Richard Gilbert understands the nuts and bolts and craft of writing like few others I know, a true student of not just the big issues of the writing craft but the importance of the smallest mechanics and nuance.—Dinty W. Moore, author of Between Panic and Desire

Freelance Developmental Editing of Manuscripts by Richard Gilbert

I am a reader, writer, teacher, and editor. I can help your work reach its full potential. Developmental editing involves a close line reading—detailed editing of grammar, diction, and prose rhythms—as well as attention to tone, story arc, narrative structure, and persona. For dramatized works, I’ll evaluate their optimum balance of scene, summary, and exposition. I’ll also pay close attention to punctuation, paragraphing, and diction, along with big-picture issues, including holes in the narrative, slow pacing, and structural confusion.

My qualifications include teaching at the college level, specializing in teaching memoir, personal essay, analytical, and nature writing. I worked in book publishing (marketing and acquisitions) for eleven years, and I continue to analyze manuscripts for publishers. Prior to that, I worked in daily newspapers for over a decade as a reporter and columnist and taught journalism part-time.

I am the author of Shepherd: A Memoir, which was named an Ohioana Book Award Finalist. I have contributed chapters to other books, and my essays have appeared in many literary and popular journals, including Orion and Utne Reader. I have won awards for feature articles and public service reportage and have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize for an essay. I was a Kiplinger Fellow at Ohio State University, where I took graduate classes in English literature, grammar, philosophy, and history. I earned an MFA in creative nonfiction from Goucher College.

How to get started

Please contact me by email ( and explain your project and your need. I will want to read a sample of your manuscript, usually the first twenty pages for a book. If we decide mutually to proceed, I will give you a projected completion date. I prefer to work with Microsoft Word files that can be emailed back and forth; I will consider neatly printed hard copy.

You will receive a close reading and critique, including a line edit, structural analysis, and discussion of content; in addition to comments within the text, I include a letter of detailed evaluation. You can also call me for an hour-long phone consultation once you have digested my edit and my letter. When working with a Word file, I use the markup function, which fosters clarity even if line edits and comments are extensive. My rate for developmental editing of book-length manuscripts is $2.50 a page, paid in advance; for 100 pages or fewer, as in one to four essays, I charge $3.75 a page.

What some previous clients have said:

Richard evaluated an early draft of my memoir Sultans of Swing. He took the mess I gave him and found the ore. In a publishing climate where more and more writers can shoot for small presses or take the publishing process into their own hands, an editor of Richard’s caliber will make your work look as polished as anything coming out of Big Publishing. Invest in your work and hire Richard. Now.—Brendan O’Meara, author of Six Weeks in Saratoga and freelance writer of factual stories.

Richard’s insights regarding Matisse in Winter were significant, deep, thoughtful, and also down-to-earth. His advice, as well as his belief in my work, helped me take my novel to a new level.—Kristine Mietzner, freelance writer

To me, finding the right editor is like getting married. I am giving someone license to mess with my very soul. Richard gained my trust that he would uphold the ethos of my book, Our Two Minds: Emotion and Motivation in Human Evolution, which weaves the experience of mental illnesses into evolutionary science. (I suspect he would not agree to edit a book that he could not). Just as important, Richard knows readers. He understood just how wrapped up into my bubble-world I am, frequently alerting me: “You will lose them here,” “Needs clarification,” “Too strident.” These two qualities combined with an eagle eye for grammar make him hands-down the best editor I have ever had.—John V. Wylie, M.D., author of Diagnosing and Treating Mental Illness: A Guide for Physicians, Nurses, Patients, and Their Families