Mary Kole Editorial
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Consulting, developmental editing and Book editing services for writers

How do you catch the attention of a gatekeeper? Land literary representation? Secure a publishing contract? If you're going direct-to-ebook, how do you gather a rabid fan base and generate sales? All you have to do is craft an amazing book. It's as easy and as difficult as that. If this sounds daunting or you've been discouraged in the past, you don't have to do it alone. I know just how to help with my book editing services.

Whether you have a full, polished novel or a notebook full of one-liners, whether you want a quick phone call or an in-depth edit, whether you're just starting out or a veteran author, I'm qualified to guide you to the next chapter in your story. I am a book editor and I provide novel editing and manuscript critique of all kinds, for all sorts of projects. 

As a former literary agent with eight years of experience in the traditional publishing industry, I can't wait to dig into your manuscript. Writers need no-nonsense, practical, business-minded advice from a professional on the inside. At the same time, they work best with other writers, people who know the ups and downs of the creative life and can appreciate the craft. I have an MFA in Creative Writing and have written a craft guidebook myself. I can balance between motivating you as an artist and providing actionable feedback that can finally turn your publishing dreams into reality.

Mary is a one-woman MFA program.
— Kim W.

My goal for our work together is to inspire you to do a truly transformational revision. Anything less would be a waste of your time, and mine. As a literary agent, it was my job to know what sells, and I will pass that market insight on to you. I'm extremely thorough and precise, you will see in my notes exactly what you need to do to take your work to the next level. I can motivate you through the biggest blocks: I believe in the creative spark of every writer.

While I am first and foremost a children's book editor, from fun picture books to gritty young adult novels, the craft of fiction is the same across all categories and genres. I do all kinds of fiction editing. Please don't hesitate to contact me about any project, in any style, for any audience. Contact me when you're ready to revolutionize your manuscript.  


about Book Editor mary kole

Since 2009, my website has inspired thousands of aspiring writers with articles on the writing craft and getting published. The blog has been named one of the “101 Best Websites for Writers” by Writer’s Digest every year since its inception, and my success online led to a book of completely original content on the art of writing novels for the middle grade and young adult categories, Writing Irresistible Kidlit, out from Writer’s Digest Books. My webinars for Writer’s Digest and various appearances at writer’s conferences and events (from Japan to South Dakota!) have reached thousands more writers in person.

Please click on any of the following links to download my complete Media Kit, or any of its component parts in PDF format: About Mary ,Writer Q&A , Media and Contact, and About My Book.

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I have ten years of publishing experience to bring to our work together, and perspectives on several facets of the industry. After earning an English and Theatre BA at Santa Clara University, I began my career freelance writing for newspapers and magazines, including the Los Angeles Times. While pursuing my MFA in Creative Writing at the University of San Francisco, I interned at my first literary agency. Upon completing my degree (and securing representation for my own writing), I interned in the children’s editorial department at Chronicle Books in San Francisco.

Then I went on to read for the Andrea Brown Literary Agency, one of the oldest and most prestigious children’s book literary agencies in America. Three and a half happy years there as an Associate Agent gave me a solid foundation in the business and cemented my love for all things children’s literature. I then became a Senior Literary Manager and founder of the children’s book department at Movable Type Management in New York City. In 2013, I left to finally pursue my first love, editorial work, full-time. My work directly with writers had always been my favorite part of agenting, and so it wasn't a tough decision to make.

I grew up in the Bay Area and spent many years in my adopted home city of beautiful San Francisco, CA. After three years in Brooklyn, NY, at the heart of the publishing industry, I now live in Minneapolis, MN, with my chef husband, Todd, sons, Theo and Theo, and two needy and adorable pugs, Olive and Gertie.

Mary Kole was a delight! Her feedback was invaluable. I have taken classes on writing, but this process was by far the most educational. She gave me a fresh and current perspective. I feel more confident in my current manuscript and know that this advise will translate to all my work. Mary was professional and is full of so much wisdom and practical advise. I would highly recommend her services to any aspiring writer.
— Xochitl W.

Click here to purchase Writing Irresistible Kidlit, my book on fiction craft for MG and YA novels, out from Writer's Digest Books. This will show you my writing philosophy and give you lots of valuable advice. There are over 35 example novels cited and discussed throughout. 

It genuinely feels like you’ve handed me a golden compass so I can trek off in the right direction now to ultimately find buried treasure. I’m so excited to not be wandering around aimlessly on this story any more. I can move forward on it now with confidence.
— Kendra

Book Editing Services

Writing is an artistic calling, but publishing is a business. How do you reconcile the two? Success in this industry is part talent, part dedication, and part education. Does your story idea work? Is there a market for what you're writing? Are your craft elements working well? You are not alone with your questions. I can help with any question or concern. Learn more about my menu of services, below, or create your own custom package of manuscript critique, novel editing, query letter editing, and more.


30-Minute Phone Consultation

Even if you don't have a complete project, you can still pick my brain about your story concept or the publishing industry. Brainstorm, bounce around ideas, learn about agents, editors, and market trends. I will review up to ten pages of material in preparation for our call. You'll be surprised by how much you can learn. Read more here.

Query and Synopsis Consultation

Query letter editing is a great investment. Thorough notes on the voice, tone, content, presentation, and more of your query letter and synopsis. I'll share my thoughts on your idea and its chances. You may have a great book, but do you have a great pitch? This service will help you stand out in the slush. Read more here.

Submission package edit

This is one of my most popular offerings: Comprehensive query letter editing, synopsis notes, and fiction editing on the first ten pages of prose. Everything a literary agent wants to see in a submission, and we'll really make it shine. Read more here.

Novel OUTLINE overhaul

This is a service for those who are currently writing, or about to start. We'll delve into three rounds of editing for your novel outline. You give me your best shot at your idea, and I will find opportunities, issues, and where the potential truly lies. We do a total of three revision rounds, until you have a strong road map from which to write your novel. Read more here.

picture book Editing

The picture book is a lively, fun, and wonderful market. I will give you comprehensive notes on your strongest picture book manuscript, feedback on your query, and a critique of up to three additional ideas you might have in your pipeline. Read more here.


Partial Novel manuscript editing

Whether you want me to read 50, 100, or 200 pages of your manuscript, I will give you comprehensive and actionable margin notes. You choose the length, and reap the benefits of careful attention on every paragraph and page. Read more here.

full Novel manuscript Editing

My most time-intensive and exciting service, for serious writers only. The Full Manuscript Edit includes careful attention on every single page of your novel manuscript, from start to finish. You will receive thousands of notes, and unlimited back-and-forth for clarification as you dive into your revision. Availability is very limited due to the comprehensive nature of this service. Read more here.

REader report

A new and very popular service. I'll read your entire manuscript, top to bottom, and give you actionable, summarized feedback in the shape of a Reader Report document. We did these all the time at the agency. I'll comment on major elements like character, plot, voice, writing style, and give you practical, concise advice with citations from the text. Read more here.

create your own

I am more than happy to design a custom service for you. Read more here.

Mary got me one of the best agents in the business! Okay, okay, that’s not strictly true – I did actually write the stuff myself, but I did it with the help of Mary’s editing services. After working with her on several manuscripts, I signed with my dream rep. Mary’s critiques continue to help me – I now apply her advice to every story I write and it’s really working!
— Franziska G.

Book Editor Testimonials


Here you'll find a small selection of enthusiastic testimonials from my clients for my developmental editing services. There are way too many to feature without overloading this page, so if you want to continue browsing, you can see more here.

Whether you are an emerging novelist or one with a publishing history, every writer can benefit from working with an editor who has a keen eye and a sharp pencil. Mary Kole is not only a delight, she gets right to the heart of what works and what doesn’t. I’ve had four novels published but when trying to break into a new market the learning curve has been hard. Her input has helped me avoid the pitfalls and up my game. Plus, she is very encouraging. I give my highest recommendation to Mary Kole’s menu of editorial services. Seriously. It’s rough out there. Hire her and it will increase your chances of getting published.
— Saralee Rosenberg, author of DEAR NEIGHBOR, DROP DEAD
Thank you Mary Kole for your incredibly detailed critique. Your comments resonated and made clear flaws that I had overlooked. I had several “a-ha” moments while reading your feedback. I also appreciate your affable, yet professional approach. I highly recommend your services.
— Allison Morgan, author of THE SOMEDAY JAR
I’ve been following Mary Kole for ages on and loved her book Writing Irresistible Kidlit. When I found out she was offering a critique service, I had to try it. I got a synopsis and query critique, and all her comments were very motivational and helpful. Synopsis are so difficult, but after getting her feedback I had a clear list of what worked in mine and what needed changes. I felt really confident about my query letter and my story’s marketing prospects after consulting with Ms. Kole. Turned out she was right about everything — after a few months querying, I received multiple offers of representation and am now agented.
— Kim
Working with Mary is like completing a mini-MFA! She honed in on my manuscript’s fine points and zoomed out to explain big picture questions. All the while, she was teaching the craft of writing with sensitivity to how a reader might receive the work. She’s thorough, kind, and rigorous: just what I needed. Thank you, Mary!
— Gen
Your notes have inspired me to become a better writer! Not only did you deliver an excellent and clear critique, but your advice on my first ten pages has shown me how to make my entire manuscript stronger. I can’t thank you enough!
— Lauren, who signed with her dream agent after our work together
If you are lucky enough to have Mary Kole read your manuscript you will find yourself in the hands of a gifted editor. Her critiques reflect how deeply she goes into the work, from punctuation all the way through to the overall concept. For my middle grade story I am extremely grateful to her for pointing the way out of some muddled thoughts to a clear story with a strong spine throughout. She will give you lots to think about and the map to lead you in the right direction. I love Mary Kole.
— Cynthia Wetzler, writer for the New York Times

Editing services rates

Rates for consulting services

These rates are for consulting services and remain the same, no matter how long your complete manuscript is.

30-Minute Phone Consultation $199
Query Letter Consultation $149
Query Letter and Synopsis Consultation $249
Outline Overhaul $549
Novel Overview (For 50,000 Words) $999

rates for manuscript Editing services

Some of these rates depend on word count, and quoted word counts are examples. Submission Package Edit and 100-Page Edit investments are fixed. Full Manuscript Edit and Reader Report investments will adjust up or down depending on your particular manuscript length. 

Picture Book $299 and up
Picture Book (With Illustrations) $399 and up
Submission Package Edit $499
Book Proposal Edit $399 and up
100-Page Edit $2,199
Reader Report (For 50,000 Words) $1,999
Full Manuscript Edit (For 50,000 Words) $3,999

I think it would have taken years of trial and error to figure out on my own what I learned from you.
— Jen J.
You have made me think so long and hard about my novel. Your service is without doubt world class and worth every cent.
— Kevin Doyle
Mary Kole encourages you to go deeper into your manuscript. You’ll find gems you didn’t know were down there. A wonderful experience.
— L. Jennings