The Book Guru
Make Your Book Project as Strong & Marketable as it can be with the close one-on-one Expertise of an accomplished New York Book Publishing Professional
Diane Sheya Higgins
Writing & Publishing Coach
Developmental Book Editor Writer/Ghostwriter
my editing & coaching style
Whether I am providing an initial overall "marketing/editorial assessment" and "developmental edit" of a writer's first draft; or, mentoring the writer--page-by-page--in a radically revised and more marketable second draft, my professional communication is based on one solid and inviolable foundation: the candid truth. I am not unkind when conveying tough truths, but I am not a sugar-coater, either. Other freelance editors and publishing professionals struggle to find "positive" things to say to a writer about an inherently unviable manuscript, so that the writer will not lose all hope and, instead, will believe that the manuscript is still worth the investment in an overall "edit".
The truth is this: although first drafts will be much better after they are professionally edited, nine out of ten (or ten out of ten) of those manuscripts will remain unpublishable if they have been "edited" in a vacuum by professionals who have never acquired a manuscript at a Big Five publishing house; never negotiated an author/agent book contract; and never published, marketed and sold a finished book.
Retired English teachers; MFA professors; and copy-editors (even those with years of Big Five publishing experience) are simply not qualified to assess the marketability of a manuscript's content, or to understand the manuscript's weaknesses and strengths in reaching a targeted readership.
Protecting writers' feelings, and leaving them "hope" that their books will sell a lot of copies after their manuscripts are "edited" by freelancers who have no Big Five book acquisitions experience, is a well-intentioned endeavor, but I want no part of it.
I refuse to take a writer's money and hard work, and return an "edited" manuscript, advising them to develop a particular storyline or characterization or chapter; when, in truth, the writer should be re-envisioning the whole book in a new more viable manuscript, with a new, stronger, and more powerful story and writing voice.
Getting your manuscript edited by a professional who has no book acquisitions/and marketing expertise---i.e., one who has never rejected a submission, let alone fallen in love with one, and bought it, and published the book---will leave you with a better manuscript that shows more promise. But, that doesn't go far in the real world, where only books that "deliver" are successfully published, and the ones that show "promise" are never read.
My initial marketing and editorial assessments--and writing and publishing mentorships-- lead writers into scintillating light that might leave them flattened for a moment. But, when they look up, they are seeing publishing reality without blinders, for the first time. They can see that the path to the top is rigorous, but it is clearly-marked. When the the ascent is no longer shadowed by delusions, false hopes, and empty promises, the hike promises to be as exhilarating as it is tough.
When I do an overview of a first manuscript, I see critical weaknesses in the narrative, the descriptive prose, and the writing voice, that other editorial professionals don't know to look for--or don't dare to address, if they do see them. In contrast, in my general critiques, I lay-out the problematic issues in stark relief, and then tell writers what they need to do to rewrite and re-envision their work in new stronger, and more publishable manuscripts.
As a freelance editor and writing/publishing coach, I have mentored a number of writers to notable publishing success, after they wrote new manuscripts with stronger voices and more powerful descriptive content, under my direction; they include:
** The Bastard of Istanbul: A Novel, by Elif Shafak, which sold to Viking for a significant advance, and received world-wide critical attention and sales.
** Grip: A Memoir of Fierce Attractions, by Nina Hamburg (published by a small independent publisher); a memoir that garnered national awards and glowing reviews;
** The Champagne Diet by Cara Alwill Leyba, a self-help/inspirational book that launched a series of self-published lifestyle/business advice books for young professional women, the latest of which, Girl Code, has risen as high as #4 in the "women & business" genre on Amazon's bestseller list as an e-book, and #6, as a trade paperback.
These authors benefited greatly from all three of the professional services that I offer: an initial overall "marketing/editorial assessment" and "developmental edit" of their original manuscripts; as well as a subsequent
one-on-one "writing/book coaching" relationship in which I provided page-by-page feedback on their new writing and revisions in a much more powerful and marketable, second manuscript.
Please see "The Financial Commitment" page for detailed descriptions of the three options for receiving my writing, editing, marketing, and publishing expertise:
1-- a "marketing and editorial assessment" of the original work;
2-- a comprehensive "developmental edit" of the original work; and,
3-- a "book coaching" relationship in which I guide the writer, page by page, in a radically-revised new manuscript.