Louise Harnby | Fiction editing for crime, mystery, suspense and thriller writers

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Location Based in Norwich, Norfolk, UK, but I edit internationally
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Novel editing – line editing, copy-editing and proofreading

 

A Visit from the Goon Squad Life Deluxe Cool Hand Luke Cooking for Cannibals Dracula Three Moments of an Explosion The Stepford Wives The Rats Every Night I Dream of Hell 

Bright Beloved A Lesson in Mystery and Murder Magda A Cold Death in Amsterdam Mrs Jeffries Takes Stock Burnt Island Guns of the Dawn Killman Signature

Fiction line editing, copyediting and proofreading
Welcome! Want to craft a novel that's ready for readers? I’m a specialist commercial fiction editor who helps independent authors prepare their books for market.

‘Deft and precise, Louise enhances what is written so it is crisper and more elegant, revealing the writer's voice.’ 
Kess Goldland, Thriller Writer

I work across genres but have expertise in crime, mystery, thrillers and suspense novels. You can view my extensive portfolio of work in this genre here.

Not a seasoned author? No problem. Many of my clients are beginner and emerging writers starting out on their publishing journey.

Perhaps your writing needs smoothing to ensure it engages your reader. Or maybe industry-standard grammar, spelling and punctuation are your sticking points. I’ll work carefully through your narrative and dialogue, attending to flow, clarity and consistency.

A little bit about me
I've completed over 600 proofreading and line- and copy-editing projects for independent authors and mainstream publishers, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning A Visit from the Goon Squad and an anniversary facsimile edition of Dracula.

No-strings resources for indie authors
I've created a library of resources specifically for independent writers. They're available instantly – no email signups, no fee, no strings ... just useful stuff to make your life easier and put your mind at rest.

How to write dialogue that popsHow to punctuate dialogue

I've self-published myself, too – fiction and non-fiction – so I know what it's like to walk in your shoes.

If you'd like my help, get in touch for an initial chat and we'll take it from there.

Services

I offer four levels of service:

  • Full line- and copy-edit: You’ve nailed your story and are happy with the structure. Now it’s time to focus on readability so that your readers stay on the page and immerse themselves in your prose. A line- and copy-edit corrects and smooths – artfully but invisibly. PRICE: Subject to review of sample
  • 10k-word agent teaser: I'll work on the first 10,000 words of your novel. This is a scaled-down version of the full line- and copyedit, and ideal for authors who want something polished to wow an agent with. PRICE: £450
  • Full proofread: Your book has been copy-edited. A proofread is the final tidy-up that looks out for any problems that have slipped through previous rounds of editing and formatting. It's the last line of defence before you publish. PRICE: Subject to review of sample
  • Sample edit: A sample edit shows you how I work. I'll correct and smooth 1,000 words of your prose, ensuring your narrative and dialogue drive your novel forward and flow well on the page. ​PRICE: £75

More information is available here: Services.

Editorial skills

  • Proofreading
  • Proof-editing
  • Light editing
  • Copy-editing
  • Line editing
  • Sentence-level evaluation

Subjects and genres

Fiction

  • Mystery, thriller, espionage, suspense and crime fiction
  • Fantasy, science-fiction, horror, supernatural and speculative fiction
  • General contemporary fiction
  • Historical crime fiction

For a list of some of the books I've worked on, take a look at my fiction portfolio.

Qualifications, training and experience

Professional affiliation and experience

  • Social Media Director: Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (CIEP); elected 2020
  • Advanced Professional Member of the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (CIEP)
  • Partner Member of The Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi)
  • Member of ACES: The Society of Editors
  • Member of the Association of Independent Publishing Professionals (AIPP)
  • Over 25 years of publishing experience, including in-house roles with Williams & Wilkins and SAGE Publications 
  • Proofread or copyedited over 600 books for independent authors and publishing houses, including a Pulitzer Prize winner, A Visit from the Goon Squad, and an anniversary facsimile edition of probably the most famous Gothic horror novel ever published, Dracula

Training and CPD

  • Essential Proofreading – distinction awarded (Publishing Training Centre)
  • Editing Digital Products (Publishing Training Centre)
  • Fiction Editing (Copyediting master class)
  • Fiction Editing (SfEP conference workshop)
  • Indexing for Proofreaders (Society of Indexers)
  • Macros for Editors (SfEP conference workshop)
  • Sense and Sensitivity: Polishing Grammar while Preserving the Author's Voice (SfEP conference workshop)
  • Style Sheets (SfEP conference workshop)

Awards, nominations and speaking engagements

  • Shortlisted author for Crime Writers' Association's Margery Allingham short-story competition, 2019
  • Shortlisted author for Noirwich Crime Writing Festival flash fiction competition, 2018
  • Shortlisted author for The Bookseller/FutureBook Future Fiction competition, 2018
  • Winner of the Judith Butcher Award 2017 
  • Keynote speaker: Editorial Freelancers Association, Chicago 2019
  • Panelist: Meet the Editors – Editing Training Scheme (The Literary Consultancy in partnership with the Publishing Training Centre), 2020
  • Panelist: Fiction Editing, SfEP/CIEP Norfolk Group, Norwich, 2018 
  • Speaker: SfEP/CIEP mini-conference, Toronto 2018
  • Speaker: SfEP/CIEP conferences 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020
  • Joint winner: Unsung Heroes of Publishing 2017
  • BA (Hons) Politics

Publications

  • Editing Fiction at Sentence Level
  • Making Sense of Point of View (Transform Your Fiction 1)
  • Making Sense of Punctuation (Transform Your Fiction 2)
  • How to do Content Marketing (Business Skills for Editors 1)
  • How to Build an Editorial Blog (Business Skills for Editors 2)
  • How to How to be Visible with Social Media (Business Skills for Editors 3)
  • How to Brand Your Editing Business (Business Skills for Editors 4)
  • How to Earn Passive Income (Business Skills for Editors 5)
  • How to Develop a Pricing Strategy (Business Skills for Editors 6)
  • Omnibus: Editorial Business Planning & Marketing Plus
  • Business Planning for Editorial Freelancers
  • Marketing Your Editing & Proofreading Business
  • Student Proofreading Toolkit: Document-polishing tips & tools
  • The Author's Proofreading Companion: Document-polishing tips & tools
  • Living Fiction (anthology of short stories)  

More information about these books and guides is available on my website.

Training

  • How to Write the Perfect Fiction Editorial Report (multimedia course)
  • Switching to Fiction (multimedia course)
  • Branding for Business Growth (multimedia course)
  • Blogging for Business Growth (multimedia course)
  • Social Media for Business Growth (multimedia course)
  • To Visibility and Beyond (multimedia course)
  • Unboring Business Planning (free webinar)
  • 10 Ways to Get Editing Work Quickly (webinar)
  • 8-Step Blueprint for a Standout Home Page

More information about these training courses is available on my website.

Clients

  • Independent authors from England, Scotland, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Canada, the United States, China and Australia
  • Ashgate
  • Constable & Robinson/Little, Brown
  • Edward Elgar
  • Hardie Grant
  • Jessica Kingsley Publishers
  • Kogan Page
  • Out of House Publishing (for Cambridge University Press and Taylor & Francis)
  • Pan Macmillan
  • Polity Press
  • Quid Publishing
  • SAGE Publications
  • The King's Fund
  • Yale University Press

Media

  • Anthologies
  • Books
  • Novellas
  • Series
  • Short stories

Equipment and software

  • Adobe Acrobat
  • PDF-XChange
  • Microsoft Office 365

Testimonials

I’m just now looking at your edits and, as always, they are so very good. Once again, you’ve retained the essence and helped me deliver the prose sharply.

David Unger, mystery writer

Louise has the rare ability to refine and polish sentences with a perceptive lightness of touch, revising only where necessary, and somehow, magically, what is left on the page better captures the very essence of exactly what you wanted to say.

Deft and precise in her edit, she enhances what is written so at once it is crisper and more elegant, revealing the writer's voice by making it stronger, clearer and more eloquent. Add that she is a pleasure to work with and clearly loves what she does, and it really does become impossible to find fault with her service.

In short – if you want your writing to be better, then you need to get Louise to edit it. I can't recommend working with her highly enough.

Kess Goldland, thriller writer

Thank you so much for all of your hard work on my manuscript. As a new author I was really nervous going into this part of the process but you have been an absolute joy to work with. Your advice and encouragement is something that I really value and the insight you have provided (I loved the report you sent) makes me excited to jump right in. I hope that we get to work together again soon!

Penny LaRaza, fantasy thriller writer

I hired Louise to copyedit my entire series (ten books). I'd used multiple editors in the past, and every time they'd fallen short of my expectations. So I dipped my toe in and started by hiring her for book one, and from the first day I felt I was working with a level of professional I had never encountered before. Then when she delivered the book back to me, I rushed to book her for the rest of my series.

Not only does she catch errors and/or places that trip up the reader, but also, time after time, she gives a concrete example of how to more clearly communicate the atrocity I’ve put on the page. ‘Jeff, this is tripping me up because of this … how about trying [sentence X] or [sentence Y]?' This is invaluable to me, and I think my books now have an elevated quality I couldn't have achieved without her.

I like working with people who have strong work ethics, and they don’t get stronger than Louise’s responsiveness, thoroughness, patience, skill, and professionalism. I can’t imagine publishing another work without Louise scouring it first. I wholeheartedly recommend her services ... Just don’t hire her when I need her.

Jeff Carson, mystery & thriller writer

Working with Louise is a delight. The attention, the super quick copy-editing turnaround of the first chapters of my new book – she made sure it was in perfect condition for my agent to submit. This is the third time I’ve worked with her and she’s terrific. Highly recommended. ​[Book three]

​Impeccable again. Sincere thanks for your all your terrific work. [Book two]

Sincere thanks for a beautiful and elegant piece of work. First class. You are a delight to work with. [Book one]

J B Turner, crime & thriller writer

Louise is a delight to work with and has an incredible eye for detail.
[Book one}

Excellent work again. Many thanks!
​[Book two]

Andrew Langley, supernatural thriller​ writer

Louise is a reliable and diligent proofreader. She consistently delivers on time and to budget and, moreover, understands the sometimes-conflicting requirements of in-house staff and authors. A true professional!

Ian Antcliff, managing senior editor, SAGE Publications

We have been using Louise as a regular proofreader for around nine years, and have always found her diligent in her attitude, accurate in her work and utterly reliable on her dates.

Neil de Cort, production manager, Polity

Louise is always one of the first I will check for availability when I need to place a job. Her onscreen mark up is especially meticulous and I trust her to always do a thorough proofread. Her work is always delivered to deadline and she is a pleasure to work with. I highly recommend her.
Rebecca Hastie, senior desk editor

Louise is a highly reliable, enthusiastic and trusted proofreader. She always delivers on time, on budget and to a consistently high standard. It is a pleasure to work with her.
Suzanne Giles, deputy managing editor

Louise is my trusted go-to proofreader for the most gnarly projects that land on my desk. These, quite often, tend to be law books, where the necessarily complex subject matter is often accompanied by densely populated footnotes which need the high level of attention to detail and consistency that Louise brings to project after project. She never misses a deadline (she usually beats them), and is an absolute pleasure to work with.
Madhubanti Bhattacharyya, desk editor

Edward Elgar Publishing

Louise is an excellent proofreader. She’s extremely reliable and always delivers on time.
Nicola Lovick, former managing editor

Louise Harnby consistently provides top-quality work, and she is punctual, reliable and a pleasure to work with. I have no hesitation in recommending her.
Clive Hebard, former senior desk editor

Constable & Robinson/Little, Brown

I want to thank you again for the outstanding work. You were a rare find for me. Not only did you complete the work within the time-frame promised, but the quality exceeded my expectations considerably.

Ron Brock, independent author

Thanks so much for the fantastic work! Delighted with it.

Rob Aspinall, independent author (three-book commission)

As a proofreader, Louise was great to work with. It was easy to establish a trusting professional relationship with her and she was always 100% professional in all she did, including meeting deadlines. She is clearly very experienced and knowledgeable about publishing standards and I also found real value added in her occasional copyediting suggestions. I also found her flexible and responsive to an emergency situation I found myself in, and greatly appreciated her willingness to go the extra mile. I recommend her without hesitation.

Alexander Murray, independent author

Louise is an extremely dependable proofreader. She has been a key supplier to us for many years and her flexible and friendly approach make her a joy to work with. Top qualities: great results, personable, high integrity.

Jo Bottrill, managing director, Out of House Publishing

Louise is an absolute pleasure to work with. She always completes work on time, is extremely thorough, and her proofreading skills are second to none.

Richard Mark Smith, independent author

A million thanks – your mark-up is perfect, as always.

Jen Hamilton-Emery, co-director, Salt Publishing

Louise provides an excellent proofreading service. She is helpful, friendly and provides additional support to aspiring authors. I am happy to recommend her proofreading services and I look forward to working with her again.

Mary Fraser, independent author

Just wanted to let you know that I'm delighted with what you have done. The difference truly feels like night and day.

Kevin Duncan, independent author

Louise is a consummate professional and the ideal person to turn to for help with a manuscript. She made my story so much better and offered many insightful suggestions. All of which I accepted. She grasps the mindset of a writer so well; it’s as if she was there when I wrote my story.
 
She deeply comprehends the creative mind. She uses her expertise in English, combined with an obviously extensive knowledge of the world’s cultures to hone a story until its razor sharp, while still allowing the author’s voice to remain dominant.
 
The most wonderful thing of all was the way she kept my voice intact. I know, I said that before. But an author’s voice is a precious thing to each of us. We spend countless hours mining the dark recesses of the right brain when following our muse, and sacrifice everything for the sake of the story. We often blur the lines between creativity and logical syntax. Louise is the bright light that guides us to our end goal. To be a published author.

Dare Rogers, crime thriller writer

Through all of the changes and feedback I was never once anxious. Where I struggled it wasn't because I felt awful but because you had said such lovely things that I was overwhelmed. That you made all of the changes needed with generosity and care is incredible. This is what I want to spend my life doing, and you have helped me to shed so many of my fears about doing so. It means everything. Thank you.
 

Rebecca Milton, fantasy fiction writer

Thank you so much for the tremendous work you have put into editing my manuscript. Your expertise and observations are hugely valuable. You have instilled encouragement to go forward, and I have enjoyed the journey and learnt a great deal!
 

Josephine Vaughan, independent author

Louise is a true professional – she’s reliable and knowledgeable, but what makes her stand out and shine is her ability to immerse herself in your story. It’s as if she becomes you – sees through your eyes and recognizes your voice. From the first page till the very last, she respects the magical world you, the author, have created.
 
I requested samples from several editors prior to Louise. When I reviewed them I felt misunderstood. My voice had disappeared and the narrative sounded nothing like me anymore. They clearly pointed out all my weaknesses by mechanically correcting mistakes in the text, but in doing so they cut out the soul of my story. 
 
When Louise sent me her sample, I saw the art of skilful editing at its best. She was meticulous, but so thoughtful. She eliminated the mistakes, but looked beyond them, too, amending without compromising the voices of the characters or the atmosphere in the scenes.
 
What I received back is the novel at its best ­– it’s my story, how I wrote it, but masterfully and brilliantly edited to become a work I can truly be proud of.

Ayshe Gemedzhy, independent author

Excellent! You really have given it a full wash and rinse! The edits and comments show me the extensive page-by-page work you have done. Many thanks for the brilliant editing.

Ram Daryanani, thriller writer

Two years ago, I wrote my first book Cold Sunflowers. Having failed to get a publishing deal, I decided to go it alone and become an independent author. Everyone told me I needed a professional editor. I decided on Louise – what a stroke of luck that was. 
 
Louise’s website is full of useful information, most of it free, but it was the edit that turned my book into a success. It was an amazing service. I didn’t think the book needed much work; how wrong I was. With Louise's edits, the book became so much tighter. 
 
My book has well over 100 five-star reviews. Many say it was nice to read a book that has been properly edited. Cold Sunflowers made it to number 45 in the Amazon US charts and was a bestseller in two categories. Dreams do come true but, believe me, you need a professional editor to help them on their way.

Mark Sippings, fiction writer