Editing & Ghostwriting
Hi, I'm Sarah Berti. I founded Bright Leaf Literary to assist creatives to write their best book, from first draft through to publication. Check out the Bright Leaf website here.
As an editor or ghostwriter, it’s my job to escort your manuscript or piece of writing to the next level. My specialty is to detect missing dimensions that if addressed, will expand the capacity of the work. I point out key portals of possibility. Applying the critical and creative imagination, my mind will seek out and destroy what is weak, polish what is strong, and identify dormant seeds that can flourish into gardens when care is applied.
I’m here to help you vitalize the living truth encoded in your words.
I specialize in speculative fiction, fantasy and sci-fi but work with any genre and age category, from picture book through middle grade, young-adult, and adult. I have edited for traditionally published authors, self-published authors, conscious entrepreneurs, students, and university professors. I have a masters degree in English Literature and have spent the bulk of my life reading, writing, and studying good writing craft. I have received numerous scholarships and awards for my writing and am committed to continual professional development.
Types of Editing Services
This level of editing will enhance and give feedback on the substance of the text, including vision, depth, height, appeal, and readability. Feedback can touch on plot, characterization, theme, overall structure, arcs, pacing, conflict, and setting, as well as more specific elements including subtext, context, and tension. Feedback will be returned in the form of a letter and does not include line-by-line editing of the text.
Any plot holes, inconsistencies, lack of conflict, pacing issues, and other problem areas will be addressed, chapter by chapter.
Line by line, your work will be evaluated and edited for such things as style, tone, dialogue tags, flow, word choice, clarity, line-by-line continuity, potency, descriptions, structure, and voice, to name a few. This is NOT proof-reading or a grammar check: hire a copy-editor for that. You will receive this editing in the form of tracked changes in a document. I will address such issues as excessive adverbs, purple prose, over used words, confusing sentences, awkward or unnatural dialogue, and many more.
Sculpting each sentence into the Masterpiece it is.
Ghostwriting is when I write original content to fill in the gaps in your work. Sometimes it is just a small piece here or there, a few lines or a paragraph, and other times it can be more substantial.
Ghostwriting isn't editing, but can be part of line-editing as I make suggestions. It can also be inspirational: maybe you've hit a wall and just need a paragraph to get you rolling again.
Guided by the critical imagination, I offer an in-depth review on how to "up-level" your manuscript. This level of editing specifically looks at portals of possibility—what dimensions are currently lacking that if addressed, will remind the work how to become its best self. This type of editing is usually done in conjunction with "Content Editing" and your feedback is offered in the form of a letter.
$50 CAD/ hr
€35/ hr | $39 USD/ hr
What to Expect
As a courtesy, I offer a free 1/2 hour of editing when you purchase your first two hours of editing, so you can make sure I'm the right editor for you. If I think you would benefit from a different editor, I will tell you. I won't edit your work unless I know I can take it to the next level.
For extensive and longer projects, depending on the project, we sometimes offer a lower hourly fee.
Please send an email to thehelixlibrary.com[at]gmail.com and let us know what type of editing you want. Most people want a combination of line-editing and content editing, but if you have specific parameters, let me know.
Please also provide a brief (less than 250 words) description of your work. Include what genre it is, whether it is young-adult, adult or middle grade, fiction or non-fiction, and the word count. You can attach a file of what you would like edited or upload it to google docs and give us access.
"I think the reason Leaf is so good at editing is because she is an anal perfectionist who never lets a shadow pass her threshold without snatching it and catching it and holding it up to the light. All works improve by her touch."
“Leaf’s insights into my writing and her perfect editorial suggestions are delivered with a kind neutral ring of being, to the point, and with such soft precision that not once did I feel threatened, wanting to stubbornly defend my own truth. She possesses an extraordinary gift of being able to open fresh space and with patience keep it open for the writer to ultimately expand into a new vision, closer and truer to their own innermost creative guidance. Working with Leaf is a veritable adventure of constant sweet learning and efficient productive play at the same time. She has deeply affected me and my trajectory as a writer, and I'm not certain I'll ever be able to thank her enough for her invaluable service as my editor."
"You are a brilliant writer. There is not a single thing I can critique about your prose. You are working at such a rarefied literary altitude...genius..."
"Outside of canonical visionary literature (Spenser, Blake, Yeats etc.), I have not read anything to match the imaginative power of The Original Leaf Alchemy and its sheer perpetual inventiveness."
"Leaf is an incredible writer and storyteller. Her words bring me into realms of higher consciousness and stronger connection to my Self. I love reading anything she writes. I consider her gift of writing as a gift to me. I get so excited before reading something new from her highly imaginative, creative mind. Our world is a better place because of her gift of writing."
"What you write is True."
A: I work with big hearted creatives who want to use imagination and wonder to create stories, novels, writings, or books that have excellent writing craft, intelligent perceptions, and are vibrant forces for change.
I also work with aspiring authors, published authors, or people who have a piece of writing they want to take to the next level.
I pay close attention to writing craft, creativity, and making the work I edit more intelligent. I revolutionize drafts and coax them into becoming their best selves.
My specialties are speculative fiction and SFF (science fiction and fantasy), magical realism, and myth, but I work with all other genres as well. I edit all audiences including adult, YA, MG, and picture books.
A: This depends on two factors. One, how much work the writing needs, and two, how in-depth I go. For example, during line-editing I can edit lines with the goal of making them excellent, thus elevating the work to the next level, or I can polish a little harder and in the challenge your work could rise two levels instead.
I understand that people want a sense of how many hours it might take to edit their whole novel. There are some editors who work by the word instead of by the hour or will give you a flat rate for the whole manuscript by word count. If you prefer this, I recommend you do an online search for freelance editors and choose one you resonate with.
I charge by the hour because otherwise there can be a tendency to do superficial edits. Say you’ve paid me a flat rate of $14 per 1000 words, which is comparable to what some editors charge, but the work really needs me to dig in deeper: you’ll lose out on depth of edit, or I’ll lose out because it will take me a long time to do the extra work. To me, charging by the hour is the most fair to both myself and you. Usually after I edit your work for 2-4 hours, we can project a rough estimate of how long an entire project will take.
A: You need an editor once you have extensively self-edited, to the point at which you don’t know how else to make the work better.
You have already requested feedback from other readers by giving the work to objective sources such as a writer’s group. You have read your work out loud to catch awkward phrasing. You have devoured books on writing craft, watched videos on improving your writing, and you have implemented the changes. You have learned how to self-edit. You have killed your darlings. You have let your drafts sit for weeks or months (as like many growing things, they need space and air), then you’ve come back to them and revised. You have studied further and re-written again.
Once you have self-edited as much as you can and to the best of your ability, it is time to hire an editor (if you want one), but not before.
Some exceptions to this guideline include if you are interested in a "mentoring type" of editing. I can edit your novel or work in a more interactive, back-and-forth manner. Mentoring is like a personalized creative writing class where I work with you, coaching, guiding and teaching about writing craft at the same time as I edit your work.
Another exception includes if you want something edited that is not a novel or short story. Blog posts, articles, essays, and similar types of work may not need as much editing as novels, so you may not have to do as much work on them before you hire an editor.
You don't have to hire an editor, but in almost all cases your work will be better for it.
A: Billable hours include the time I am editing the work, and the time I am composing feedback (whether the feedback is in the form of a letter or directly on the page as line-edits). Billable hours also include reading and writing emails in response to questions, to expand explanations, or to offer mentoring and coaching if that is requested.
Hours will not include any email correspondence before you hire me, so you can send me an email of your project description and I will read and respond to that email without fee.
A: It certainly can be, though it depends on the type of feedback you want. It is one way to ensure the editor you are hiring is actually any good. Usually someone who used to be a literary agent or has worked in the publishing industry will be a good editor and one with useful insider perspectives. There are many editors who fall into these categories, and if you feel you need the type of criticism that touches on marketing your novel, or you want an insider’s perspective on getting published, then go that route.
I personally have edited for traditionally published authors and self-published authors, but I have never worked in the publishing industry in a formal role. My skills are more suited to up-level the work itself as a creative piece rather than give feedback about how you can get published or market your books. My skill is with the prose on the page: sculpting sentences into masterpieces, and revolutionizing your draft. My skill is with creativity, story, word, writing craft, and most importantly, imagination: I challenge you to sculpt your work into a living, vital force of intelligence. I can help you make your book come alive and encode it with the pulsing power of the higher mind. A sentient book flowing with good writing craft? That’s my specialty and focus.
So, if you are looking for insider savvy about marketing, agencies, branding, and book publishing, I’m not the right editor for you. That said, I can help you get your manuscript ready to submit to agencies or publishers, and I can even help with query letters and submission packages.
A: I have no idea. Good editing is no guarantee of publication. Even genius writing is no guarantee of acceptance by a literary agent or publisher. What I can promise is to offer an extensive and excellent edit to improve the work and give it the best chance it has of getting published. I will without doubt make the work better and thus increase your odds.
A: In a content edit, none. For content editing you will receive a letter that will give you an in-depth analysis of each story element and how well it is working, in a chapter-by-chapter breakdown. I will assess voice/style, plot, pacing, characterization, character arc, and concept, and indicate how each can be improved to both turn the work into its best self, as well as increase your odds of publishing success.
In a line edit, you will get tracked changes in a document, so there will be revisions of the text, sometimes more than you might expect. You don’t have to take all the suggestions, and you can clearly see what recommendations are being made. Sometimes I will change sentences for you, and sometimes I will make notes suggesting that you change them and why, and sometimes I’ll do both. Notes can include such things as:
x. This is cliche. I’d re-write.
x. You are telling here. Can you show the reader that the character is terrified by the approaching hooded stranger? I.e. His heart rate increases, he holds his breath, he shakes, he imagines a visceral horror, etc.
x. The meaning is unclear here. I’d re-write.
x. I would re-write this simile because comparing a tall man to a six foot man is comparing two things too similar to be of any use as a simile.
x. The dialogue tag here is awkward and doesn’t work. Try said or asked instead of expostulated.
x. Clunky prose. Streamline and simplify this.
A: In a content edit, yes, for the most part. In line-editing, it is too time-consuming to explain the reasons for every suggested change, so some explanation and guidance can be given, but not in every case, and usually the explanation will be brief.
That said, if you are committed to learning writing craft and want to better understand why a change is being suggested, and I haven’t articulated my reasoning at all or enough, please email. I’ll respond by detailing the reason for the suggestion. You can also let me know before I even start editing whether you are keen to have lots of explanation, some, or none.
A: Of course not. But if you are ignoring most of it, then either you need a different editor or a different career. In some cases it will be obvious that a particular suggestion is correct and the change should be implemented, in other cases you may not understand my reasoning or perspective. If you’d like I can explain my perspective, and then you can decide whether or not to make the change. You are obviously in total control of what changes you make and which you decide to pass on.
There will be a few cases in any edit where I will suggest something and you will know that it doesn’t work for the vision of your novel. Perhaps I suggest a word choice that doesn’t jive in your heart, or I recommend removing something that you are adamant about keeping. This discrepancy in my suggestion and your vision will occur from time to time, so just calmly ignore that particular point. You will start to learn which suggestions are fine to ignore and which ones most adamantly shouldn’t be. Sometimes it will be a question of personal style. For example, in certain cases the positioning of commas is a question of style.
That said, there should not be very many suggestions you’ll want to completely disregard, or I am not the right editor for you.
A: Being edited, especially for the first time, can be a harrowing experience. You’ve slaved over your work for years and in one hour I dissect and deconstruct it, rip it apart, and mail the vulnerable pieces to your worst enemy accompanied with a looping sound-gif of evil laughter that you’ll hear for all eternity in your nightmares. (I’m mostly kidding). I also demand that you remove entire scenes you worked hard on, kill your darlings, and basically give you a ton more work to do to fix parts you thought were great but I’ve just told you are mediocre or even poor writing. You thought you were almost done…and realize you’ve just started.
Don’t panic. Take a breath. Be humble. Let it wash through you. We’ve all been there.
Every writer has experienced this. Eventually we learn to enjoy killing our darlings, cutting, and we feel no remorse or regret at the prospect of drastic changes. We learn to humbly acknowledge the poor writing we thought was great. It is an emotional process to be sure, but one way you can help yourself is to remember that all writers have gone through this. You are joining the ranks of the humbled, and know this: you are learning. You are improving. Be open to the constructive criticism and grow as a person and a writer.
The other thing that can help you through the process is to know this: everyone can benefit from an editor. There are very few writers, if any, who can type out a story and it is perfect. Most self-edit relentlessly and ceaselessly for lifetimes, but will miss certain things because they are too close to the work to perceive particular flaws. Having another eye-mind take a look is invaluable and in my opinion, a necessity if you are a serious writer and want to make your work the best it can be.
Payment in full is required before editing begins.
I do not guarantee you will become published; this would be an impossible guarantee.
I do not guarantee certain or any numbers of sales if you are choosing to self-publish; this would be an impossible guarantee. My job is to up-level the work itself; my job is not to provide guidance about how to properly market or get published.
If you don’t agree with an edit, that’s fine, but you still have to pay me 🙂
If you have a question not answered in this FAQ, please email thehelixlibrary.com[at]gmail.com and I'll get back to you as soon as I can.
You can pay via paypal or email money transfers. These details will be emailed to you.
Hi, I'm Leaf
I'm here to help you vitalize the living truth encoded in your words.
I am interested in shaping excellence and drawing forth genius. Together we can make your writing come alive.