Text: Cory Skerry, fiction editor, redline at inkshark dot net, 1890s illustration of a hammerhead

Approach

I work from the premise that a manuscript is only a house where your story lives. A story is ephemeral, alive, and it grows in your head and your heart. When it moves to the page, it changes. My job is to examine your manuscript and identify the places it has changed, then convey how you can use your skillset to guide your reader's experience so that when the story moves into their head and heart, it feels exactly the way it did inside yours.

I believe any narrative must be served by its rules, or the rules should be discarded. You'll notice i don't capitalize my own pronouns; my personal narrative seeks not to reinforce the idea that a speaker is more important than a listener. I am unlikely to parrot 101 advice at you. I would rather hunt down the best of your darlings and find ways to make them so integral to the story that no one would dare tell you to kill them.

If you want someone to declare whether or not you have "a good story" or whether "it's ready," i am not the editor for you. I will look for ways that you can smoothly integrate exposition, tighten your plot, regulate your pace, increase tension, and deepen POV/voice/characterization, among other editorial polishing, but my primary goal is to be sure that what's delivered to your reader is the package you intended. I'd prefer you already believe that package is a worthy project before you ask me to love it enough to work with it.

To request a copy of a real developmental edit i did for a client (edited to protect the author's privacy), please e-mail me at redline at inkshark dot net and i will send you a .pdf.

Credentials

Education

I've attended two acclaimed, juried, residential courses focusing on the craft of genre fiction:

  • Viable Paradise, graduated 2010
    Among distinguished others, i learned from John Scalzi (Old Man's War) and Elizabeth Bear (Hammered)
  • Clarion West, graduated 2012
    Among distinguished others, i learned from George R. R. Martin (Game of Thrones), Connie Willis (Doomsday Book), Kelly Link (Get in Trouble), and Chuck Palahniuk (Fight Club)

Experience

I've been reading submissions and editing stories in various professional avenues since 2011:

  • Independent clients, 2016 - present
  • Sillan Pace Brown consulting editor, 2015 - present
  • Tor.com Short Fiction acquiring editor, 2015 - present
  • Tor.com Short Fiction & Novellas submissions staff, 2012 - present
  • Shimmer Magazine submissions staff & copy-edits, 2011-2012

Organizations

I'm a member in good standing at the following:

Rates & agreement

First i take a look at your manuscript to ascertain if my skills are applicable. If they are and we agree on a deadline, i'll send you a quote. If i can't take on the work, i'll refer you to another excellent editor.

My fee is based on the lowest standard EFA rate for developmental editing, but i prefer to work with a quote/bid rather than by the hour, or in other words, the amount you agree to pay doesn't change even if i put in more hours than i expected. I do require payment in advance from new clients; when you bring me your next manuscript, we can do 50% up front and 50% upon delivery.

The short version of the editorial contract we'll sign is: in exchange for my quoted fee, you receive a document with appropriately substantial suggestions and analysis tailored specifically to your manuscript and target readership, and you understand that i will enthusiastically do my best, but i cannot offer a refund if you're not satisfied. (Some day if they invent a way for me to get a refund on my time, i will change this policy!)

Testimonials

"Cory has a deep understanding of genre and tropes. He uses this to help writers orient what they're creating in the larger landscape of what's come before and what's happening now, and sculpt their works in more personal and unique directions."

- Henry Lien, Peasprout Chen, Future Legend of Skate and Sword

"Cory did a developmental edit for my novel. Working together, we were able to streamline my story, making it much more cohesive and marketable. I learned so much about my writing from it. I often compare it to having a personalized college course on my work... I will definitely be working with him again."

John Yarrow, The Future's Dark Past, Cygnus Sci-fi 2017 Contest Winner

"I would highly recommend Cory's fiction editing services for copy editing, developmental editing or both. I can attest to his many years of experience as a first reader for prestigious markets like Shimmer and Tor, as well as being a prolific beta reader for individuals and an accomplished writer in his own right. His advice and comments helped shape my award-winning first published novel."

L.D. Colter, A Borrowed Hell, 2018 Colorado Book Award for Science Fiction/Fantasy

"He addressed weaknesses and enlightened me with period-appropriate details, while also being sure to point out which areas worked well and could even be taken further along the same roads, such as world-building and choice development. In addition to possessing superior vision for story and conflict composition, Cory is also super-conscious of not only how today’s writers work, but of today’s reader culture... I am a stickler for the small-scale stuff, but he helped me see the bigger picture in ways I never could have on my own, allowing the novel to capture a wider swath of potential audience and making my investment worth every penny. I would recommend his services to any aspiring writer!"

Dan Heck, Seal of Thomerion