As a novel editor for the last decade, I’ve helped hundreds of writers tell better stories.
My editing process will show you where your book is succeeding and where it could be improved. And in the end, you’ll have a book that will attract more readers.
Some writers call this developmental editing, others call it content editing, but the result is the same: a better book.
Whether you’re self-publishing or seeking a traditional publisher, the goal is to have a book you’re proud of and that entertains readers.
Novel Editor Process
My editing helps with these elements of fiction, among others:
Are you writing the type of character that readers will find fascinating? How do characters change over the course of your novel?
Is your novel too slow or too fast? Does it offer the emotional impact you’re hoping for?
Point of View
Whose story is this? How can you improve the way the narrator relates it?
Is your dialogue lackluster or witty? Does the dialogue develop both characters and plot?
After I finish reading your novel, I write an in-depth evaluation of its strengths and weaknesses. For a full novel edit, this feedback ranges from 8 to 12 pages.
With my feedback, your novel will be better at entertaining and enthralling your readers.
Two important points:
- It’s just as important for you to know your strengths as to know your weaknesses.
- My goal is not just to make this novel better. My goal is to improve your skills as a writer. The techniques you learn from this feedback will serve you well during your next 3 novels.
My goal is to help you create a better novel. That means you need to know where you’re succeeding and where you need to improve.
I offer specific advice on how to improve the manuscript and how you can become a better writer. You will walk away with an action-item list of what you can do to improve your novel.
Four Things About Me
I’m John Matthew Fox, the founder of Bookfox, and I’ve spent the last decade working as a professional novel editor.
1. I’m a writer, too. My book “I Will Shout Your Name” is published by Press 53, and I’ve written for The Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, PBS online, and won several writing awards such as the Shenandoah Fiction Award and the Third Coast Fiction Contest.
2. I specialize in editing novels, memoirs, and short story collections — basically, everything that relies heavily on story.
3. I spent a decade teaching creative writing at the University of Southern California, Chapman University, and Biola University. I have an MFA in fiction from the University of Southern California and an MA in Literature from New York University.
4. Some hobbies: I love board games and am a runner (my favorite race is a 10K). I live in Orange County, California with my wife and twin boys (who are 5!).
Why Choose Me?
1. I’m fast.
Some freelance novel editors line up 5 or 6 months of clients so they can feel important. Don’t fall for it. I make sure I don’t take on a client unless I can finish their book in a reasonable time period — sometimes as quickly as 2 weeks, certainly under a month. I never put you on a long waiting list.
2. I have vast experience.
With more than a decade editing client manuscripts, I’ve been doing this longer than most novel editors. I’ve edited every genre of writing out there, from literary to sci-fi to romance (and enjoy it all, too). Don’t hire someone who’s a greenhorn. Your writing deserves an experienced eye.
3. I do much more than correct grammar and punctuation.
I’m not a novel editor who marks up possessives and missed words and then quits. My specialty is developmental editing. That means I’m giving you substantial feedback on everything about your story. Think of me as a Story Doctor, not just for this story, but for all of your writing.
|“John provided a thoughtful analysis that pointed out many things that I’d missed. He also was kind and gentle in delivering constructive criticism, and effusive with praise where he felt it due. I am so glad that I trusted my book to Bookfox because I know that the finished product will be measurably better for it.”||– Samantha S.|
|“I’ve been a Bookfox reader for some time, so I already knew he was talented. His editing services exceeded expectations. He helped me identify places to devote more attention and provided thoughtful ideas to begin implementing his feedback. I’ll be working with him again in the future. Can’t wait.”||– Chris J.|
|“John was extremely helpful and very honest. All of his thoughtful comments made total sense. Will definitely use him again.”||– Karen S.|
|“John provides just the right combination of encouragement and solid feedback that can greatly improve a piece of fiction. What I particularly like about John’s approach is his ability to understand where a writer is developmentally and speak to him or her on that level.”||– Maisie W.|
|“John has an editor’s mind, a writer’s eye, and a teacher’s mentality. He challenged me to identify a deeper vision for my work, then cultivate my story to achieve that vision in the most compelling way possible. I’ve never revised more thoroughly, and I’ve never been more pleased with the results.”||– Mason B.|
|“I was very pleased with the review that I received from Bookfox. The edit did not just say what was not right, but went on to tell me how the book could be improved, why this would help, and what could be done in the future that would make me a better writer.”||– Edward B.|
|“I hired John for developmental editing of my first novel. He was awesome. He was able to show me my story’s weak points without tearing me down. And he pointed out weaknesses in character development and gave great suggestions. I would recommend John’s services to anyone looking to publish a great book.”||– Kristi S.|
What is Your Pricing?
So to help you with the math, these are some estimates for a 75,000 word novel.
Pro novel editing:
Advanced novel editing:
Basic developmental editing:
(For those of you who struggle with math, you multiply your word count by .016, .02, or .045.)
All of these prices are for novels over 70,000 words, so if you have a novella that is fewer words than that, please contact me for pricing.
If you have any other questions about fiction editing or novel editing, please let me know.
“John Fox is an excellent editor, and I am lucky to have found him. I have struggled most of my life to find someone with his commitment to the work, his insights and understanding, his openness and his technical skill.”
– Hank Stanton
“Working with John at Bookfox was a great investment. John’s advice was extremely useful and to the point, and it was served with a good helping of appreciation and positive feedback. If you want a better book don’t think twice — highly recommended.”
– Jeremy Sherr
I found John Fox online and ended up feeling it was a lucky day. He first read an excerpt from my novel and I was impressed with his ability to comment at several levels, from clarity of a given passage, to narrative arc, to characterization. So I sent him the whole novel and what a job he did! He helped me enhance the things that were already good and he showed me how to shore up my weaknesses. He is particularly good at structure, pacing and the development and use of characters. If you want someone who really understands what constitutes quality in a written work, then John is your man!
– Susan LaDue
Simply put, engaging John Fox for development editing for my current project could not have been a better experience. If you’re looking for a novel editor check him out — you will not regret it!
– Greg Schaffer
“As a first-time author, I was very blessed to have found John for developmental editing. John says that his goal is to help authors create a better novel. Mission accomplished for me and my book! His lengthy review gave me the encouragement I needed to finish strong, but more importantly, he detailed where I needed to make changes to the plot, characters, dialogue and point of view, in order to make the story flow well and the characters and plot believable and interesting. I’m very proud of the finished product and John was a big part of that.”
– John Moelker
Thanks to these illustrators for the use of their icons:
- Made in France
- Creative Stall
- Oliviu Stoian
Write Better Books.
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