How hiring me to edit your words can help you get what you want—at the lowest possible price
Whether you’re a student, job applicant, professor, lawyer, novelist or entrepreneur, you often need to express yourself in writing.
Your purpose is to communicate and persuade. You want the reader to consider your ideas, cite your research, follow your instructions, become absorbed in your story, dismiss a lawsuit, give you a job, invest in your company, surf your web site, visit your shop, purchase what you’re selling. To succeed, you must be as clear and straightforward, as eloquent and engaging as possible...with no barriers between what you intend to convey and the mind of your reader.
My experience ● What gets fixed● Your cost: $5.00 per 250-word page ● $1 preview● What my clients say ● Two samples of my editing ●
For over thirty years as a writer and editor, I've shaped, reshaped, copy-edited and proofread display ads, catalogs, radio scripts, sales letters, cover letters, resumes, web sites, newspaper op-eds, newsletters, journal articles, lab reports, PhD theses, legal briefs, short stories, and both fiction and nonfiction books.
My clients range from students, businessmen and professors of philosophy to booksellers, pollsters, journalists and political activists. They endorse my work. (See many of their testimonials below.)
What gets fixed
Organization and continuity. The lengthiest projects are the most prone to lapses in structure—there’s so much to keep track of.
No matter how thorough your outline, it is subject to many changes as you proceed. Despite your best efforts, sections or chapters may end up in the wrong place. You may omit something crucial, repeat or contradict yourself, or range too far afield. A brief article, too, can often be improved by rearranging passages or by combining separate treatments of a topic into a single, more unified discussion.
In any piece of writing, whether a brief letter or a lengthy novel, the reader needs a logical development to follow—a clear sequence of steps, argument or story. You have many options with respect to how you organize your content to achieve a well-defined purpose. Your options are not unlimited, however. Not unless you don’t care whether the reader gives up in frustration.
Excess and deficiency. As you struggle to put your thought into words, it is natural to use too many. But then, to maximize your effectiveness, flab must be excised. The final draft must eschew superfluity and shun circumlocution—be simple and direct, streamlined, purposeful.
If what you mean by “expressed some negativity toward” is “criticized,” we’ll reduce those four words to one, “criticized.” We'll take “did not cop to any specific reason why” and boil it down to “did not explain.” No need to alert the reader about how honest, frank or candid you are about to be. Nor to flag anything noteworthy with the words “it’s worth noting that”; anything not worth noting, we'll delete. “For those of you who don’t know” is an unhelpful preface to an explanation of something that some people already know about, others don't. No sentences in your final draft benefit from beginning with “That said,” “That being said,” “With that being said,” or “With that having been said.” We’ll try “But,” “Yet” or “Nevertheless” instead, or even “Even so.” Make no mistake: "Make no mistake" will be deleted. Let me be clear: So will "Let me be clear."
In the original edition of The Elements of Style, William Strunk, Jr. instructs us to “omit needless words. Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the writer make all his sentences short, or that he avoid all detail and treat his subjects only in outline, but that every word tell.”
Omitting needless words is one side of the coin. The careful writer must also “include needful words.” You must properly complete your thoughts and supply all details needed to make your meaning clear. What knowledge may you may safely presuppose, given your intended audience? What have you stated explicitly and what have you left to perhaps unclear implication?
I’ll help you to omit needless words, include needful ones, and clarify what needs clarifying.
Grammar. Some departures from standard rules and forms of English are so commonplace, even fashionable, however unwarranted, that it is all too easy to fall prey to them in your own work.
Consider how some writers tack an adverb or preposition onto verbs that require no supplement—telling us about structures that are “built out” when being “built” would suffice, or about how someone is “advocating for” an idea or reform when simply “advocating” it would do just fine. Writers who favor this mode of expression never “offer” anything: explanations, discounts and time are instead “offered up,” as if on an altar, as a sacrifice. Of course, idiomatic English does include ("include in"?) many verb phrases in which the accompanying preposition is essential. No student of informal expression can protest if somebody "picks stuff up" from the floor, or "comes over" to chat. What offends the ear are slangily faddish, gratuitous concatenative concoctions that can only skew and scar our prose.
Another solecism that spurs my blue pencil: wedging the phrase “compared to” into words the very purpose of which is to express a comparison. We all understand the sentence “Joe is taller than Fred”; we are being told that if Fred is X inches tall, Joe must be X+Y inches tall. But some writers contend, instead, that “Joe is bigger compared to Fred.” (Or “bigger as compared to Fred.”) This illustration is, just barely, parody; but the error shows up in sentences only slightly more complicated. (Let’s not even talk about how “compare to” has been flailed into “compare versus.” At least not outside of these parentheses.)
Mistakes hard to avoid in unpremeditated speech beleaguer our written words as well. Misplaced modifiers, mixed metaphors, faulty parallelism, improper subordination, ambiguous antecedents, wrong case, wrong tense, wrong voice, wrong mood, imperfect punctuation and snarled syntax are all insidious foes of easy-to-read, persuasive prose. I'll find and fix 'em.
Diction and style.A dozen synonyms may specify more or less the same thing. But it is often important to denote exactly what you mean. Is a nose “noticeable,” “prominent,” “striking,” or “conspicuous”? Is a person “unreligious” or “irreligious”? Is he “thin,” “skinny,” “slim,” “svelte,” or “emaciated”? Are the savings you offer "substantial," "huge," "humongous," or "unprecedented"?
Connotation also counts. Your choice of word should suggest appropriate emotional overtones (if any) and the special contexts (if any) in which a term tends to be used. A waiter hands you a harmless “knife,” not a gangsterish “shiv.” A wealthy businessman is not a “fat cat” or a “one-percenter” unless you find him and his success contemptible. At an elegant French restaurant, it’s “escargot” the menu offers you, not “snail.” If a politician is not uttering “nonsense,” maybe it’s “twaddle,” “hornswoggle,” or “bunkum.”
Informal prose that is otherwise lively and illuminating may be marred by injudicious slang, hectic emphasis, rote cliché, a surfeit of self-reference, too-vivid description of minor detail, inadvertent double meaning, bland and pointless euphemism (why must we burdened by “issues” rather than “problems”?). At the other end of the spectrum of style and sin, a business contract or academic thesis may well require highly formal and technical diction—but not turgidity or obscurantism.
I will ensure that these and other precepts of effective literary expression are seamlessly incorporated into your final draft.
Why use my service? Perhaps writing is not your strong suit. Or English is not your first language. Or you lack the time to perform the final polish that will maximize the impact of your prose and give it the best chance to succeed. But the work of even the most experienced and talented writer can benefit from the fresh perspective of a skilled and conscientious editor.
For straight editing of your document, I charge $5.00 per manuscript page. A page is 250 words of text. There may be a surcharge if you need a rush job on a large document or have other special requirements. Once I know what your assignment entails, I will tell you the full cost. Then, based on your feedback, I'll fine-tune the edited draft that I submit to you up to two times at no additional cost (unless you are adding a substantial amount of new text to the manuscript).
I typically require at least half of the fee to be paid in advance, with the balance due upon my completion of the work. For larger projects, it often makes sense to divide the work and the payments into several installments to ensure that we’re both satisfied as the work progresses.
The $1 preview
If you'd like to test my ability before beginning to work with me, I would be happy to edit 100 words or so from your manuscript in exchange for one dollar.
What my clients say
“David M. Brown has been invaluable to me in his editorial capacity. Many of my published essays, and several of my books, have had the benefit of his editorial scrutiny and revisions; and they are all the better for it. I recommend his work most enthusiastically.”
Tibor R. Machan, philosopher and author of The Passion for Liberty and many other books
“I hate to admit that David M. Brown is such a great editor, because I like people to think I can string a good sentence together without calling in a professional. But David is fantastic. He has added enormous punch, wit and humor to my writing. Plus, he can spell and even knows grammar rules. We always want the most advanced weapons at our disposal. As writer and as editor, David M. Brown is a weapon of mass instruction.”
Paul Jacob, president of Citizens in Charge and author of the daily political commentary Common Sense
“In addition to being a fine editor, David is a pleasure to work with and very professional. I look forward to working with him again!”
Scott W. Rasmussen, president of Rasmussen Reports and author of A Better Deal: Social Security Choice
“David always got his work in on time, which was a real pleasure considering some of the other writers/editors we were dealing with. He is a very clear and witty writer; his reviews were right on-point and concise (also very important for us in an age of print catalogs). David is dependable and a pleasure to work with. Gee, I promise I'm not related to him—he really is that good!”
Andrea Millen Rich, president of Citizens for Independent Thought and former proprietor of Laissez Faire Books
“David M. Brown has acted as an editor on more than a few articles of mine. I can always be assured that he'll challenge me to new heights and improve the final product. He's terrific!”
Chris Matthew Sciabarra, author of Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical
“David M. Brown is a writer's writer who approaches his craft with clarity, acumen and wit. His penetrating prose synthesizes all relevant information and presents it in a way that engages and convinces each target audience. Trust me, you want David on the job. He's expeditious and prolific, delivering time and time again. I've found his services invaluable....You should pay David to write stuff for you. You'll wonder how you ever did without him.”
Eric D. Dixon, contributing editor of Liberty magazine, and editor and technology developer for LP News
“I consider myself to be a very good writer. But every professional writer, even a very good one, needs a very good editor to bring out his best work. Fortunately for me, David M. Brown is a very good writer and editor. As I built my professional web site and prepared its showcase essay, David’s editorial feedback was simply invaluable. His eyes never missed the tiniest detail, and his ears were sensitive to the faintest nuance of language. David M. Brown is a true craftsman, and I recommend his writing and editing services enthusiastically.”
Robert James Bidinotto, editor of the anthology Criminal Justice?, author of the novel Hunter, and publisher of the web site ecoNOT.com
Two samples of my editing
The passages copy-edited below were taken from articles published online.
If you’ve ever driven along a gravel or dirt road in the summer, you’re undoubtedly familiar with the “washboards” that develop. For those of you who have never encountered this phenomenon, gravel and dirt roads tend to develop a series of ridges, much like an old-fashioned washboard. As you can imagine, driving over a deeply ridged surface is annoying and also a little dangerous, due to the reduced contact and control. [71 words]
If you’ve ever driven along a gravel or dirt road in the summer, you’re familiar with the “washboards”—the series of ridges much like those of an old-fashioned washboard—that develop on such roads. Since these ridges reduce your vehicle’s contact with the surface and therefore your control of the vehicle, driving over them is both annoying and a little dangerous. [61 words]
What’s changed between a few hours ago and now? If you were to have purchased an iPad yesterday, would you be crying today? Short answer–yes. Long answer–let’s look at the specs on both machines. While it may appear from about 20 feet away that these devices look basically the same, there’s quite a few lovely additions to the iPad 2 that bring it right in line for competing with what Apple has called the “Year of the copycats”–referring directly to Android and Blackberry devices on the horizon (and in the streets, if you consider Motorola XOOM, the first Android 3.0 Honeycomb OS optimized tablet). But what’s the real question here for those dedicated fans of Apple? What will I get when I trade in my old iPad for the iPad 2?
First of all, there are a bunch of things that essentially haven’t changed at all between iPad and iPad 2. The display is exactly the same as before, as is the resolution: 9.7-inch LED-backlit IPS LCD with 1024 x 768 pixel resolution. The next thing that’s exactly the same is the storage options, 16, 32, and 64GB being your options. Your Wifi will still be 802.11 a/b/g/n, your Bluetooth will still be 2.1 + EDR, accelerometer stays the same at 3-axis, and you’ll be able to get your iPad in black. But from there on out, things start improving in sweet ways.
You’ll be able to get your iPad 2 in black, but you’ll also have the option of a white bezel. Does this mean the next iPhone will have the same option out of the gate? Perhaps. Your iPad 2 processor has been improved from a 1GHz Apple A4 to a 1GHz dual-core Apple A5. That’s slick! We’re not sure yet of the improvements in RAM or Graphics power, but we do know that whatever they’ve done inside, they’ve figured out a way to make the whole package lighter. Where before your iPad was either 680g or 730g depending on if you wanted 3G or not, the heaviest new iPad is 613g, and that’s the AT&T model. Next lightest is 607g with Verizon, and 601g with just Wifi. [363 words]
How does the just-released iPad 2 differ from the iPad 1? The changes are few but substantial, so that the second iteration of Apple’s bodacious tablet will likely continue to outpace the growing herd of iPad-wannabes.
Still the same are the screen's size (9.7-inch), type (LED-backlit IPS LCD) and resolution (1024 x 768 pixels); storage options (16 gigabyte, 32 gigabyte, and 64 gigabyte); wi-fi (802.11 a/b/g/n) and Bluetooth (2.1 + EDR); and accelerometer (3-axis).
But the iPad 2 comes in both black (the only option for iPad 1) and white. The iPad 2′s processor is a 1-gigahertz dual core Apple A5, a slick improvement over the iPad 1′s 1-gigahertz Apple A4. We don’t know all the internal improvements (e.g., in RAM or graphics power) that Apple has made, but we know that they have resulted in a lighter package: the heaviest iPad 1 (with AT&T 3G) is 730 grams; the wi-fi-only version is 680 grams. The heaviest iPad 2, the AT&T 3G version, is 613 grams; the Verizon 3G version is 607 grams; the wi-fi-only version is 601 grams. [180 words]