Frequently Asked Questions

1. How much do your services cost?

My hourly rate is $75. But for large projects or ongoing clients, I drop the rate to $50 an hour. It’s hard to estimate the cost of a project until I can see the manuscript firsthand. A critique of a short story might cost you fifty bucks, whereas a ghostwriting job on a full-length novel will run into the thousands.

2. Do you specialize in one kind of writing and editing, or do you handle all genres?

I confess that my favorite kind of writing is fiction, with memoir a close second. So most of my clients these days are fiction or memoir writers. However, I have worked with all kinds of writing, except for highly technical or scientific writing.

3. How long does it take for you to edit a manuscript? Ghostwrite a book? Do an editorial analysis?

An editing project could take a couple of days to a couple of weeks to a couple of months, depending on the size of the job and the amount of work needed. A book-length ghostwriting job usually takes several months. I can turn an editorial analysis out in a week.

4. Why is having an editor so important to a writer—especially if I’m already a good writer?

Some authors can edit their own work, but many can’t. That’s because you’re too close to the material. It always pays to have a different set of eyes reading the piece. Feedback from a professional writer, especially one who knows the market, is invaluable.

5. What if I hire you to edit my manuscript or ghostwrite my book, and I find out I’m not satisfied with the work you’re doing? Am I stuck with you?

No, you can cancel at any point. I charge once or twice a month, and I expect to be paid for work done, but if you see that my work isn’t what you want, you are not obligated to keep me on.

6. What do I need to do (or to have, or to be) to become a successful writer?

Talent, hard work, and luck. Can I provide these essential ingredients? Probably not. But I can help you develop your talent, encourage your writing energy, and increase your chances.

7. If I hire you to ghostwrite a manuscript, or edit something I’ve written, or prepare me a manuscript proposal package, can you guarantee me publication?

No, I’m sorry to say I can’t do that. I can increase your chances.

8. Do I need an agent? How do I find an agent?

If you want to place a novel or a literary book with a major New York publishing house, then you’ll need an agent (or a close relative in the business). If you have a nonfiction book for a specific market, you probably don’t need an agent. You won’t need an agent to submit shorter pieces such as stories, articles, or poems.

As for finding an agent, there are several books on just that subject (as your local independent booksellerl), as well as several published lists (as your local reference librarian). The Internet is also a good source of this information. Or, if you take me on as your mentor, I can suggest agents for you to approach. Whatever you do, though, be sure to do some homework first. Find out what agents are looking for what kind of material, and find out their manuscript submission guidelines. Follow those guidelines to the letter, demonstrating that you’ll ge an easy author to work with.

9. You offer submission guidance and assistance. Does that make you an agent? Will you be my agent?

No, I’m not an agent. An agent needs to be a first-class shmoozer who’s willing to travel to New York and do business at cocktail parties. I admire agents, but that’s not my talent. However, I can help you make your book better, I can develop a book proposal package for you, and I can recommend a list of agents and editors to send the package to. And if you get offered a contract, I’ll be happy to look it over and give you my professional opinion.

10. Should I self-publish my book? What about print-on-demand publishing; is that a good option for me?

Self-publishing and POD publishing are good options for some books and bad options for others. The same can be said for small-press publishing versus the big houses. For further thoughts on the subject, see my essays about POD Publishing and Small-Press Publishing.

11. You sound quite busy. Do you ever get a chance to read for pleasure or do your own writing?

I got into this business because I love to read and I love to write. Fortunately, the work I do gives me plenty of reading and writing to do. Unfortunately, it’s time-consuming and I don’t have many hours in the week where I just sit in an armchair and read a good novel. And to do my own writing I have to get up at four-thirty in the morning and write before breakfast. (I admit I don’t do that every morning.) Nevertheless, I still enjoy the pleasure-reading I find the time for, and I’m proud of the fiction I manage to write.

12. Where in the world is McKinleyville?

McKinleyville is in Humboldt County, “behind the Redwood Curtain,” in far-northern California. It’s a semi-rural town right on the rugged coast, just north of Arcata and Eureka. To see where I live, check out the Daniel & Daniel home page.


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