Can’t get started? Need a fresh take on your manuscript? Think you’re ready for an agent?
Let an experienced editor help you achieve your writing goals. Whether you’re a seasoned author or a beginner, whether you’re looking for a critique, a proofread, a full rewrite, or help getting your book into print, Chrysalis offers a full suite of author services from concept to publication.
I think that no one could have understood our needs as Herta and Emily did. They began working on our long manuscript, which we had previously - roughly - translated from Italian into English, with a mix of spiritual, technical and esoteric themes. And the end result was a beautiful book, which I could not stop reading.
The editing process was very complex: days and days of work, many emails and Skype sessions to try to uncover the original meaning of the teachings of Sergio Mari, the Italian author who doesn’t speak English, with Herta and Emily always willing to deeply understand and describe each of the most complex spiritual and technical issues. Only their resolution and open-mindedness could help to choose and find the right words. Finding Herta and Emily, for us, was just one of those incredible coincidences that guide our lives.
In being able to focus on detail and perspective, Herta gives her clients the best of both worlds. She is as talented with copy editing as she is with discussing broader structural issues. Her work clarified significant issues, enabling me to complete an immensely satisfying rewrite of my manuscript. Herta is perceptive and genuinely interested in the writer’s process. Her critique is generous, muscular and thorough. I highly recommend her services. -Sandra Hunter (novel, Losing Touch, Oneworld)
Our critiques, though sensitive, are not for the faint of heart. When you hire Chrysalis Editorial to evaluate your fiction or non-fiction manuscript you will receive an honest, in-depth and constructive response. Knowing the strengths and weaknesses of your manuscript will help jump-start your revision process.
(For queries and book proposals, please scroll down.)
For all manuscript (ms) critiques, both fiction and non-fiction, you will receive:
A 5-20 page evaluation of what’s working and what isn’t (depending on length of ms)
Notations and edits on the ms pages themselves to help focus your revision
A follow-up telephone conversation to address questions and concerns you may have
For a novel or short story, the comments include:
An overarching summary of the story’s strengths and weaknesses
What works well and what might be improved, referencing the various elements of fiction: structure, character, voice, plot, tension, setting, point-of-view, dialogue, etc.
Suggestions and examples of how you might revise problem areas
Herta’s enthusiasm for my work was certainly very welcome, given that writers generally receive a lot of rejections. Her ideas for improvement were thoughtful and on the mark. Herta is a great editor and advocate for writers. -Jyotsna Sreenivasan (novel, And Laughter Fell From the Sky, William Morrow)
For short and full-length memoir, the comments include:
Many of the same comments you would receive for a work of fiction
Because memoir is more closely aligned with writing a novel than writing non-fiction, I address the elements of fiction (see above) that are working and those that need to be enhanced.
Note: memoir is not the same as an autobiography. A memoir is a slice of one’s life, not a cradle-to-present-moment story. It is thematic, not a comprehensive account of your life.
For non-fiction, the comments discuss:
The work’s structure
Cohesiveness of the material
Faithfulness to the stated focus/purpose of the book
Accuracy of the subject matter
Suggestions and examples to help you revise your manuscript
Book Proposals & Query Letters
We assist authors in crafting successful book proposals for their non-fiction (and memoir**) manuscripts. We are skilled in evaluating each aspect of the proposal—from overviews, to chapter summaries, to market competition, to building an author platform. We can help you create your proposal from scratch or revise an existing one.
For novels and short story collections you don’t need a book proposal, you do need a complete manuscript and a compelling query letter. We’ve written and edited scores of query letters and welcome the opportunity to help you compose one that will draw an agent’s attention.
**Note: sometimes agents or publishers do not require a book proposal for memoir, but if that’s the case, they usually require a full manuscript.
What services you are seeking (i.e., ms critique, query, book proposal, etc.)
Your work’s genre and length (word count and # of double-spaced pages)
Problems you are having
Contact information (name, email address, etc.)
How you heard about Chrysalis Editorial (friend, online search, ad, etc.)
Thank you so much, Herta. I am laughing because I think I am posing such a challenge for you. But your guidance has been invaluable, and I’ve never heard this type of input before. I admire your talents and tenacity and appreciate you encouragement. Here’s to my next rewrite! -Irene Schindler (YA novel, Dirty Laundry)
I have worked with a number of editors during the last decade, but Herta has been the most versatile and talented of them all. Many big name editors I have worked with, who once worked as publishers, were great, but usually only at one or two things (plot or character, setting the scene or dialogue, etc.). Herta does it all, whatever you need, whatever your book needs, she can figure it out and help you on your way. I can’t say enough about her, though I fear she will become so popular it will become harder to schedule my work with her! -Rangeley Wallace (novel,No Defense, St Martin’s Press)
Working with Herta was like getting a whirlwind course in creative writing. In editing my work, she helped me…clarify story, plot, and character. The end result was a tighter, more concise, and infinitely more readable manuscript.
After making the decision to write a memoir about my time among Tanzania’s Maasai, I met Herta at a writing conference where I showed her an early draft of my book proposal. She took the time to briefly look at it, and I recognized immediately her sharp eye for details, her good instincts for what works and what doesn’t, and her capacity to be a trusted advisor and mentor to me in completing my book. I soon discovered that accidentally taking a seat next to Herta at a conference would be to my great fortune. She would become all this to me and more. Over the course of the last several years, I have worked with Herta mostly via email and Skype, as she lives in Washington and I live in The Netherlands. Her editing skills are exceptional, and she has a good sense of when and how to push me in order to evoke my best work. My book is better and my writing is stronger because of her coaching. In short, I couldn’t have completed my manuscript without her. Herta remains my champion—something every writer needs. --Julie Cutler, author
Chrysalis Editorial provides coaching services for a variety of clients. Whether you live locally or remotely*, we offer ongoing, one-on-one guidance to enhance your writing and to complete your writing project, whatever it may be (novel, short stories, memoir, non-fiction, proposal, etc). We can work with you to move from concept to completion, or we can help you improve your overall writing skills.
Even if you don’t have a particular project in the works, our coaching services can offer tailored assignments and critiques.
Most importantly, working with a writing coach can help you achieve your writing goals and get published.
I began working with Herta in 2010 and in less than two years, my first book was published in June of 2012 and I have another book under contract. If you are interested in results, then Herta is the person. If you are interested in developing as a writer, then Herta is the person. If you are interested in working with a professional who meets deadlines and is easy to do business with, then Herta is the person. –Marty Martin
(non-fiction, The Inner World of Money: Taking Control of Financial Decisions and Behavior)
No matter what your project, we will help you:
Define your goals (whether they are to: complete a writing project, find an agent or publisher, launch a blog or website, or self-publish a book),
Develop a plan to achieve those goals
Create a timeline for your project’s completion
Establish and support your writing discipline
Regularly meet with you in person or via telephone or Skype*
Periodically assess your progress and change strategy if you’re not achieving the desired result
Provide feedback and edit your work on an ongoing basis
If you are working on a specific non-fiction project, you will receive assistance in everything from brainstorming and outlining your work to editing each page and chapter, as well as development of the proposal and author platform.
Herta Feely and her colleagues at Chrysalis Editorial are the best! Not only did they provide helpful suggestions and necessary edits to what I wrote, Herta was gentle–yet persistent–in getting me to finish the text in the first place! Were it not for her, I might still be dawdling! -Les Francis, DC-based public affairs consultant and aspiring author
If you are working on a novel, memoir or short story collection**, you will receive critiques on your project’s fictional elements (characters, plot, dialogue, voice, point-of-view, etc.) to help both you and your writing stay focused. You will receive feedback on each chapter or revision. We can alsogive you assignments to move your work along at the pace you want.
If you’re simply hoping to improve your writing (but don’t have a particular project in mind), we can provide you with exercises and promptsfocused on the areas of your writing that need the most improvement. You will receive feedback and constructive criticism for each of your writing samples.
You can improve your writing no matter what your schedule or location. We can work with you in person or remotely*, via Skype, email and telephone.
My experience with Herta over the past eighteen months has been rewarding. She has been thorough, supportive, encouraging, appropriately critical when needed, and always sought and been open to my ideas, thoughts, and direction in all the writings we have discussed. She will have played a major role in this writing journey when my work is published.- Roger Marum, PhD, blogs about spirituality and psychology: www.yourreluctantdisciple.com.
*We Skype with clients in Illinois, Vermont, California, and other parts of the US, not to mention in places as far flung as Italy and Holland. Recent clients include a psychologist, a university professor, a healthcare consultant, and a full-time writer. Projects range from novels, memoir and book-length non-fiction to short stories and essays.
**Perhaps you have a great idea for a story, but don’t have the time to write it. Or maybe you’ve written half of your novel or memoir and can’t find motivation to finish it. If this sounds more like you, then our ghostwriting services might be what you’re looking for.
**If you have already written your entire piece and just want feedback, our manuscript critique services may be just what you need.
What to do: Email Chrysalis (email@example.com) a description of your project and a time we can talk to discuss your needs. We find it faster, better, and easier to discuss by telephone (or Skype) the details of such an undertaking.
Herta helped me resurrect a book I started fifteen years ago. Due to her fabulous coaching, in very short order I have really managed to get some traction and wonderful results. She has kept me on point, brilliantly editing my work and making suggestions both large and small. Organization is not my middle name, so her ability to help me stick to deadlines and prioritize next steps has been invaluable. It all comes down to respect for the teacher, and I have the highest regard for Herta’s intellect, her writing abilities and her strength in editing and coaching.–Kathy Pasley (non-fiction, Depression: A Hurt in Your Soul and How to Heal It)
Thank you for your very professional criticism, editing, and encouragement as I have tried to convert amateurish scribblings into something resembling true creative writing. I began putting words on paper when I was a teenager, but it wasn’t until you included one of pieces in, Confessions: Fact or Fiction?,that I finally decided to make a serious effort to write a book of my own. That I can now see the possibility is due in no small measure to your skilled help in honestly critiquing and editing each chapter. -Larry Russell, U.S. Foreign Service Officer, ret. (work in progress, Some Things That May Have Happened: Memories of Southern Salad Days)
Herta, you can tell the world that I love working with you. I'm not an accomplished writer, so your patience with me and your wonderful insights really help and motivate me. You, in short, make the process thoroughly enjoyable. -Malcolm Lassman (memoir in progress)
Does one of the following fit your situation?
You need someone to write your fabulous novel, memoir or work of non-fiction?
You've written half of the book and can't find the motivation to finish it?
You've simply run out of ideas?
The prospect of revising you memoir or novel is too overwhelming?
You only need a chapter or an introduction but can't seem to write it?
Your deadline for an article or book proposal looms and you're experiencing writer's block?
Well, don't panic. Chrysalis Editorial's Ghostwriting Service can help you and your project reach the finish line. Herta has worked with a variety of clients on assignments that have varied from letters to partial chapters to full-length books.
Herta proved to do everything she promised she would do, and more: honing, revising, and refining my manuscript. her not so subtle critiques were invaluable in my tedious rewrite stage and in transforming my work into a better and publishable shape. Thank you, Herta.
- Dr. Asome Bide, MD (author, Limbe Foods and Superstition: A family story of tragedy, faith, and love)
One of the most important considerations in such an endeavor is to feel a rapport with your "ghost." Remember, this is a collaborative effort. I will be committed to developing a good rapport with you, to "channel" your feelings and your perspective, and build an understanding of the vision you have for the book. Under your direction, we'll complete the project so that what appears on the page is in your voice, or one that you specify.
Ghostwriting is becoming increasingly more popular. Some sources say that up to 40% of published books were written by someone other than the listed author. (Greg Mortensen's Three Cups of Tea, for example)
What to do: Click here to email Chrysalis (firstname.lastname@example.org) a description of your project and a time we can talk to discuss your needs. We find it faster, better, and easier to discuss by telephone the details of such an undertaking. Besides, it's the first opportunity for us to establish that all essential rapport mentioned above.
In my experience, there are editors who excel in the minutia of comma and semicolon while others reach best across the wide chasm of plot and characterization. Herta Feely’s editorial purview revealed itself in the form of a utilitarian midi-cosm which proved highly valuable to my novel; my book is better now.
-David Reynolds, The Peabody Institute (novel, A Woman the Taste of Almonds)
Perhaps you’ve finished your final draft, and you are ready for a copy edit. Chrysalis Editorial offers several levels of editing services, depending on your need.
From our perspective, there are three levels of editing: copy editing, line editing, and developmental editing. For our purposes, we consider developmental edits the same as a manuscript critique. So if that’s the service that best suits your needs, I suggest you see our MANUSCRIPT CRITIQUE SERVICE.
Often, writers request a combination of copy edits and a manuscript critique. While we charge differently for these two services, the fee is reduced when they are done simultaneously. However, we usually don’t recommend joining a copy edit with a critique. The reason is simple – if you are still in the revision phase, line edits may very well end up on the cutting-room floor. Hence, a waste of your money. Best to wait until after you’ve finished the final rewrite.
A basic level of editing, which corrects errors in spelling, grammar, punctuation, and syntax. Copy editing does not address the content or quality of your writing – it solely corrects technical errors.
Herta’s feedback was invaluable. Instead of simply pointing out what didn’t work in the opening chapters of my novel, she gave me suggestions for fixing them. She helped me see my story in a whole new light and infused me with the energy to make some challenging revisions. Thanks to her input, I’m on my way to writing a much better book. -Terri J. Huck
A more detailed line-by-line process of editing, which corrects spelling, grammar and punctuation, but also includes suggestions of improvement in syntax, style, word choice and language register or diction, and paragraph and sentence construction.
Whether your project is a full-length novel, short fiction, an essay, or a work of non-fiction, our copy and line editing services will whip your piece into shape. This is what most manuscripts need before submitted to agents, publishers, literary magazines, professors, etc.
Your work’s genre and length (word count and # of pages)
Contact information (name, email address, etcetera)
How you heard about Chrysalis Editorial
Herta’s evaluation of my essay collection was extremely useful–well worth the investment. I had shelved my manuscript but now feel encouraged to continue work and seek publication eventually. Thank you, Herta.
Herta Feely was a Godsend when it came to helping me rewrite a proposal for my book, which was finally accepted by my agent and then by my publisher. When I first met with Herta, we connected immediately and she was instrumental in helping reveal my true self in a very personal story. Hats off to her and her hard work!
You’ve done it. You’ve finally finished your book. Congratulations! But wait, you’re not finished. Now you have some important decisions to make.
The first question to ask yourself:
• Do I want to self-publish or opt for traditional publishing?
Perhaps you made that decision at the beginning of your writing project and so already know the answer, but if you need help, we are here to advise you, because it can be a grueling decision. We’ve worked with writers pursuing both options, so let’s take a closer look.
Traditional versus Self-publishing
There are many things to consider when deciding between these two options, and please note that a third option has appeared on the scene, called partnership publishing, which is a kind of hybrid between the two, but we’ll discuss this briefly under the heading Self-Publishing. So, here are a few factors to think about:
Time – how quickly do you want to publish your book?
Realize that the process of finding an agent, who will then need to find a publisher, can easily take two years. Or more. In some instances the process can move more quickly, but unless you’re famous, don’t count on it. Self-publishing can be done very quickly.
Control – do you want control over the content of the book? The cover? I’ll let you guess which option gives the author greater control. However, self-publishing also means that you must hire an editor, a designer, etc.
Advances and royalties – what are your financial aspirations and goals? These days, publisher’s advances are shrinking, and yet royalty rates are often the same. Again, you have more control over royalty percentages with a self-published book, but the trade-off is that you are also paying to have your book published and you won’t be receiving an advance.
Marketing and promotion – no matter which publishing option you choose, know that you are expected to assist in the marketing of your book. Without your vigorous work, sales will be slim.
Bookstore placement – do you have your heart set on seeing your book on bookstore shelves? Know that is much more difficult to find your book in a bookstore if it is self-published. There’s more to each of these factors, and there are even more factors to consider, but these will get you started, especially if you have a conversation with us.
Moving along the path toward traditional publishing requires patience, diligence and the recognition that competition is stiff. Even within the category of traditional publishing, you should ask yourself:
Do I want to approach one of the big five (or is it six?) publishers (Random House, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, etc.) or a smaller independent press?
(BTW: Many smaller presses do not require having an agent, so that might be a consideration.)
But let’s say you’re going for one of the big five. In that case, you’ll want to find an agent. The first step is the query letter. Sending a query out to agents should be easy, right? Well, it’s also a process that requires strong and concise writing. You’ll need:
• a query letter for fiction submissions (plus a complete manuscript), and • a query letter and a book proposal (with a partial manuscript) for non-fiction and memoir.*
[*Note: sometimes agents or publishers do not require a book proposal for memoir, but if that’s the case, they usually require a full manuscript.]
Querying agents may not seem as mentally draining as writing the actual book, but it’s no easy task. From a variety of sources, you’ll need to cull a list of agents who might be interested in the kind of book you’ve written. (Perhaps you’ve met some or pitched a few at writers’ conferences?) Then you’ll need to find the correct email or street addresses of those agents, make sure each letter is addressed appropriately…
To put it bluntly, unless you’re extremely lucky, it’s an exercise that can keep even the most dedicated writers from moving their manuscript off their desktop and into print. At the very least, it’s certainly less fun and can take weeks – valuable time you could spend (dare we say it?)…writing your next book! (see Resources for Writers page for a shortcut.)
I would not have received a book contract had it not been for Herta. She helped me revive a project that I had abandoned a year earlier. She helped me rethink and reorganize the project in a way that rekindled my interest and energy. She was emotionally supportive and encouraging while providing invaluable assistance in organizing and editing the material. Herta is knowledgeable about the world of publishing and able to provide practical advice about how to structure a proposal. She is rare in her ability to listen and to understand exactly what is needed to move forward. Herta has all the skills anyone might need who is looking for assistance with a writing project.
Some years ago, Herta worked as the executive editor of a literary agency, where she received and read hundreds of query letters, book proposals and manuscripts. During the past eight years at Chrysalis, she and Emily have written scores of query letters and book proposals for clients. We welcome the opportunity to help you compose a query or draft a book proposal that will draw an agent or editor’s attention.
Query letters follow a basic formula, which we can provide you, and once you’ve written a draft, we can help you polish it to perfection. Query letters can be tricky though…
How do you summarize your book in one or two sentences?
How do you capture the interest of the agent or editor?
How much or how little should you write?
Book proposals are an entirely different beast. While you might write a query in a day (or two), a solid book proposal can easily consume a couple of weeks. If you’ve never written one, we recommend purchasing a book that can help you (there are many). For some of our favorites go to the Resources for Writers page of this website.
Please note that whether you are approaching agents or editors at a smaller press (that might not require an agent), it’s always necessary to have a well-written query and book proposal.
With Chrysalis at your side, you’ll feel confident that your query letters are enticing, your book proposals substantive and complete, and that the agents and editors you approach are right for your project. We can take care of some of the process or all of it, including giving you advice on how to negotiate fees and avoid scams.
Note: This service does not guarantee that you will find an agent or a publisher. Every agent and editor receives hundreds of manuscripts, and anyone who guarantees that yours will be chosen from the slush pile is not telling the truth. But we will do everything in our power to make the process more manageable.
Herta Feely is a pleasure to work with. She helped me compose a query letter that caught the eye of two New York City editors, both of whom asked to see my manuscript. She has a firm but gentle hand, and better yet, she has compassion for writer anxiety and can adjust her tone accordingly. I am extremely grateful to Herta. She has an astute eye for both macro and micro-editing, and I have been very pleased with the suggestions she has given me. I can’t imagine getting as far as I have without her help. Thank you Herta! I’m sure I’ll be back for more help soon enough.
In many ways, you’re lucky to be a writer today. Self-publishing is not what it used to be, and now more than ever, self-published books have just as good a chance of “making it big” as traditionally published books do. But it’s not an easy process either, and you should learn all you can about self-publishing to give your book the best chance at success.
• Which self-publishing option should I use? There are hundreds of options, but there are some books out there that can help with your decision. See the Resources for Writers page for a couple we recommend.)
• What do I need to do to prepare the manuscript for publication? For a professional manuscript you ought to hire an editor to proofread and edit the final draft. Earlier in the process you might want to work with an editor to receive a manuscript critique and/or some coaching. Then you need a graphic designer for the cover and possibly to format the book.)
• What else do I need to do? We highly recommend that you develop a marketing strategy and a budget for your book at least three months in advance of the publication date. You might also want to assemble a team of experts – a publicist and/or book marketer, etc.
• Should I use crowdfunding to finance my project? We know several authors who have used Kickstarter to great success. It is time-consuming, but will give you a feeling of support for your project and ease the pressure on your bank account.
Chrysalis Editorial offers a full complement of services to get your book published, from copy editing to formatting the book and helping you devise a marketing strategy.
Finally, a brief note on Partnership Publishing:
One of the newest forms of publishing to emerge is called Partnership Publishing. In short, it’s a hybrid of traditional and self-publishing.
Such publishers usually have a process for deciding whether they would like to help you publish your manuscript or not, and if they accept, both you and the publisher share not just the costs of getting your book into print and on the market, but also other aspects of the publishing process, including marketing and distribution. Some, like Inkshares, use crowdfunding to finance their books.
A warning is in order. Recently, when we did an Internet search of “partnership publishing,” we had to do quite a bit of work to find such companies. And they are not to be confused with established publishers, such as Simon & Schuster, which have “partnered” with a self-publishing press (in their case, Author House) to create their own “brand,” in this case Archway Press, about which we found quite a few negative reports.
We are not making a judgment here, but encourage you to be very careful when assessing the value of such an investment. Packages can be hugely expensive (in the case of Archway, the costs are up to $14,999 for fiction and non-fiction; and up to $24,999 for business books). In most of these cases, the traditional publisher has absolutely no bearing or connection to your work, though they might like you to think so. One of the spiritual book publishers, Hay House, also has its self-publishing arm, called Balboa Press. Again, we encourage you to look closely at whether such affiliations afford your book any greater credibility than any other self-publisher.