P.N. Waldygo, Professional Book Editor, Copy Editor, Proofreader, and Writer
I’m a freelance editor with 24 years of experience, having edited nearly 600 books on almost every subject under the sun. The majority were nonfiction books for traditional publishers (not vanity presses or self-publishing companies) and both fiction and nonfiction for private authors. The authors have ranged from celebrities and established writers to people who never dreamed of tackling a book before. I’ve been challenged by manuscripts in every conceivable state of disarray and helped bring them to publication. I actually like working on projects that need a bit more work, because it’s satisfying to see a book throw off its weaknesses and come into its own. (For partial lists of books I've edited, see Mass-Market Nonfiction, Professional and Academic Books, and Fiction Recently Edited.)
Yet I also appreciate excellent writers, and when I encounter their books, I put my ego aside and operate by the principle “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
I use the terms editor and copy editor indistinguishably on this website, because my duties as a freelancer vary from book to book. Sometimes a manuscript requires only a simple copy edit. Other times, a project may need a huge amount of work, and the author might be unaware of it until seeing my sample edit. Occasionally, authors use ghostwriters (and not very skilled ghostwriters), which gives me a lot of leeway to edit the work heavily. Using a light touch on a ghostwritten book would not preserve the author’s voice; it would preserve the ghostwriter’s voice, something no one wants.
Until I “hung out my shingle” with this Desert Sage website, I freelanced primarily for trade publishers that printed mass-market books, and they wanted everything “reader-friendly.” As a result, I did substantive line editing on most of the books that came my way. This provided me with invaluable training in solving a wide assortment of problems. If your inexperience as a writer obscures your book’s message, I can rewrite whatever is necessary to allow your meaning to shine through.
Conversely, if your book or manuscript is geared to an academic or professional audience, I’m capable of restraint and maintaining the tone of “academese” that predominates in this category of literature. I spent many years editing approximately two hundred books like this. Or maybe you want to turn your master’s thesis into a book for the general public, which requires a different approach: rewording language that is too “scholarly” and explaining ideas simply to make them understandable to a broad audience.
During the last three years, more than half of the books I've edited were fiction. The "Fiction Recently Edited" section of my list of edited books appears a bit skimpy, though, because I add the titles only after I know for sure the books have been published. If the author is looking for a traditional publisher, that could take a while, due to sending query letters to agents and all of the other time-consuming hoops that authors must jump through.
I cannot help you find an agent or a publisher, but I can ensure that your manuscript is the best it can be when you approach these professionals. Whether you are a first-time author or someone with several books under your belt, I’ll work closely with you to refine and polish your manuscript until it clearly expresses your vision. You’ll be proud to let your book represent you when you send it out into the world.
I look forward to working with you.
Note: To explain why I use my initials on this website—don’t worry, I’m not a stickler for formality. If we work together, we’ll be on a first-name basis. I use my initials here because I already have a painting site listed under my full name, and I don’t want to destroy its Google ranking when people do online searches for me in connection with the art world.