Writing a Book is Hard Work.
You pour your entire self into it. It’s not something you do, as my dad would say, “half-assed.” You use your whole ass to make it happen.
Then, as you near the end of a draft, you have a Dr. Frankenstein kind of moment. You put the finishing touches on that last paragraph in that last sentence. You open the ceiling, raise it up into the rainy night and just as you toss up the very last word, lightning crackles.
When I was looking for an editor to put the final polish to my book, I asked several associates for references and every single one said "Jen Violi." I was completely convinced that Jen was the perfect fit when we chatted over Skype. We connected immediately and I knew I could trust her with my book. She had me digging deep and stirred up some deep feeling which made this book so much better. I felt like Jen was as invested in my "Why" for writing this book as I was.
Post-flash, you lower your book down to eye level again. You prowl around the table, waiting and watching for some kind of life.
And, for a moment, nothing.
Maybe you didn’t write a book at all! Maybe you just produced 200 pages of repeating “the’s.” Maybe it was all a dream.
But then, pages flutter, chapters rustle, and it stirs and stands up all by itself. The words are all there. You did it.
You can’t help but shout, “It’s Alive!” Which comes out first with glee and relief.
Until you realize it’s big and maybe a little awkward and unwieldy and although it looks like a book, it’s not quite walking and talking like a book. Dr. Frankenstein tried to handle this situation himself, and we all know how well that turned out. Pitchforks, torches, angry villagers.
This is where you have a choice.
Nancy M. Thurston
Jen honored my voice and sent me back to keep diving deeper and get clearer over and over again. Big Topics at Midnight is a stronger, brighter and more beautiful book because Jen’s beautiful hands touched the book and my life. I am forever grateful.
If you want a saner-than-Frankenstein path, then you know it’s time to call in the support personnel. That’s me! If you’re ready to get going, immediately below are the basics of how this process works. If you want a more in-depth, nitty-gritty idea of how developmental editing works, scroll down.
- You send me a note and tell me you’re ready for some editorial support, and I send you a Developmental Edit Prep Sheet for you to fill out. On it, you’ll answer questions to give me a clear idea of who you are, what you’ve written, and the kind of support and feedback you need from me.
- You send me the completed Prep Sheet as well as the first twenty pages or so, double-spaced, of your book. Usually, within a week, I respond with a proposal for you about how we might work together. If we decide to move forward, we get dates on the calendar.
- On the scheduled date, you take a deep breath, acknowledge your bravery in sharing your work with someone else, and send me your manuscript.
- You keep breathing, and I get to work.
- I send you feedback, full of constructive observations, ideas, questions, and guidance for you to revise, and we schedule a follow up conversation.
One of my very favorite things to do is to settle in with a draft of a book, enter the world the author has created, and put my mind and heart to work.
What I do is look at the big picture and patterns in your story and your writing. For instance, what’s your central theme and does your book stay true to that throughout? I consider things like structure and character development, pacing and tension, plot and voice. We all have writing habits; if I notice one of yours that’s distracting from your book, I’ll tell you (and offer alternatives). I identify where you’re rockin’ and rollin’ as well as where the book might be stuck and how to let it loose, which sometimes means narrowing down and sometimes means expansion.
Jen Violi is by far the best developmental editor ever. She works magic in helping you create a piece that is so clearly you, your voice and your words. She is professional and on track. She is gifted, talented, dedicated and more—she is concerned with the writer’s work as though it is her own. What more can you ask for? If you are able to work with Jen, make it so. You will be forever grateful, and your success is imminent if you do the work.
What I do is developmental editing. This is different than copyediting. While you absolutely need someone to copyedit your book before it goes out into the world, I am not that someone. But I know a good someone, and I’ll gladly connect you to her.
Technically, I’ve been critiquing manuscripts since I was in grade school and editing my sister’s creative writing assignments (she’s the doctor; I’m the writer).
Since then, I’ve immersed myself in stories—studying them, writing them, and figuring out what makes them work. All of this culminated in the publication of my own novel, Putting Makeup on Dead People.
Four and a half years ago, I decided to focus my passion, my education, and my experience into starting my own business. It’s been my joy to dive deep into the writing craft and to support other writers in unleashing the stories they’re longing to tell.
Also, I’ve been (and still visit) right where you are. I know what it’s like to be on the receiving end of feedback—which can be extraordinarily helpful and nourishing OR, in careless hands, soul-crushing. I am not in the business of soul-crushing.
I want your soul, and your manuscript, to feel full of life and breath, invigorated as we work together.
I'm so happy! I want to print out your feedback all out and roll around on the bed with it like they did with the money in that movie Indecent Proposal! Thank you so much!
The feedback I always find most helpful comes from someone who honors the story I want to tell more than the story they want to tell,
who recognizes and encourages my skills and strengths,
and who uses those to direct me in making my draft stronger.
The feedback I find most helpful notices what’s present as much as what’s missing and gives equal billing to what needs mending and what’s already vibrant and glowing.
And that’s just what I’ll do for you.