Hen&inkblots: A Literary Blog

First Aid for Floundering Novel WIPs, Or Where to Find Professional Whole Novel Editing For YA And Middle Grade Manuscripts

January 16, 2013 by Ann Jacobus

The difference between a well-written manuscript that “has potential” and one that is “ready for the sales catalog,” can be deep and wide. And the bad news is that a debut YA or MG novel manuscript needs to be essentially, almost, publishable as-is in order to sell.

Kidlit writers are ideally revising novel manuscripts with the help of a good writing group and/or other readers, and certainly with editorial input from their literary agent. Also, Martha Alderson’s PLOT WHISPERER series, and Darcy Pattison’s NOVEL METAMORPHOSIS are excellent self-help tools throughout the process.

For those writers without agents, as well as those with, a professional whole-novel edit can take a manuscript another big step–maybe the final one to a contract.

Whole-novel expertise is increasingly available through workshops, retreats, and directly from freelancers. A novel writer’s challenge now is choosing editorial help depending on budgets, timelines, and the work-in-progress. Services offered and prices vary.

Options are summarized below in Part 1 for retreats and workshops.

Part 2 (tomorrow) is a list of individual freelance editors with a summary of their services and rates.

Happy revising!


Highlights Foundation Whole Novel Workshops

The Highlights Foundation Whole Novel Workshops offer writers the opportunity to have the entire draft of a novel read and critiqued prior to the workshop, followed by a week of intense, one-on-one mentoring. Excellent food, comfortable single accommodations, and uninterrupted time to revise are part of the deal.

FACULTY: Various authors, editors and agents

WHEN: Ongoing

Upcoming workshops in 2013: Whole-novel middle grade: March 3-9, 2013, Whole novel YA, Aug 4–10, 2013 (with Cynthia and Greg  Leitich Smith)  Check the website for upcoming faculty, as well as many other weeklong workshops Including several for nonfiction, biography, novels in verse, workshops for illustrators, etc.

LOCATION: Honesdale, Pennsylvania–Founders’ farmhouse, 21 cabins and a 5,200-square-foot conference center known as The Barn at Boyds Mills.

COST: $2,665

CONTACT: Jo Lloyd.  jo DOT Lloyd AT highlightsfoundation DOT org, and/or download an application from the site.


namelos Writers’ Weekend Workshop

namelos (yes, lower case) is the publishing/editorial development company founded by Stephen Roxburgh who has been editing for 35 years including as Senior Vice President and Publisher of Children’s Literature at Farrar, Straus and Giroux, and as President and Publisher of Front Street Books. He founded namelos in 2009.

FACULTY: Stephen Roxburgh, Author Carolyn Coman, Editors Joy Neaves, and Karen Klockner.

One faculty will read and edit a participant’s manuscript in advance of the weekend workshop, then meet one-on-one for an hour or two half-hours each day. Writers take part in group sessions on topics such as plot, storyboarding, theme, and voice. Limited to 18 writers.

WHEN: Weekend whole novel workshops will be held approximately twice a year, next one scheduled for May 26-29, 2013, and October, 2013

LOCATION: Rolling Ridge Retreat and Conference Center, North Andover, MA (October of 2013 planned for Asheville, NC.).

COST The price for the conference plus a single room and all meals is $1,250.

CONTACT: Roxburgh AT namelos DOT com.


The Pacific Coast Children’s Writers Whole Novel Seminar

The PCCW’s whole novel seminar is an intimate, open clinic format for 16 advanced/published international writers. Selected whole novels are critiqued by a top-level editor or “editorial” agent (written critiques, plus two in-person consults). Also offered: critiques of partials by editor and agent, as well as critiques by teen readers. Enrollees may read peers’ manuscripts in advance, observe faculty consults, and take part in in-depth craft sessions.

FACULTY:  Various top editors, authors and agents. The 2013 faculty will be announced in late January.

WHEN: First weekend in October annually. 2013 11th Annual is Oct 4-6

LOCATION: Pajero Dunes Resort, Santa Cruz, CA

COST:  $769/799 single/double

CONTACT: Nancy Sondel.
 Applications accepted March through May


Program Location Dates Approx. PriceWhole novel
Highlights Weeklong Retreat Honesdale, PA Ongoing, check website $2665
namelos Weekend Various: 2013Andover, MAAsheville, NC May 2012Oct 2013 $1250
Pacific CoastChildren’sWriters Seminar Santa Cruz, CA Oct 4-6, 2013First weekend in Oct annually $769 dbl$799 single

TOMORROW: Part 2 – highly recommended kidlit novel freelance editors.