Manuscript Coaching with Steph
"Working with Steph has been a game-changer. Her developmental feedback
is absolutely unparalleled." —Noelle W. Ihli, Bestselling Author of Run on Red
Calling all horror, psychological or suspense thriller writers! If you’re looking for help shaping your finished manuscript into something readers will freaking devour, I’m here to help.
WARNING: Before you proceed, you need to know that my services are centered around shaping a novella or novel to market. In other words, a page-turning, binge-worthy book that will reach as many readers as possible (and will have people losing their minds on Booktok and Bookstagram).
Here’s how you’ll know I’m your gal:
You have a clearly defined genre and sub-genre.
You have a complete manuscript.
You’re planning to query agents, self-publish, or you're looking to submit to one of the many amazing small presses.
You’re not writing splatterpunk or extreme horror. I love these as a reader, but I’m less familiar with their subgenre expectations.
You’re open to honest feedback. I’m kind, and will tell you what I love, but I am blunt with suggestions for revision.
I’m a hybrid author myself, and am in total favor of all the paths up the publishing mountain. My objective is to get your manuscript in the most readable, sellable state possible, no matter what your next steps are.
Services I Offer:
The Gut Check: $500
I’ll read through the first 10% of your story. AKA, the crucial part of the book where readers (or an agent!) will decide they’re your biggest fan—or DNF.
(Nerd alert: I’m getting excited just thinking about the possibility of reading your pages. I live for this. It’s second only to writing my own books.)
I’ll give feedback in your Google doc in the form of clarifying questions, comments about where I’m tempted to skim (areas you might consider cutting/tightening), and where I’m reading fast (so you know what’s absolutely working!). You can use these suggestions as editorial feedback to revise and apply to the rest of your manuscript if you want to. Basically, I’ll sleuth out ways for you to make your opening sing.
At this level, I’ll evaluate overall story structure including, but not limited to:
POV narration (Tense, POV breaks, etc.)
Emotional connection with characters
Strength of opening
Strength of chapter endings
Brief evaluation of pacing
This will take me 3-5 days from when we schedule your submission.
The Gut Check + The Whole Banana: $2,000
This is The Gut Check with a follow-up read of the entire manuscript. It’s a two-part process. When I’m done reading your pages (first 10%), you’ll revise your entire manuscript based on my suggestions. Then you’ll resubmit the manuscript and I’ll give your whole baby The Gut Check treatment, and then some.
This includes The Gut Check:
POV narration: Tense, POV breaks, etc.
Emotional connection with characters
Strength of opening
Strength of chapter endings
At this level, I’ll also evaluate:
Pacing, in much more depth
Character arcs and tips for increasing emotional interiority
Making sure you’re hitting genre beats
Subgenre and Tropes: I’ll offer tips and feedback for hitting reader expectations for genre. This is one of the holy grails of writing to-market.
The Gut Check portion will take me 3-5 days from when we schedule your submission. Then we’ll calendar a time for you to submit for The Whole Banana. I will have it back to you 2-3 weeks after you submit the second time.
The Gut Check + The Whole Banana + Shit Gets Real: $3,500
A two-part process where I evaluate your first 10%, then you revise and resubmit, just like the level prior. But at this level, as I’m doing The Whole Banana, I’ll spend more time on a deeper dive into your story. This is essentially a developmental edit.
In addition to everything included with The Gut Check and The Whole Banana, I’ll also evaluate and make suggestions for your story at the line level. This is where we get more into the prose aspect of the manuscript. When we’re done here, the story will be ready either for beta readers or a final proofread, depending on your process.
This includes The Gut Check, The Whole Banana, plus, I’ll evaluate your manuscript at the line level, including but not limited to:
Eliminating over-usage of certain words
Creating variety in sentence length
Proper register for characters (varying voice)
Suggestions for moving sections around and tightening prose to improve story flow
This level also includes one optional 30-minute Zoom meeting to discuss any questions you have about the suggestions I made. We can do this after the initial Gut Check, or at the end of my evaluation. Your choice!
The Gut Check portion will take me 3-5 days from when we schedule your submission. Then we will calendar a time for you to submit again. On the second pass I will do The Whole Banana and Shit Gets Real. I will have it back to you one month after you submit the second time.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Can I get just The Whole Banana?
A: You don’t want it. Most structural problems I find in the first 10% of the novel are repeated throughout. This results in very little benefit to the writer because I’m just repeating the same suggestions. Also, it gives you the opportunity to apply what I’ve suggested across your whole manuscript, forcing me to look more deeply for ways to polish it. Every time a manuscript is polished (by you or by an editor), it’s closer to being ready for a reader to consume. The cleaner it is, the more you’ll get out of an editor. (This truth applies whether or not you work with me.) I want you to get your money’s worth, and that’s why I don’t offer a whole manuscript read without first doing a quick review of the opening.
Q: Can I get just one aspect of any of these levels? (Shit Gets Real without The Whole Banana, etc.)
A: No. Of course you can get any level by itself (just The Gut Check, for example). But I can't mix and match. They all build on each other and I don’t think my brain could do one ahead of the other. It might explode.
Q: Do you offer coaching for short stories?
A: Not currently. I feel my expertise lies with longer-form fiction, although I have experience giving short-story feedback and reading slush for pro-market magazines and anthologies.
Q: Will you evaluate my literary or fantasy or sci-fi or crime or…novel?
A: Again, you don’t want me to. I’m not an expert in those genres and you’re better off hiring someone who is.
Q: What about YA or Middle Grade horror novels? Do you take those?
A: No. My expertise is with adult fiction.
Q: My manuscript straddles multiple genres, but it’s mostly horror (or thriller). Can I hire you?
A: If it straddles only horror and thriller, yes, because that’s what I write and I understand the genre expectations. If it straddles anything else, no. Again, I’m not an expert in those genres, and my focus is on helping writers shape their manuscript into something that will not just be publishable, but sell. So I’m not really looking at the beauty or art of the thing (although I’m certain if you wrote it, that’s all there in spades). My goal is helping you get your manuscript to fit reader expectations so it’ll sell.
Q: Do you offer proofreading?
A: No. And at The Gut Check level, I’m going to overlook all of your typos too. At this point, what I offer doesn’t include detailed grammar edits or proofreading in the sense of a final polish at any level, although at The Whole Banana level, I’ll fix typos if they stand out. At Shit Gets Real, I'll hunt for, and annihilate typos. I don't get into the nitty gritty of comma placement, US vs. UK spelling, or any of those things that you'll need a copyeditor/proofreader for. (Unless it's so distracting that I can't help but correct it.) I can refer you to at least two very talented people with this skill set, both of which I’ve worked with in the past. They could come in after we work together and give you a final polish.
Q: Why should I hire you?
A: I’ve been a professional editor for over a decade, focusing on fiction editing the past two years. My fiction clients have gone on to rank in the Amazon top 100, or get more interest from agents, or even just become re-inspired about their manuscript and/or writing career. My own books have been featured heavily on BookTok and gained interest from filmmakers and foreign publishers. I sold my first two short stories to anthologies that went on to get Bram Stoker Award nominations.
"Working with Steph has been a game-changer. Her developmental feedback is absolutely unparalleled. She has a unique ability to dive deep into the nuances of character development, plot arc, and narrative, bringing out the best in my story and making sure that every element contributes to the whole. Steph is more than an editor or book coach; she's a master storyteller in her own right. I'm immensely grateful for her help in taking my manuscripts to the next level." —Noelle W. Ihli, Amazon Bestselling author of Run on Red
"Steph is the ultimate manuscript whisperer. Her keen eye for story development and identifying areas to strengthen my narrative voice are so spot on that I personally have seen an increase in the shortlisting of those stories. Granted, your mileage may vary, but I consider Steph my good luck charm. My work is stronger because her feedback challenges me to take risks without altering the story I want to tell." —P.M. Raymond, Horror Author
Let's chat about your story! firstname.lastname@example.org