Content Editing by Susan Bischoff

You put your heart and soul into your writing–and probably the odd tear or two. You want to put the best product you can into the marketplace. The best part about my job is finding the good in stories and seeing how they can be even better. My clients want their stories to shine. They want to give their readers a book worth talking about, and an experience that makes them long for the next story. They have high standards for their work, and they’re not just interested in selling the next book, but also in developing as writers and building careers.

The world of editing can be confusing. Everyone’s a little bit different. I want you to feel clear and confident about your direction and your decisions, so I’m going to provide you with All The Information.

Fire Wee About Me

I am primarily a Romance person. As of this writing (May 2019) I have one RITA® award winning novel (Kait Nolan’s SECOND CHANCE SUMMER, 2018), and one RITA® award finalist (Tawna Fenske’s SERGEANT SEXYPANTS, 2019) to my editing credit. So proud of those amazing women and the work they do.

I love all manner of Romance, and like to really focus in on helping you develop the emotional elements, and live up the high expectations of the genre. To keep my skills sharp for the broad range of what now falls under the Romance umbrella, I read widely within the genre, as well as outside of it, and also study popular movies and television. While Romance is my specialty, I can also read your manuscripts in fantasy, science fiction, thriller, horror, etc.

I read all maturity levels of work and have no issues with adult language, sexually explicit content, or graphic violence, though I may raise questions about the suitability of the content with regard to its intended audience.

I always try to appreciate an author’s unique voice and style. I take characterization into consideration, especially when reading dialogue, and avoid correcting grammar when errors suit the character’s style. If I make suggestions as to style, they often come from the standpoint of easing or clarifying the reading experience for the intended audience. It is up to the author whether or not to carry out any advice given.

I critique the work; I don’t judge authors. Everyone–everyone–makes mistakes, loses sight of what they meant to do, thinks they put things on the page that were oh-so-clear in their heads. It’s part of being a human writer, and there is never a need to embarrassed, or to feel like you need to offer up excuses when you get critical feedback. I’m here to point out things you missed, because a novel is a huge, complex, living thing, and because you know too much about your world and are not objective. Everything I do is with that understanding, and with the utmost respect for what you were brave enough to share with me and the world.

It’s not all about what’s wrong or what needs to be fixed. I love to talk about the things you’re doing right. Ideally, this is just the beginning of our relationship, one in which I’m going to help you put out better books, sure, but I also want to help you become the writer you were meant to be. I want to point out those things you already do well, and encourage you to do more of that, on purpose.

And, be warned: I like to have fun with it. Sometimes I like to talk back to you or your characters, or inject questionable humor into my comments.

Fire Wee Content and Line Edit

  • This is not your first draft.
  • You feel fairly confident that the basics of the story are solid, and you’re looking to polish it up.
  • You want to combine:
    • an objective reading of the story’s content aspects
    • plus a line edit to address an unclear, clumsy, or repetitive language

Click here for more about the Content and Line Edit.

Fire Wee Developmental Edit

  • This is for rough drafts which are more “work in progress.” Possibly a story where you know “something’s off,” or if you’re the type of writer who prefers intermediate guidance in the process.
  • I like completed drafts where I can see the whole story you have planned, but this can also be for those occasions when you can’t figure out how the story ends. Perhaps where you’ve made notes about your ideas for the end.
  • This is for big picture story structure stuff, where you may be looking to make big revisions in areas like pacing, characterization, character arc, adding or tracking a subplot, deepening emotion, etc.
  • Because the words on the page are very likely to change in revision, line editing is not included.

Click here for more about the Developmental Edit.

Fire Wee  First Chapters Critique

  • Do you need to know if your early chapters hook the reader? Or why they don’t?
  • This is for
    • finished works
    • final drafts
    • prior published work (indie, with access to make changes)
    • submissions to an agent or editor while the rest of the manuscript is in progress

Click here for more about First Chapters Critique.

Fire Wee  Outlines/Synopses

  • You want someone to look for holes in your plot before you fall into them.
  • You want someone to ask you questions to help you develop some of your ideas.

Click here for more about Outline/Synopsis Critique.

Fire Wee What I Do Not Do
  • I do not draft rewrites. While I will make suggestions to replace a word or phrase here and there, I do not rewrite sections of manuscript.
  • I do not walk an author through the revision process. For a complicated revision, I will often make suggestions as to how I would approach it, but I don’t, for example, provide a fresh outline for your revision.
  • I do not do second pass edits, meaning: I do not read rewritten sections of the work after the critique. The exception to this is when an author and I both agree to enter into a second contract for a completed revision.
  • I do not check facts. If something strikes me as questionable, I will certainly raise the question in the critique, but it is up to the author to research the answer. For example, if a phrase used by a character in the past feels too modern to me, I will point it out. It is up to the author to research the origin of the phrase and discover that it didn’t exist until 50 years after her story is set.
  • I do not proofread. Okay, I do, but only because I can’t help myself. You will probably find punctuation suggestions in your critique, but it’s not what I’m hiring on for or within the scope of the edit.
  • I do not argue points with authors. I make suggestions based on my own reactions. If something wasn’t clear to me, you now have to opportunity to clarify it for the next reader. Or to choose not to.
  • I don’t judge. Everyone makes mistakes, and it’s my job to point those out. I never want my authors to feel embarrassed, threatened, or apologetic. That’s not what this relationship is about.
  • I don’t rubber stamp. Even if a manuscript is “good enough to hit publish,” I still feel like it’s my job to find ways it could be better. I try to be clear about when I feel changes are necessary vs. merely recommended. Whether you want to do that extra work is your decision to make for yourself, based on your own goals.

Fire Wee Why You Might Need Me

  • Your friends are too nice
    • Sometimes friends make the worst beta readers. If your main source of feedback is people who like you, who are too nice, or too worried about offending you to be critical of your work, you may find my work helpful. I am nice, I swear! But I know that sometimes the kindest thing is to help someone move forward by giving frank and honest feedback.
  • Your friends don’t understand what you do
    • Similar to the previous situation, if you write romance and your friends all read sci-fi, maybe they just don’t get it. Or maybe they’re just not writers, and they do things like correct the grammar in the dialogue of your characters who are supposed to have bad grammar. (Doesn’t that drive you nuts?)
  • You’ve grown beyond your critique group
    • It’s not that you have a huge ego, you genuinely have a better handle on this stuff than the people you’re working with. They’re not giving you what you need.
    • When you trade work with others, you feel like you’re pouring effort and value into your critiques and getting little back.
    • You’re feeling desperate for feedback that actually helps.
  • You feel like there’s something wrong, but you can’t put your finger on it.
    • I live to point out what’s wrong! Okay, that sounded bad. But it’s my job. And I’m good it.
  • You know your manuscript is flawed, but you can’t figure out what to do about it.
    • Most people don’t like being told they have a lot of work to do, and not getting any helpful directions on how to do it. I know I don’t. As much as I can, I try to pair criticism with suggestion.
  • You’re ready to take your writing to a new level.
    • I believe three important keys to developing writing talent are
      • reading a lot
      • writing a lot
      • getting helpful feedback
    • I love to teach, and try to include explanations of my reactions as a reader, as well as sharing lessons from my study of the craft.

I want to help you make your book the best it can be, but more than that, I want to help make you a better writer with every manuscript you finish.

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Whew, that was a lot. But it’s a big decision. I get that.

Need more?

Fire Wee More information about process of booking your edit.

Fire Wee Check out what my clients have to say on our Testimonials page.

Fire Wee Check out my current Pricing and Discounts.

Fire Wee See my available slots on Calendly.

If you have questions for me, or if you’re just information-gathering at this time, feel free to use my contact form.

I look forward to meeting you and reading your stories.

Susan Bischoff
Content Editor, The Forge Book Finishers
Gallup-Certified Strength Coach, The Better-Faster Academy
Author, The Story Toolkit

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