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’m an experienced writer, publisher, and editor. I can help your work reach its potential. Developmental editing involves a close line reading—detailed editing of grammar, diction, and prose rhythms—and attention to tone, story arc, narrative structure, and persona. For dramatized works, I evaluate their optimum balance of scene, summary, and exposition. I also pay close attention to punctuation, paragraphing, and diction. And of course I keep in mind big-picture issues: holes in the narrative, slow pacing, structural confusion.

My qualifications include having worked for 11 years in book publishing (marketing, publicity, and acquisitions), and I continue to analyze manuscripts for publishers. Prior to that, I worked in journalism for 15 years, mostly as a daily newspaper reporter, editor, and columnist. During those years, I won a Kiplinger Fellowship to Ohio State University, where I took graduate classes in English literature, grammar, philosophy, and history. Later I earned an Master of Fine Arts in Creative Nonfiction from Goucher College.

My writing experience is extensive. The author of Shepherd: A Memoir, which was named an Ohioana Book Award Finalist, I’ve contributed chapters to other books. My essays have appeared in many literary and popular journals, including Orion and Utne Reader. Several of my essays have won or been finalists in contests. For many years I have taught at the college level, specializing in memoir, personal essay, analytical, and nature writing.

How to get started

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

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, the rate is $100 plus $3.75 a page. You’ll 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.

What some previous clients have said:

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, author of Matisse in Winter, a finalist in the San Francisco Writers Conference Writing Contest.

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, Ape Mind, Old Mind, New Mind, 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.” His editorial judgment 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 Ape Mind, Old Mind, New Mind: Evolution of the Human Spirit

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.

It has been a great opportunity to connect and collaborate with author and editor Richard Gilbert. As I like to say, writing is easy, but editing takes finesse. After years of writing and rewriting a contracted biography, I fell into the writer’s dilemma of overwriting and overthinking. Writing a biography is much different than writing freelance, children’s literature, or anything else, for that matter. Richard helped me to weed out unnecessary lines, duplicate conversations, corrected my grammar/sentence structure, and provided many “ah-ha!” moments about my overall script.

Once you see your writing through the eyes of an qualified editor, you realize that a great editor is indispensable. I appreciate Richard’s knowledge of my topic—sheep, Appalachian Ohio, farming, vetting, life in general, and much more. I highly recommend Richard. Now that I have found Richard, I feel confident to venture into more genres and topics. Thanks, Richard, for helping me to become a better writer.

—Gina McKnight author of Milliron: Abbott “Pete” Smith, D.V.M. The Biography