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Editorial & Writing Services

I accept a limited number of clients in need of assistance with their projects.


Standard Critique: Review content to identify any issues with continuity or development and overall cohesiveness of the project. Do you have a strong introduction? Does your book stay on the plot and manage the subplots effectively? Are the characters consistent and believable? Market viability is considered with feedback.


Line Editing: Sentence by sentence review of grammar, punctuation, spelling, consistency and word usage. The intent is to identify the majority of errors and address any stylistic issues that may affect the writing quality. Information about how to make corrections will be provided when appropriate, although corrections are ultimately the responsibility of the author.


Ghostwriting: Have an idea but lack the skills or time needed to bring it to completion?  A ghostwriter writes your project for you, but you assume full author credit and recognition.


Tutorial Services: I have experience working with students on essays and writers struggling with articles, short stories and manuscripts. A tutorial can be tailored to the needs of the individual. Have a completed manuscript but struggling with a query letter? Trying to outline a project but find it keeps veering off course? Set individual goals and receive assistance on the areas you’re struggling with. Payment plans are an option for tutorial services. Email me for more information.


Email sandramruttan@yahoo.com for more information. Please tell me who you are, what services you think you need for your project, the type of project you’re working on  and areas of the project that you’re struggling with. Please also include any specific deadline you are working with.

Frequently Asked Questions:


How many people have you worked with?

I have worked with over 900 individuals as a tutor, editor or ghostwriter. When I counted my clients I was stunned by the number, although this includes clients with shorter projects. I began tutoring in 2010 and I used to work for a company with a pool of tutors. The clients I’ve worked with have required feedback on everything from essays to short stories to novellas to manuscripts. Since I started independently freelancing I primarily work on manuscripts.


What type of feedback have you received from clients?

I’ve had many compliments.

From Jose:

I never do this, but you have been so much help I really wanted to thank you so much! I really appreciate all the dedication you have given my work. I will start working on these suggestions. I just feel like I really needed to thank you personally. You are awesome!

From Bernice:

Thank you so much for your feedback, I will definitely consider all your advice.

From Victoria:

Thank you very much for all of the feedback and careful review. This was a very hard project to write and I wanted to do my very best in doing so. I believe this topic touches a lot of lives and I do agree that most people don’t want to openly share their experiences. For me I know I am selective about who I share my past with because I don’t want people to view me differently. Also I know that some people simply won’t understand my past. But again thank you very much for all the help.

From Krystal:

Thank you so much for your time and for really helping me!!!! You do not know how much I appreciated it! All tutors should be like you… (I) recommend you.

From Jean:

Aloha Sandra,

I would like to thank you for a very helpful critique and guide on my work. You are the best! Thank You.

From Mitch:

I have been struggling with this for months and you just put your finger right on the problem and solved it. Thank you!



What are typical rates for these types of services?

Other editorial service providers tend to average $30-40 per hour or more, and some require the purchase of a set number of hours as a minimum for the contract. In my own experience I paid a lot of money for feedback for two different editorial services before publication. One charged $150 for reviewing three chapters (approximately 10,000 words) and did not include grammatical notes with that feedback. The feedback was more instructional, and focused on how to develop a character bio before writing, etc., while it did not address a lot of specific issues within my own writing. The other charged $32.50 per hour for a required purchase of 20 hours of service (totaling $650!) with limits on chapter lengths of 1500 words. Bear in mind those rates were from over 10 years ago. Editorial services are expensive, and the more experience a writer has in professional publishing the more they tend to charge.


What are my rates?

My rates for critique and editorial services are based on word count. I typically charge half a cent per word equivalent as a starting rate. A manuscript 50,000 words in length would be $250 U.S. for a critique. The same rate applies to a line edit, which will identify the majority of technical errors and also address the writing style. Manuscripts exceeding 65,000 words in length typically receive a reduced rate and when a critique and a line edit are ordered together a discounted rate is offered.

Tutorial services are typically charged $17.50 per hour in 10 hour blocks.


Why are my rates lower?

I know what it’s like to be seeking objective help with a manuscript and face steep fees to get that assistance. I work independently and have less overhead to consider.


Why is payment required before scheduling?

While I do have less overhead than a business with multiple staff and an independent website, I do have costs. Every email I receive requires time from my work day to evaluate and respond to. When I need to send requests via Paypal for payment it’s time from my work day (and instead I request clients authorize the payment to my account once I provide the amount and account name – it is not the email on this page). This time I spend that’s unpaid is the cost of doing business. Paypal fees are the cost of doing business. I’ve had inquiries that have taken up more than two hours of my time and the writer has not followed through with the editing. That’s either time I need to give up with my family, or time that another person’s services are going to be delayed, and the costs of services have to be adjusted to absorb that time. Do you want to pay for hours of time that was spent on something other than your project? Of course not. Requiring payment upfront ensures that the people who are not serious about services do not unnecessarily delay my other scheduled projects or inflate the amount of time I have to absorb into other clients’ costs or family time.  I also have limited recourse for failure to pay so I deliver the services that have been paid for when they’ve been paid for. This is part of what enables me to keep my prices lower and still provide a quality service.


Why don’t you save time with generic form email responses or contracts?

Every author is an individual and not all manuscripts are the same. I try to give every inquiry the attention I would like to receive. That means that I take the time to personally respond to inquiries.

Contracts are required for ghostwriting projects because these services may not involve full payment initially, and tutorial services require a contract because there are options about what to focus on in the number of blocks chosen.


Isn’t it risky for people to send you money before they receive their service?

I suppose it’s risky to order anything online. The reality is that, as an author, I’m taking the biggest risk. I can be attacked online in a way that damages my career. People can go online and lie and attack my books or me. Since I’ve been active online over the past 11 years I’ve had someone take my photo and email and sign me up for a lesbian dating site, had personal attacks posted as reviews and been attacked on my old blog. One person tried hard to help me find Jesus and called out the ‘sinners’ who commented on my blog posts. Some of those events occurred before my first book was published, and anyone who knows the crime fiction community well knows about the sock puppet scandal from a few years ago. Authors are vulnerable to attack from within their community and without. A lot of the attacks they face aren’t valid and it’s not uncommon for negative reviews from people who haven’t even read your book to be posted by people who are jealous or just crazy. As an author you have to develop a thick skin because some of these types of attacks are just part of the reality of being an author in the internet era.

When I started out attempting to get published there were a lot of people in the industry who were hurtful. I don’t mean they critiqued my work and gave me negative feedback. I mean that they treated newcomers horribly. The people who were wonderful helped me out early on and I was determined to pay that forward. I started Spinetingler Magazine to help showcase writers by publishing short stories, reviews, interviews and articles. I can honestly say I’ve been the first person to publish short fiction by some writers who’ve gone on to tremendous success. Nothing makes me happier than for others to succeed and to know I was able to help them, even if it was in a small way. There isn’t a limited number of books that can be sold each year. The number is unlimited. When people read a great book they want to read another great book. When people read a bad book they want to go play a video game. Supporting talented writers only ensures that writers are rewarded with more great material to choose from. I’ve stayed in touch with some writers I’ve worked with over the years and many have gone on to successful publishing contracts.

I know what I’ve contributed to the community over the years. I’m attempting to keep my rates affordable and to ensure that the rewards of offering these services outweigh the risks to me as an author.


I’ve never heard of you before. Who are you?


See my bio page for more information. Also, note the following shout-outs and interviews:


James Oswald

Julia Buckley

Jeff VanderMeer

Peter Rozovsky

Out of the Gutter

The Rap Sheet

Jess Lourey

Lesa’s Book Critiques

Declan Burke

Bouchercon 2008


Have you had any complaints?

A few.

Why would you tell us about complaints?

Honestly, if you aren’t ready to hear constructive feedback for how to improve your manuscript to ensure it’s ready for publication then you aren’t ready for a critique. Consider that carefully. 98% of the people I’ve worked with have been satisfied with the services provided. If I can weed out the 2% who aren’t going to be happy before I take them on then I can focus my time on working with writers who are ready to succeed.

I don’t find it enjoyable to work with writers who aren’t ready to bring their work to a professional level because, no matter how right I may be with my feedback, I can’t help them if they won’t listen.

I’ve never had someone complain that I didn’t provide the services I was paid for, with the exception of the guy who thought I should re-write his material. I clearly identify via email what services are being purchased before starting so that there is a written understanding of what the client should expect.

In my own experience, I had a lot of issues with one of the services I purchased. Since it was through a company instead of an individual the person providing services switched partway through. That resulted in a lack of continuity in the feedback. There were times that all I received in terms of feedback was “good job” and no constructive information for improvement was provided. I thought the project was ready, only to receive rejection after rejection from editors and agents. The lack of useful feedback inhibited my progress as a writer. Did I complain? No. I suppose that’s partially my nature, but asked privately I wouldn’t recommend the services to anyone else. Anyone who claims they haven’t received a legitimate complaint is probably discounting the complaints I’m acknowledging – from people who couldn’t complain that they didn’t receive what they paid for but just didn’t like everything they heard because their project wasn’t perfect.

As for the complaints I’ve received, in one case, a writer felt it was my job to re-write their book so that it was publishable at the end, although I was their tutor and had not been hired to ghostwrite the material. Occasionally a writer responds negatively to anything less than glowing praise in a critique. I’ve certainly been told I’m wrong a few times… but almost every single writer has later come back to apologize for overreacting to constructive feedback on their work. I don’t engage in a lot of post-feedback discussion, and I don’t engage in argument. When I’ve received an email telling me all the reasons I’m wrong I wait it out. Almost every time the writer has followed up at some point later and expressed how they’ve realized the feedback was helpful.

I understand that writing is a love-hate profession. We go through stretches of doubt and uncertainty at times. We also have to have enough of an ego and belief in our ideas to persevere and complete a manuscript. It’s very hard when we hear that there’s room for improvement. I remember the first critique I got for my opening chapters. I didn’t write on that project for a month. It undermined my confidence in the project, but I needed to learn to see past that and take the practical advice I was given and start to apply that to my writing. That helped me improve tremendously. Nobody is paying me for cheerleading services. If I like something I’m going to tell you, but more attention is focused on what may need to be tweaked or fixed than what’s already working well.


Please note that I do not work in the office on Sundays. Please allow up to 48 hours for a response. Emails received after hours Friday night typically won’t receive a response until the next work week. Every now and again I do take a family vacation, and it may take longer for inquiries to receive a personal response during those times.


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