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Hello, World!

Coming back to a blog after an unexplained absence is like opening up the doors to your childhood home after a few decades. It’s so familiar, and yet a little eerie, since it’s oddly unmarked by the passage of time. So instead of some big comeback post, I just wanted to say the following:

  • I’m not dead! (Thank goodness!)
  • I have taken the last six months or so to help my husband open up a restaurant in my adopted hometown of Minneapolis, MN.
  • There are new editorial services on my freelance website, namely the option for a synopsis overhaul (feedback on your idea before you sit down to write it all out) and a reader report (my eyes on your entire manuscript, but more condensed feedback, which renders the service more budget-friendly).
  • Look for more writing and publishing posts here soon.

Maybe it’s the leaves turning golden outside my window, but I feel like change and progress are in the air. I’m excited to think more deeply about craft, as I’m always inspired to when composing posts for the blog. The publishing world has changed since I left agenting in 2013, but really, it hasn’t. There have been trends that come and go, and the usual mergers/acquisitions, and whispers about the viability of this genre or that, but the soul is still intact, no matter how much everyone cried “Doomsday” about ebooks and the recession and shrinking advances and dwindling attention spans.

The reality remains that there’s always room for good stories, and there is an entire industry of people who are hungry to acquire them and bring them to readers.

The world at large has changed, there’s more conflict and suffering, more joy and hope, and I think that our stories are reflecting a more authentic reality that’s compelling to young readers. More now than ever, it’s important to honor our collective humanity and reality, even as we’re wrapping it in a blanket of fiction.

What does it mean to write children’s and young adult books in 2015? 2016? Beyond? Let’s figure it out together. I was gone for a while, and now I’m back.


Happy 2015!

As you’re all celebrating with friends and family this holiday season, I want to thank you for being a part of my life and reading the blog. It will be six years of writing on for me this February. Wow! This year I have had a lot to be thankful for. I’ve doubled my editorial business and am working with some truly amazingly talented writers to help their dreams come true. Several writers have gotten agents this year, and one is on the way to a publishing deal, fingers crossed.

I’m looking for ways to grow and change in 2015 as a small business owner and freelance editor. We’ll see what new ideas I might have to provide even better services to my clients. I’m also going to be updating my pricing structure in January, so if you’ve been on the fence for a while about hiring me or your project is near completion, now is the time!

In fact, to help you get a jump on your 2015 resolutions, I’m extending an offer of 15% off all of my services on my freelance editorial website ( Mention this blog post when you email me through January 5th (midnight Central time) and let’s get you on the calendar!


Here’s something fun. Due to popular demand and encouragement from a few early clients, I’m launching a one-on-one writing coaching service to my roster of freelance offerings. This article from Writer Unboxed really helped nudge me in this direction, and if you’re at all curious, it’s worth a read. Normally, writers have been contacting me with completed manuscripts to review. Or questions that fill up a 30-minute phone consultation. Writers ready to submit have requested query and synopsis edits, or my most popular service, the Submission Package Edit, which is a comprehensive look at what agents and editors want to see: the first ten pages, your query, and your synopsis.

Things have been going really well and I’ve gotten to know hundreds of writers from all around the world. Several have gotten agented, and there has even been a publishing deal for a project where I’ve edited a partial. It’s been a terrific almost-two-years! Except I’ve discovered that I’m leaving out a whole group of writers: those with an idea or those in the early drafting stages.

This is where coaching comes in. I’ve developed and tested two tracks, and I’m ready to get some clients in the pipeline!

One option is for writers who need help with deadlines and motivation: we check in over the phone, I read some of your materials and see where you’re getting stuck, we set some goals, and you check in with me up to several times a week to report on progress, rant about a place you’re getting stuck, and otherwise stay accountable to someone while you try to meet your deadlines. I try to suss out your style, whether you want a task master or understanding guide, and we stay in touch during your writing process. Lots of writers thrive with a source of external pressure (gentle, of course!), and it’s a comfort knowing there’s someone to turn to if you need help.

My second coaching option is to work with you at the earliest stages of idea and manuscript development. Is your concept worth putting a year of your life into? Does your story have legs and enough substance to make a compelling manuscript? I will ask you to create a long outline, chapter-by-chapter, and think about character and plot in as much detail as you can. This gives us a map. I do a developmental edit on this, working to suss out your theme, make sure you have enough cohesive elements, point out things that have potential to the story and market (and things that don’t), and otherwise pressure check your idea.

The worst thing someone can say upon reading your manuscript is, “And? So? So what?” This second type of coaching will help you think about your idea in a bigger way, and help you brainstorm things to add (or take away) before you really start the long, hard work of writing. There’s a lot of brainstorming and back-and-forth involved with me.

Both types of coaching include a 30-minute consultation to start, review of your query and synopsis, and a glimpse at any writing samples you have so that I can know what your strengths and opportunities for growth are. Then we dig into the project at hand. You can add editorial services of additional phone check-ins. Because I keep strange hours, most of our work will be email-based, or we can layer in more calls.

It all comes down to what you need. “Mary, I want a taskmaster.” “Mary, I want a cheerleader who’s realistic but kind.” “Mary, look at this and tell me if I’m crazy.” This is the sort of highly customized and deeply personal stuff that coaching is about.

Because it’s time-intensive, I can only take on a few clients per quarter (ideally, the back-and-forth part of the relationship will last for two or three months, especially in deadline-based coaching). The price will be $599 for the services outline above, with add-on or a custom quote available depending on the length and breadth of your project.

I’m just starting this service, so it may change or morph in the next few months. For the first five clients who are ready to dive in and be very pampered guinea pigs, I’ll offer 15% off for mentioning this post. I’ll do some initial coaching and see how my workload changes. The price may change in the future. Check out my website for a full description of coaching. Let me know what you think in an email or the comments!



Welcome back from the holidays! Was your break as relaxing and wonderful as mine? I hope so. It really was a Christmas and New Years for the ages. But now it’s back to work. Speaking of work, I’m offering something new: paid editorial critique and consulting services.

In the fall, right before my book came out, I had a few writers email me to ask whether or not I offered paid critique services. It’s something I’ve always considered doing but the timing never seemed right. As is, I do critiques for my Writer’s Digest webinars, for various conferences, and for my clients (in good faith, without charging a fee) on a regular basis. It’s my favorite part of the job, hands down. I love story, I love craft, and I love rolling my sleeves up and getting into the nitty gritty of a piece of writing, whether it’s a pitch letter, a 10-page sample, a picture book, or a novel. I have a very specific set of skills, some in-depth market insight, and context that many writers have found valuable over the years. This is just another avenue that lets me do what I’m honest-to-goodness passionate about.

It’s gratifying to help aspiring authors get to the next level and I know there are a lot of people out there who want professional help to reach their next writing milestone. After getting some inquiries and taking on a few trial editing jobs, I decided to take the plunge and offer my services officially. You can check out my new website here for more information, including packages offered, rates, and submission information. My main focus so far has been full manuscript edits, which are very time-intensive but also utterly gratifying, but I offer options for picture book writers, query letters, first pages, etc. etc. etc.

I’ve always been very honest and that’s not going to change. I can completely understand why some people have issues with agents or in-house editors pursuing editorial work on the side, just like I understand people having issues with the recent trend of agencies publishing client books in digital form. As a result, I know this won’t be for everyone and that’s perfectly fine. For those who are curious, I’m making every effort to keep the line between my agenting work and my editing work clear. I have the full support of Movable Type, and the conviction that my existing and future agenting clients always come first. My customers sign an agreement that says I will not offer literary representation on any project that I’ve edited, though I could happily recommend it to colleagues if it strikes me as a fit. If you’ve been looking for an editor but don’t want any conflict of interest, email me for the names of several outstanding freelance recommendations with no current agency or publisher affiliation.

It’s four years into my agenting career and I’ve sold many books, published my own book on the writing craft, traveled the world, and fulfilled a lot of personal and professional dreams. I’ve also made some publishing dreams come true for writers, and that is a feeling that never gets old. I have a submission pile that I’m actively hunting through, a full list of clients and projects, some time on my hands, and a commission-only job that pays unpredictably (yes, everything from a love of editing to boring practicalities played a role in this decision).

It’s a new year and, finally, the timing is right.

If you’re interested in my services, please check out my freelance editing website. I won’t be pitching you hard on this blog to give me your money going forward, don’t worry. But I’m here if you’re interested, and I’m genuinely excited to help writers who are looking for a very qualified pair of eyes and some honest and proactive feedback.

Back to our regular programming on Monday! And, for the love of Gertie, if anybody spots a typo in this post announcing my editing services, please do the humane thing and don’t tell me about it. 🙂