Manuscript Editing, ghostwriting, and Cost Breakdown
for fiction and nonfiction: novels, short stories, and articles

For consultations on all aspects of writing fiction for novels or screenplays, please contact me directly through email at writer@stuartland.com

(no technical editing)


Stage One

Manuscript Evaluation/Critique

This involves carefully reading and analyzing your manuscript to discern its strengths and weaknesses.  Your manuscript will be annotated with comments and suggestions (using Track Changes and comment balloons) with my recommendations for your revisions to improve areas such as plot, characterization, setting, use of conflicts, climax, and point of view, along with my rationale for specific editing decisions. Spelling, punctuation and grammar weaknesses will be noted, but not marked or corrected.

Cost: $800 USD flat rate for novel length manuscript up to 90,000 words. Longer works are $0.005 or 1/2 cent per additional word.

{Former workshop students receive 10 % off all services.}

This service and fee is included in the Stage Two Developmental Editing below. If you received this service separately, and then decide to continue with a Developmental Edit, this fee will be deducted completely.

Fee for evaluation is payable in advance.



Stage Two

Developmental or Hard Editing
(AKA Content or Substantive editing)

This is complete editing on a line-by-line basis, with manuscript doctoring examples*where necessary. I will critique your plot, characterization, dialogue, pacing, flow, scene-crafting, dramatic structure, general appeal, including hook, point-of-view, suspense, readability, and climax, as well as clarity, consistency, and conformity to style. I will opine on overall fiction technique, including author’s style and voice—will the reader keep turning the page?—What’s working, what’s not, and most importantly, why? Though this includes some very light copy editing of grammar, punctuation, and capitalization, a final proof will need to be done by a professional proof reader.

*(manuscript doctoring is where I rewrite a line or paragraph to show how a suggestion may be used. It is not me telling you how to write, only showing by example using your own work. My examples should not be copied into your work.)

A Developmental Edit often goes hand-in-hand with a Polish Edit (see below).

Your manuscript will be fully annotated with comments, suggestions, additions and deletions (using Track Changes so you can see all the edits). Through the Comment boxes, I will explain as I go, my recommendations for your revisions and my rationale for specific editing decisions.

Cost: $0.05 USD per word for any length manuscript

{Former workshop students receive 10 % off all services.}

{Because the author may wish to stop the process here, I give the price for this service separately.}

Special offer: for those of you interested in one of my services, but not familiar with my editing style, I will edit one double spaced page of your manuscript for free. This offer doesn’t apply to short articles or very short stories.


Stage Three

Polish Editing

This type of editing is used once the manuscript has been Hard edited and the author has made all his or her changes and now feels ready to submit to agents and/or publishers.

I go over every line again, polishing the writer’s style, correcting incorrect or awkward grammar, suggesting improved word choices, restructuring paragraphs and sentences where necessary, refining the author’s voice and tone, and generally making the prose shine. Special attention is paid to character consistency, dialogue, and scene structure.

(This is not a separate service.)

Developmental combined with Polish Editing

As explained above, this is a combination of the two services done in two stages: first the developmental or hard edit, then the author revises, then I do another pass with the polish edit. To be clear, the price below includes both services, not an additional fee.

Cost: $0.07 USD per word for any length manuscripts.

{Former workshop students receive 10 % off all services.}


All manuscripts should be submitted by Microsoft Word files or RTF files in Courier New, 12 pt, double-spaced on pages with one inch margins all around.

I don’t do technical editing, or research, so make sure all your facts are correct and reliable.



Ghostwriting is writing done by someone other than the original author, usually without their name attached. Initially, for a small fee, I will read over author supplied materials, then provide an estimate together with a new writing sample—about 750 words—based on your material.

If the project moves ahead, I will read the first draft of the existing manuscript (if there is one), and/or go over all the rough material (notes, interview transcripts, reports, etc.), then I will write the book in consultation with the author.

Examples of my writing may be found on this Web site.
Initial Cost Estimate with Writing Sample:

$400 USD (applied toward service if purchased).

The final fee to write a complete manuscript depends on the length, materials provided, and the amount of independent research I have to do. The estimated completion time depends on all the above factors.

Estimated Price: $10,000 to $30,000 USD up to 90,000 words. Upwards from that word count will be prorated based on initial quote.

{Former workshop students pay 50 % more on this services because they shouldn’t need a ghostwriter!}

Proofreading (service not offered)

Proofreading essentially looks for, and corrects any error, usually typos, in the manuscript. It is done character-by-character. Any publishing professional knows that the process of preparing a manuscript for publication is not 100 percent foolproof. Even the best copyeditors or the most careful authors can inadvertently overlook or even create mistakes. Traditional publishers usually have a manuscript proofread twice. This highly recommended service should be done by a third party who specifically caters to this type of editing. You may find these services in abundance on the Internet..

Thanks for reading. I'm eager to hear what you have to say.