Sperry Editorial provides editing, writing, and research services for a variety of individual, nonprofit, and business clients. Shelley Sperry is a Certified Story Grid Editor, specializing in narrative nonfiction and historical fiction.
I offer a range of services to help clients tell the best stories they can. I want to make sure you set the tree on fire at just the right time, without killing your protagonist—unless that's exactly what you want to do! (See quote above.)
developmental editing, also known as a manuscript review, based on Story Grid principles
story coaching for writers struggling to complete a professional first draft
line editing of completed novels and nonfiction manuscripts
researching, writing, and editing white papers, press releases, and web content
researching graphics and maps for print and online publications
reporting and writing on current events related to education, labor, and the environment
Rates vary based on subject matter and the type of work required, so it’s best to send me some details about your project and get an estimate.
You can schedule a half hour of time with me for free to chat about your project so we can figure out if I can help. If you then decide you'd like to work with me, I'll send you a link to my scheduling calendar.
After we talk, you might decide to try applying Story Grid methods on your own before engaging an editor. If so, you can find more about Story Grid, including lots of free articles and tools, at the website or by listening to the Story Grid podcast. A helpful full archive of transcripts for every episode of the Story Grid podcast is available too.
Download a Guide to Types of Editors
There are several types of editors you'll meet while traveling the yellow brick road toward publishing your story. Here's a downloadable Guide that explains it all. No flying monkeys. I promise.
Here are some standard rates for developmental editing of projects that are in early drafts:
For this service, you'll send me a complete first or early draft of a novel or nonfiction book. I'll read the entire manuscript and provide:
An analysis of six essential aspects of your story, including:
The global genre (the type of story, such as crime, romance, or horror)
The conventions and obligatory scenes of the global genre
The point of view (first person, third person, etc.)
The protagonist's objects of desire
The controlling idea or theme of the story
The beginning hook, middle build, and ending payoff
A Story Grid spreadsheet of the first five scenes
A one-hour phone call discussing your story and answering any questions you have
A follow-up letter (sent soon after our call) to suggest the best next steps to pursue in revising your story
A recommendation of three masterworks to read for a deeper understanding of your genre
A free e-book copy of The Story Grid and a few "cheat sheets" explaining essential aspects of your genre and other genres that may be of interest to you
In weekly one-hour calls, I'll provide guidance on a scene-by-scene basis for new writers who want to walk through the process of building a great story from initial idea to first draft. Many writers sign up for 6 months, with the goal of completing a first draft in that time, but each story and each writer's journey is different. Some writers choose to talk every other week for 2 months, and that's also an option. Story Coaching is tailored to individual needs.
Story Coaching is also available for writers moving from first draft to a more polished draft that can be submitted to an agent or self-published. If you already have a first draft, you should probably begin with the Story Grid Diagnostic (above), so that I can do a full analysis before moving on to weekly calls.
There is no set number calls to sign up for. You can decide when you're ready to work on your own, and of course, you can always come back for more help whenever you need it.
Are you struggling with a short story, essay, or a book proposal that just isn’t working? You might need a little time with an editor to clarify what's missing and how to get your project to the final stages before sending it out into the world.
In a Jumpstart Analysis, I'll read up to 7,000 words of a complete or almost-complete draft of your work and we'll talk through the major issues in a one-hour conversation. The goal is to identify concrete next steps to help you move forward with clarity and confidence.
If you have a completed manuscript that has been through several drafts and is ready for more detailed line editing, we can discuss setting a single project rate. You can estimate the cost of line editing at roughly $50-$75 for every 1,000 words, but the final rate will depend upon the type of manuscript. Take a look at my downloadable guide to types of editing here for more information.