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What I need from you: Please check the Services page for the various items I need in order to assess your editing needs.

Visit Jodie’s group blog, The Kill Zone, and Jodie’s own blog, Resources for Writers, for interesting articles, tips and more. Also,  Crime Fiction Collective blog.


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To contact Jodie about her books, editing your manuscript, or presenting a workshop, please send an email to: j.renner.editing(at)hotmail(dot)com, or fill out the form below:

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Frequently Asked Questions – Jodie Renner Editing. Please scroll down for the answers.

  1. What is your experience in editing and proofreading books?
  2. What should I as the client do first to start the process?
  3. Do you have a preferred format for when I submit my manuscript for editing?
  4. Do I have to finish writing the whole novel before you can start editing the beginning?
  5. Could you please describe your editing process?
  6. What are your rates for a full-length novel?
  7. What are your payment terms for a full-length manuscript?
  8. You mentioned you are willing to do a free sample edit. How many words/pages are you willing to review?
  9. Will you be doing all the actual editing, or do you have assistants to do certain tasks?
  10. What is your general turnaround time?
  11. How do you indicate your changes or suggestions on the manuscript?
  12. What do I do with all those red changes you’ve made?
  13. How do I get rid of those comments you’ve put in boxes in the margin?
  14. Why don’t you feel the need to read the whole novel before you start advising and editing?
  15. Since we don’t live in the same city, how will we communicate?
  16. Do we sign a contract? What if things don’t work out, for one reason or another?
  17. How do I use Microsoft Word Track Changes?

1. Q. What is your experience in editing and proofreading books?

A. My personal background: I have a master’s degree and was an English (and French) teacher for 24 years and a school librarian for two years. I also have a lifelong passion for reading, especially fiction. But I’m not the typical “schoolmarm” or librarian type—I grew up in a large family, first on a small farm, then in a mining town, and since then, I’ve lived in three cities (Vancouver, Toronto, London) and traveled to many more. I’ve had many different types of jobs and life experiences, and have traveled extensively throughout North America, Europe, and the Middle East. For a list of places I’ve traveled to, see the “About Jodie” page.

My business: I started my own online and on-screen freelance copyediting business over seven years ago, and have edited about 60 full-length books since then, plus short stories and critiques, and hundreds of magazine articles and numerous other documents. I was also the copy editor for a high-quality culinary magazine. Because of referrals from satisfied clients, I’ve built up my business to the point where I’m turning down 6-12 manuscripts a week, on average. So please don’t take it personally if I don’t have time to take on your manuscript. I often have three or four on the go at a time, as I edit in sections and am editing some while waiting for the writers of others to complete revisions based on my suggestions.

Professional Development: I am continually learning and upgrading my skills. I was a member of both the Editors’ Association of Canada (EAC – 4 years) and the Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA – U.S. – 3 years) and regularly attend editors’ and writers’ conferences and workshops led by agents, editors, and best-selling authors. I also subscribe to Writer’s Digest magazine and several blogs by agents, editors and writers. I have more than forty how-to books on writing effective fiction, all of which I’ve read and marked up, taking notes from them and writing articles on various topics, mainly to do with fiction writing. I quote these authors liberally in my researched craft-of-fiction articles, which appear on various blogs, including my own, Resources for Writers, and Crime Fiction Collective.

My blog topics include: “Show, Don’t Tell,” “Creating Compelling Characters,” “Tips for Writing Effective Dialogue,” “Tips for Breaking into the Romance Genre,” “Act First, Explain Later” (Hook Your Reader with a Compelling First Page), “Style Blunders in Fiction” and many more.

I have also published two craft-of-writing books to date in my series, An Editor’s Guide to Writing Compelling Fiction: Style That Sizzles & Pacing for Power, and Writing a Killer Thriller, which are both available as e-books or trade paperbacks.

Grammar expert: In addition to constantly keeping up on the techniques that the agents and publishers are looking for in popular, compelling fiction these days, I also take pride in my knowledge of English grammar. I have dog-eared copies of the latest Chicago Manual of Style (956 pages) and Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (1622 pages), Garner’s Modern American Usage, and many other resource books, and am very familiar with online dictionaries and English grammar and usage websites. I’ve been called “the grammar queen” and “the grammar expert” by many of my clients, and I was also the Editorial Director for an online proofreading company called ProofreadingPal for three years, where I created all of their proofreading tests and resource materials, and tested and trained new proofreaders. I left that position to devote more time to my greatest interest and love: editing fiction.

Be assured that when I’m proofreading your manuscript for grammar and punctuation, if I fix/change anything, it’s because I know for a fact that it’s wrong, or, if in doubt, I’ve looked it up. I never guess.

2. Q. What should I as the client do first to start the process, and what are your first steps?

A. Please start by sending me the first 15-20 pages (double-spaced, 12-point, in Times New Roman) of your manuscript, plus 10 pages from somewhere in the middle, plus brief plot outline (synopsis) of half a page to a page, single-spaced, or better yet, a brief chapter outline, with 2 or 3 brief points under each chapter; as well as a character outline, listing the main characters in order of importance, and a few minor characters, and what role the main characters play.

Also, please include the genre, target readership, publishing goals, preferred time frame, and total word count.

From that, I’ll get a pretty good idea of whether your novel needs some revisions before I start copyediting, and I may give you some suggestions.

I’ll also do a free sample edit for you of the first 6-12 pages, and send that back at the same time, so you can see how I’d handle your writing style and genre.

If your manuscript has some major “big picture” issues and is not ready for copyediting until they’re resolved and you do some revisions, I probably won’t do a sample edit. Instead, I’ll give you some advice or suggest an initial critique, where I look at the first 10-30 pages and write a 4-6 page critique of the story and writing, filled with all kinds of useful advice.

You can also read about my editing process under “Process” on my website page.

3. Q. Do you have a preferred format for when I submit my manuscript for editing?

A. Instructions for submitting manuscripts for editing:

What I like to do with my clients is divide the manuscript up into chunks of 2-6 chapters and work on the earlier ones while they (you) prep the later ones for me, often based on my suggestions on the earlier ones, which I send back to you when I’m done for you to do revisions on while or before I continue to the next section. Then I check over your revisions, and each section could go back and forth several times like this.

My editing and proofreading service does not include a lot of time-consuming formatting, so please ensure the following before submitting your manuscript to me for editing:

  1. Email it to me as an attachment in Microsoft Word (Microsoft Office). This is a must.
  2. I prefer Times New Roman. It’s easier to read than some other fonts. 12-point.
  3. Left-justify the text, rather than justifying both sides.
  4. Make sure that when you’re typing and you come to the end of a line, do not press “Enter” unless it’s for a new paragraph. Let the text “wrap” around on its own.
  5. If you do not know how to double-space your document, leave it single-spaced and I’ll double-space it. Please do not click “Enter” at the ends of the lines to double-space it! That causes major headaches, and is very time-consuming to correct.
  6. A quick and easy way to double-space your whole manuscript: Control A, then Control 2. Voila! It’s done!
  7. Use Microsoft Word’s Paragraph function to indent for each new paragraph. Do not click repeatedly on the space bar to indent! It’s very important to use the forced indent, which is the “Tab” key.
  8. Don’t add an extra space for new paragraphs. Just leave it at your normal double-spacing.
  9. Only one space between sentences, not two.


4. Q. Do I have to finish writing the whole novel before you can start editing the beginning?

A. No, it’s not necessary for you to have finished the whole novel before we start the editing process, as I don’t read the whole novel through first, anyway. I just read synopsis / plot outline, character description, genre, etc., then get started at the beginning. So you can be finishing later sections while I’m working on earlier sections.

5. Q. Could you please describe your editing process?

A. I usually start with a look at the plot outline and character descriptions to see if I detect any major plot holes or other problems. Then I work with the author section by section. I divide the manuscript into sections of about 2-6 chapters. First I do a more global edit, and usually then send the section back to the author for some revisions before doing a fine-tuning edit. If I don’t see any issues, I do two runs-through (passes) of the section, both edits, before I send it back.

For more info on my process, please go to the Process page.

6. Q. What are your rates for a full-length novel?

A. My rates depend on how much work the writing needs to make it publish-worthy. Please see the Services page for my current fee range.

7. Q. What are your payment terms for a full-length manuscript?

A. I require $100-$200 down, then regular payments of $100–$300 as we go along, in advance of that section.

8. Q. You mentioned you are willing to do a free sample edit. How many words/pages are you willing to review?

A. If you send me the first 15-20 pages and I’m interested in taking on your story, I’ll usually do a sample edit of about 6-12 pages (double-spaced) for free. If you decide to hire me, those pages will be added to the overall count.

9. Q. Will you be doing all the actual editing, or do have assistants to do certain tasks?

A. I do all of the editing myself. I don’t use assistants. If I have a lot of work to do already, I’ll turn the manuscript down or ask the author if they can wait a few weeks or a month.

10. Q. What is your general turnaround time?

A. That depends on how much work the manuscript needs, and how long it takes the author to do the revisions of the chapters as we’re going along. I prefer to get each chapter or section right before moving ahead, as future stuff usually depends on past events, etc. An average manuscript will take between 3 weeks and 3 months to complete.

11. Q. Why don’t you feel the need to read the whole novel before you start advising and editing?

A. I think it’s very important for an editor to react to things immediately, not read the whole novel, then start again. If I as an editor have a question about something or find something confusing or implausible or whatever, so will the reader, at that same point in the novel. They’re not going to read the whole thing, then go back and say, “Oh, now I get it.” They’re just going to put down the book on page 5 or whatever because they’re confused and things don’t seem to make sense or add up to them. So I think it’s essential that I represent the reader and approach the edit as they would read the book, rather than reading the whole thing first, then going back and starting the edit at page one.

But for the big picture, I always ask for a detailed plot outline, like about a page, single-spaced, plus as much about each of the main characters, so I can see where the author is going with it, and see the personalities and motivations of the characters. If I’m doing more of a developmental edit, I will ask for a more detailed synopsis, like at least 2 pages, single-spaced, and may do some reading ahead.

12. Q. How do you indicate your changes or suggestions on the manuscript?

A. I do all my editing on-screen, using Microsoft Word Track Changes, with additional comments and suggestions in the margin. I have Microsoft Office 2010, and my clients should really have MS Word 2000 or later. Please let me know if you have an earlier version. I send you the marked-up copy, plus a “Final” version, a clean copy with all my changes accepted. You should be able to see my comments in the right margin, right beside the word or sentence I’m commenting on.

13. Q. What do I do with all those red changes?

A. Please note: To ensure the most accurate final copy, I strongly suggest to all my clients that they just look at the marked-up version, then use the “Final” version to make any further changes. Please indicate your revisions by highlighting them in yellow or turning on the Track Changes, so I can find them quickly and easily to do a final check-through. Once you have read and dealt with my comments in the margin, you can delete each comment by right-clicking on it.

If you prefer to work on the marked-up copy, and you are running Word 2000 or earlier, pull down the “Tools” menu, move to the “Track Changes” menu, move to the “Accept or Reject changes” menu, and click on the appropriate windows. Find the first change I made by clicking on the right-arrow. You can accept it or reject it with the appropriate buttons. You can check the changes I made one-by-one, or you can accept all of them at once.

To work on the marked-up copy, if you are running Word 2002 or later, pull down on “View” and cause the “Markup” toolbar to display. In the Markup toolbar you will see several icons. Mouse over them until you find the one that is labeled “Accept Change.” You can manipulate the choices there to accept each change, or all changes at once.

If you have MS Word 2007 or 2010, click on “Review” at the top, then click on “Accept” or “Reject” to accept or reject each change individually; or you may just wish to click on “Accept all” and save it, then make any further changes off that “clean copy.”

To see how my changes will look in “Final” version (“Final” version within “revisions” version): If you have Microsoft Word 2007, when you’re on the marked-up (redlined) version, to view the page as it would be if all my changes were accepted, a clean copy, go to the tab “Review” along the top, then click on “Final showing markup” and go down to “Final” and click on that. The text will be clean and free of markings, as if all my changes were accepted. It’s easier to see how it will look that way.

14. Q. How do I get rid of those comments you’ve put in boxes in the margin?

A. After you’ve read the comment and dealt with the suggestion, just right-click on the comment and click on “Delete comment.”

15. Q. Since we don’t live in the same city, how will we communicate? 

A. I prefer to do almost all communication via email, but you’re welcome to telephone me as well, if you prefer, and I may call you if I have any questions.

16. Q. Do we sign a contract? What if things don’t work out, for one reason or another?

A. I have a contract form, which I can send you, if you prefer. Most of my clients are quite happy to dispense with it. Since I prefer payments in instalments, as the work progresses, if either party wants out, they can “quit,” as long as neither party owes the other work or money. I am quite happy to refund any money paid for work not completed, if for any reason, either of us is unable or unwilling to continue working together on the manuscript. Please note that I do not refund any payments for work already completed.

17. Q. How do I use Microsoft Word Track Changes?

A. Here are some more detailed instructions that I got from someone else:

Most editors these days use a feature in Microsoft Word called “track changes.” This reviewing/editing tool enables your editor to make changes and corrections – additions and deletions – to your manuscript, and to comment on your writing style and make suggestions for improvement. The tool has its flaws and limitations, but becoming familiar with it will be very helpful to you if you are working with an editor who uses it. When your edited manuscript is returned to you, you’ll easily be able to accept or reject the editor’s changes and comments.

Keep the track changes toolbar showing on your MS Word screen while you are working on revisions. To turn on this toolbar, from the top “View” pulldown menu, select Toolbars, and then select Reviewers. The track changes toolbar should appear. Another way to access track changes is from the “Tools” pulldown menu. Simply select Track Changes, and the toolbar should appear.

To enable track changes, first you need to click on the second button from the right. When you hover your mouse over it, you’ll see it’s simply called “track changes.” On the “View” toolbar at the bottom of your screen, you should also make sure you are in print layout view. It’s possible to work in web layout view or normal view, but it isn’t as easy to see your changes on the screen.

Once you have enabled track changes, you’ll be able to see the editor’s corrections and comments in “balloons” in the right margin of the document. If you have an earlier version than Word 2002, the deletions will show up as strikethroughs, and the additions will show up as underlined. Word 2007 and 2008 also have some differences in the track changes/reviewing feature. You’ll need to experiment a little bit with your version of Word, and discuss with your editor any problems you may have in viewing the changes.

Now return to the track changes toolbar. Experiment with the various buttons. On the left, you’ll see a pull-down menu from which you can choose to view a clean final document, a clean original document, a final document showing markup (edits or corrections), and an original document showing markup.

Moving on to the other buttons, you’ll see that you can accept or reject your editor’s changes, either one at a time or all at once. You’ll also be able to read any comments in the balloons. Under the “Show” pull-down menu, I often recommend unchecking the “formatting” box – leaving it checked just clutters the screen with information you don’t need. I also don’t recommend using the reviewing pane. It’s cumbersome and not very useful.

Use MS Word’s “Help” feature if you’d like to learn more about track changes, but I hope these instructions help you get off to a good start.

  • Testimonials

    “Jodie’s tagline says, ‘Let’s work together to enhance and empower your writing.’ This is not just a tagline for Jodie, but rather the way she lives every moment of her editing life.
    No matter where you are, or think you are, with your project, Jodie can help. Her sense of dialogue is superb. She will show you how to pace your work appropriately, and is a master at building more personality into your characters. She does it all without infringing on your voice.
    Jodie is also a precise grammar queen.
    Simply, Jodie is the best all-around editor I have ever used. I paid her more money than we agreed to.
    Don’t miss the chance to hire this talented lady. I did and I will again and again.”
    – John Tkac, Delray Beach, Florida. Author of Whispers from the Bay and now Talking to Water, YA fiction, July 1, 2010

    “Jodie completed an analysis, critique, and copyedit of my historical fiction novel for young adults. She did a great job. She was fast, conscientious, honest, detailed, and made many excellent suggestions that will improve the manuscript in preparation for submission and publication. I greatly appreciated her combination of personal service/relationship and professionalism. I would strongly recommend her, especially for young adult novels and other creative projects.”
    – Robert Beatty, author of Lioness, December 2009

    “In a marketplace filled with authors, the right editor is essential to making your book stand out from the crowd. Jodie Renner worked with me to transform my thriller, The Lonely Mile, from an exciting book to a tight, suspenseful, heart-pounding thrill ride.
    Jodie did much more than just correct typos and fix grammatical issues. She identified plot holes, eliminated repetitive phrasing, and helped improve the pacing, which forms the heart of a thriller. Jodie Renner is an enthusiastic, energetic and highly skilled editor with extremely fair rates. If you’re serious about making your work the best it can be, I recommend Jodie without hesitation!”
    – Allan Leverone, March 2011, author of Final Vector (February 2011, Medallion Press), and now, The Lonely Mile, published July 2011, StoneHouse Ink, , and paperback:

    "If you’re needing an editor who knows her business, I would highly recommend Jodie Renner. Her editing is accurate, insightful, and complete. In addition, she won’t mess with your style or voice. So, if you’d like to turn your manuscript into a polished, agent-ready draft, Jodie is the connection you need to make that happen. Her turnaround is quick, and her prices are very reasonable. Give her a shout. You won’t regret it when you see the result.”
    – Michael Broadway, September 2010, author of YA and middle-grade fiction, including this latest, Lost in the Bayou, published by Musa – Euterpe and Amazon – Kindle, Dec. 2011.

    “Jodie did an outstanding job editing my debut mystery novel, The Temporary Detective. Not only did she tame my wayward commas and misguided hyphens, she also vastly improved the opening, caught me on several logic flaws, and nudged me into making clearer word choices. In addition, her response time every step of the way was nothing short of miraculous. Jodie made it clear from the start that the final say on anything was mine and, indeed, we had a few lively style debates via email. But she was always good-natured about these discussions and remained willing to answer countless questions that might seem minor to some, but which were major to me. There was never a limit on how many times we sent a section back and forth; she was clearly as committed to getting it right as I was. Jodie came recommended to me by several independent sources, and I am happy to enthusiastically add my voice to theirs in recommending her services."
    – Joanne Sydney Lessner, Nov. 2011, author of Pandora’s Bottle (Flint Mine Press, 2010) and the forthcoming The Temporary Detective

    “Jodie did a terrific job editing my novel, IN THE FORESTS OF THE NIGHT, a paranormal thriller. She has an exquisite eye for detail, and possesses a wide range of editing skills. Jodie corrected errors of punctuation and grammar, pointed out weaknesses in the logic and organization of the story, and helped with the dramatic opening of the all-important first chapter. Her comments were insightful, clear and succinct, and she was able to suggest minor and substantive changes to my work in a professional and diplomatic manner.
    Jodie is one of the most productive editors that I have ever worked with. She worked quickly and efficiently, and returned material to me in hours to days. This made my job of revising the novel more pleasurable than onerous, and allowed me to ‘get it out the door’ with a minimum of fuss.
    I look forward to working with Jodie in the future.”
    – David Hogg, Toronto, August 2011

    “Jodie Renner is a superb fiction editor who will identify the weaknesses in your story and show you how to fix them. She will also emphasize the strengths. Her understanding of story structure is stellar and her expertise at nailing the exact points where my chapters should have ended dramatically improved the pacing in my romantic suspense story. She caught multiple continuity errors and defined plot holes. She got deep into my characters’ heads to ask me questions about what really made them tick. Bless her, she even fixed my amateurish point-of-view errors. Color me impressed!”
    – Eve Paludan, February 2010, author of three editions of The Romance Writer’s Pink Pages (Prima) and my current novel, The Man Who Fell from the Sky

    “In editing my literary novel, Jodie Renner helped me to find and affirm what was the best in my writing. Her consistent, thorough feedback gave me the framework I needed to do fast and effective revision. She achieved this with compassion, offering balanced portions of advice and encouragement as we worked through my novel.
    “Jodie’s incisive questioning forced me to make my description more visual, and to communicate with economy, while still maintaining my style. She also taught me to pay close attention to chronology in my storytelling, and to develop my characters and scenes by adding more detail. I hope Jodie can edit my next book, so that I can use her help to continue to grow as a writer.”
    – Howard Baker, October 2009, author of Unfinished Business,, B.C., Canada

    "Thanks for editing my new thriller, 17 Degrees North, Jodie. You’re an excellent editor. I like lots of your suggestions and have incorporated many into the text. It’s obvious from what you did that you understand the mystery/suspense genre, and your suggestions improved the flow of the narrative. I’m excited about the finished product, and my agent is satisfied (very important).”
    – Larry Seeley, author of Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves, Award-Winning Finalist in the “Fiction: Mystery/Suspense” category of the 2011 International Book Awards and now 17 Degrees North, coming out February 2012

    "As I was searching for a freelance editor for my action thriller No Remorse, I discovered the editor-gem Jodie Renner. I was delighted to find Jodie’s editorial contribution to No Remorse extended way beyond just copyediting and helping with U.S. equivalents for my Australian expressions.
    Jodie suggested (very diplomatically) changes to parts of the story that would create greater depth of character, or resonate better with readers (particularly females, something a male writer doesn’t always notice). Having already learned to kill my babies through multiple versions of the manuscript, I was happy in around 95% of instances to agree with Jodie’s suggestions.
    Apart from the absolute fun I had working with Jodie, the experience was incredibly efficient. Needless to say, I’ll be consulting Jodie earlier in the process with my next novel, because I’m so confident she will speed up the whole process.
    I highly recommend Jodie to anyone who has not used a professional editor and is considering submitting to an agent or publisher, or self-publishing.
    I rate Jodie six stars out of five!"

    – Ian Walkley, November 2011, author of No Remorse,