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Donnelly-House Associates (DHA)
Freelance Affordable Independent-Novel Editing

 

You only get one chance to make a first impression.

 

As authors, we need to respect our audience and remove all unnecessary distractions from our story.

 

If you would like to engage our services, or have questions, please contact us at this e-mail address:
 
DHADonnelly-House.net

 

We offer a FREE analysis of the first chapter (or more) of your novel if you are unsure of its editing state. Be forewarned that we almost always find errors, issues, & problems.

 

It's never too late to have a nicely-edited novel.

 

Most self-published novels need additional polish and clean-up editing.

 

We offer low-cost, affordable proofreading and copy editing of independently published novels.

 

More than a couple of editing errors for a novel is too many.

 

As a writer and author, you deserve to have a nicely-edited novel.
– Your novel deserves to be properly edited.
– Your readers and fans deserve to have a novel that is a joy to read with as few editing issues as possible.

 

We generally do not work on non-fiction and other works, but you can contact us to discuss other possibilities.

Example Edit Notes Documents

Below is a second edit notes document example linked PDF file with explanation and a third short example.


• Below are the edit notes we suggested for Shalini Boland's novel, "The Clearing", which is book 2 of the Outside series trilogy. She was kind enough to let us use this as an example of the type and level of work we perform. (see her writer's blog at http://someonewotwrites.blogspot.com/) Ms. Boland was brave in letting us show her issues, "warts and all", if you will, and we appreciate it. Shalini told us she found the edit notes very helpful, and we were glad to be of help.

We have found that most novels that are self-published, and even some that are not, have an edit list at least this long, and many/most even longer (it also depends on the length of the manuscript). And this was after several pre-readers and 'editors' had worked on it, and after the novel had been published.

A final, clean-up edit (with fresh eyes) is almost always needed, unless it has already been performed. And even then, no one is perfect, so the occasional issue will get through. (we pride ourselves on being particularly good at what we do — the fine-detail work we provide as a service is not easy to find, especially at the affordable prices we charge)

We thoroughly enjoyed working with Shalini, and she hired us to perform a final clean-up edit of the third book of the trilogy, "The Perimeter", as well. We hope to have a long editing relationship with Ms. Boland, and look forward to not only editing her novels, but also reading them. We find them quite enjoyable. As we told her, "They are an effortless read". (which is not easy for an author to accomplish)

A few quick comments about our editing process and the editing notes document we provided.

As we tend to do, some edits are absolute, and others are more questionable, or suggestions.

We always take into account the writing style of the author, which may or may not be in what we call "Perfect Pitch English". (which we do not have — also, in this case, the author and novel are British, and American English is different in many ways from British English, in word usage, phraseology, and other potential grammar and punctuation differences, or (for all works) perhaps the 'lingo' of the 'speaker' used as character dialogue ("vernacular")) Some of these usages are Britishisms, some of which we know about, and others we do not. (there are often many challenges when editing a manuscript)

And, although we do occasionally suggest some content changes that we think are important, at the very least for consideration, those are often even more of a suggestion, unless there is an obvious missing element, a logic or continuity issue, or something more absolute like that.

All of which the author can take or leave, as they wish. The editing process is a collaborative effort.

The notes format here is a plain text version. (other versions are doable — the zombie novel we edited was a hardcopy paperback with penciled notations) Sometimes we will put a question mark or two if we are not as sure about an edit, or as more of a suggestion as opposed to an absolute. Using this format, the author can perform a text search for the text in question, and then decide for themselves what they want to do, if anything.

In this format, we generally use uppercase as emphases, and parenthesized text as replacement (with '=') and insert. Square bracketed text are our notes of explanation and other comments. These edits were performed from an e-book and a word processing document. We sometimes note the Chapters to help the author keep track of the general location in the book, and they are all listed in order (for the most part), as well. We try to provide enough text that a search will find the exact location.

We always point out to authors that we can almost guarantee that the edit notes lists we create are not 100% complete. But they should get the author very close. (and usually closer than others help them get)

You may have to 'pardon' some of our casualness below, which is our style. We also like to use humor. Full Disclosure: The edit list below has been "cleaned up" a little for publication here, but the core is intact.

   1) CH 2 -- Yeah. Well (COMMA?) I could lie and SAID (=SAY) it was me,'
   2) used to climb (COMMA?) as it had
   3) slipped behind a thick bank of cloud(S).
      [PLURAL; can you have a single bank of cloud? OR: 'cloud cover']
   4) north wind
      [my tendency is to want to CAP this, but you are probably right --
      might depend on whether you mean A north wind or THE North Wind]
   5) or something I didn't want to hear(?)
      [should be a QUESTION MARK not a period]
   6) CH 3 -- they backfired (COMMA?) getting them
   7) seeing a vehicle out here WERE (=WAS) almost NON-EXISTENT
      [AND: is this the correct usage of 'non-existent'? it kind of bothers me --
      I think there is probably a better word or phrase that you can use here
      that has a meaning more like you intend and mean, a la "unheard of"?]
   8) oh (COMMA) okay then
   9) CH 5 -- manoeuvered (=MANOEUVRED)
   10) would she ever see Mum and Dad
      [I think these should be CAPITALIZED -- or use "see HER..." ---
      I talk about this below in more detail at #45]
   11) CH 6 -- in Salisbury?' Fred SAID. (=ASKED?)
      [probably better]
   12) CH 7 -- with Mum and Dad and FJ
      [I think these should be capitalized -- or use "with MY..." ---
      I talk about this below in more detail at #45]
   13) CH 8 -- Island of yours
      [island should probably not be CAPITALIZED? unless this is that
      'used instead of the actual name' as a proper pronoun thing, or whatever
      that is and is officially called]
   14) CH 10 -- My mind span. (SPUN?)
      [just in case this isn't a British usage]
   15) around the Island
      [island should probably not be CAPITALIZED??]
   16) CH 12 -- You're (NOT) going anywhere near that place again.
      [MISSING WORD]
   17) save our home?' she SAID. (=ASKED?)
   18) CH 13 -- be like them (COMMA) too (COMMA) otherwise
   19) wanted to throw up (COMMA) too
   20) tucking her hair behind her ears
      [??? LOGIC: already in a ponytail at this point?!? see several para. back]
   21) girl's toilets [VERSUS] girls' toilets
      [you use both close to each other -- Choose one? ]
   22) seven-and-a-half (COMMA?) actually.(')
      [ALSO: missing an ending quote]
   23) he's here somewhere (COMMA) too,
   24) CH 14 -- then maybe (REMOVE COMMA) he'd get
      [or add a comma between then and maybe]
   25) Ringwood ARE (=IS?) expecting us.
   26) while Pa was around (COMMA) and I couldn't
   27) he'd try to kill (US?) before we
      [MISSING WORD]
   28) CH 17 -- ready to go, I stopped
      [break into two sentences at comma?]
   29) what they look(ED) like and
      [should be past tense? OR: ...DON'T even know what they LOOK like...]
   30) like CROWS' feathers dripping
      [make crows POSSESSIVE]
   31) CH 21? -- seven YEARS' earlier
      [REMOVE apostrophe]
   32) CH 24 -- unchristian
      [?? either un-Christian, unChristian, or Unchristian??]
   33) Sorry, did you SAID (=SAY) the North
   34) CH 25 -- No (COMMA) it's a fair point
   35) for the first time in her life, she actually felt angry.
      [REALLY? "for the FIRST time in her life"?? I'm not sure what you
      were trying to get across here, but it doesn't sound right that
      she had never been angry before this time in her life. ("EVER")
      It's kind of literal impossibility. It doesn't have the Ring of Truth
      to it. (or Reality) -- So maybe say it 'better'?]
   36) CH 28 -- scuttling rustling shuffling
      [this should probably be a COMMA-separated list]
   37) CH 30 -- several times, we had to
      [I think this COMMA should be REMOVED]
   38) CH 31 -- took the warm (COMMA) dry ROBES (=ROBE) and
      pulled THEM (=IT) over my head
      [this doesn't read right -- maybe a hold over from an edit-change from
      "we/our..." to "I/my..."]
   39) first door and THE then the second
      [double 'the']
   40) We were dressed as Grey's guards (COMMA) but he must have heard Annabelle's scream.
      [FIRST: this is just kind of off -- one would think he would obviously
      have heard Annabelle's SHRIEK since she's standing right there,
      so it should probably be re-written to something like
      "but Annabelle's scream tipped him off."
      ('nonsensical' stuff like this tends to pull the reader out of the story)
      As for the comma before the BUT, there are multiple instances
      of this throughout, which brings up the whole "comma before BUT" argument --
      just so you're aware of it and you are making conscious decisions
      one way or the other]
   41) CH 32 -- think for themselves (COMMA) do you(?)'
      [both COMMA, and also end with a QUESTION MARK instead of a period]
   42) dropped it into his hand
      [this also pulled me out of the story, because I knew his hands were bound,
      but then I thought about it (which, ideally, I shouldn't have to), and
      you could still drop it into his hands -- IF (+/-) they were bound in front,
      rather than behind -- and because you didn't specify, I assumed it was behind his
      back, not in front (you could be clearer THERE?) --- I suggest you change it from
      "hand" to "bound hands" just to make it a little better and sidestep possible
      confusion ---- I was going to suggest it be changed to having her throw it away,
      which MIGHT be a more understandable reaction by her at this point, but he
      needs it later, as I found out, because it is a key -- that actually stretched
      believability a little, but not so much so that it is a problem (?)]
   43) clothes were wet and filthy
      [??? LOGIC: there was no explanation of why their clothes would be wet
      AND FILTHY -- did you delete something and this was a lingering
      reference as to why they would be so? (just WET could be let go)]
   44) lying there (REMOVE COMMA) kept coming
   45) CH 34 -- Mum, Dad, you're here
      [I don't think you're capitalizing 'mum' and 'dad' when you should be;
      there are many instances of this throughout -- the usual easy test is to
      put their names in for mum and dad, and if that works, they should be
      capitalized, where "my mum" would not be -- I didn't pay close attention
      to your use of "Ma" and "Pa" always being capitalized; this could be an
      AE versus BE thing; and also, potentially, writing/writer's style]
   46) and Dad alright
      [same as above -- I won't list all locations]
   47) Mum, Dad, this is Annabelle
      [same as above -- I won't list all locations]]
   48) her father's face (REMOVE COMMA) made Liss
   49) Thanks, Mum. I don't mind
      [same as above -- I won't list all locations]
   50) CH 36 -- still cuffed with their faces covered
      [a bit nit-picky, but you mention several para. back that their
      hoods had been removed, and now, "suddenly", they are back on ---
      you could add something like, "We thought it prudent to cover them
      again this close to Ringwood." (just to dot your t's and cross your i's)]
   51) within six FOOT of us
      [just making sure you purposely used FOOT instead of FEET]
   52) Grey (COMMA) too (COMMA) had [?]
   53) Clever (COMMA?) eh?
   54) CH 38 -- Here's what's going to happen, FREDDIE
      [calling him 'FJ' here doesn't seem right -- 'Freddie' in italics is
      more snarky and demeaning, showing the disdain and lack of respect that I think
      the character feels for him, and would want to show, to put him in his place,
      and show "who's the boss", etc., which I thought would be more in character
      with the character, the situation, and the mood. (?) "Junior" would be even worse.
      Just a thought...]

   -end-

Below is a link to a PDF file to an edit notes document created for Robert Chazz Chute's novel This Plague of Days. (Book 1) This book just happened to be next on my reading list.

There were quite a few editing problems in this book, some of them rather glaring, and what helped me get through it was switching to "edit mode" and creating an edit notes list as I read the book. If I hadn't done that, I would have been fairly irritated and annoyed. A few issues is semi-acceptable, which is what I thought I would find in this otherwise very-well-written (and good) book. But the list grew as I read, to over 100 issues. I was surprised. (I originally expected to find a few issues to let the author know about)

My primary problem with too many editing issues in a book is, you're reading along, engrossed in the story, enjoying it, and BANG!, you hit a glaring edit issue that takes you out of the story. That's mostly why it's so highly annoying and irritating to me. (and to other readers — the question is, how many?? and what, possibly wide-ranging, effects does and will that have?? (for sales, loss of word-of-mouth advertising, etc...)) This is especially true if it's a good book that I really like. I believe I got this e-book for free through BookBub or some other offer, so that lessened my reaction somewhat.

This example and the example above are proof that it happens to the best of us. Almost all self-published novels could use a final, clean-up edit.

Unfortunately, the author wasn't interested in using my edit notes to correct the many problems I found. Hopefully he will get help from some other (minimally good or decent) editor to correct the issues. (personally, I think he will be hard-pressed to find anyone who would or could come up with an edit notes list like we did)

And, as has happened WAY too many times lately, I have to make a decision as to whether I want to pay money for the second book in the series, or other books by this author, possibly finding similar issues. It's bad enough to find them in a free book, much worse for one you pay money for.

It's getting to the point where I am becoming "gun shy" about reading self-published e-books, afraid of what I'm going to find. I try to not let it bother me, but, as I mentioned above, it really does cast an unfortunate cloud over the reading experience. (unless the reader is "(semi-) illiterate" and doesn't notice, or editing issues don't bother them) It also angers me sometimes when I really like the book otherwise, and really want to continue on and find out what happens in a series. So there's that, as well. (which is true for me for this series)

Edit Notes Document for This Plague of Days (43K PDF document)
(Fair Use applies for any and all textual references)


Below are the edit notes created for John Abramowitz's novel Atticus For The Undead. (Book 1) Mr. Abramowitz has a current editor (who started after this book), so he chose to not engage our services at this time. Since we spent the time creating this short list, we thought we would include it here as another example of the work we do. (I don't think Mr. Abramowitz would mind our mentioning that he thought the list was "impressive" — thank you for that, sir)

   "Atticus For The Undead"
   by John Abramowitz

   Proofreading and copyediting notes document. (Saturday, December 28, 2013)

   These were taken from the e-book.


   They are, for the most part, in order of appearance in the book.


   1) He drew a pocketknife(PERIOD)
      [MISSING PERIOD]
   2) at the reprimand anyway(PERIOD)
      [MISSING PERIOD]
   3) that the Chief voted —(,) but
      [REMOVE COMMA?]
   4) political system(COMMA?) as we deal
      [better with COMMA?]
   5) [there are two instances where you are using an apostrophe to shorten words,
      and they are at the beginning of a sentence, but are not capitalized --
      this could be writer's preference, but I think they look better (and should
      maybe even absolutely be) capitalized -- the two instances are:
         'lo
         'fraid
      Even though you are removing the normally-capitalized beginning character(s),
      the resultant word should probably still be capitalized according to 'standard'
      English grammar and sentence structure]
   6) Sam didn't seem to notice.(SPACE?)"Yeah,"
      [possible MISSING whitespace or formatting issue]
   7) Kirsten tapped her fingers ON THE BEDPOST
      [LOGIC: prior to this, Kirsten and Sabrina were in the bedroom, but they had
      gone to the kitchen to make popcorn -- there is quite a bit of dialogue here,
      and the reader would assume they were in the kitchen making popcorn and hadn't
      moved (back to the bedroom?) -- I think I remember Sabrina putting her head
      in her hand and leaning on her elbow?? -- there should be some description
      text about Sabrina sitting down at the kitchen dinette (or something) and
      Kirsten preparing the popcorn (thereby tapping on the kitchen counter?),
      or moving them elsewhere in the apartment]
   8) (INDENT)She locked eyes with him
      [I think there is a lack of paragraph indentation issue here]
   9) he was probably in shock.(SPACE)"That's
      [possible MISSING whitespace or formatting issue]
   10) I'm sending you(,)" Kirsten found
      [COMMA should be a PERIOD]
   11) [Chapter 9 -- As Hunter meets the DA in person for the first time, you
      should mention that up till that time he had only dealt with the ADAs from
      his office -- some readers will probably infer that, but people who don't
      know how these things work will not -- ideally the reader should not have to
      'guess', or be possibly confused, or have to think too much]
   12) the jury box, then SAID, "Be seated."
      [I think "said," should be an EM DASH, or some other better punctuation]
   13) "No further questions(,)" Hunter resumed his seat.
      [COMMA should be a PERIOD; or change to "Hunter said as he resumed"]
   14) "That was different ... ."
      [This should end in an ellipsis without a trailing period; although there
      were a few other locations where you ended a sentence like this with four
      periods (....), which is a little non-standard; so this could be a formatting
      issues and the SPACE needs to be removed; or change them all to ellipses]
   15) "But it's good to see you, too(QUOTE)
      [MISSING ending QUOTE]
   16) "Well ... ."
      [same as Edit Note #14]
   17) he choked on the word "DEATH."
      [I suggest you either use single quotes here instead of double quotes
      (because that looks like dialogue, which is confusing), or use no quotes and
      ITALICIZE the word 'death']
   18) — or someones —(,)
      [I think the COMMA should be REMOVED]
   19) favor to ask ... ."
      [same as Edit Note #14]
   20) place for me to live ... ."
      [same as Edit Note #14]
   21) [you don't inform the reader about what the "Unveiling" is all about until
      quite a ways into the story (and then, in bits and pieces?); this could be
      'writer's prerogative', but I think it would be better to take a beat and
      a paragraph to explain what it is the first time the word is used --
      perhaps even somewhere in the Prologue]

   -- end --

 

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