Hen&inkblots: A Literary Blog

First Aid for Floundering KidLit Novel Manuscripts Part 2: 11 Freelance Whole Novel Editors for Hire

January 17, 2013 by Ann Jacobus

The freelance editors below are all highly recommended for help with advanced kidlit middle-grade and YA novel manuscripts. This is by no means an exhaustive list. They have all worked with “big house” (not prison) traditional publishers and they all do early and late editing, which are called: “broad strokes“ “big picture,” “developmental editing,” “substantive editing,” “line editing,” and  “copy editing.” Many also offer other services including query and synopsis editing, book doctoring, and career strategy consulting. In addition, most work with picture and chapter books through YA , and some with nonfiction and adult. Most also work with illustrators, agents and publishers. Starting prices are based on a 40K word middle-grade novel and include an in-depth editorial letter, usually notes on your ms., and often phone consultations. More words cost more money. Most need at least two months for turn-around. Contact them directly for more information.

N.B. As the focus here is on novels, know that the SCBWI Freelance Editors Directory includes a broader range of accomplished author/editors and picture book specialists such as veteran writing coach Esther Hershenhorn and editor/industry insider, Harold Underdown.



Catherine was an Executive Editor at Viking Children’s Books, a division of Penguin Books for Young Readers, before returning to New Orleans. She has edited many award-winning fiction and nonfiction children’s books from board books through YA. She works with all age groups and genres, although admits a soft spot for contemporary YA fiction and novels in verse for any age. Contact her for a free initial evaluation and a suggested plan of action. Smaller projects are billed at $85/hour, novels at a flat fee starting at $2500, adjustable according to size and scope of the project. Novel ms. editing includes detailed editorial feedback, line editing, and multiple revisions if necessary. She also offers proposal, query, and synopsis evaluations and career consulting. Contact her directly at: Catherine AT editedbycatherine DOT com.




AKA DearEditor.com, Deborah was an editor for Harcourt Children’s Books before becoming the award-winning author of Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies. She is a YA and picture book author, too. Deborah charges $90/hour for “substantive“ or line editing. Contact her for a free estimate of total hours required, or to discuss other editorial services such as query letter review, copyediting, proofreading, etc. She estimates for 40,000-word MG ms., spending 6 to 7 hours  ($630) for a substantive edit–focusing on plot, characterization, voice and marketability. Line editing would be more like 12 hours. A line edit comes when all the other elements are nailed down. Turnaround time is usually a couple of months.  Contact her at: Deborah AT DeborahHalverson DOT com.




Emma is the former Vice President and Publisher of Atheneum Books for Young Readers and Margaret K. McElderry Books, imprints of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing. She is the editor of over 500 awarded, honored and nominated children’s books for all ages, picture books to YA.

Drydenbks offers a broad range of editorial and consulting services.  In a preliminary free evaluation, she will first determine if she can help you with your project, then outline the services she can offer along with timing and pricing. These include a more “broad strokes” read with recommendations, starting at $3500 for a novel, or a closer line-by-line edit and editorial suggestions, starting at $6000 for a novel. General consulting rates are $200/hour. Check her submission policy carefully:




A former freelance copyeditor for Tricycle Press/Random House, Erin also provides editorial assessment, and developmental editing–an ongoing exchange between writer and editor. She especially enjoys working with YA and fantasy.

Please query her for a project quote if you are interested in developmental editing or an editorial assessment. She also edits query letters, synopses, and cover letters.

Line Editing: $50 per hour 
Copyediting: $35-$40 per hour. Proofreading: $30-$35 per hour.




1-On-1 is a manuscript consulting service offered through Children’s Book Insider. Laura Backes, publisher of Children’s Book Insider, the Newsletter for Children’s Writers, has worked in the field for 25 years, including with Ballantine and Farrar, Straus & Giroux. She is also a former literary agent and an author herself. Laura has critiqued over 2000 manuscripts, picture books through young adult, fiction and nonfiction. She works with all kidlit age groups and genres.

She offers: “Big Picture” critiques which are good for writers who are not sure, or those wanting feedback on early drafts.  $135 for first five pages, $1.50 per page thereafter (so  approximately $425 for a 200 page novel). Also, ”A Closer Look” is for more advanced drafts and includes thorough analysis and line editing, $175 for first five pages, $1.95 per page thereafter. Laura AT write4kids DOT com



Linda Zuckerman has 40 years of editorial experience. She held Executive Editorial positions with Viking, and HarperCollins, and was Editorial Director at Harcourt Children’s Books. She’s the Director of the Pacific Northwest Children’s Book Conference (another good week-long conference with access to authors and editors) and also a middle-grade author herself. She offers in-depth editing and line editing on novels. She has considerable experience working with picture book authors and author-illustrators on manuscripts and dummies. YA and middle-grade ms. up to 200 pages start at $1500. Expect an 8-10 week turn around. She does not have a web site and works with hard copies.   Reach Linda at: Lindajz AT frontier DOT com



Free Expressions could have been included in the workshop/retreats of Part 1, as they offer a dazzling array of weeklong and weekend novel workshops for groups and individuals, though geared more to process rather than editing a whole advanced novel draft. Lorin Oberweger founded the company in 1995 and works closely with literary agent Donald Maas and other writing and storytelling luminaries such as Chris Vogler and James Scott Bell. She also offers whole novel editing for $2375 (up to 400 pages—a 40K word ms. may be less), and two-part novel editing that includes an initial editorial letter + phone consultation, and then after you’ve revised, full line-editing, another consultation, plus a review of your synopsis/query letter for $2975. A 100-page ms. starts at $825, $7/page thereafter. Partial evaluations and per page pricing are also available.  Contact her at lorin AT free-expressions DOT com.




Robin has 20-plus years of trade publishing experience, including 15 years at Harcourt Trade Publishers and 4 years with becker&mayer! book producers. At Red Pencil Consulting, Robin edits both fiction and nonfiction and is especially adept with content targeted to young readers (from toddlers to young adults) as well as to adults. Robin offers three levels of editorial support: developmental editing, line editing, and (more selectively) copyediting. For an initial $250, she’ll edit 30 “representative pages” from your novel, plus a synopsis and pitch.  If you and she are in agreement, whole novel developmental editing starts at $1000, line editing at $1250. For more information, visit her website, or e-mail her at: rcruise1 AT gmail DOT com




In addition to their weekend whole novel workshops (see Whole Novel Retreats and Workshops, Part 1), namelos offers three other editorial options:

1) Evaluation of your first 10,000 words for $250.  2) Ongoing editorial guidance (up to 50 pages on a monthly or bi-monthly basis): $750 per packet, and 3) Full editorial review of a complete draft of a novel: $2,500 to $5,000, depending on the length and complexity of the work. Contact Stephen at http://www.namelos.com/services/evaluations/



Tamson is a former Senior Editor at Disney Hyperion and now a picture book author and editorial consultant. She especially likes middle-grade and boy-oriented (funny, adventurous, quirky) fiction, but edits all kidlit from picture books through YA. Tamson also enjoys giving presentations to groups and classes.

Intensive edits of novels of 40K words to 100K, with or without a follow-up read, run from $2000 to $4800. SCBWI members may be eligible for a discount. She also edits picture books and offers book doctoring and publishing strategy services.

Contact info at her site.



Tony has been in the kidlit business in the UK for over 30 years. He has written and published hundreds of books, and edited numerous novels and anthologies of short stories and poetry. He also reviews kidlit and teaches writing for children.

Tony will read, assess and make recommendations for a novel up to 80K words, starting at 360 Pounds. He will reread the revision for two-thirds the price, or 240 pounds.

Contact him at: info AT tonybradman DOT co DOT uk


Freelance Editors NOVEL RATES Notes
Catherine Frank $85/hour$2500 and up
Deborah Halverson $90/hour$540 -$1200
EmmaDryden $200/hour$3500-$6000 and up
Erin Wilcox $35-50/hour$350 and up
Laura Backes $375–650 and up
Linda Zuckerman $1200 and up Hard copies only
Lorin Oberweger $8.50/page$2375 and up
namelos Initial $250$2500-5000
Robin Cruise Initial $250$1000-2500
Tamson Weston $2000-4800
Tony Bradman £360 and up United Kingdom