I know I’m supposed to do this–business is business and all that–and yet it feels awkward. People have said some wonderfully kind things about me. So, though the Kansas boy in me has a hard time with it, I’ll present some of them, all with advance permission expressly and kindly granted, and with embarrassed thanks to everyone for their kind words. I’d work with any or all of you again any time as well.
“I first used J.K. Kelley as my proofreader on my book Feels Like the First Time. The first thing he did was change my mind about what a proofreader could be. I anticipated that he might catch my errant homonyms and misplaced commas, but he provided so much more than that. There were so many things that I just ‘knew’ that turned out to be incorrect when Jonathan investigated them thoroughly. More than that, I found that I truly enjoyed the proofreading process with Jonathan and it became a process of education for me, not just correcting mistakes.
I enjoyed the experience so much that I retained Jonathan to serve as my editor on my short story Lucky Man and my follow-up book Both Sides Now. It’s hard for me to recount all the ways he has helped me to become a better writer, but I will try. He has always been available to me at every stage of the process, including planning the book and during the writing itself. He has been an incredibly astute sounding board for me and has served the most valuable function I can imagine: he has been the perfect reader’s representative.
I think it goes without saying that he has a superb grasp of language and knowledge of The Chicago Manual of Style and The AP Stylebook, but what is more important to me is his commitment to maintaining the author’s natural voice while creating the best book possible. What I love is that Jonathan takes the time to talk about his changes and the reasons behind many of them, essentially giving me small writing lessons in each session. I have heard many horror stories of writers who have a war with their editors over every project, but I cannot relate. I actually look forward to editing every project. I couldn’t recommend him more highly. ” –Shawn Inmon, author of great works like Feels Like the First Time and Lucky Man
“I really like your work. You are very thorough, yet considerate to local, familial ways of speaking. Overall I’m very pleased with how you treated the MS.” –Ernie Rowell, Kit Music Group, Inc.
“As writers we know that the editor you choose is integral to the final outcome of your work.
If you are looking for an excellent editor check him out! Beyond being crazy smart, he was easy to work with (especially for a first time author), kind and patient (I like to think of him as my personal Yoda), with a good mix of humor to keep the experience interesting (and pain-free).
Again and forever, thank you J.” –Shannon D. Jackson, author of that creative and clever parenting treatise, It’s Not Rocket Science, It’s Parenthood
“You are the Master – the Supreme Proof-reader of all time.
Thank you – you did a great job.” –Ron Carlson, Consulting Engineer
“OK, let’s get it over with: your proofreading work is stunning. Best I’ve ever seen. No qualifiers. As soon as I get this beast back from press, I will write a suitable letter of recognition for you.
I have, since 1999, had the pleasure of working with the best of the best wordsmiths and graphic arts designers in North America. I have truly been blessed. Whatever good things I have been credited for are the result of seeking out the best of the best to make the stories shine in the dark. Sometimes I did, sometimes I didn’t. But when I didn’t, it was always my shortcomings as an author and publisher that held the book back, not those of my collaborators. Editors can flow the thoughts, but even the best of them are not proofreaders. That is a special art conferred on truly worthy High Holies. Your professional knowledge — and deference — are in perfect synch. Both my senior editors, Diane Anderson and Betty Burnett, have been thrilled by what you are doing.” –Richard N. Côté, Editor-in-Chief, Corinthian Books
“Best value I have ever received from a professional service.
I hired John to help me improve my writing. He took the time to understand my goals and explain the different ways he could assist me. We have worked together on several stories and my growth has far exceeded my expectations.
He has helped me retain my voice while tightening up my writing and making it more impactful to the intended audience. John has good instincts about when to include a sample rewrite, and when to just remark that “you can do better”. His humor often shines through his comments – I have never laughed so hard at constructive criticism.
John is a professional who provides the highest level of integrity, service, and technical competence. I highly recommend him.”–Randy Hayes, creator of the Lords of Chaos RPG system
“I began writing my first novel as a complete novice. I had a story in mind, but no understanding of the process of penning anything longer than a short story. To my tremendous good fortune, a friend referred me to J.K. Kelley. John coached me through the creative phase of storytelling with developmental advice, helped me refine both my prose and the tale through multiple rounds of substantive edits, and was instrumental in getting a polished book published through precise line edits. John is careful not to usurp the writer’s role. Instead, his inputs act as a mirror, offering an improved reflection of one’s own work. John’s vocabulary is immense, his recommendations of word use precise, and his advice on punctuation clean. He also has a deep understanding of the business of publishing. A friend of mine who is a well-known author told me, ‘The writer has a role, the editor a related but different role. Play your part and let other professionals play theirs.’ J.K. Kelley knows how important his part as an editor is, and plays it perfectly.” —Michael R. Cook, author of Out of Their Depth.
A Solid Investment
As a long-time writer but first-time author, my search for an editor was rigorous. My fellow novelists had horror stories of manuscripts being returned with a large invoice and a larger cache of missed errors. Once their bill was paid, the job was left undone and them unsatisfied with no recourse.
I was referred by a friend to J.K. Kelley’s website. I had learned through my long search that checking the editor’s website is vital. It is very telling how much potential editors are willing to tell, show, and share, and how well they do it. The Editorial Maverick is an educational and illuminating site that allowed me a window into what I would be getting if I hired Kelley. It also answered my prime question: Is the editor well-spoken and well-written? Kelley is both.
Kelley was patient with me, handling my multiple inquiries and subsequent edits with equal directness and kindness. Rather than scolding, he used my errors as learning opportunities, molding me into a better writer by providing thorough explanations for his edits. He became a vital member of my team, working with me every step of the editorial process toward the shared goal of a market-ready manuscript, rather than just another editor. Highly recommended!
—Mindi Boston, Author, The Girl in the Rusted Cage
Tags: manuscript editor, fiction editor, non-fiction editor, freelance editor.