Fiction editing

There are two stages of fiction editing:

• manuscript appraisal (also referred to as a structural edit)

• copy editing


Manuscript appraisal – the big picture

A manuscript appraisal shows you where your book is working and where it needs work. It gives you direction and confidence to get to the next draft.

Lu delved deep and her appraisal helped immensely in
writing the next draft, which was a massive improvement from
where it had started.
Tommy Cotton – These pictures of us

Most editors offer manuscript appraisals as a written report, but I offer them as a recorded video workshop, which has three advantages over a written report:

  • we can discuss what you want to achieve and what you’ve already tried, which allows me to offer advice that’s specific to your skills and experience
  • we can workshop issues and ideas and possibly come up with solutions together (two heads are better than one)
  • it costs less than a written appraisal (hooray!)

I offer two appraisal options:

  • mini appraisal for the first 15K words
  • maxi appraisal for your complete manuscript.

A mini appraisal can be really helpful if you:

  • want to know if you are on the right track
  • need to reboot your confidence in your book
  • have an endless draft that you can’t rein in (yes I can help you with that even when I only read 15K words).

A maxi appraisal is great for when you’ve written and revised as far as you can go, and are ready for some feedback.


What does the appraisal workshop cover?

As with a written manuscript appraisal, the workshop looks at all the building blocks of your book.

This includes:

  • story arc
  • character development
  • scene and setting
  • rhythm, pace and tension.

When is the right time to get a manuscript appraisal?

An appraisal can be helpful with either a finished draft or a work in progress.

  • For a finished draft it will pick up any areas that need to be tightened or developed before the fine tuning of copy editing.
  • For a work in progress it can pin-point opportunities for development, give you reassurance you are on the right track, or help you get back on track if you’ve wandered off course.

If you’ve not had your manuscript read by someone who is able to give constructive feedback, such as a fellow writer or a beta reader, I highly recommend you start your editing journey with an appraisal. It’s important to look at the big picture before you deep dive into detail.  It will result in a better book and can save you money in the long run.

How much does it cost?

  • mini appraisal (first 15K words) $450
  • maxi appraisal (full manuscript) from $1400 for 80K words

What happens after the appraisal?

The aim of the appraisal is that you have enough feedback to get to final draft, ready for copy editing.

If you need further support to get to final draft, we can set up a writing coaching plan to help you through the next development phase.

Is a manuscript appraisal your next step towards being published?

Book a manuscript appraisal workshop

Copy editing – the detail

Copy editing is the final polish. It focuses on your writing line by line, making sure the language, rhythm and flow are serving the story and the characters as best they can.


It’s precious for a writer to see the editor engage with your manuscript
in such depth, and in such a supportive way. It builds a relationship of trust.
I like how your comments range from word choice and syntax to
narrative technique and character development.

Gilbert Van Hoeydonck


Copy editing is the last phase of editing before proofreading. Your manuscript needs to be in the best shape it can be structurally before you send it for copy editing, otherwise you could be wasting your money.

Check to see if you’re ready for a copy edit


If you are ready for a copy edit, get in touch for a free sample edit. This will give you a good understanding of what you’ll be getting.

Get a free sample edit


Lu Sexton

Hello, I’m Lu Sexton. I’m an editor and writing coach. I’ve been working with writers like you since 2009 and I love it. My mission is to help you bring out the best in your writing and get you one step closer to being published.

Ask me how


I feel I can’t praise Lu highly enough. I’d come to a standstill with my writing process and contacted Lu for a mini-appraisal. After reading only a few chapters of my work it was obvious to me that Lu ‘got it’. She had a true sense of my characters and which direction I wanted to/should take them in. She made a few suggestions that I would never have thought of myself but feel will benefit my work immensely. I felt comfortable and at ease with her from the beginning and hope to work with her again soon. Thanks for everything, Lu xx

P M Edwards

Lu did a manuscript appraisal of my novel. She was great to work with. She gave me some terrific ideas to develop the story. Her insight made a significantly positive impact on the direction I’ve taken it in.

Sarah Nicholson

Creative writer

I’m a budding author and have some technical training. I’d written a novel that had somewhat gone in the weeds but recoverable with the proper focus. I had a coaching session on my first 10K words which was incredibly valuable. The video interaction was much better than previous line edits [from a different editor]. She is very precise in her ideas, gives strategy, and frankly I feel confident going forward with my big project and plan to use her expertise for the final edits.

Janet Uhde

Creative writer

I had been working on my first novel for years, but despite all my plotting and planning felt I was going in circles after five drafts. Lu offered to read my first 10k words and then provide a one-hour video review. She explained this is a far less expensive way to get someone like me back on track than to have her read the whole thing, editing every page. And she was right!

Her feedback was very thoughtful and honest, exactly what I needed. She covered some technical aspects, characterisation, voice, and plot themes, and diplomatically pointed out some things which might confuse the reader.

So it’s a developmental type of review with a structural twist that has inspired me to reconsider what wasn’t working so well and enhancing what was. Perfect!

Robert Frew

First-time novelist