terms and conditions
Please read this information carefully before contacting me.
This notice is effective as of July 31st, 2013. Last updated May 3rd, 2018.
Regarding Conflict of Interest
In offering consulting services, it is very important to me to avoid conflict of interest at all costs. For that reason, I have to set up parameters for how I choose my freelance clients. When a writer contacts me for consulting, I will first have to decide whether they would most benefit from an agent’s services or from editorial guidance. If your project is polished and professional enough to be a candidate for publication, I will not offer you consulting services and I will not take your money. I will instead give you advice for approaching agents or publishers at no cost. However, I cannot guarantee you representation as a result of this advice, nor will I contact agencies on your behalf. The latter is true for all of my services. You will hopefully have an agent relationship for the rest of your working life, I do not belong in that equation. The agent research process is very important work which you must do yourself.
If, however, I do find that you would benefit from consulting or editorial guidance, I will be happy to review a sample of your writing and discuss your needs. Since I am no longer working as a literary agent, there is less room for confusion as to whether or not I will represent your work. (I will not, since I am no longer affiliated with an agency.)
AGREEING TO WORK TOGETHER
Once you submit your work, and we will discuss your needs, my fee, and a proposed turnaround time. Then I will offer you my standard Client Agreement. There is nothing in the agreement that isn't also on this page, and it is written in plain English. I need to receive the signature electronically via the DocuSign service, as well as a deposit for half of our editing fee (some exceptions apply, see below). The second half of the fee, if applicable, is due upon receipt of the edit or consultation. Please see more about payment, below.
Once we agree to work together, all submissions must be formatted with standard 1" margins, double-spaced, with 12 point Times New Roman (or similar) font, and sent as Word .doc or .docx attachments. This does not include your initial submission to me–that can be copied and pasted into an email message. If you do not know about formatting standards, there are many websites that can help.
For all consulting and editorial work, feedback is done electronically. Notes are provided in a Word document, and line edits use Word’s Track Changes function. Please make sure you can transmit and receive files electronically and are capable of reading Track Changes comments in Microsoft Word or an equivalent program. I am happy to transmit the document as a PDF, which will show the margin notes if you are really having trouble. I’m afraid that I cannot help you with technical troubleshooting beyond this. Any issue that prevents you from transmitting manuscripts or receiving feedback is your responsibility to resolve.
If you would prefer to receive a printed version of your feedback, I can print and mail the document to you. You will be responsible for all applicable charges, including shipping. Should you opt for a phone consultation to discuss your edit, my phone consultation rate of $149/30 minutes applies, in addition to the editing fee. I operate on a principle of fairness, and since I charge for phone time, I want to be fair to all clients. I do not offer complimentary phone time with any of my services (except for the Quick Novel Overview). Email questions about the feedback and related topics are welcome at no additional charge, and included with every service. The email exchange will continue until you are satisfied.
Please assume that I will begin work once you submit your materials. Resubmissions of revised material will not be accepted if I have already started on your project.
You are welcome to submit revisions of your work after you’ve applied my feedback. I treat these as a separate editing project and invest time in doing another round of notes. As such, I charge half of the original fee for the first revision read. If we originally contracted for a Reader Report at a cost of $1,200, I will read the manuscript again and provide the same service for $600, for example. If you want me to read the project a third time, or beyond, the price remains the same. Query revision reads are one exception. If you'd like for me to read your query again, I will charge $149 for the initial edit, $74.50 for the subsequent read, and then $49 for every read thereafter. Feedback provided during a phone consultation is another exception. The first call will cost $149 for approximately 30 minutes, and subsequent calls will cost $99 for around 20 minutes. I always enjoy seeing how projects evolve over time, but this is an optional service and you are under no obligation to rehire me after the original scope of our work is completed. I try to be fair and transparent in all of my dealings, and so I do not want the revision fee to come as a surprise. It is never my intention to nickel and dime my valuable clients.
Please note that travel or other activities can impact my schedule. Appointments for consulting and editorial work are booked quickly, and you may be scheduled months ahead of the actual work. Sometimes rush reads are available at a 25% fee premium if you need turnaround within two weeks. Please let me know if you have any time constraints. Once we agree to work together, I will provide you with an accurate deadline. The average wait between first contact and receipt of your notes is four to six weeks, but this estimate changes. You are welcome to hire me months or years in advance, if you know about your writing goals ahead of time. All I need is an agreement and deposit in place, and then I will off you priority on my calendar, whenever you want it.
Please note that I cannot guarantee that you will achieve publication or literary representation as a result of my services. As with any creative endeavor, there are some things that are simply out of my control. I do, however, believe that your writing will emerge stronger as a result of our work together, and I hope that you will gain a new understanding of the craft. For some perspective on managing critique expectations, please read this post from my blog.
For all services rendered, my policy is to receive a deposit of half the total fee before we begin our consulting or editorial relationship and the balance upon completion of the project. If your edit or consultation costs less than US $200, and for all phone consultations, I ask for the full payment in advance. All prices quoted are in US dollars. I primarily prefer to accept checks or money orders by mail in order to minimize electronic money transfer fees. I offer PayPal as a payment option (mostly for rush reads or international clients), but, should you request it, I ask that you agree to an additional charge of 4% to the total to cover their transaction processing fee. For all PayPal payments, I will request your associated email address and generate an invoice. Venmo is a fee-free option (if you are using a US-based bank account). I am happy to send you a Venmo request if you supply your username, or you can send directly to me (@MaryKole). Zelle is also a fee-free option if you bank with a participating US institution. You can send Zelle payments directly to me by supplying my email address (firstname.lastname@example.org). For international transactions, I prefer TransferWise because it has the lowest fees on the sending and receiving ends. There are often promotions for first-time payments. You will need some information from me to use this service, so please request it from me via email. Please do not send a bank-based wire transfer, as this incurs fees on the receiving end. If you send anything that incurs a fee that reduces the total, I will add that discrepancy to your balance payment. The balance of the editing fee (if applicable) is due upon receipt of the service. This policy is non-negotiable.
Discounts, referrals and Bundles
I reward returning editorial clients with a 15% discount on new projects (there are exceptions, please see below). Many clients start out with a short edit and progress to a more comprehensive treatment. If you’ve hired me for an entry-level service, such as a Phone Consultation, Query Consultation or a Submission Package Edit, portions of those fees that you've already paid will apply toward a Reader Report or Full Manuscript Edit for the same project. Phone Consultation or Query Consultation clients will get a credit of $100 toward a future complete manuscript service, and Submission Package Edit clients will get a $200 credit.
I greatly appreciate referrals. If you refer a client to me who signs up for an editorial service (not a query or phone consultation), you will receive a complimentary query or phone consultation as a token of my gratitude!
Bundle pricing for multiple projects of a certain type (this mostly applies to picture books) are available. In fact, most of my packages can be customized to fit your needs. The bigger the editing project, the less you pay per word or manuscript. Please ask!
Due to the time-intensive and deeply personal nature of my services, I cannot offer refunds after I begin work on your project. The only exception is if I have not yet started the consultation or editing process. Under those circumstances only, I will happily refund your deposit via your original payment method within one week of receiving your written request. Otherwise, no refunds are offered under any circumstances. If you elect not to pay the second half of the editing fee after the feedback has been submitted, I will pursue official channels to recover payment. This policy is non-negotiable.
After the conclusion of our work together, I may solicit a testimonial from you about my services. You are under no obligation to provide one. If you do, however, I reserve the right to edit it for clarity and length (without changing your meaning), publish it and attribute your name first name and last initial on this website and in other marketing materials.
Your work is safe with me. Authors must mail out their work to agents, editors, newspapers and magazines in order to be published, and this is no different. Your personal information, like your e-mail address, name and other contact information you exchange with me over the course of our relationship is also safe. I will NEVER sell, trade, rent or otherwise abuse your personal information in any way. I reserve the right to send promotional emails or mailings to existing clients on rare occasions (once or twice a year). Please notify me via the "unsubscribe" link in any of my emails if you would like to remove your information from my marketing efforts.
If you are worried about copyright infringement or theft of your ideas, perhaps working with an independent editor or consultant is not right for you at this time. I can only assure you that I will never share, expose, disclose or otherwise use–in any fashion, public or private–any of the materials that you send to me without your written permission. The most successful relationships are built on trust and I require yours if we are to work together successfully. Please check out the following blog post for more thoughts on this issue.
Right to Refuse Service
I reserve the right to politely decline the chance to work on a manuscript if I don’t feel it is a good fit for me. This is a decision that I will make before engaging in a consulting or editorial relationship with you.
Now that you’ve read and understood my Terms and Conditions, feel free to Contact Me!