Learn to craft a great read
Don’t drain your budget on a story that’s not ready for prime time. The Plot Accelerator is a mini-developmental edit—an X-ray of the bones of your novel.
Monthly or weekly coaching gives you the accountability and support you need to complete your book on time and prevent story drift as you write.
Give your manuscript the professional polish it deserves. Prepare your book for publication with developmental, substantive, or line editing.
A mini edit, series checkup, or manuscript evaluation are affordable ways to make sure your story’s on track without the expense of a full edit.
Envision your story with clarity
Authors of commercial fiction, you've come to the right place for support. If you plan to self-publish, I’ll help you figure out who your readers are and how to make your story connect with them. If you'll be pitching to an agent, I'll help you tune your manuscript to publishing industry standards and expectations for your genre.
Whether you’re an emerging writer still assembling your toolkit of storytelling techniques or a seasoned author seeking to solidify your voice, my services are designed to lend clarity to your creative vision.
"(Lisa's) the real deal. Simply awesome. In the last six months, I have learned so much. And more than that, the voice inside my head has changed her tune. Now I hear, 'You're going to do this.'"—Emile Horne
"You need a great and wonderful editor to enhance and embolden the story; I found that with Lisa."—Troy Christensen
"She totally understood that this novel is my baby, my first baby, and when we disagreed, which we did a couple of times, we worked together to find a good solution that we were both happy with. We worked together to make my book better."—Sara Stark
Do you need help developing your story?
A seasoned editor to polish your writing?
A coach to help you sort out your ideas and see the big picture?
My work is designed to help you unlock the writing and storytelling techniques you’ll need to make your novel a compelling read. It’s your writing, but fresher. Your book, but better.
Clarity: Tools & Skills for Authors
Writing a series is standard operating procedure for self-published authors who are seeking to pad their catalogs. The formula is simple: stretch a story concept across two, three, four books or more, and voilà—you’re a multi-title author with a respectable little catalog to your name. (Here’s how that works.) But tackling a series is a Read more about Series Writing 101: Resources for planning and writing a series[…]
If you’ve never used Microsoft Word’s Track Changes feature before, the idea of getting your manuscript back from an editor filled with all sorts of lines and squiggles you have to do something to in order to keep your novel from plummeting precipitously through a fiery ring of digital destruction and disappearing into the black Read more about Updated: Author’s Survival Guide to Track Changes[…]
Do you know your business? It’s all very romantic to claim that as a novelist, you’re a creative spirit with no head for the mundanities of business and marketing. The truth is that no agent or publisher wants to work with a clueless aspirant, and no self-published title will make it without an understanding of Read more about More reasons novelists should be reading[…]
Why does your editor keep changing grey to gray in your book? You like the way grey looks. It’s listed in Merriam-Webster as a “variant spelling of GRAY”—that makes it legit, right? Unfortunately, mixing American vs. British English doesn’t work that way. For an everyday Joe, mixing English usage from all parts of the world Read more about Mixed Signals: Why you shouldn’t mix British and American English in your novel[…]
If only it were practical to hire an editor to “give everything a quick once-over—and let me know if you spot any plot holes along the way.” The problem is that different types of editing zero in on entirely different areas of your book. Asking an editor to combine edits and multitask their way through Read more about Can you combine types of editing to save money?[…]
The gestation period of a nascent novelist is ridiculously lengthy. Turning out enough practice novels to effectively grasp the form demands more time and patience than many aspiring authors are willing to give. What if you could accelerate the learning curve with one-on-one feedback from an editor or writing coach? You can—if you come into Read more about Improve Your Writing: How a growth mindset changes everything[…]
Nothing revs my editorial engines higher than a new way of explaining a storytelling or writing technique. My family gets put out with my workaholic ways when they find me curled up on the weekend with my craft book TBR (to be read) pile instead of a “recreational” fiction title. (Shh, don’t tell them I’m Read more about Author’s Reading List: Recommended craft titles for fiction writers[…]
Your editor is more than a nameless someone who “checks your work.” Whether you write as a creative outlet or a tolerable way of making some money, you deserve a compatible editor who connects with what you’re all about. You deserve an editor who gets you, who gets your work, and who lifts up what Read more about Find a compatible editor who fits your style[…]
It’s 10:00 p.m. Do you know where your manuscript is? It’s like being trapped in a replay loop of the old TV public service announcement reminding parents the kids should be home for the evening, safe and sound—only this time, it’s your manuscript you’re worried about. You sent your baby to the editor a week Read more about Progress Reports: What’s happening during your edit?[…]
If you clicked on this article hoping to finally figure out the difference between line editing and copyediting, allow me to break it to you: there are no industry-wide definitions of editing types that everyone agrees on. This isn’t just a situation of traditional publishers calling certain editing one thing and self-publishers calling it another. Read more about Types of Editing: A Practical Guide[…]
Everyone has an opinion about whether you should get professional editing before querying agents with your manuscript. There’s the story about the agent who turned down the author once he found out someone else had edited the manuscript. There’s the story about the agent who claims she no longer reads sloppy manuscripts because she gets Read more about Should you get professional editing before querying agents?[…]
When you’re eager to see your book in print, it’s tempting to look for an editor who can promise your manuscript back in just weeks or even days. Buyer beware: Do the math. If an editor promises to turn your manuscript around in little more than the time it takes to read your book, you should wonder Read more about How long does professional editing take?[…]
Oh, no … You didn’t just ask your spouse, your mom, or your best friend to read your book and tell you what they think, did you? Every author needs test readers—impartial, unbiased test readers. As much as your squad may want to help, beta reading is one area where friends and family don’t qualify. Read more about The quick and easy guide to using beta readers[…]
One of the most insidious ways to hamstring yourself on the way to publishing your first novel is to be overly cautious about sticking your head out of your shell. When you hide your writing until you’re “ready,” nine times out of ten, it means you’re hiding from feedback. Sorry I had to call it Read more about How critique and feedback help your book[…]
The first thing you’ll discover when you’re ready to hire an editor is just how many people offer editorial services. There are editors for your story and editors to catch your typos. There are editors who contract with publishing companies and editors who moonlight. What sort of editor do you need? How can you find Read more about The author’s guide to finding and hiring an editor[…]
Can you imagine the extradimensional bliss of watching your book become the next hot thing? While many authors dream of being the next Mark Dawson or Hugh Howey, in our hearts, we all know how rare that kind of success really is. But while the common wisdom tells us to shoot for the top, planning Read more about What are your publishing goals?[…]
Editors have a reputation for wanting to keep their work behind the scenes. Even the freedom of self-publishing authors to generously acknowledge and credit their editors’ contributions hasn’t done much to change that. Why are editors so darn sensitive about being credited in print? You might think an acknowledgment or credit line would be universally Read more about Should you credit your editor in print?[…]
Do you know what’s hot in your genre right now? What are fans reading more of? What are they reading less of? Whether or not you consider your book “like” the bestsellers, today’s hot titles are what your book will be competing against. Even if you don’t buy a copy to see what they’re like, Read more about 10 kinds of books authors should be reading right now[…]
As an aspiring author, you probably always pictured yourself tucked away somewhere cozy for long stretches of intense writing and then kicking up your heels afterwards in an explosion of creative renewal. What you probably didn’t expect was the everyday routine of reading and writing. Welcome to life as a working author. Writing professionally means Read more about The two things authors should do every day[…]
It’s never too soon to start using good file naming habits. When your whole story lies ahead of you, it’s easy to naively assume you’ll start with TheGirlWiththeFuzzyManuscript_Orig, then go to FuzzyGirl_Revised, and maybe finish with TGWTFM_BetaFeedback. What you may not have counted on are the dozen variations of your book now nesting inside your Read more about File name conventions that keep track of your revisions[…]
What makes up an author’s writing style? You’d think it would be skillful writing. But all too often, authors are told weak writing habits are excusable—and sometimes even worthy of acclaim—because they represent hallmarks of the author’s individuality and style. Don’t be fooled by such shenanigans. Spare us the tired tales of how This Bestselling Read more about Writing Style: What it is—and what it isn’t[…]
No author wants spend time changing a bunch of commas in their manuscript—except when the editor recommends deep changes, at which point changing commas is often all you feel capable of doing. Every writer feels the sting of opening a document file filled with red ink. But when the entire editing process becomes a battle Read more about How to handle editing and feedback on your novel[…]
Ah yes, the stony gray wall of revision. It stares you down with the same inscrutable gaze of a blinking cursor on a blank page. How on earth should you begin? You start rereading your manuscript. Something’s misfiring; you can hear it, but darned if you know what it is. Meanwhile, you fiddle with the Read more about How to revise the early drafts of your novel[…]
If you could only afford one round of editing, should you choose developmental editing or copyediting? Developmental (content) editing ensures that your story is strong and vital. Copyediting (or line editing) crosses all the t’s and dots all the i’s. A purchase-worthy book needs both—but whether you’re hoping to be picked up by a publishing Read more about Developmental editing vs. copyediting—which do you need most?[…]
So you’ve had your manuscript professionally edited. That decision marks you as an author who understands self-publishing means assuming responsibility for professional-quality editing and revision. Great start! But the finish line is still quite a long, dusty trek ahead. While your budget may still be stinging from editing—it’s one of the biggest costs of your Read more about 3 ways to waste good writing and editing[…]
New authors often assume that self-publishing a book means doing everything themselves. Nothing could be further from the truth, and that all becomes evident during editing and revision. Successful self-published authors know the value of putting together their own team of editorial professionals. Every step in the revision process represents another chance to achieve a Read more about The editing and revision process for self-publishers[…]
You’ve poured your heart and soul into your manuscript, and you’ve taken it as far as you can on your own. Now it’s time to widen the circle of your publishing team with a critique. Whether you’re sending your manuscript to an agent or self-publishing the title yourself, professional-quality publishing means putting your work in Read more about Where to find writing critique partners and groups[…]
Track Changes—a fate worth than death? Though revising an edit full of tracked changes and comments can seem utterly intimidating the first time, a few simple guidelines will keep you safe and sound. Truth be told, thanks to this guide, I haven’t lost an author to Track Changes yet. You too can emerge unscathed—and with Read more about The Author’s Survival Guide to Track Changes[…]
There’s an assumption among many writers that writing rules and outlines are pinched, mean things that constrain creativity and the flow of literary ideas. Writing blogs advise authors to flout conventional grammar and aim for a free, contemporary style. Authors fling pantsed manuscripts at their editors only to discover there’s a dropped plot line and Read more about Why writing rules and outlining won’t squelch your creativity[…]
Finding the right editor means opening a conversation you hope turns into a long, creative relationship with a like-minded lover of books. You’ll be asking prospective editors questions that tell you if they have the professional background and approach you want for your book—and they’ll be looking for something similar from you. Who are you as Read more about How to introduce your book to a prospective editor[…]
New authors often wonder why they can’t skip paying for a professional editor and crowdsource their editing instead among volunteer readers. Or what about using that neighbor who’s a retired English teacher? She says she’d only charge $200 to edit your entire book. Couldn’t you save big money with crowdsourced editing? You could—but you wouldn’t be Read more about Should you use volunteers to proofread your book?[…]
As an emerging author, you may be frustrated to discover that you shouldn’t follow the lead of experienced authors when it comes to your editing budget and saving money on editing. The editing needs of seasoned authors are much different from those of new authors. Writers at earlier stages of their careers need strong developmental Read more about 10 ways to save money on editing[…]
One of the top reasons authors give for self-publishing is the speed with which they can bring their books to publication. Gone are the endless publishing house production cycles that can keep books in limbo for years on end. Control is back in your hands. That’s the good news. The bad news is virtually the Read more about How far ahead should you schedule your edit?[…]
You just clicked Save on your manuscript file in preparation for sending it off for a sample edit. The thing is, the prospective editor has asked you to send the entire manuscript. All you need is a tiny sample edit. Why would an editor ask to see your whole manuscript? Could this unknown editor be Read more about Should you send your whole manuscript to a prospective editor?[…]
This post has been moved to a new permanent page. If you are not automatically redirected, please click here to visit the new page. Once your book is edited, where can you turn for reliable advice on the next steps in the publishing process? My favorite publishing resources for authors include books and articles on Read more about Best publishing resources for authors[…]
What is the price of perfection? When you pay for professional editing, shouldn’t you be assured that your book will be error-free? Accuracy rates for professional editors today are quite high. Yet language and the art of writing don’t lend themselves to a strictly formulaic approach. Reader-reported errors and fumbles that creep in during revisions Read more about Why did the editor miss errors in your book?[…]
What’s the best way to revise your own copy? How do you know what kind of editing you need? What mistakes do editors find most often in manuscripts from first-time authors? How can you make your protagonist seem more relatable and sympathetic? Ask professional fiction editors (not acquisitions editors from publishing companies) your burning Read more about Ask an Editor: Live on Facebook, 2 p.m. March 15[…]
Bad news: You just got your manuscript back from the editor, and your computer has collapsed in a pique. Every time you open the document, Microsoft Word stalls out. The only thing still moving is your cursor, which is chasing its tail like an eternal puppy. How can you process your revisions if you can’t Read more about Help! My edit is choking my computer![…]
If you’re like many writers, your monitor is a veritable porcupine of sticky notes, many of them warning you away from the clichés your beta readers and editor have called you out on again and again: Her heart pounded as his hand slid up the side of her neck. She took a deep breath and Read more about Cliché Killer: Stop playing the organ[…]
What if I told you there was a writing tool that could help you nail your final draft, slash time and effort off the front of the editing process, and set up your novel for acceptance by an agent or publisher? Such a beast really does exist, and it’s something you already know you’ll need Read more about The secret to nailing your final draft[…]
Nothing makes an editor sadder than slogging through an edit on a manuscript that isn’t ready yet. I don’t want you to pay me for a service your manuscript isn’t ready to receive. Really. As exciting as it feels to move one step closer to publication, remember that there’s a lot of work that needs Read more about Is your manuscript ready for editing?[…]
After the long grind of writing, revisions, and editing, you’re undoubtedly eager to reclaim your free time or move on to the next creative project. Create that time by stepping up your game with simple tools to help you generate queries efficiently and professionally. Now that you’ve entered the publishing market with your book, you’re Read more about Streamline your queries with Canned Responses[…]
Chapter length is more a matter of rhythm and consistency than hard numbers. Chapters that are exceptionally long or short in relation to the rest of your chapters change the flow of your book in ways you might not have considered. Super-short chapters act like flags to readers. It’s like the tight, gathered stance and Read more about How long should your chapters be?[…]
Before you hire me as your editor, I like to open the conversation with an initial consultation. This free consultation is like a first meeting with a new attorney or accountant. You get a chance to explain your goals and concerns, and I can look at your manuscript in enough depth to see if I’m the best Read more about 7 ways to evaluate a sample edit[…]
Working your way through revisions? Please see my updated Track Changes Guide. Your edited manuscript is back! It’s time to incorporate the edits. Track Changes can seem intimidating to work with the first time, but once you get comfortable with it, you’ll wonder how you ever managed notes, edits, and revisions without it. Here are Read more about How to use MS Word Track Changes with your edited manuscript[…]
The End. Most authors heave a sigh of relief when they type those two words. Sure, they’ll need to read through everything again, and they’d like to give their manuscript to a few friends to read. But the editor is going to be doing the heavy lifting from here on out, right? The gritty truth is Read more about How to prepare for and revise after your edit[…]
Choosing an editor for your manuscript shouldn’t leave you feeling as if you were clinging to a plank over a sea of unknown terrors. Even first-time authors with no connections can build a respectable short list of editorial contenders by examining basics like budget and background. From there, you’re just a few steps away from Read more about How to hire an editor for your novel[…]