Professional Editing Services

In a marketplace where your manuscript faces heavy competition, it needs a second eye to ensure success. To help you achieve your goals, I provide a variety of editing services, including proofreading, copy editing, substantive editing, and developmental editing. My professional services are among the most writer-friendly you’ll find – and I’ll polish your manuscript until it shines bright!

Types of service

ProofreadingSimple editing of a piece for spelling, punctuation, capitalization and grammar
Copy editing Editing of mature manuscripts close to being published
Substantive edit Editing of an early draft of your manuscript
Developmental editing Guidance through the writing process

Fees (per piece):

(All prices are in U.S. dollars)

Developmental editing

Blog post, resume (1 page)
• Proofreading – $10

Short story, academic paper (1-5 pages)
• Proofreading – $25
• Copy editing – $35
• Substantive edit – $40

(6-10 pages)
• Proofreading – $40
• Copy editing – $50
• Substantive edit – $75

(10+ pages up to 10,000 words)
• Proofreading – $75
• Copy editing – $100
• Substantive edit – $125

(10,001-20,000 words)
• Proofreading – $100
• Copy editing – $125
• Substantive edit – $150

(20,001-30,000 words)
• Proofreading – $150
• Copy editing – $175
• Substantive edit – $225

(30,001-40,000 words)
• Proofreading – $225
• Copy editing – $275
• Substantive edit – $325

(40,001-50,000 words)
• Proofreading – $275
• Copy editing – $325
• Substantive edit – $375

(50,001-60,000 words)
• Proofreading – $425
• Copy editing – $475
• Substantive edit – $525

(60,001-70,000 words)
• Proofreading – $475
• Copy editing – $525
• Substantive edit – $575

(70,001-80,000 words)
• Proofreading – $525
• Copy editing – $575
• Substantive edit – $625

(80,001-90,000 words)
• Proofreading – $625
• Copy editing – $675
• Substantive edit – $725

(90,001-100,000 words)
• Proofreading – $725
• Copy editing – $775
• Substantive edit – $825

(100,001-110,000 words)
• Proofreading – $825
• Copy editing – $875
• Substantive edit – $925

(110,001-120,000 words)
• Proofreading – $925
• Copy editing – $975
• Substantive edit – $1050

(120,001-130,000 words)
• Proofreading – $1025
• Copy editing – $1075
• Substantive edit – $1125

(130,001-140,000 words)
• Proofreading – $1125
• Copy editing – $1175
• Substantive edit – $1225

(140,001-150,000 words)
• Proofreading – $1225
• Copy editing – $1275
• Substantive edit – $1325

(150,001-160,000 words)
• Proofreading – $1325
• Copy editing – $1375
• Substantive edit – $1425

(160,001-170,000 words)
• Proofreading – $1425
• Copy editing – $1475
• Substantive edit – $1525

(170,001-plus words)
For every 10,000 words, add $100 to the rate for 160,001-170,000 words)

What is my turnaround time?

Expect about a week on a short story, four weeks on a novella, and nine to ten weeks on a 90,000-word novel. I typically return pieces much sooner than these time periods but like to give conservative time frames in case other issues arise (illness, funerals, computer motherboard fries out, etc.).

How to contract my services?

You may send a story via email or snail mail. In either case, include a cover letter specifying which level of service you desire and the word count of the piece to be proofread or edited. Multiple pieces may be sent, but note that the fee schedule listed above is per piece. So, if you send two nine-page short stories for proofreading, the total cost is $150, or $75 per piece. In addition, if you resend a piece for another edit after I’ve edited it, the costs above are applied again.

Payment must be made in advance of any services. Payment can be made via PayPal, Zelle, Google Pay, money order, personal check, or money transfers such as Walmart’s MoneyGram. Make the money order, personal check or money transfer payable to Rob Bignell. Please note that I do not offer refunds for services. I am an honest individual and will give your manuscript a thorough edit; if I believe your manuscript still needs work after my edit, I will tell you to write another draft.

You can reach me via email. Attachments are accepted only if they are MS Word documents.

If sending the manuscript via snail mail, please include a SASE with sufficient postage for the return of your manuscript. Contact me for my address.

In what format should I send my manuscript?

Use the same format as if you were sending it to a literary agent, publisher or professor. If your piece is a short story or novel, it should be typed in 10 or 12 pt. Times (or similar font), double-spaced with one-inch margins on white paper. Your use of manuscript form is part of the critique (unless you’ve just contracted me solely for proofreading) but formatting the text for printing as a book is a separate project and charge. No onion-skin paper, flash drives or handwritten pieces, please.

What does my payment buy?

I’ll provide one pass-through of your manuscript. I then check my comments and recommendations to ensure they are accurate. A manuscript almost always requires multiple drafts to take it from start to finish, and my suggestions – should you decide to follow them – usually will require that you pen another draft. Most manuscripts I receive are far enough along that the new draft just involves tightening or clarifying specific sentences rather than revising the entire plot or character arc (for novels) or reorganizing the entire book (for nonfiction). Manuscripts being edited for the first time by a professional probably will need more revisions than that.

Draw attention to book via article directories

Draw Attention to Book via Article Directories

One good way to draw attention to your book is by writing an article related to it, then getting it published. Fortunately, you don’t have to play the freelancer game to get the article published as you can post it for free at online article directories, such as Ezine Articles.

The challenge then is to come up with an article idea that is about 500-600 words long that would interest people in your book. If you write is nonfiction, that’s easy, as you can pull excerpts from it and pen a couple of lead paragraphs around it. For example, my hiking guidebook about Lake Superior easily could generate an article about “Five Must-See Lake Superior Lighthouses.”

If you’ve written a novel or book of poetry, article topics require a little more creativity and probably are less directly related to your book. Some possible article topics include the literary impact of an author who has inspired your writing, the quirky history of where your book is set, or a topic vital to your book’ plot (If you wrote a science fiction book involving time travel, an article might be “Will time travel ever be possible?”). Of course, you’ll want to sneak in a mention of your book, using it to establish your credentials for writing such an article.

Article directories do not carry the same weight on search engines as they once did thanks to changes in Google’s algorithm updates; in fact, they actually hurt your website’s rankings, so you want to avoid placing a link in your article to your site. Still, article directories do create another page and hence another entry point for readers to discover your book.

Self-published authors usually don’t need EIN

Authors who self-publish generally don’t need an Employer Identification Number (EIN).

Should you ghostwrite books or freelance, however, you probably will need one. That’s because anyone who pays you more than $600 annually to a client needs to file a 1099 form with the Internal Revenue Service. As part of that form, the client will need to know your EIN.

Another instance where you may need one is if opening up a special bank account for yourself as a sole proprietor to keep your author earnings and spending separate from your personal bank account. Most banks will require that you have an EIN to open such an account.

For the person who hired you, giving them your social security number rather than an EIN is perfectly fine. An EIN, however, probably gives you more protection against identity theft.

An EIN is obtained solely from the IRS. It is free and can be applied for online. There’s never a need to pay a service for obtaining an EIN for you.

I refuse to give up on my writing because I haven’t explored every possible way to revise it.

Since writers are close to their work – the universe for the story that is in a writer’s head always is larger than the universe for the story that is on paper – they often may not recognize that a passage needs to be revised. Because of this, a troubled paragraph or chapter may go unrecognized by the writer…and if it is recognized, the writer may have no idea how to revise it.

Don’t give up on a passage and decide to let it stand simply because you’re unclear how to help it work better, though. That simply cheats your reader and your story. You wouldn’t give up on your child simply because you’re uncertain how to help her, after all, so why treat your story with any less dignity?

If you’re thinking of quitting on a passage – or even giving up on the entire writing project – you’re simply responding with emotion, specifically frustration and maybe even a little fear or anger. Such an intense reaction arises from self-doubt about your ability to get the story right.

Indeed, a lot of writing is trial and error. Sometimes what at the outset seems like a middling idea actually turns out to be the best cure. Sometimes what initially appears to be a fantastic idea turns out to be the entirely wrong prescription.

The beauty of writing is that there always are a number of ways to solve any given problem. Suppose the result of your main character’s effort to resolve a problem doesn’t deliver the necessary gravitas to help your protagonist grow. Simply have your character take an entirely tact toward resolving the issue, specifically one that leads to the result you desire. There are thousands of different approaches your main character might take. Or you might instead tweak the result. Or you might modify how the character grows through the story.

You may need to outline or pen several drafts of a scene to make it work. Whatever you do, keep at it. The satisfaction you feel upon succeeding will be the worth the effort.

Promote your book by hosting guest bloggers

A great way to promote your book by reducing your workload is letting others guest blog on your site.

Hosting a guest blogger offers a couple of benefits to your site. Most obviously, it frees you from having to come up with another blog entry. More importantly, though, it exposes others to your blog and website, as the guest blogger promotes his appearance on your pages. This brings new visitors to your site, and many of them probably have never heard of you or your book.

To find guest bloggers, simply invite others to take on that role. Offers can be made via your social media posts or by emailing someone who you think would write something of interest to your readers.

You may receive guest blogging requests from people you don’t know. Before letting just anyone guest blog at your site, though, you’ll want to know their credentials. They should be qualified to write for your site and should be of interest to your readers. Perhaps their credentials are being a fellow author, a publisher, a literary agent, or a book editor. Or possibly they are an expert in the area you write about, say a car designer if you wrote a book about car maintenance.

In addition, before giving them the go ahead to write their guest blog, have them pitch some topics. You might then say “no” to some, as you’ve already written about them or as they wouldn’t be of interest to your readers. Other topics you might tweak so they better fit your readers. Knowing in advance what one guest blogger will write about also means you can say “no” to that topic if a second or third guest blogger proposes it.

One guest blog submission to always say “no” to is one that has appeared elsewhere. Guest bloggers should create unique material for your site or interest in the post will be reduced. Type various phrases from the submission into a search engine to see if it has already ran or has simply been rewritten for your site.

Always let your guest blogger know that you reserve the right to edit their submission. You should edit it as well, at least to catch typos. Such editing includes the option to reduce the piece’s length (If your blog runs about 800 words, you don’t want a 3000-word entry posted.) and writing the headlines/subheads as you see best.

Also limit the number of submissions by any one guest blogger, usually to once a month at most. Some writers are prolific and can churn out a lot of material that soon crowds out your own entries. If looking to reduce your workload, opting for a variety of guest bloggers typically is better than relying on one or two writers.

Be sure to promote your guest blogger and his topic on your various social media. This can attract attention and visits from those readers who would be particularly interested in the post. It’s also another way for those interested in the guest blogger to stumble across your site as they conduct Internet searches about him.

No need to purchase SAN for self-published book

Sometimes self-publishing authors are advised that they need to purchase a Standard Address Number (SAN) for their book released in the United States. Be wary of such advice, especially if it comes from a salesperson.

A SAN is a seven-digit identifier used to identify an address, usually for a publisher or an associated company, such as a distributor. Bookstores, libraries, printers and publishers alike use this number, mainly to avoid miscommunication errors. Think of it this way: If the government uses your social security number when referring to you, there’s less of a chance of mixing you up with someone else who might have the same first and last name.

Since you’re self-publishing, reason suggests that if you purchase an ISBN and become your own publisher that you ought to also purchase a SAN.

You don’t need one, however. Unless you’re keeping separate addresses for billing, shipping and so on, a SAN won’t benefit you. In addition, there’s no requirement that you purchase a SAN to publish.

Delete bogus alternatives from your story

Whenever trying to resolve a problem, a main character has to decide how to do so. Along the way, he may have to weigh the pros and cons of each possible solution. Writers go through this weighing process as trying to decide which decisions are the most believable and yields the greatest dramatic payoff.

Sometimes novice writers slow their plot by listing which choices weren’t made and then explaining ad nauseam why the character came to that decision. Such narration is called a “bogus alternative,” a term coined by American writer Lewis Shiner.

An example of a bogus alternative would be: I didn’t head into the desert, even though it was the shorter route, because I didn’t have enough water. It also meant I would have had to spend the night sleeping out in the open where coyotes lurk. Perhaps I should have just stayed where I was, but…

This cumbersome narration need not be told to the reader. The reader should be able to infer why the character made the decision he did. For example, before the character decides what to do, you might write: Two options faced me: A three-day journey across the broad desert plain or a week-long hike along the dry riverbed. I jiggled my half-empty canteen. Maybe there were puddles beneath overhangs on the riverbank.

From this, the reader knows he can’t take the shorter route because he’ll run out of water. That’s really that needs to be said.

Explaining afterward why the character didn’t make a choice only slows the plot. Writers ought to cut it from their story.

When writers employ bogus alternatives, they demonstrate a lack of confidence in either their own writing or in the reader. They believe that their plot isn’t clear enough so that readers won’t understand the main character’s actions. In other cases, the writer is simply penning his own thoughts about how to develop the story. He must learn to distinguish the difference between thinking about the story and telling the story.

Treat readers to vivid passages in your story

One of the kindest things writers can do for their readers is employ local dexterity. This occurs when images, sentences, paragraphs and scenes are pleasurable to read because of their vividness.

Consider this passage from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby,” just as Gatsby is about to die:

Perhaps he didn’t believe it would come, and perhaps he no longer cared. If that was true, he must have felt that he lost the old warm world, paid a high price for living too long with a single dream. He must have looked up at an unfamiliar sky through frightening leaves and shivered as he saw what a grotesque thing a rose is, and how raw the sunlight was on the scarcely created grass. A new world, material without being real, where poor ghosts, breathing dreams like air, drifted fortuitously about…like that ashen, fantastic figure drifting toward him through the amorphous trees.

Notice how Fitzgerald describes Gatsby’s perceptions in a clear and striking manner. Because the images are life-like, readers feel it as they would an immediate experience.

Be careful of using local dexterity to hide the absence of drama or conflict, however. If you enjoyed reading a passage you wrote but keep telling yourself that nothing happened in it, you’re going overboard with local dexterity.

Get ideas from your head onto paper

Ever have an image in your head that would be great for your story, but you just can’t think of the right words to use so it gets on paper? You’re not alone. Many writers frequently face this problem.

During my years of editing authors’ short stories and novels, many have shared with me how they dealt with such struggles. Usually I find out by saying to them, “That was one great descriptive paragraph you wrote! How did you come up with it?” They typically grin, shake their head, and respond, “You know, that was the most difficult paragraph to write! I couldn’t get onto paper this jumble of images in my head!”

They then go on to tell me how they worked through it. Generally it involved one of the following five strategies:
• Freewriting – Rather than stress over getting the wording just right, simply write down everything that comes to mind. Sometimes it will be a list of images, other times it will be a long, run-on paragraph, but whichever approach you use, don’t worry about typos, punctuation, capitalization, sentence structure, chronological order, or anything else.
• Sensuous dissecting – Make a list of what’s in your head by describing it through each of the senses. What does it look like? What does it sound like? Smell like? Feel like? Taste like?
• Spatial examination – List what an object or landscape looks like by describing one section of it and then another section. For example, a landscape might be described by looking at the foreground, the middle ground, and then the distance. A person’s face might be described by looking at its top (eyes), midsection (nose and ears) and bottom (mouth and chin).
• Journalistic scrutiny – Standard newspaper ledes answer the questions of who, what, when, where, why and sometimes how. Do the same with your scene, by telling who you’re writing about, what that character is doing, the time of day it is, where the character is, and why she’s there.
• Concrete details – If you have an image in your head of someone experiencing an emotion, list all of the specific physical details that allow you to recognize what emotion the character is expressing. So don’t write that a character is “sad” but instead that he is frowning, walking with a drooping head and hands in his pockets, stifling a sniffle, speaking in a soft voice, and so on.

Each of these methods essentially gives you a verbal sketch of your image or scene. Now, like a master painter, you refine it – in your case as a writer through rewriting and editing.

Don’t trust spellcheck, a junior high-aged editor

So you’ve got your story typed in manuscript form and are about to send it out. You decide to do one more spell check before printing the final copy. Good idea, right?


If you don’t feel confident that your manuscript is as perfect as can be, you should print it and make one more read of it. Don’t leave your manuscript’s quality up to the computer spell check.

Instead, learn to distrust the spell check.

Spell checks certainly are improving, and the dynamic spell check on current word processing programs are excellent tools. A spell check, however, should not be the sole method you use to edit your manuscript.

Here are some common problems with spell check:
• Homonyms – These are words that sound the same but are spelled differently, such as there, their and they’re. The different spellings have different meanings, and spell checks often can’t tell the difference.
• Machine gun checking – Because spell checks have limited dictionaries, they tend to flag words that are spelled correctly. Writers often fire rapidly through these words. The result is that some misspelled words are missed.
• Misspelled words can pass – If you misspell a word in such a way that it becomes two correctly spelled words, such as “miss steaks” when you meant “mistakes”, or simply mistype one letter so that it becomes a new word, such as “advise” when you meant “advice”, the spell check won’t catch it.

This is not to say you shouldn’t use your spell check. It is like having a second pair of eyes on your story. But the brain behind those eyes isn’t particularly smart. You wouldn’t be satisfied with letting a junior high student be the only one to edit your manuscript – so why would you put all of your faith in a spell check?