Also known as content editing and structural editing, substantive editing looks at the ins and outs of your manuscript. It is intended for completed manuscripts that have had content problems highlighted by beta readers, agents, publishers, or that are suspected by the author.

I will help you clarify these issues, identify the strengths and weaknesses of your manuscript, and help you implement the necessary improvements.

A substantive edit is more in-depth than a beta read: I will discuss each chapter with you as well as the overall piece. Areas I will cover include the following:


Is your title effective? Does it encapsulate what your story is about?


Does your story have a theme? Does it need one? If you have a theme, does your story support it naturally, or is it forced?


Is your plot logical and believable? Original? Will it ensnare the reader? Does it progress naturally, or do you suffer from deus ex machina? Do you have well-defined internal and external conflicts? Do your characters react appropriately?


Do your characters feel authentic and fully-realized? Are they likable? Do they have plausible goals and motivations? Do they grow? Are their interpersonal relationships convincing? Are your secondary characters relevant?


Does your opening scene have punch? Do you hook the reader and keep them turning the page? Does every scene progress your story? Do you get bogged down in exposition? Do you rush to get to the end or avoid getting there?


Is your setting fully developed? Is there a clear sense of time and place? Is there just the right amount of detail?


Are your details consistent? Do your events, characters, and world make sense?


Is your POV right for your story? Is it consistent? Are any changes in POV logical and necessary?


Is your dialogue natural and appropriate to both the characters and the story? Do you use dialogue correctly and effectively? Do you love flowery dialogue tags?


Is your language appropriate for the genre? Does it complement or undermine your story? Will readers find it accessible and immersive?


Is your imagery effective or contrived? If you use symbolism, is it subtle? Are your similies and metaphors more showy than useful?


Do you show, not tell? Do you info dump or sprinkle? Do you use Mervyn Peake-like amounts of description? Is your tone right for the story? Is your word choice fitting? Do you have any quirks that may be jarring to the reader?  Is your voice unique?


Does your overall story flow? Is there anything that may confuse, anger, or disappoint the reader? Do you deliver on your promises? What works? What doesn’t? Is your story enjoyable? Satisfying?


Is the romance between characters believable? Is there enough romance to satisfy genre readers? Is there so much romance it eclipses the story? Are your erotic scenes actually erotic? Is your word choice appropriate for those sexy scenes? Are readers going to get all hot and bothered?


Is your ending satisfying for readers? Does it make sense? If your book is part of a series, does your ending encourage the reader to buy the next?

I will also evaluate any other specific issues as you require.

WHAT THIS SERVICE IS:  A substantive edit evaluates the content of your manuscript chapter-by-chapter and as a whole, using the above topics as a guideline.

WHAT THIS SERVICE IS NOT: Although I will comment on technical aspects of your writing, I will not line edit or copyedit your manuscript for mechanics of spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc.

WHAT YOU WILL RECEIVE: You will receive a Word document with Track Changes, a chapter-by-chapter Substantive Editing Report, and Summary Report describing my overall impressions. Report length will vary based on the size of your project and the improvements needed.

WARNING: Substantive edits can be brutal. Keep in mind, however, that good, even great, storytellers sometimes cannot see the trees for the forest. My goal is to help you be as successful as possible, and that may mean telling you things that are difficult to hear. We’ll get through it, though, I promise!

Price for a substantive edit is $0.007*/word = $7.00/1000 words or $1.75/page**

Price for a substantive edit combined with a future line edit is $0.012*/word = $12.00/1000 words or $3.00/page** (20% discount)

Want to hire me for a substantive edit? Contact me here.

* prices are in USD

**based on the industry standard of 250 words per page