Editing Services

What kind of editing do I do?

The first thing to say is probably that I am not a proofreader, or a copy editor. Nor can I give specific market advice. I am a structural editor, which is quite a different job.

My approach is to take a helicopter view of an MS and provide an overall report. In fiction, I am good at spotting where scenes need to be reorganised, say, and I will home in on inconsistencies and anachronisms. I do a close read of a manuscript, but I will typically make one or two in-line comments on average per thousand words – far fewer than proofreader or copy editor would.

I have also worked on a number of non-fiction proposals, helping authors to work out how to structure their ideas and present information. I spent twenty years writing reports based on technical data for a non-technical audience many of whom did not have English as a first language but who needed to understand the implications of the results. It gave me a good grounding in how to organise information so that it flows logically, and how to express it in a clear, concise and unambiguous way.

What makes a successful author/editor relationship?

The point of a critique is not to impose my vision on the manuscript. The story is and remains the author’s. Whatever suggestions I make must respect the author's own voice, style and intention. I always begin my report with the aspects I thought were strongest. And while I will be clear where my concerns lie, I focus on asking questions, offering reminders and suggesting developments, while encouraging the author to fill in the detail and find the solutions that work for them.

As for the author, they need to be able to take any criticism on the chin. But they also need to remember that the editor's view is just that - a view. If after they have listened to what the editor has to say and given themselves time to digest their comments, it still feels wrong, then they should stick to their guns.

How do I approach working with a new client?

If it's a writer whose work I don't know, I like to have an initial meeting (which these days can be via Skype) so I can understand exactly what the author is trying to achieve. After that, I am happy to offer a trial assessment of a chapter or two, just to be sure that we both feel we can work together.

For fiction, I would then read the whole MS and return a report that gives both an overview of its strengths and weaknesses and in-line comments pointing to specific issues, which might include:
  • Overall plot arc / Pacing
  • Character development / sketched characters
  • Use of place
  • Voice, symbolism
  • Fact checking
  • Consistency over a series
  • Sources and copyright issues
For some more detailed examples of the way I work, click here.

The process for non-fiction can be more iterative, but my initial feedback is likely to include:
  • an initial map of how might be presented
  • suggestions for changes to the structure
  • an assessment of any gaps
  • some ‘friendly challenges’ about the ideas presented
Guideline price for a full report on a MS of 60k-100k words: £200-300.

Price for any further work with the author by negotiation.

Submission Process:
Please send an initial email to catriona.troth@gmail.com with the subject line: Editing Enquiry, giving some details about your MS.  
If I think that I can help you, I will ask you to submit a trial chapter (or around 10 pages) as a Word documents for a free assessment. 

What the clients say:
Liza Perrat: Catriona did a fabulous job of restructuring the entire plot for Blood Rose Angel. From an ill-defined, wayward storyline, she established a clear and solid plot arc, defining themes and symbolism. She also pointed out inconsistencies and anachronisms and told me to “cut the historical facts and concentrate on the story."

Gillian Hamer: Catriona's input into my novels has been invaluable from the first (The Charter). She has a natural editorial eye and sees things no one else would. She is encouraging and tactful, but also matter of fact when changes are needed. Consistency, story arc, accuracy and character development are only some things I rely on her for. Even if I don't always agree with every one of her suggestions, she always makes me think.

JJ Marsh:  Many years ago, I spotted Catriona on a writers’ critique site. Smart, perceptive, erudite, critical yet tactful, she was one of people I really wanted to read my work.

Orna Ross: Catriona is a careful and sensitive editor, with an eye for the big picture. She asks the right questions at the right time and works from initiative when appropriate. Her writing and editing skills are excellent and she would be an asset to any writing project. I look forward to working with her again:

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