Latest Articles

New Edition of The Editor’s Lexicon!

I’m delighted to announce the 2nd edition of THE EDITOR’S LEXICON, a relaunch of my flagship writer’s guide in what will be a series of books aimed at helping writers put editorial feedback to work in their revisions. This one defines and explains the most common language you hear in critique letters and workshops, and it can help you become…

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Speaking Event: Diplomatic Author Queries

On Thursday 11/30 at 5:30 p.m. in the SF Library Main Branch, I’ll be sharing tips for crafting diplomatic author queries and other author-positive notes. From my experience as an editor and fiction writer, I’m looking forward to sharing insights and tools that will help fellow editors learn to apply diplomacy for best results: Building trust Encouraging authors to make…

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MFA vs. NYC, by an Editor in a Graduate Writing Program

I’ve had an unusual career progression. When my undergraduate classmates were either collecting their degrees to head straight into MFA writing programs or moving to New York to break into the publishing industry, I already knew what I wanted to do: go to Portland, work for myself. A relationship with books was mandatory, though the means to do it was…

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Infographic: Three Kinds of Writing Success

Writing Success, Defined Every author struggles for writing success on three levels: career success, project success, and process success. I’ve seen writers spend YEARS trying to create writing career success before realizing that it is mostly out of their control. If you don’t find an editor, agent, and publisher who firmly understand your goals and vision, you might be setting yourself up for failure (both real and perceived). In any case,…

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How to Use Publishers Marketplace When Querying

I often tell clients to invest $25 a month in a PublishersMarketplace.com subscription when they begin querying. Unfortunately, though, this advice isn’t as intuitive as other querying advice (e.g., read the novels the agent represents, follow the submission guidelines, follow the #MSWL or #PitMad threads on Twitter). Here is a short Publishers Marketplace tutorial on how to get the most…

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Why is hiring an editor so expensive?

When I started my business fifteen years ago, I wanted to offer really good services that I could afford. At the time, I thought $6 burritos were expensive and lived in my landlord’s attic. Small-business wisdom says that this type of thinking is a bad idea. Instead, supposedly, I should have charged as much as I possibly could. The sky’s the limit! I didn’t like…

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Threepenny Editor Annual Writing Contest: Announcing the Winner!

Congratulations, Christine Evans! This year’s contest entries were, if possible, even stronger than last year’s. It was difficult to choose just one, and I agonized for several days over the four finalists’ writing. What finally captured me was an excerpt of NADIA, Christine Evans’ novel-in-progress. NADIA is a novel of love, terror and redemption set in 1990s London. Nadia is a young refugee…

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Beats: Anatomy of a Scene’s Emotional Development

Editing is full of weird coincidences and fortuitous juxtapositions. When the same issue crops up in two or three unrelated manuscripts in a row, it’s time to take it to the blog. I’d like to deconstruct a scene and talk about beats, interior dialogue, and clarity. First, some working definitions. A beat is a minor emotional turning point in a scene between the…

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Enter the 2016-17 Free Edit Contest: Rules and Guidelines

**Update: Results will be announced on November 10, due to the high volume of excellent submissions. Stay tuned!** In honor of my business’s upcoming birthday on February 1, 2017, I am proud to offer a chance to win free novel editing from me. No strings attached–just submit your query and first two chapters by October 15, and one manuscript will win free editing services…

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What news! I’m teaching a submissions class in Oakland!

Make Your Query Letter and First Pages Pop: All About Voice (Impact Hub Oakland, Sept. 24, 2016) Agents and editors want to discover authors who write with a “fresh voice.” But what does that actually mean, and how do you add that secret ingredient to your query letter and manuscript? Join us for an interactive, high-energy three hours on Saturday,…

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