Now Offering Novel Troubleshooting 03/16/21

Yesterday I was chatting with my No Country co-host Kris about my editing work. I’d been a little grumpy during the day, because recently I’ve been trying to increase my prices, and have unfortunately run into the problem that, well, a significant portion of clients don’t want to pay that much.

Fair enough! But this conflicts with my goals. I have a year-long timeline to double my income, so that Rios can quit her job and take care of the kid at home. I don’t think it’s right that I get to work from home and she has to go to some office somewhere. I mean…she carried the child.

So the options then seem to be “increase the workload” or “specialize.” I don’t want to increase the workload, because the quality of the work would almost certainly drop off a cliff. If I have three days to work on something rather than six, well, I’m going to be moving at a faster clip.

Kris suggested the “specialize” option. I like the way he thinks. Over his career, he’s been adept in selling himself to potential employers and clients, so I take his advice seriously, which can be boiled down to “You are not someone who really has the mind for the nuts and bolts aspects of copy editing and proofreading. You’re more of a developmental, big-picture guy.”

At first, this hurt my feelings, which is usually how I know something is true. I do a good job with fixing sentence structure, finding typos, fixing grammar, that kind of thing. Where Kris is correct is that I’ll never be great at that, and people pay big $$ for the things that you’re great at.

Of course he’s correct. This weekend I did a conference call with a client over his novel. We got into the subconscious psychological throughline of the book, talking specifically about the child and parent imagery that pops up throughout, and how we could add in certain scenes and bits of character development to let that thematic arc really shine. I hopped on Skype with a different client yesterday and discussed how to make a villain scarier without making them repetitively nasty, how to bring a minor character into a place of more prominence, and how to flesh out the magical system presented in the novel.

Both times, the clients were very happy with the results. Here’s what that first client said in his review:

“First class insights, articulate, good balance between general comments and concrete suggestions. Well done.”

The times that I get the most enthusiastic feedback from clients are when I’m working at a developmental level.

So that’s what I will attempt to shift into.

I sometimes joke that this job can feel like therapy, but it’s not really a joke at all. There are subconscious forces at play when people write a novel, and as an outside observer with no filter, I’m able to tease those themes out. These often lead to somewhat personal conversations. Why did the author write this? What are they trying to get across? What does all of this mean to them?

As my client said yesterday at the end of the session: “I feel much better, now.”

I’ll toss this out as an idea, just to see how it works: I’m offering a service for helping people untangle a problem in their manuscript. For $50, I’ll do a one-hour consult over Skype or Zoom about a project that you’re working on. I don’t need to know anything beforehand, although it will be helpful if you’re ready to answer some in-depth questions about why you’re working on something to begin with. I’m confident that we can get your idea into shape, and get you back into the project with renewed enthusiasm.

My price-point is based on a healthy average based on what I’ve seen for astrology and tarot consults. Chart stuff is pricey, as it should be, and tarot really runs the gamut depending on the skill of the reader. I believe in the value of both of these services, not just because they help solve problems lingering in the dark parts of the brain, but because people find value in having someone really pay attention to what they’re doing for an hour or so. It’s a healthy process. I’d like to do that for your artistic project (mainly books, but I’d be open to troubleshooting script problems, music, art, what have you…the technique is the same for all of it). Of course, I am in no ways a licensed therapist, or attempting to suggest that this is a replacement for serious help. Don’t get me wrong, here. But I do believe this is the direction I should move in, to both help people and play to my strengths as an editor.


Are you stuck at a certain point in your outline, and have no idea where to go?

Do you feel like throwing your novel away and starting all over again?

Can you just not figure out who some of your characters are?

Do you want to make your book more palatable for a wide readership? Do you want to make it less palatable? Weirder? Safer? More dangerous?

We can figure all of that out.

Credentials can be found here, and you can also book me through that site if you have a larger project, and want a more holistic deep-dive into your book.

Of course, if you need a copy edit instead, I’m not bad at that, either.

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