Hello Valiant Writers!

Are you at a moment in your writing life when you’re feeling a bit claustrophobic? Do you feel you don’t have the necessary distance to clearly see and understand your own work? I know that feeling, painted into a corner, maybe falling a little bit out of love, or feeling a depletion of confidence in your work. I’ve been there. When I hit that spot, I find that an outside voice, in other words, someone NOT ME, is a boon to the work.

You may be in need of:

  • A fresh pair of eyes
  • Motivation and inspiration to keep going
  • Accountability

You may be in need of an editorial/coaching relationship.

My editorial eye is best suited to what I love to read, fiction (stories, novels, novellas) and creative nonfiction (personal essays, memoirs).  Because we writers sometimes need clarity in the middle of a project, or, we may need some sprucing and cleaning up, sharpening, energizing a final draft, I offer two types of services.

  • Developmental Critique. This is intended for in-process manuscripts, you’ve got some words on the page, maybe you have an outline, possibly even a full draft but don’t have the necessary distance or clear vision to fully see your work. One thing you know you have, drive to tell your story, you have writerly instincts, but you cannot recognize your own strengths and weaknesses, nor can you fully grasp what your own manuscript is telling you. What are the repetitions? What imagery has echoes throughout, what are some aspects of your story that remain somewhat hidden but that have the potential to deepen the work? These are all things we will discuss, along with tension, conflict, character, setting and all the other tools we writers rely upon.

A developmental critique is not a line edit as the writing may change in the next round of your revisions. This level of work is more macro focused, helping you to see all that your manuscript can become. Often I find asking questions and pointing up what is successful is a wonderful way to begin to discover and to fix what isn’t working.

  • Editing. This is intended for near final drafts, I consider this a more micro look at revision, tightening the work, cleaning up the language, character consistency, the rate at which the story unfolds, compelling readers to turn the page through action and language. My edits will be dictated by the needs of your manuscript, addressing everything from big picture issues like over-all structure, to line editing. Verbs, sentence structure, sharp dialog, satisfying endings, will all be examined and annotated in my margin notes.

Please note, I am not an copy editor. My editing is intended to strengthen the work, not to correct grammar and spelling, which isn’t my strong suit anyway!

Before we being our working relationship, before I read your work, you and I will come to an understanding regarding what type of communication style best nurtures and expands your work. My goal is to never shut anyone down, but to make certain that you leave our conversation excited to get back to it. With solid ideas and a stronger vision.

  • What I will do. I will read the manuscript twice, making extensive margin notes, as well as deliver an editorial letter.
  • What you will do. Receiving your edited work requires time to digest and review. When you’re ready to discuss, we can arrange a phone conference or zoom meeting, at no additional cost.
  • What we will both do. Come to the relationship with an open mind and heart, both ready to learn and listen. Before we start, I find it useful to look at a small batch of pages to determine if we are a good match.

Editing Philosophy

I see my job as bringing out the best possible version of your story in your voice. I respect your sensibilities and your vision for your work, and I’m here to help you see what you may be missing because you are too close to the work.  Ultimately, I want to help you become your own best editor. I enjoy working with people who seek rigorous, honest feedback.

Fee

My fee is 95 per hour + free phone call or zoom meeting, up to one hour.

Because I don’t know how much time the manuscript will require, I find it best for both of us to bill by hourly rate. Typically, I spend 1-ish hours for every ten pages, depending upon the manuscript requirements.

If you are uncertain which type of review you’d like for your manuscript, we can discuss where you are in the process.  I can also do my best to let you know what I think your work will require, light, moderate or major editing.

Should I decide I am not the right editor for your work, I will decline and refund your payment.

Payment

For short manuscripts (stories and essays) I accept payment upon completion. For longer manuscripts (novels and memoirs) I request an initial payment of $1000 when I begin, with the balance due upon completion.

Biography

I’m the author of a short story collection, Shout Her Lovely Name, a New York Times Notable Book, and the memoir, Community Chest. I ‘ve also completed a novel, Must Be Nice, that is currently seeking a home. I am now at work on a memoir, Go Back to Sleep. My essays and stories have appeared in the New York Times, O, the Oprah Magazine, One Story Magazine, Zyzzyva, Greensboro Review, Gulf Coast and The Rumpus. I also write and edit a biweekly newsletter, read.write.eat.

I hold an MFA from Warren Wilson College.  I’ve been teaching Memoir and Fiction for fifteen years, in and around Portland, Oregon, at Literary Arts, The Attic, Portland State University, Portland Community College, Marylhurst University, Sitka Center for Art and Ecology, Soap Stone, as well as a series of workshops from my home.  I’ve also served as teaching staff at Squaw Valley Community of Writers, Mendocino Writers Conference, Chuckanut Writers’ Conference, and Writers on the Edge.

I live in Portland, Oregon, with my husband and Stanley, our pup. If you are reading this letter, then you’re at my website, so please, wander around, check things out, get to know me, and then reach out for more information. natalie@natalieserber.com