Editing Approach

Writing is mostly a solitary experience. Yet the product destined for publication, be it article, pamphlet, newsletter, book, poem, or screenplay will be seen, heard by many (hopefully 1,000s… millions).

As much as writers may love the creative process, sooner or later the work must be fit for the eyes of others. The author will not be at the elbow of the reader to explain or correct an “Oops.” This is where writers need a thesaurus, a dictionary, and an objective yet supportive aid— an editor.

  •  If you don’t know or care about the importance and placement of periods, commas, and quotation marks; if it’s all so many random squiggles, you need an editor.
  • If words like ellipse, hyphen, apostrophe, and closed quote, open quote are like foreign words, you need an editor.
  • If you don’t know front matter from back matter in a book, you need an editor.
  • Your book, article, story may be written with brilliance, sound reasoning and a clever turn of phrase, but if it’s filled with punctuation, spelling, and capitalization errors, you can kiss your credibility good-bye.
  • An editor locates the gaps of information, foreshadowing, or sequencing that the author may be too close to emotionally or professionally to see.

I can be that editor.

Editing Options

1. Proofreading: The most basic option. Spelling, punctuation and formatting (visual appearance) correction.

2. Copyediting: Spelling, punctuation, grammar, word usage/subject-verb disagreement, syntax, general formatting, and overall tone of the content.

3. Substantive/Line-by-line: Review again for copy edits plus full formatting (including front matter, text, and back matter); the structure of the work is examined, appropriate slang, formality vs. colloquialisms; consistency in narrative voice; authenticity of author ‘voice’; eliminate clichés, unnecessary modifiers, repeated phrases; smooth out metaphors.

4. Developmental Edits: Correct overall arc of the story, logic, background information. 

 Can include suggestions for: Rewriting and restructuring the text to fit the format. Moving entire paragraphs and sentences to improve flow. Ensuring consistent structure in headings, chapters, titles. Identifying gaps in content, and supplying or describing the needed copy. Deleting content/research that is outdated or that does not achieve the desired focus. Developing an effective system for handling trademarks and footnotes.

5. Final Proofreading: Reading the final copy word-for-word against the edited copy. Check copy for conformity to style, ensure attractive typography by checking kerning, margins, word spacing, and repetitive word breaks. Make sure no new errors have occurred in misspellings, typos, misnumbering or mislabeling.

6. Critique: Does not include editing; instead focuses on the content of the work pointing out the strengths of the manuscript as well as plot inconsistencies, character flaws and anything else that weakens the manuscript. Choose any of the above or full service which includes options 1-5.

I can make that second or final draft be less confusing and more enjoyable by helping you choose the editing option you need. I can be that editor.

Services Offered

Copy edit for all types of work. Full service for non-fiction: memoir, personal essay, autobiography, biography, blogs. Fiction: short story. Flash fiction (@1000 words).


Four read-throughs:

  1. General Assessment- Is this a rough draft, in-progress, rewrite, final draft? How much copy/line/ development work is necessary to make this a polished, professional piece?
  2. Copy Edit and Line-by-line read-through.
  3. Developmental Edit.
  4. Final Proofing.


  • Consult about sample edit to assess estimated number of hours to complete the editing. The time frame for the project is dependent on the assessment of the first read-through and sample edit and the client’s needs.
  • Fee: $45/hr. for full service which includes copyedits, line-by-line, developmental and final proofread. Often a shorter piece (less than 20,000 words) is priced at full project.
  • Critique option will necessarily increase the total hours.
  • Payments are split between deposit(s) and balance due at final proofreading. Personal check or PayPal.

ELM Promises:

  • Ongoing updates on progress, comments on changes or suggestions, direct contact through e-mail and phone.
  • Clients receive two copies of the project—tracked copy with comments,  and edits incorporated in an email attached document.
  • Following client insertion of edits, a proofread is done to go over after all edits accepted or rejected to make sure all are correct and there are no new errors.
  • Editing Reference: Chicago Manual of Style or publisher’s recommendation.


I can’t thank you enough for your clear perspective and excellent comments on my manuscript.  Your keen eye corrected my grammar, which tends to be more on the decorative rather than the functional side. I’d recommend you as an editor to anyone. Beth Lane author, Lies Told Under Oath

Enthusiastic is an apt description of Ethel Lee.  She volunteered to edit my memoir which I accepted, and in return I would treat her to lunch. She responded that editing is not a chore to her. She loves to edit. She was very skillful in organizing my manuscript. By breaking down several of my paragraphs into smaller units, this made my writing much easier for the reader to assimilate. Of course, she caught my grammatical errors. When she finished, I felt very confident that my manuscript was in the best possible form. Brenda Marjaniemi author, An Extended Stay


Ethel Lee Miller is the most enthusiastic speaker, writer, & editor that I know. She bubbles with encouragement while working with you to make sure your personal writing is as grammatically correct as possible. Ethel also edited my book with extra attention to my readers’ understanding of components in my story. Her attention to overall details in a timely manner is exactly what I needed that allowed me to meet my publishing deadline. Jennifer L. Beauchamp author, Mischief on the Farm