From Robin Orsini:
In the summer of 2013, I was encouraged by my mate (who wisely had not read my writing—we were living together) to submit for editorial review at a writers’ conference what I fancied was a novel. I chose two editors who offered their services—for a fee, of course—and submitted to each of them several chapters of my so-called “novel.”
One was Meghan Pinson—editor, owner, & driving force behind My Two Cents. The other shall remain nameless. I cannot say now what drove me to choose either editor, but it’s entirely possible that the self-deprecating name of Meghan’s company, My Two Cents [worth] appealed to me all by itself. Call it serendipity, if you will—I do!
My first meeting with the other editor was disappointing—to say the least. That editor ran the text I’d sent over through an editing machine for corrections of grammar, punctuation, syntax, etc., which would have been like buying an eight-week-old baby his first adult army fatigues. In short, there was nothing gained by this meeting other than to prematurely acquaint me with the miracles of computer editing—considerable, no doubt, but completely irrelevant at that point in time.
I met with Meghan in a garden patio on the campus where the conference was held. She handed me a pre-printed one-sided form filled with her hand-written remarks in response to the issues to be critiqued: Synopsis, setting & description, plot & conflict, etc. The form had a point system which happily Meghan crossed off altogether—I would have come in with a negative score, no doubt, rather than with some digits on an 80-point scale. On the obverse of this daunting point sheet, Meghan penned a long, hand-written note. She wrote, among other things, ”I feel like there is humor in here that wants to come out!” and added three bits of encouraging advice: “Keep writing,” “Focus on character,” and “Don’t be afraid to cut the underbrush, if you want it to sing,” and she added a smiley face. To be perfectly honest, if I’d gotten what I wrote, I’d have written a terse note to the presumptuous would-be novelist: “Don’t leave your day job—ever.”
When we sat and discussed the “novel,” she brought out my and her notions of the plot, the theme (revenge), the main character (not even remotely who the synopsis seemed to suggest), and limitations on the time the novel should end. I went home feeling that I should get back to writing as soon as practicable rather quit writing altogether—and I did.
After the conference, I spoke briefly with Matthew Arkin—“my” editor—and we hit it off extremely well. I did not know then how well we’d get along, but I want to relay what happened about six months ago when I submitted my finished novel to Matthew for a comprehensive critique—in late 2016.
Matthew not only read every word in the novel, but also checked whether certain words I’ve used were etymologically proper at the time the historical novel takes place (1797–1929); whether I resorted to “telling” where “showing” was called for; whether there were inconsistencies and ambiguities; where he felt that adding dialogues and descriptions were vital; and the like. He waxed ecstatic when he liked what I wrote and did so without a hint of envy or misgivings. In all, he appended 219 critical comments and complimented me 77 times. If you’re a writer, these compliments are better than an oxygen mask in a smoke-filled room. They are like an oxygen tank for an underwater diver. I want to state that I have agreed with 98% of Matthew’s comments, that is, 215 out of 219, and we discussed the rest on the phone. I have now finished my second re-editing, and eagerly await Matthew’s comments on my latest endeavor.
I am here to tell the world that Matthew & Meghan are brilliant editors, astute readers, wonderful human beings, and the editors you want for your work. If you want quality, reliability, professionalism, and honesty, I highly recommend the team at My Two Cents! Besides, My Two Cents is a wonderfully whimsical name—why would you think of going elsewhere?
From Peter Jay Black, author of the Urban Outlaws and Bluestone series:
Meghan is fiercely honest when it comes to editing. If your manuscript requires more tweaks, rethinks, and extra levels of her editing prowess, she’ll explain why, without pressure to do any of it. If, on the other hand, your prose doesn’t need as much as you were expecting, she’ll tell you to get an agent/publisher stat! This is what sets her apart – honesty; even if it’s to the determent of further work for herself.
From Cynthia Payne, author of the Charleston series:
Meghan always made sure to answer my e-mails and schedule a telephone consult in a timely manner. If I needed her help, she was always right there to answer my questions and offer assistance. If I didn’t understand something, she made sure that I did before we moved on to another chapter. I have seven more books in the series and I look forward to working with Meghan on these books as well. I have been very pleased with the assistance and encouragement that I received on my first book. It is greatly appreciated!
From Kate Mathieson:
I have used other editors with varying levels of satisfaction, and this was a totally different experience. Meghan “got” me and my book. She asked all the right questions, and her flexibility really interested me. She offers a full manuscript edit, but what I wanted was more of a brief critique; not line by line, but finding areas I could improve or cut out. She was super professional, had great quick turnaround times, and really pulled out elements of pacing, character, structure, what works, what didn’t work – which made my job of rewriting several parts a DREAM. She really knocked it out of the park, and I can’t wait to work with her again.
From J.G., after an intro edit:
Wow, I really like what you did with the manuscript, especially identifying all the exposition. During my first read through I thought, “But I need some of the magenta text….don’t I?” and then I saw how the text would read without all of that exposition–it was so clean and tight and polished! Anyway, this is my long way of saying that I’m now interested in doing a comprehensive critique with you. I think the manuscript would really benefit from that kind of close reading and markup.
From Martin Turnbull, author of Hollywood’s Garden of Allah novels:
As a first-time author with a historical novel I was keen to publish, I needed an editor I could trust to take my manuscript to the next level. But more than that, it was the first in a series of nine novels I planned to write. Not only was I looking for an editor I could trust, but also a publishing professional with whom I could build an on-going relationship as we worked our way through each book.
When I found Meghan, I was immediately struck by her energy, her enthusiasm, her communication, and her references, so I happily handed over my manuscript. When I got it back, I knew I’d found the right person to guide me through the daunting waters of punctuation, character motivation, grammar, plot structure, tense, point-of-view analysis, and so much more.
Meghan knows my ultimate goal is always to produce a piece of work that’s as professional as any book currently available in the marketplace. She doesn’t hesitate to call me on issues such as artificial plot contrivances and coincidences, sagging character motivation, and repetitive sentence construction—and that’s exactly why I keep coming back to her, book after book. Meghan takes her work seriously, and therefore will take YOUR work seriously. Six novels later, I can’t imagine working with anyone else.
From Shelley Schanfield, author of the Sadhana Trilogy:
Meghan, this is wonderful! Just looking through the first 20 pages is fascinating and helpful. And it’s great to see discussion between you and Rhonda. It makes very plain the value of “two sets of eyes” as I think you put it sometime in our earlier correspondence.
I won’t do any revisions. I am eager for the whole document. So glad for you two sharp-eyed editors to be on my case.
Many thanks for the preview!
From Ken Oder, author of The Closing and Old Wounds to the Heart:
Wow! I am so glad I found you. I didn’t expect you to finish so soon. The critique is so insightful and encouraging. It is a relief to learn that “The Closing” may be worth reading after all.
I got about 100 pages into the manuscript before I had to break away for a meeting and I didn’t find a single revision or comment I disagreed with. Those suggestions and the sample copy edit you included at about page 20 are wonderful, like sunshine bursting through cloud cover.
I appreciate so much what you have done. I thought you were a good editor when I read what your clients said about you. I thought you were even better after I met you. But it seems I underestimated you. No wonder you’re so busy. You’re really, really great at what you do.
From Ana Reynoso, author of “(rain)“:
I am not an established anything (let alone author). But I write. I love to write. I write to be transported, to experience zero gravity, to lose myself in this task that brings me joy and somehow makes time stop (I honestly believe you don’t grow old when you write). So after an embarrassingly long time at designing and building this one particular story I found myself desperately lost. Like some amateur architect I was putting up dividing walls here and there without considering light issues, installing benches and pergolas no one would ever use, and moving my characters around from place to place with no true plan…you know what I mean? LOST. I had no idea if anything in my novel made sense anymore, if my characters were believable or lovable, if the structure I provided was enough, or if i should just stop writing and take up cooking instead. Really. It was painful. So I called Meghan. And you know what she did? Like a fabulous inspector she found every crack in the structure, pointed out the leaky chapters, and tested all the characters for electricity. She also pointed out what worked well, what scenes touched her, which parts made her laugh, and suggested new directions and possibilities.
In a nutshell, Meghan re-drew my architectural plans. And I needed that. Her critique provided an aerial, panoramic, zoomed out yet topographic map of my novel and it was such a gift. If you are feeling lost, no doubt in my mind you should call Meghan immediately.
From Andy Kerckhoff, author of Critical Connection: A Practical Guide for Parenting Young Teens:
From beginning to end, Meghan was an absolute professional in her attitude and performance. I felt like she deeply wanted me to succeed in creating a book that we would both be proud of.
Hiring her to edit my manuscript was the best decision I made in the entire self-publishing process. What she says about hiring a pro instead of your old English teacher is spot on. I am an English teacher, and Meghan is who you want to edit your work, not someone like me. She is the real deal.
Meghan found and helped me correct my technical errors without making me feel like a fool, and she helped tighten my prose to eliminate unnecessary and misleading words. But I ended up with more than just an error-free manuscript, because she helped me strengthen my message by ruthlessly eliminating anything that was weak. My book became much tighter, and every bit of revision retained my own voice.
I highly recommend Meghan as an editor for any written project. Get in line with the rest of us. She is worth every penny.
From Dr. Walker Ladd, author of Transformed by Postpartum Depression: Women’s Stories of Trauma and Growth:
Incredibly helpful, supportive, clear, responsive, and knowledgeable.
Meghan’s services were what put the book over the edge. Without her work, I don’t think the book would have taken shape in the way that it did. She helped translate a dissertation into a readable and compelling book that integrated my voice and made the research approachable. Meghan gave me the industry insight and editorial critique necessary to translate research into a dynamic read.
From Pamela Fagan Hutchins, author of the What Doesn’t Kill You series of romantic mysteries:
Working with Meghan has come at the point in my writing where I thirst for feedback on what is wrong, not what is right.
I still love to hear how awesome my books and writing are, but I love even more when someone confirms my intuition about a section that doesn’t flow, or says “don’t you think this paragraph works better here?” Even when they say “you need to work harder at this, it isn’t up to your standard,” or worse yet, “delete these chapters and write new ones.”
Meghan worries that she’ll bruise my ego with her feedback, but I can say without reservation that I have exulted over her every word. When I am too tired to putz with perfection another second, when I prematurely send her something that may not be my best effort but is the best I can force out of myself at that moment, Meghan does not flog me. She has admitted that occasionally in a particularly difficult section of my work she might calculate and recalculate her billing and wring her hands, but that I balance it with occasional brilliance. Or so she says, because she ain’t a turnip.
I am elated over the revised manuscripts. I am proud of the pieces that have come together.
By the time we met in person, Meghan and I had worked together for three months and were on our fourth book. We had talked about my writing, my grammar, my style, my chapter structure, my capitalization, my naming conventions, my poetry, my sense of humor, and my my my my my so much that I cringed with self-loathing and guilt. Meghan is the foremost authority on all things Pamela, whether she wants to be or not. I call her first to see what I’m going to do next now. So there was no way I would force her through significantly more Pamela, and definitely not through more talk about PAMELA’S BOOKS. We just talked . . . we chatted and became friends.
The verdict, when our short evening ended? I love her online. I love her on the phone. And I loved her even more IRL. It turns out, I love editors. Editors, the goddess creatures able to spin your words into gold, to cut the snakes from Medusa’s head without turning your manuscript to stone, to balance the worlds you create on their backs keeping your dreams bright in the sky. Editors. Wonderful, awesome editors.
Writers, wannabes, dreamers, and all of you who yearn to try the entrepreneurial nontraditional route for your books: don’t shortcut the pain, don’t skip the years of effort, don’t publish just for the sake of publishing.
First, work with critique groups. Choose the most vicious and merciless writing companions. No circle jerks, no ego strokes, just truth. Suffer. Doubt yourself. It’s not in vain, I promise.
When the critiques dwindle into compliments, when you grow sick of the praise, when you know there is work left to do and you are ready to by God do it, go find a good editor.
Go find your Meghan. You’ll be ready for her. You’ll appreciate her. You’ll name your cat after her. And maybe you’ll even end up with books you’ll be proud to publish.
From James Mikel Wilson, author of Paw Tracks: Here and Abroad and Churchill and Roosevelt: The Big Sleepover at the White House:
After my first call to Meghan, I felt confident that I had made an excellent choice to get help dusting off a draft of “Paw Tracks” that had been lingering in my word documents for over ten years. With her thorough explanation of the processes, the services, and the prices, I concluded that maybe the two of us could get this book published. And we did…even though as a first time author I sure was high maintenance. She exhibited infinite patience.
Even after I had done an infinite number of edits in advance, the critique woke me up to the fact that there was much more work to do. But the input pointed me in the right direction…even though it bled POV everywhere!
Following the critique and my rewrite (several), Meghan’s edits sharpened the story and brought the main character to life. She earned more than her two cents and I feel like I have a friend in the industry!
From Matthew Arkin, author of In the Country of the Blind:
Meghan’s deep sense of character and voice kept me on track during the often frightening and delicate task of polishing my manuscript. Her keen eye caught many a subtle slip on my part, and her gentle demeanor masks an iron determination to make your work shine in the best possible light. The road to publication is often arduous and dark, filled with hazards and potholes that are hard to see. I wouldn’t want to navigate it without her.
From Marlene Dotterer, author of The Time Travel Journals:
Meghan had a real challenge when I contacted her about editing my novel. My first novel was already published, and this second book was a sequel. I was a nervous wreck, all aquiver with excitement because I’d never hired a professional editor before. I had no idea what to expect or really any idea of what I wanted from an editor.
I was desperate for real criticism and real, constructive advice. I wanted to be confident that my book was as good as any book published by a traditional house.
The Time Travel Journals: Bridgebuilders was as perfect as my critique groups and I could make it, but I knew editors possessed some secret knowledge that took a story to the next level. I just had no idea what that was. Beyond correcting all my grammar mistakes, I had some vague idea of someone providing closely guarded advice that would make my book perfect. “Move chapter 4 to before chapter 7, add another chapter between 12 and 13, and rewrite the ending.” And I would be speechless with awe.
Meghan spent a great deal of time during our first phone call explaining the difference between a developmental edit and a copy edit. I wanted both, but like many authors, I couldn’t meet the price. Because my book had been through many, many critiques and I’d used an electronic editing program, I knew it was basically okay from a grammatical standpoint. I knew it wasn’t perfect (oh, how I hate commas!) but I thought I could survive without the copy edit. So we agreed Meghan would do a manuscript evaluation and let me know what I needed to fix.
I was happy that Meghan provided a contract that spelled out her duties, the time frame, and the cost. So many freelancers skip this step because they want to seem trusting, but that doesn’t work for me. Writing novels is a business. So is editing. A contract shows that you take your work seriously and that your clients can depend on you.
So Bridgebuilders went to live with Meghan for a while. I was busy writing another book, but I still worried. “Will she say the story is nice but not good enough to publish? Will she heap praise on it and rave about my awesome talent?” I didn’t want either of these to happen.
Her evaluation was thorough and thoughtful, and she returned my Word document with her comments and corrections in Track Changes. I found it instructive, but also very easy, to see each of her suggestions. I had to decide for myself if I wanted to keep her changes, but it was a rare occurrence if I didn’t follow her advice. I was always able to ask her questions if I needed clarification on something, too.
Meghan’s evaluation covered characters, setting, dialogue, pace, and descriptions. She addressed the beginning and ending of the novel and made special note of places at the beginning where I needed to provide more information for a reader who may not have read the first book in the series. She even corrected some of those commas and provided a short lesson on when to use them.
Her technical suggestions helped me fix errors and tighten up my writing, but she also never forgot that I was telling a story – and everything she did made it a much better one.
From Jay Frasco, author of “A Crewel Halloween”:
I came across Meghan while searching for an editor on my second YA novel. I immediately liked her style on the phone — she knows writers because she is one, she’s funny, direct, and easy to talk to. But only after she returned the manuscript did I realize how absolutely lucky I’d gotten. Her ability to get into the minds of the characters and her natural storytelling sense are exceptional. If something doesn’t ring true, or if she sees a missed opportunity, she offers solutions while simultaneously asking questions that inspire fresh ideas. Meghan’s attention to detail is helping me advance my book in ways I find invaluable.
From Courtney Jarecki, author of Homebirth Cesarean: Stories and Support for Families and Healthcare Providers:
Editing is a team effort, and working with Meghan proved to be an easy collaboration. Her explanations and reasons were thorough, she offered great insight, and she always had time for my questions.
From Tiffany Zlatich Tuttle, author of Being and Awesomeness: Get Rad, Stay Rad:
From the moment I began my working relationship with Meghan, she was friendly, professional, funny, sincere, and oh so smart. When it comes to critique, she is the queen. She will help make your manuscript the masterpiece you know it can be. She will pore over every bit of your work and make you feel that it is almost as meaningful to her as it is to you. Meghan will identify your strengths and point out areas that need improving while also giving you suggestions as to how to get there. She is thorough, detailed, and so reliable. I kissed some frogs before I found Meghan and had become disillusioned with the whole editing process, but working with her has given my manuscript new life and I am so excited to keep on going and finish this baby.
Last but not least, a testimonial from someone who never actually became a client: Dom Stasi, author of “The Strait”:
I contacted Meghan to solicit her opinion, advice and/or guidance in preparing my first novel for submission and was delighted to find her a bright, personable, and eminently approachable pro.
I was not sure which of her organization’s services would accord most directly with my needs, but she gained my confidence quickly by answering my questions forthrightly, and asking the appropriate ones in response. After a surprisingly protracted discussion, she intuited that the work in question seemed ready, and said to my surprise, “I’d love your business, but I suggest you begin researching literary agents, and move right on to the submission process. I’ll be here if you need my services later.”
Wow! In a world where money too often influences advice, I found Meghan Pinson to be that rare advocate who places ethics before profit, encouragement before exploitation.
However this project might move forward, Meghan and the My Two Cents organization will remain top of this writer’s mind.