Editorial Services

Here at Matthews Editorial Services we offer a full range of editorial services for writers regardless of where in your writing career you are.

We offer:
• Proofreading.
• Line Editing.
• Structural Editing.
• Developmental Editing.
• Coaching and Mentoring.
• Fact checking.
• Editing for series continuity.

We work with both fiction and non-fiction.

Fiction Specialities:
• Romance.
• Action Adventure.
• Horror.
• Science fiction.
• Fantasy.
• Mystery.
• Family drama.
• Historical fiction.
Non-Fiction Specialities:
• Textbooks and learner resources.
• Memoirs.
• Biographies and auto-biographies.
• Business reports, policies and procedures.
• Journals.

We do not accept
• Erotica.
• Steampunk.
• Religious.
• Poetry.

Sorry but we just don’t have the expertise in these fields to effectively offer advice or services.

Review Policy

As I’m doing more and more reviews on the site I have decided that I will open reviews up to anyone with a book. Self published, traditionally published, smoke signal published, I don’t mind.

I will review:
Crime and thriller novels.
True Crime.
Romance, but NOT erotica.
Some young adult.
Fantasy and High Fantasy.

If you have a novel that doesn’t meet fit into these genres I will consider reviewing it based on back cover blurb.

All reviews will be honest, based on my personal reaction to reading the work. I don’t guarantee a favourable review for anyone, and if the work really offends me, I may choose to not review it at all. I do not guarantee a timeframe for review but will attempt to ensure a review is posted within 14 days (depending upon the number of books I am reading). Reviews will be posted here, at Goodreads, Amazone and NetGallery (if applicable).

Submission of novels or links to novels can be submitted to the contact us link or through query at nicole-matthews.com

Editing Anthologies

Editing an Anthology is part organisation, part knowing the market and part cat wrangling. As the editor for an anthology you do more than just Developmental, Structural or Copy editing, but you may end up doing some of this as well.

The anthology editor is responsible for the overall book, from theme selection to ordering of stories. Get any of the steps wrong and the impact of the book will be lessened. Get it right and readers will be talking about the collection for years to come.

So what does an anthology editor actually do?

Initially, the editor will determine the theme of the anthology. It could be broadly grouped stories around any topic or it might be a more narrowly focused topic such as a particular colour. The end goal of the anthology will also need to be decided at this point. Do you want to scare the readers? Promote a cause? Celebrate an occasion? Why are you creating this anthology?

From there, decisions will need to be made between the publisher and the editor as to the length of the final product, the number of contributors, the length of individual stories, the balance of writers (Established? Emerging? Genre?) and the guidelines for submission.

Once all these decisions have been made, the anthology editor needs to start reaching out for writers to submit stories. This could be through open calls, invitation to guest writers, magazine/internet advertisements, writer group talks or blogs, really, the list is endless.

When the word gets out about an open call anthology, stories will appear in the slush pile. These will need to be read to see if they fit with the editors vision for the book. Some the editor can see immediately that a story won’t work for the book; the writing may be weak, the theme not followed or the story not grabbing the attention of the editor. Other stories will need to be read through a few times and thought about. Often these will go in a maybe pile. While other stories instantly grab your attention and keep it (these tend to be rare, but they do occur).

As the fate of each story is decided, letters of acceptance or rejection are sent to the writers. Acceptance are celebrated. Rejections are commiserated because no matter how bad the writing, most editors do not enjoy saying no to a story, particularly one we’ve considered at length.

Eventually all the spots are filled and work begins on editing the stories. This work is the same as for any story; developmental editing to make sure the tale works; structural editing to make sure the story is told in the most impactful manner possible and copy editing to ensure the best possible word choices are made. The anthology editor may do this work by themself or they may have other editors who work on some or all of the stories, depending upon budget, time and publishing factors.

Next comes the task of ordering the stories. This is where an anthology will sink or swim. Getting the mix of stories right is essential. I like to think of it as baking the anthology, getting the balance of stories flavours to achieve the desired end result. This task is part science, part art, part luck, part experience. You need to make sure each story either complements or contrasts with the stories either side of it, but you don’t want stories that are too simpatico. You need a clear change of voice, change of character, change of style to ensure each writer is showcased to their best.

At this stage, it is often easiest to print all stories off (or at least a sample of each story) and play with arrangement to ensure the impact of the stories is maximised. The first story in the anthology is critical to setting the tone of the entire book, with the last story being vital to the emotional resonance in the reader. Most readers assume the first story reflects the level of writing in the book. If they don’t connect with that first story, they most likely won’t bother reading any further into the book.

The last story should reflect exactly what you wanted to achieve with the anthology. Do you want your reader too scared to leave the room? Happy and excited? Hugging their loved ones? Regardless of your end goal, this story is the last chance to affect the reader; therefore, the anthology editor will spend a significant amount of time considering which story will take this position.

Once all this has happened, the book is ready to go to the formatter. This is normally the end of the editors tasks until it comes time to market the book, but if the editor is self-publishing the anthology they may also be involved in formatting, cover art, distribution and uploading of files.

Overall, the anthology editor sets the tone of the book, ensures the flavour is perfect and then sends the book off into the expectant hands of the reading public.

Books in the NSW High School Curriculum

I am currently upgrading my qualifications so I can go teach English and History in High School. To this end, I’ve been reading the ‘recommended’ books for each different grade and stage to familiarise myself with the work I’m going to be doing. Seems sensible, right?

But the problem comes with the books themselves. One of the biggest aims of teaching literature is to enable students to understand, use, enjoy and value English literature. Use and understand is pretty clear, but the value and enjoy, that’s a whole other ball game.

So far the books I’ve read have all got a few things in common. They’re outdated. They are obviously ‘teaching texts’ with a focus on ‘teachable moments’. Without fail they keep the reader at arms-length. The language of the stories dates the text dreadfully. In one of the books, there has been some character development, but not much. In all the others, there is no discernable development of the character. All the books rely on happenstance and coincidence to resolve issues within the story.

The language is lazy. The reader isn’t considered at all, just the adults these books are aimed at; that is the judges on the panel of book award committees, librarians, teachers and parents. At no time is the teenage reader considered or engaged with in anything other than the abstract. Most of the books are incredibly patronising to teenagers, regardless of the level of the students reading ability. I understand some children are not kids who will pick up a book for pleasure, but inflicting these books on them is not going to change that. What student wants to read a book that uses simplified language because the author believes the child is too dumb to understand harder word choice? At the moment, I’m seriously doubting my ability to teach some of these books because the best thing I can say about them is these books show the way the young adult market used to be. But it isn’t like this now. I doubt any of these books would make it out of the slushpile of todays publishing environment.

I know most of these books are 30 years old (or more). I recognise that these books were once considered groundbreaking. BUT with the number of phenomenal young adult writers currently proliferating the marketplace, can’t we select books that are actually enjoyable, relevant and reflective of current standards in the world?

If classic books are so essential, how about a selection of classics that will grab the attention of the non-reader? I’m thinking David Eddings Sparhawk series; Anne McCafferey Dragonriders of Pern books and others that are entertaining while still being well written.

Or maybe concentrate on newer young adult novels. Gena Showalter has a few series for teenagers that are engaging, entertaining and still deal with real issues in a way that is relevant to modern children. Kresley Cole’s Arcana Chronicles fits well.

Over to you. Who else would you recommend (either books or authors) to engage and entertain students while still encouraging them become thoughtful, imaginative and effective communicators?

Coaching and Mentoring

A writing coach helps you focus, provides perspective, encouragement and guides you through difficult patches. Regardless of whether you are an organic writer (sounds nicer than pantser) or an architectural writer (plotter), we can help you reach your goals.

A writing coach and mentor can help you:
• Achieve or clarify your writing goals.
• Improve your grammar, spelling, punctuation skills.
• Develop plots that are engaging, realistic and enthralling.
• Develop characters with real struggles the reader will empathise with.
• Identify your writing style, voice and best-fit genre.
• Get organised and stay organised.

We are able to help you:
• Identify, define and prioritise your writing goals.
• Focus on your objectives.
• Overcome the challenges impacting your writing life.
• Reach daily or weekly writing goals.

Sometimes you just need an objective person to listen and empathise with your situation. Sometimes you need someone to kick your butt and tell you to sit and write. Your writing coach and mentor is that someone.

Coaching Packages

This package gives you an accountability buddy, a sounding board and a cheer squad. We help you:
• Organise your project.
• Determine the most appropriate writing schedule.
• Select goals, both short and long term.
• With research.
• Outlining, plotting and structuring.

At the beginning, we chat and set daily/weekly or monthly writing goals. These may be word counts, research tasks, structure or other relevant goals.

As you achieve each goal, you can shoot me an email to let me know you’ve done your tasks if you wish. Each week you get an hour of editing and critiquing of the work you’ve sent me. If you select to send any.

At any point during the week you can email me problems you’re having and every Friday I offer advice, suggestions, congratulations, commiserations or encouragement as you need either by email, Skype or other communication method that works for both of us.

This package costs $100.00 Australian per month, (minimum commitment is 2 months) Included in this package is:

• Weekly critiquing of your work addressing style, consistency, characters, plotting or you can nominate a particular weakness you would like help with.
• Feedback on your work.
• Assistance, encouragement and accountability with meeting your goals and targets.
• An outside sounding board who will give you an honest opinion.

Non-Fiction Editing

Non-Fiction Editing

Non-Fiction editing examines:
• Facts and fact checking.
• Readability.
• Continuity.
• Spelling.
• Grammar.
• Jargon or Industry specific language terms.
• Syntax.
• Word selection.
• Sentence flow.
• Research.
• Copyright permissions.

As non-fiction editing is a more involved process, we charge a flat rate of $60.00 per hour.

Non-Fiction works we specialise in includes:
• Textbooks – secondary and tertiary
• Learner resources – vocational education.
• Business reports, policies and procedures.
• Corporate manuals and newsletters.
• Journals, biographies and auto-biographies.
• Website auditing.
• Material auditing

We also offer a non-fiction writing services. Please contact us with details of your project for a written quote.

Fiction Editing – Services and Costs

Manuscript Appraisal and Assessment.

In an appraisal, we read the manuscript and assess what is working and what isn’t. We focus on:
• Readability.
• Character development and interaction.
• Plotting and identifying plot holes.
• Showing versus telling.
• Information dumps and excessive exposition.
• Continuity issues.
• Basic spelling and grammar.
• General awkwardness and areas lacking polish.

We do not edit these areas. We identify the problem, explain why it is a problem and offer suggestions for fixes but it is up to the writer to examine and consider our suggestions and advice and determine a path forward.

Developmental Editing

Developmental editing is a detailed, comprehensive examination of the manuscript looking at:
• Pacing.
• Plot development.
• Character development.
• Consistency of timeline, character and plot.
• Fact checking.
• Logic issues.
• Story structure.
• Dialogue.

With developmental editing, I am looking at those ‘things’ that pull the reader out of the story or make the reader doubt the story.


Line Editing or Copy Editing

This is a comprehensive edit addressing:
• Syntax.
• Word selection.
• Sentence flow.
• Consistency.
• Style.
• Spelling.
• Grammar.
• Punctuation.
• Hyphens.
• Consistency of spelling and tense.

Proofreading

This stage of the process checking that all edits have been completed and that the manuscript is ready for printing. Proofreading is sometimes combined with line editing.

Multiple Services or Multiple Books

Writers who are working on a series and who would like to ensure consistency across the series by booking my services for the entire series will receive a 25% discount on the total.

To ensure an accurate quote for editing, the first 2,000 words or first chapter will be edited and returned as a free service. That way, I can see the amount of work that needs to be done, and you can see if you like my editing style.

Spelling and Punctuation in a Global World

Wouldn’t it be lovely if every English speaking country had the same spelling, punctuation and grammar? If regional or local differences didn’t matter. But they do, so what as a writer should you do?

My first piece of advice is consistency. Pick and stick because consistency is going to annoy fewer readers than switching regularly. But how to do select?

My suggestion is to use your native version of English as the standard, but be able to use other versions if you have characters of other nationalities. As an Australian reader, it annoys me to read a book set in Australia, with Australian characters but the book is written using American spelling and word choice. Admittedly, that is just me, but many other readers I’ve spoken with feel the same way. I know the American market is significantly larger and you want to break into the larger market but if you are using Australian characters, locations and scenarios, stick with Australian spelling.

The reverse is essential as well. If your story is set in America, England, Canada or other English speaking country, ensure you follow the local conventions for spelling, punctuation and grammar. If you’re not sure, it is easy enough to find the established rules.

Working with a variety of American authors recently horde/hoard has been an interesting experience for me. In Australia, each has specific meanings. But the American authors I’ve been working with have been using either word interchangeably.

Horde/hoard – horde = marauding band, gang or group of People/savages (or teenage boys looking for a snack) while hoard means to collect, store and hide objects (possibly the snacks the teenagers are looking for).

After discussions with the authors, most have elected to adapt to the variation above (because of the different meanings) but three of the authors decided to stick with hoard as meaning a group or gang of people in addition to a stockpile of belongings. As an editor, I always leave the final decision to the author after arguing my point but this example is a perfect reason why I believe the publishing would benefit from a Global version of English. After all, there isn’t much difference between:

The rampaging hoard found the hoard of biscuits and the rampaging horde found the hoard of biscuits,

But to me as a reader, I would automatically did not finish (DNF) a book which used the first example.

Can you suggest other examples? Post below if you like.

Cultural Appropriation OR Diversity and Inclusion: Can We Have Both

As an editor and writer, I have been following the argument over cultural appropriation with interest. I’ve also been watching the calls for cultural diversity in books closely. At the moment, I can’t see how any writer is able to walk this line between appropriation and representation with any kind of success.

On the one hand, you have people telling writers we can’t/shouldn’t write about cultures unless they are a part of that culture or know that culture very, very well because we are hindering writers from that culture getting published and telling their own stories. Fair call and I support it. I prefer to read about characters who are completely true to the ‘reality’ that character would have faced in the real world when I’m reading about a ‘real world’ situation.

On the other hand, writers get slammed by critics for not having culturally diverse characters in their novels. Again, fair call. Books with only one cultural perspective can be limiting and less than engaging. But why would the writer create culturally diverse characters if they are going to get accused of cultural appropriation?

I understand that culture and identity is an important and emotive topic. But having diversity in characters is just as important and emotive. But how is the modern writer suppose to balance both?

As a topic, this juggle requires serious consideration and discussions. How does any writer create a character who is different from their own experience? Does this mean I should only create characters who are female? Have a chronic illness? Are mothers? Should settings stay only in the time period since I was born in 1970? Or should I focus on creating entirely new worlds, new problems rather than explore the issues and problems that interest me?

The biggest benefit I can see to fiction (other than relaxation) is the ability of the reader to see into the inner world of the characters and hopefully gain insight into what makes those characters real. This can then be transferred to a wider context of society. This takes dedication, research, communication. A writer creating a character outside of their own culture needs to be willing to use all available options for getting that character correct. But does it really mean the writer cannot create diverse characters? Or more importantly, how do we create culturally diverse stories and characters that are honest, appropriate and real? As a profession, writers and creators need to be having this discussion but at the moment, rhetoric from one side of the fence or the other is almost all I can find.

At the moment, it seems like writers are damned if they do, and damned if they don’t.

Or is that just me?

Christine Feehan; Shadow Riders

Shadow Rider (Shadow, #1)Shadow Rider by Christine Feehan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I started Shadow Riders tentatively. While I enjoy some of Ms Feehan’s work, I don’t like all of it. Shadow Riders fits in the middle. I didn’t fan girl crazy love it, but I definitely enjoyed the story and finished the book quickly.

What I loved was the new world. One of the things I find Ms Feehan is amazing at is building a new world, a new mythology. This one is no different. The world is small but rich, with many interesting characters and bit players who you can see will have their own books soon enough. Just as all the other Feehan books.

The romance between Stefano and Francesca was standard, love at first sight, no will they-wont they moments. Fans of Ms Feehan’s know in advance that the focal couple are fated to be together and their is never any doubt about that fact from the perspective of the characters. Stefano was the typical hyperalpha male, with Francesca being the submissive female, again relatively standard fare for Ms Feehan’s work.

What I didn’t love was the reliance on F words to make the Stefano character seem dangerous and tough. I also didn’t really enjoy the sex scenes because of the crudity of the language. While Stefano admits to all and sundry, he loves Francesca, the descriptions aren’t of love as far as I’m concerned. Soft core porn with an attempt at the 50 shades market, not the work I’m wanting to see from her.

To me, the dynamics of the Ferraro family was much more interesting than the dynamics between the two central characters. Watching how this family splinters and comes back together again over the rest of the series will pull me back, rather than watching how the main characters come together in the next books. The family connectedness of the main family is very reminiscent of all the other Feehan books.

All in all, a solid work by a prolific writer. A predictable but enjoyable read but one I’m glad I got from the library, not one I would purchase for myself.

View all my reviews

Editing Types

Knowing the different types of editing that your manuscript may need will help you determine the best editor for the task.

Developmental editing

Developmental editing is where the problems that will pull the reader away from the story are identified and the editor should offer suggestions as to how to fix the problem. Always remember, these are suggestions only. Personally, I prefer to ask questions of the author which show what the problem is and why it’s a problem and then let the author fix it anyway they want to.

Developmental editing should focus on:
•   Pacing.
•   Plot development.
•   Character development.
•   Consistency of timeline, character and plot.
•   Fact checking (as in is something logical and possible)
•   Logic issues.
•   Story structure.

Developmental editing can be done during and after writing.

Copy Editing

Copy editing is the process of looking at:
•   Syntax.
•   Word selection.
•   Sentence flow.
•   Consistency.
•   Style of writing

The purpose of copy editing, which also known as line editing, is to make each sentence the best it can possibly be. Line editing should happen after you are happy with story and are looking to make every sentence count.

Proofreading

This is what most people think of as editing, but in all honesty, proofreading is the last step in the editing process. It is about finding the mistakes in:
•   Spelling.
•   Grammar.
•   Punctuation.
•   Hyphens.
•   Consistency of spelling and tense.

Proofreading must be the very last step in the process.

By knowing the different levels of editorial work, you can select an editor who specialises in that particular area.

I tend to specialise in Developmental Editing. I love to find the inconsistencies in a story and to locate where I was pulled out of a story.
Other editors prefer to polish the prose until it shines, while others are happy to look only for the mistakes in grammar, spelling etc.