novel editing and manuscript critique

Give yourself the best possible chance for success and publication. I will provide in-depth, honest and compassionate guidance for your fiction project, with a practical, get-down-to-business bent. I’ll work with you to inspire a stronger manuscript, a more confident writer, and clearly-defined next steps for your revision. Though I am primarily a middle grade editor and a young adult editor, I am well-versed in novel editing for all categories and genres.

With the exception of the Overview, these benefits are included with all of my novel editorial services, no matter how many pages we work on together:

  • Thorough big picture notes. You will get detailed notes on all the major components of your novel: character, tension, stakes, dramatic arc, plot, voice, imagery, setting. A macro, bird’s eye approach to how your story works as a book.

  • Feedback on the sentence level. A micro approach with careful, page-by-page notes in your manuscript on sentences, structure, syntax, word choice, as well as any copyedits to address clarity, typos and other common issues. You will see notes on every page of your manuscript… that means an extremely close read and hours of my undivided attention. A complete line edit is included with the Full Manuscript Edit and the 100-Page Edit, but there are even some margin notes included with the Reader Report.

  • Market analysis. I’ll analyze your project’s potential success in the market and help you avoid any pitfalls. I might also suggest comparative titles for you to read or other books in the same vein that will help you continue your education.

  • Next steps. I will brainstorm next steps for you, like an editor or agent would, to help guide you in your revision. Sometimes the task of revising a novel seems daunting. Here I will provide a written map for how best to proceed after you receive your feedback.

  • A Query Letter and Synopsis Consultation. As an added bonus, feedback on your query letter and synopsis (if you have one, up to four double-spaced pages) is, of course, included with every edit. A synopsis usually only applies to novels rather than picture books, but a query is necessary for all manuscripts.

Haven’t you always wanted in-depth feedback from a publishing gatekeeper? Make this the manuscript that changes everything. I offer the following scope of editorial services, with an editorial package for every skill level and budget.

100 Page Edit / $2,199

With a bigger page sample, I can really dig into the important elements of your work: story, plot, tension, stakes, structure, and character. These higher-order concerns are what absolutely make or break a story once an agent or editor gets past those crucial introductory pages. Not only will you get editing for your beginning, but you’ll benefit from my insights as you launch your story and gain momentum. You’ll also learn whether or not you’re falling into any common “Muddy Middle” traps that wreak havoc on novels as they develop. Notes for this sample length are much more thorough than notes on the ten-page sample, as I can really see your craft elements at work over time. After this edit, you will get even more ideas about revising so that the rest of your project can shine.

Full Manuscript Edit / $3,999 for 50,000 words

This is the most comprehensive, time-consuming, blood-sweat-and-tears service that I offer. You will get notes from the first page of your manuscript to the last. You will also be trained, in the process, to self-edit and revise. As a result, you can really get the maximum benefit of my feedback and use my advice on plot, structure, tension, voice, and character for the rest of your writing life. Since I can see your whole story, your character arcs, your tension architecture, and your full intention with the piece, I’ll be able to give the most definitive and revelatory feedback I can offer. Only the most serious and dedicated writers need apply. My availability for this type of edit is extremely limited.

Reader Report / $1,999 for 50,000 words

This option combines all the craft feedback aspects of my normal editorial services, but condenses the feedback into a 10-12-page document that summarizes my main findings. To do this, I omit the comprehensive line editing and proofreading on the manuscript itself, and instead cite examples from your work to create teaching points on character, voice, plot, and other major craft considerations. You benefit from me reading your entire manuscript and seeing the full scope of your story, but because I can work more quickly than if I was making notes on every single page, your investment is cut in half. I can also accommodate your project more quickly and turn it around without delay.  This service is perfect for writers who are confident in their novels, who’ve maybe submitted them already, but who suspect that a novel-wide issue such as the plot, characterization, or writing quality is hindering their progress. With knowledge of your entire story, I will be able to isolate your manuscript’s particular drawbacks and condense the information into a report that you can read over and over as you revise. I’ll focus on the big issues, give you your next steps for revision, and include a Query and Synopsis Consultation.

Bang-on insights and edits that are already taking my manuscript to the next level! Investing in Mary Kole’s reader report service before sending my middle grade manuscript to agents has already paid off. She delivers polished, on-target professional feedback. Mary is easy to work with and she really gets it. I highly recommend her editing services to all middle grade and young adult authors. Five out of five stars!
— Andrea Koehle Jones

NOVEL overview and feedback call / $299 and up

With the Overview, I will read your entire or partial manuscript and then get on the phone for up to one hour to discuss big, big picture feedback. If you have a known problem with your project, if you're unsure about a few aspects, like narrative arc, or if you just want to talk in broad terms about your work, this is a great way to avoid the cost of in-depth written editing. It's an ideal way to receive professional feedback on a manuscript in the early stages, too. Know your strengths and liabilities at the beginning of your writing process, rather than learning about them a few years down the road. I will send you a quote that includes my reading and consideration time before we begin. The base price is $299 and includes a manuscript of up to 10,000 words. Longer manuscripts rates are assessed by word count. As an example, I would charge $999 for a 50,000 word manuscript, which includes the call. If you are interested in this service, please inquire with your word count, and describe what you'd like to get out of our time together. Please note that you will not receive written feedback as part of this service, all feedback will be relayed over the phone.

Mary is highly professional and a delight to work with. She gets right into the hearts and minds of the characters, inspires you in a way that you have no alternative but to give your best. I recommend her to aspiring and expert writers.
— Fida
Mary has a gift. She takes the story she is given, as an entire entity and picks it apart in a way that truly teaches the writer why elements work or don’t work together. If you are serious about getting published, willing to work hard and able to handle advice that will truly change the way you write in a beneficial way, then Mary Kole is the one to do this with. She is a partner, literature expert and knows what works and what doesn’t. I highly recommend her to any expert or aspiring writer.
— Agnes
Had I worked with Mary sooner, I could have saved myself months of tinkering and thousands of words. I had gotten my manuscript to a place where I knew something was wrong, but I couldn’t figure out exactly what it was. I decided to do a Full Edit with Mary, and when she gave her feedback, it became glaringly obvious right away: there was a major issue with my plot. But her work didn’t stop there. Mary and I emailed back and forth, brainstorming ways to fix the issue until I had come up with a completely new outline I knew in my bones was the right direction for the story.

I don’t think I could have ever gotten to that point without Mary’s help. With the Full Edit, Mary highlighted and pointed out to me the different issues and tics in my writing that come up for me again and again. I printed out the mocked up draft and I plan on using it as a reference when I revise manuscripts in the future. She has this way of teasing out what’s good about your writing and what needs work in a gentle, uplifting way that leaves you feeling inspired instead of overwhelmed. This wasn’t a one-time expense; it was an investment in my writing career I know will continue to pay off.
— Kate