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How it works

Helping you to deepen your story, elevate your craft, and reach your readers.

Working with Ellie

Every manuscript is different, and so is every author-editor relationship, but our collaboration usually goes like this.


1. I ask you to complete an author questionnaire so that I can learn more about your creative goals as a writer, your publishing goals for the manuscript, and the audience you want to reach.

2. We’ll meet on Zoom or talk over the phone, whichever you prefer. We’ll get to know each other a bit and talk about the level of editing your manuscript needs, the timeline, and the cost.


3. Once we agree on the details, I’ll draft an editorial agreement for your review. The agreement puts in writing the scope of work, the timeline, and the cost, and includes legal clauses to safeguard us both. My editorial agreements are based on a template developed by Editors Canada.

4. I’ll request an initial payment, usually one-third of the cost, on acceptance of the editorial agreement. I’ll send you an invoice for your records. The final payment is due on completion of the edit.


5. Please avoid working on the manuscript while it’s in my hands. Take a break! I’ll provide you with updates during the edit, and you can contact me any time.


6. On the date we’ve agreed on, I’ll send you the editorial letter or edited manuscript, along with a cover email highlighting what I did and outlining next steps for you.


7. I’ll invite you to a follow-up phone or Zoom call, when you’re ready, to answer any questions you may have.


8. I’ll be available for questions by email as you revise.

  • How much will it cost to edit my book?
    I know you want a dollar figure, but I can’t give you one until I see your manuscript and talk with you about your publishing goals. The cost depends on the length and complexity of your manuscript and the type of edit it needs. Every project is unique, so I’ll provide a custom quote for you. To inquire, please complete the author questionnaire or send me a note.
  • How long will it take you to edit my book?
    Again, it depends! Usually, four to six weeks from the time of booking. How long it takes also depends on how many rounds of editing we do together, and how quickly you revise in response to the edit. I’m usually booked two or three months in advance, so please get in touch early to save a spot in my schedule. Would you like to tell me about your project and discover how I can help? Get started by completing this author questionnaire. I’ll follow up with a complimentary Zoom or phone consultation.
  • Do you need to see a sample of my writing?
    Yes. When taking on a new writer, I always ask to see a writing sample so that I can assess your editorial needs and how I can help. Initially, I’ll ask for about 10 pages from the beginning and 10 pages from the middle. If you have a table of contents, I’ll ask for that too. Once we’ve established trust and decided that we would like to work together, I’ll ask to see the entire manuscript so that I can provide you with a custom quote.
  • What genres do you edit?
    I specialize in memoir and narrative nonfiction. Narrative nonfiction is a broad category; it encompasses all the nonfiction that is not prescriptive (how-to), educational (for schools), or scholarly. Narrative nonfiction tells a true story in an entertaining way. Writers of narrative nonfiction often use techniques of fiction, such as complex characters, internal and external conflicts, and well-crafted scenes. Narrative nonfiction is sometimes called creative nonfiction, and the two genres are similar. Creative nonfiction tends to be more literary, and writers may focus more on essays than books. Memoir is a story about an aspect of your life, like growing up in the Prairies, teaching English in China, or caring for ailing parents. Autobiography, on the other hand, is your whole life story. Writers have many memoirs in them, but they have only one autobiography. Genres and subjects I love to edit (and read): memoir narrative nonfiction nonfiction for a general audience personal essays travel writing spiritual life writing self-help biography mental health music history big ideas living in harmony with the natural world
  • Do you only edit books?
    I edit both books and essays.
  • Do I have to hire a professional editor?
    No, not necessarily. It depends on your writing and publishing goals. If you want to self-publish a memoir to share with family and friends, and you’re a good writer, you probably don't need an editor. If you want to reach a wider audience, you should consider either working with an editor or developing your craft in other ways, such as by reading, taking courses, joining a writer’s group, or getting feedback from beta readers (fans of your genre who are not professional editors).
  • Will I get an agent if I hire you?
    Agents work for free until they sell your book. So they’re looking for manuscripts that they think will be a commercial success. Unfortunately, success in the publishing industry is almost impossible to predict. I can’t guarantee that you’ll get an agent, or that your book will be sell 10,000 copies, but I promise that you’ll have a better book if you work with me.
  • Will you help me find an agent?
    Yes and no. I can help you find the right agents to query, develop your proposal, and refine your query letter to showcase your best writing. But like most freelance editors, I don’t have an “in” with agents. An agent is interested in YOU, not me. Your work will be picked up because it’s good and the agent believes there’s a market for it.
  • Can I get a free sample edit?
    For developmental editing, I do not offer free sample edits, because the edit involves reading and assessing your work as a whole. For line and copy editing, I offer a free sample edit of ~500 words when you’ve completed the author questionnaire and I have a sense that you’re serious about working with me.
  • Can you proofread and format my manuscript?
    Often, authors ask for proofreading when they mean copy editing. Proofreading is the last stage of the publishing process. It’s usually done after your book is designed and typeset (or formatted). The proofreader catches any errors introduced by the designer or missed by the copy editor. If I’m your copy editor, I’ll proofread on request, but it’s better to hire someone who brings fresh eyes to your work. I don’t offer formatting services.
  • Are you a writer too?
    I was. I worked as a writer for about fifteen years as a newspaper reporter, communications officer for nonprofit organizations, and freelance writer. I wrote two books – organizational histories – and learned the craft of narrative nonfiction. Those books nearly killed me, so I’m very happy to be an editor now. Please tell me about your project by completing an author questionnaire. I'll follow-up with a complimentary Zoom or phone consultation. Or just send me a note.
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I owe a huge debt of gratitude to my editor, Ellie Barton, who took my life musings and birthed a book from them. I feel like we shared the journey of my life as she edited my work. I can’t say enough about her editing skills, kindness as a person, and her attention to detail. I will never be able to say how much I appreciate you and all the love and work you put in.

Lynn M. Amaral

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Before I met Ellie Barton I had only a vague idea of what editors did; that they checked spelling and grammar was about the extent of my knowledge. I could use “spellcheck” and my grammar was fine. I didn’t need an editor ... Then I explored the world of self-publishing companies and reviews by people who had used them. What stuck in my mind was Mark Levine’s advice: if you can’t afford a good editor, don’t bother spending money on publishing your book. The money will be wasted. That’s how I came to look for an editor and found Ellie Barton. She helped me to structure my memoir and figure out what I was really trying to say. If what I have written here gives the impression that I have become a fan of Ellie Barton, it would be correct. (I might well have said “huge” fan and “absolutely” correct, but Ellie says I tend to use too many adjectives!)

Malcolm Gibson

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Interested in working with me?

Please complete this author questionnaire to receive a complimentary assessment of the level of editing your manuscript needs.

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