Your book, your vision.

It’s important to you, but sometimes it’s hard to bring that shining idea in your mind to life on the page. How do you turn your newborn fiction manuscript into a polished book readers will love? Most of us have a hard time editing our own work. We see what we meant to say, not what we said.

As an author myself, I’ve taken my own manuscripts from mush-in-the-middle drafts to well-reviewed, internationally published novels. One was even short-listed for a major award. But I promise you, it didn’t start out that way. None of them did. Because I go through this process with my own work, I know how to ask the questions that lead to the heart of the story you want to tell.

But knowing what needs to be done isn’t much use unless you can articulate it. As a longtime teacher, with 28 years of teaching and training experience and a Masters degree in education, I can help you learn to crystallize the story you want to tell and the skills you need to convey that story to readers. I know there are no boilerplate answers. Every writer and every story is different and deserves individualized attention.

I know I’m not the only editor out there with writing and teaching experience, though, so why pick me over bigger name editors with New York Times bestsellers on their resumes and a long history with Big Six (now Big Five) publishers?


Compassionate Editing

As an editor, author, and conference organizer, I talk to a lot of writers. Recently, I spoke to two who told me about similar experiences. After paying exorbitant fees to big-name editors, both received demoralizing reports with general information and little if any constructive advice. Both were still reeling from that feedback. Neither has written a word since.

I know there are some kind editors out there. But there are others who will slice and dice your manuscript like Cuisinarts, telling you everything you did wrong, nothing you did right, and giving you no clue about how to fix it. These editors might know their stuff, but you end up demoralized and confused, with no idea how to salvage your book, or even whether you should.

I will never do that to you. Instead, you’ll get individualized, compassionate communication.

It begins with a diagnostic reading of your manuscript. Then, once I know what the manuscript’s strengths and weaknesses are, we talk on the phone (or in person if you live in Nashville or the surrounding areas) so I can get a clear idea of your vision for your book and what’s important to you.

Now, you may be thinking, “Oh no. I have to hear bad things about my work over the phone? Or worse, in person?  Can’t you just send me an email?”

I know some editors prefer to do everything via email, saying that phone calls waste your time and money because of small talk and “ums” and “uhs.” But since I don’t charge extra for those, we can take the time it takes to discuss your ideas and my suggestions. Because the truth is, there’s not just one way to fix a problem. Sometimes it’s important to discuss the various possibilities and see which ones work for you. If we don’t discuss it, how can I make sure I’m giving you the right advice for your book?

The answer is, I can’t. I need to be able to ask you questions. This is a process. Not me telling you what to do, but rather, helping you discover it for yourself. Here’s an example. Not long ago, I was talking with a client about a new project. “I have all these ideas,” she said. “I have all these scenes. But I can’t figure out how to put them together into a coherent story.”

That same afternoon, we had an outline that was tight enough to get her started but loose enough to leave room for happy  surprises. She left our meeting excited to get started and could hardly wait to write.

Don’t get me wrong. Compassion doesn’t mean giving you all sugar and light. If your book has a serious structural flaw or your characters lack depth, I’ll tell you. But while I’m doing that, I’ll also tell you what you did right. I’ll help you build on your strengths so you can make your book the best it can be. I will do all I can to build you up while teaching you the skills you need to become a better writer.

We all have gifts. Mine is an ability to see the potential in your book–the deeper characters, the richer story. The book it could be. One of my clients calls it “that thing you do.”

“I need you to read my book,” she says, “and do that thing you do.”

That’s what I offer you that many other editors don’t.

But don’t take my word for it. Here’s what some of my clients have to say:

“Jaden’s editing comments are not only insightful and articulate, but she has an uncanny knack for divining the writer’s intentions so that her advice goes right to the heart of the story. She has helped me immeasurably in fully developing my characters and plot lines.”

Philip Cioffari, Award-winning author of Catholic Boys and Jesusville, Independent Screenwriter

“Jaden Terrell brings an eye to editing that encompasses more than the nits and grammar, the POV and the continuity. She understands the characters and what makes them tick….Her editing not only makes your book better, it makes *you* better as you grasp her deep understanding of the people you created. She’s a respectful editor, giving you the hard criticism with a good dose of what you did right and more than a little humor. She never condescends but always strives to lift you up. I choose Jaden to edit my materials because she’s rare and wonderful and she makes me feel rare and wonderful, too.”

                              – Nancy Sartor, author of Bones Along the Hill

“Jaden Terrell is a rare editing talent, combining macro and micro perspective so necessary to ensure entertaining and cohesive structure, plot, sub-plot, tenor, voice and character development in addition to stronger, active verbs and correct grammar. But Jaden also knows the author’s psyche, understands well when to insist and when to abide — and she’s always empathetic. She’s the editor’s editor. “

                            – Ben Small, author of Alibi on Ice and The Olive Horseshoe

Think you might like to work with me?

Let’s talk about one more thing first. Affordabilty. There are plenty of editors who are more expensive than I am and plenty who are cheaper. I charge a fair rate that compensates me for my time and is accessible to most writers, with a less expensive option for those who are financially strapped. Believe me, I’ve been there.

I work on a first-come, first-served basis. If I can’t get to you right away, I can put you on a waiting list and will let you know approximately how long the wait will be.

Below are the fiction manuscript editing services I offer.

Diagnostic Reading: $300

A complete manuscript reading and general overview of its strengths and weaknesses. The cost of this reading can be applied to any subsequent edit. If you’re not sure what kind of edit you need, or if a more extensive edit is out of your price range, this is a good place to start.

Outline & Story Consultation: $150

If you have an idea for a novel but don’t know where to begin, I can help you solidify your idea, explore your characters, and create an effective outline. Consultation by phone, Skype, or (If you’re within two hours of Nashville) in person.

Developmental Editing (Content/Substantive): $30/1000 words

Includes a diagnostic reading and phone consultation.

Comprehensive Editing (Developmental + Line Editing: $30-$40/1000 words

A detailed developmental (content/substantive) edit, with chapter-by-chapter notes on the plot, pacing, characterization, story structure, and more; followed by a line edit in which I pay attention to language, grammar, syntax, usage errors, subject-verb agreement, etc. I’ll also address awkward language, repetition, wordiness, overwriting, and other linguistic issues. This does not include fact checking or close proofreading/copy editing. Includes a diagnostic reading and phone consultation.


Coaching Packages

For those who would like ongoing coaching, either on a specific project or throughout the writing and publishing process, I also offer coaching packages and a la cart coaching. You can find complete descriptions here.


More Client Comments: 

“I have authored three books and used numerous editors but none come close to Jaden Terrell’s editing. Ms Terrell was kind enough to take me on for my third book, Poison Promise. She uniquely focuses on the story – its flow, its continuity and its message(s). She patiently taught me how important character point of view (POV) is and how POV relates to the reader’s perspective. She taught me subtle tricks you’ll never learn from traditional editors… Moreover, Ms. Terrell does her work quickly and efficiently. Her editing turnaround time is uniquely fast as well as accurate and she is always there for you should you have a question. I will certainly use Jaden Terrell again for my next book and I strongly recommend her to you.”

                           – Paul Evancoe – author of Own the Night, Violent Peace and Poison Promise

Jaden Terrell’s editorial expertise has proven invaluable to me.  She is wonderful to work with: thorough and dependable, and she offers a wealth of terrific suggestions and advice. She is a true professional, and I recommend her highly. Thanks, Jaden!”

                              – Alana White, author of The Sign of the Weeping Virgin

“I had been writing for years, but kept putting it all on a back burner, waiting for publication to come someday. Then, when I decided to get serious, I was fortunate enough to meet Jaden. Jaden has patiently and knowledgeably steered me through my excursions into the world of the written word, helping me with minor details as well as guiding me in focusing, tightening, foreshadowing, and other aspects necessary for preparing my work to present to potential editors or agents. Without the encouragement and assistance of Jaden Terrell, I’m afraid all my work would still be sitting on that back burner, waiting for someday.”

                               – Rosalyn Rikel Ramage, Author of three middle grade mysteries              and Millicent’s Tower, published by Five Star Mysteries

“Jaden] Terrell is more than a good writing coach. She is a great person: honest in her criticism yet kind, diplomatic and nurturing. She’s also good-humored, well-read, smart, and an author herself. And man, is she creative! In our developmental sessions, I can almost see her brain lighting up like a pinball machine.”

– George P. Van