, I look at that, along with the narrative’s arc, the structure, the way characters change, and more. Of course, there’s the option to work with me on the first 100 pages, and if you want my critique on the complete manuscript later, we can arrange that.
Developmental Editing This is for a new author who wants a mentor to assist her with another draft, a veteran who’d like to work with a colleague well versed in the challenges of revision, or someone in between who needs a guide to get a project to the next stage.
(1) I'll send you a questionnaire. You'll tell me about the story or topic you’re working on, your concerns about it, what you want me to keep in mind as I read, and your writing process.
(2) By a set deadline, you’ll send me the completed questionnaire and the full manuscript. What I outlined in the Manuscript Critique section above is what I’ll do next, with one exception. We won’t have only one conversation.
(3) After you’ve read my comments and questions, we’ll start to work together. What that looks like depends on your needs, timeline, and budget. My role is to help you reflect on, think through, and make decisions about structure, character development, plot, and any other elements which aren’t working—yet—in your project. I might also help you set writing goals or coach you through a new way of exploring your creative process. (Writers who’ve worked with me will attest I’m an adroit devil’s advocate and process adviser.) We’ll establish the terms in a contract so we both understand what’s expected. My rate will be the same, $100 per hour.
(4) If you’d like me read and comment on revised pages, I’m glad to do that. We'll set a schedule which will note when you'll submit them and when you’ll hear back from me. My hourly rate will apply.
Copyediting When a book, story, or essay is finished at last, it’s time to check grammar, spelling, punctuation, capitalization, syntax, diction, sentence clarity, and continuity. Rewriting should be minimal at this point. (Proofreading, not copyediting, is the final step before a manuscript is sent out to agents or goes to print.)
My fee for copyediting is $40 per hour. For a manuscript in decent shape, here’s an estimate of the average time it’ll take. 50,000 words (200 pages)—40 hours 75,000 words (300 pages)—60 hours 100,000 words (400 pages)—80 hours 125,000 words (500 pages)—100 hours
CONTACT ME If you’re interested in working with me, these are the next steps.
(1) Send an e-mail to rdominguewriter [at] yahoo [dot] com. Include a brief description of your project and the total word count. Also attach your manuscript’s first 25 pages.
(2) You will receive an e-mail that acknowledges I received your message.
(3) I’ll read your material and contact you again within three business days. If it looks like we’re a potential match, we’ll schedule a free, 20-minute phone conversation to talk things over.
TESTIMONIALS "One of the best things I have ever done was ask Ronlyn Domingue to edit my novel. Her feedback and observations were an invaluable second sight into my story, my writing, and myself. She has the ability to see things you haven't and is able to make you turn a fresh—yet still honest—eye to your own writing. As a result, you truly begin to see the real story lurking beneath the surface of your words. I rewrote 75% of my novel, it no longer resembles what it used to be, and because of that, I have fallen even more in love with my characters and my story. Ronlyn's critiques are never harsh, but they are firm and fair. In just a few short months after working with her and making the edits to my story, I am in awe as to how much of a better writer I have become because of her gentle guidance and critical eye. It has been such a lucky honor to have had the opportunity to work with this visionary writer and editor." —Jules Archer, author of novel-yet-untitled (***In April 2017, Jules signed with an agent at the Irene Goodman Literary Agency.)
“Ronlyn is a meticulous reader who is able to see both the big picture and the details. She understands—deeply, intuitively—how patterns of subtle particulars come together to build a whole, whether that whole is a world, a mythos, a character, or an effect. When you're not quite done figuring out a story, she has a knack for asking just the right questions to show you what is missing. She has been reading and critiquing my fiction for almost two decades. I don't know what I'd do without her critical eye.” —Mary McMyne, winner of the 2007 Faulkner Prize for a Novel in Progress and author of Wolf Skin, winner of the Elgin Chapbook Award
“Ronlyn Domingue is an incredible editor whose insights I have relied on at all stages of my novels in progress. She reads deeply, sees what you're trying to accomplish, and gives her honest and yet never soul-crushing advice for how to best achieve your goals. She sees the big picture and talks about how to create those themes specifically within the text. Her line edits tighten the piece so that it's still your voice, your words, but in sharper focus, highlighting the poetry and the movement of the story. I recommend her without hesitation, not only for manuscript editing but also for confidence building.” —Susan Henderson, author of Up from the Blue
"It is a common myth that writing is a solo endeavor. We might sit down at the page alone, but check the acknowledgments section of any novel and it becomes clear. Any successful writing project requires support. In my opinion, Ronlyn provides an entire acknowledgement page's worth of support. She has an unparalleled ability to delve into a text to help you through the central issues of storytelling. Ronlyn combines the deep work of a developmental editor with the razor-sharp skills of a copyeditor. As a result, she has been able to help me bring my visions to fruition. Many writing books can teach craft—but few people can help anchor a writer in craft and simultaneously guide a writer as he or she dives into a story. Ronlyn is one of those rare gems." —Penelope Dane, MFA, PhD, winner of the 2015 Faulkner-Wisdom Prize for an Essay and winner of the Ann Veronica Simon Dissertation Award
"Let me tell you about Ronlyn Domingue: She's the best. When I had pieces but no whole of my memoir, Ronlyn very generously and meticulously combed through all the words to find the thread and shape it. I STILL go back to the notes she wrote on my manuscript, now five years ago, despite the fact that it's gone through so many changes, it's not even the same story. But more than that, despite my unorthodox approach (mixing my father's art with my words), Ronlyn never questioned the vision, which has been the most challenging part of Living in Twilight for all wordsmiths. She critiqued well but never insensitively. One of my early readers, while skimming over her notes, said, 'My god. This is a master's class in writing.'" —Quenby Moone, author of Living in Twilight
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