Editing Services

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The Services I Offer

I do two types of edit.

The BIG PICTURE EDIT is ideal for the first draft, where structural changes that could improve the work can still be considered. I'll look at every way in which the story could be improved. This is an overview of the whole work: structure, themes, plot, pacing, characterisation, tone, reader engagement, and character development. This is often referred to as developmental, literary or structural editing. At this macro level the story as a whole is the main focus.

The POLISHING EDIT is for a work that is structurally complete, but where it could be improved stylistically, at the sentence and word level. I suggest removal of unnecessary words, sentence constructions and restructuring, passive voice, flag up overused words and phrases and suggest alternatives. My last novel was around a 100,000 words - I ended up cutting 1,500 words via this process, and polishing the rest substantially. No story element was lost or changed, it was just a process to make it shine, so the end result is tighter, with better flow. This enables us to focus on the nitty gritty: work on language, readability, dialogue, grammar, spelling, style, consistency, voice, imagery, and presentation, along with any typographical errors. So this includes elements of proofreading and copyediting. At this micro level the individual words used to tell the story are the main focus.

These two edits never occur at the same time. If we are looking at an early draft that could change a lot - the BIG PICTURE EDIT - there is no point tweaking at the sentence level and correcting typos when it is probably going to change (though I will flag up any common errors or quirks as I spot them). If we are looking at an almost finished work then there is no point considering how it could be restructured and rewritten - which is why we then focus on a POLISHING EDIT instead.

NEW! Sometimes you don't want a full edit, you just need a bit of advice from a fellow author. In that case you might want to consider my Creative Questions service.

Further Details About Editing In General

We all need help with our writing, and bringing our vivid imaginings to life on the page. We've been so close to a project, for so long, that it is hard to see it with objective eyes.

I mark up the text itself to identify errors and improvements relating to the areas above. Along the way I'll identify general strengths and weaknesses in the story and your writing, and highlight any areas where more work might be required. Here are some further examples of things I consider while reading.

After making any suggested changes you agree with, and rewriting where required, the book would still need a final proofread (ideally from a fresh pair of eyes). Why? Because editors can't throw out extraneous characters, or add in a subplot, or come up with a different opening or ending. It's the editor's job to make suggestions and give pointers on how to do it, but the final decision and work is the author's job. And that's why one editor can't do everything - this is not a "final" edit, because you'll make changes after that, which may well introduce new errors and create a new version of the document.

Although no creative work can ever be perfect, I guarantee that my contributions will improve your novel or short stories. Your book deserves that.


£5.50 per 1,000 words, regardless of which service you choose (since, in my experience, reading a book and marking it up and making suggestions takes around the same amount of time whether I am copyediting or substantive editing). For a new client this would work out at £385 for a novel of 70,000 words.

Note that you have the option of paying me to edit part of a book instead of the whole work, or doing it in sections. For example, since openings are so important, I could edit the first 10,000 words. That would give you a lot to think about that you could probably apply across the whole book, or in future works, and you'd still have the option of having me look over another 10,000 words later (which you could have revised and improved based on my previous comments).


If you want to discuss things in advance then send details of your work (synopsis or description) and a sample to: karl@karldrinkwater.uk

I'll reply as soon as possible, and if I am available to do editorial work I'll read the first five pages and give you some feedback for free, so you can see the kind of things I spot and whether my editorial work will be useful to you. We can take it from there if you'd like me to work on your full manuscript.

If you prefer to just dive straight in, then decide which service you want, work out how much the editing will be (basic rate x how many thousands of words). If unsure, just email me!

Why Choose Me?

As a fellow practitioner, I know the work involved with editing or rewriting a novel, and even restructuring to enhance the story and themes. My own work goes through this process several times, so I am fully versed with the combined pain and pleasure involved.

My background has always revolved around communication and language. My first degree was in English and Classics (BA First Class); my second was an MSc in Information Studies. As well as being an author and editor, I've had a career as a university librarian specialising in information literacy. I also run creative writing sessions.

I've helped a number of authors improve their work (see testimonials below), and done appraisals of manuscripts for small publishers and independent authors. I've been a member of the Society for Editors and Proofreaders, and undertaken one of the Publishing Training Centre courses. My bookshelf is crammed with style guides, dictionaries, books on writing and copy-editing, Hart's Rules etc. Yes, I really do read all this stuff for pleasure! I'm also involved with professional organisations such as the Horror Writers Association and the Alliance of Independent Authors. I have also judged writing competitions such as the BBC’s 500 Words, and chaired a jury in the Bram Stoker Awards. In recent years I have done creative writing teaching and one-to-one fiction support, for example as part of the High Street Multiverse project in Dumfries, or my WRITE! sessions.

See all my blog posts about writing, such as 13 Tips For Writers, or Dear New Author. I also recommend reading my article Ways To Polish Your Manuscript (with tips on self-editing prior to sending work to an editor), and Tips For Working With Editors (advice that can save you time and money, and help find an editor that is a better fit for your work).

Lastly: I won't beat around the bush. I'll tell you when things aren't working, and suggest ways to improve them.


"There were so many of your suggestions that not only made it to the final book, but made it a much better novel, and they were things I could never have done on my own. Honestly, you made it the book it was always meant to be."
-- Em Dehaney, author of The Searcher Of The Thames and Ten Minute Warning

"Karl's notes on my short story enabled me to see elements I could improve as well as reinforcing those that were working. I would highly recommend his advice to any writer seeking to further their craft."-- Cameron Phillips, an author I worked with on the High Street Multiverse project

"Karl didn't just read my novel, he digested it and let it ruminate. Alongside the typos and notes on inconsistencies you'd expect, he got to grips with the inner workings of my book. His thoughts on my use of coincidence and on plot reveal tactics were particularly helpful as they made made me think about why I'd used certain devices and where they might need clarifying. He also pointed out when he liked a particular turn of phrase - which is an enormous boost to a writer when they're lined up to take criticism of their manuscript! The best testimonial I can give Karl is that I will be using his services again for my second novel."
-- Sarah Marie Graye, author of The Second Cup

"I was lucky enough to win a sample 5000 word edit just before Christmas. It was so thorough I went the whole hog and had the WIP done, and can recommend his fast, efficient, flexible service (even though I'm now on rewrite #1000 and contemplating the murder of several dear-to-me characters). Also very reasonable rates! Look Karl, no ellipses or rhetorical questions. That admonishment has stayed firmly in my head ever since!"
-- Jessica Norrie, author of The Magic Carpet and The Infinity Pool

"Wow, thank you so much for your swift and professional turnaround! I can’t wait to implement your suggested changes - starting tomorrow :-) Your feedback and insight have been great! A million thanks again for all your amazing work. I hope you don’t mind that I have sneaked you into my Acknowledgements?"
-- M.P. Tonnesen, author of The Cosmopolitan Islander and Desert Skies, Rebel Souls

"Karl Drinkwater did a great edit on my novel, going well beyond my expectations of a line edit into much deeper territory. I'll be spending a few weeks on it once I've finished the first draft of my next novel as I don't want to lose momentum on that (which I'll also hopefully be sending to him, if he's not sick of my stuff by then!)"
-- Ed Ryder, author of In Vitro Lottery and Jack Gilmour: Wish Lawyer

"Karl's insight has been tremendously useful. He helped me polish the opening chapters of my novel (currently on submission with agents) and critiqued and edited one of my short stories. He also shared several resources with me on improving dialogue. With Karl, you get an editor who understands writing and an author who understands storytelling. His knowledge shows in his thoughtful and considered suggestions. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend Karl, and also to use his services in the future."
-- Amy Kitcher, author of Blood Will Tell and First Blood

"Karl did a close reading of my novel and sent back a list of typos, inconsistencies and plot queries which a team of editors and proofreaders had missed. Incredibly impressed. He will be my first line of defense on any future work."
-- Leonora Meriel, author of The Woman Behind the Waterfall and The Unity Game

"A very special big THANK YOU! I am very grateful for your advice and appreciate the time you put in to help me. It's impossible for one person to catch everything, so having an extra pair of eyes on my work was useful, along with the tips and links you shared. The editing you did was amazing and thorough. Thanks again Karl, love your work!"
-- Kitty Boyes, author of numerous novels, short stories, children's books and non-fiction books

"Thank you for the quick turn around, your comments were exactly what I was hoping to receive - critical feedback."
-- L.B. Stimson, author of Redwood

"Absolutely love Karl's editing; honest, clear, and often with a touch of humor that kept the dark clouds of editing away. I had completed two books with several editorial passes each with another wonderful editor but having fresh eyes checking the final manuscript truly gave them the finishing polish they needed, and gave me the extra boost in confidence to move on to the next step in marketing to brick and mortar book stores and libraries. I look forward to working with Karl on my next book."
-- Savanna Redman, author of Butterfly Bones; The Dream Journal of Amanda J. Wilde; The Goddess Colorizing Journal

"You went above and beyond with your analysis."
-- John A. Galeotto, author of Something Wicked

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Editing Services

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I want this!