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Editing Philosophy

Much like my life philosophy, my editing philosophy is simple:

My way is not the right way—it is one way.

My objective when editing any piece of writing is to maintain the uniqueness of the author’s voice, to gently guide the author to better pave his or her own way

Additionally, I am conscious of the fact that I am not the authority on English usage or literary style–I am merely an authority, one who realizes the absurdity of ever trying to claim the former. Hence, I do not solely rely on what I think I know to inform my editing–I utilize my resources: style manuals, dictionaries, grammar guides, and colleagues. I am not an island.

Living this philosophy, not simply knowing it, helps me communicate with my clients as human beings rather than, well, clients. For me, this is what constitutes an effective and healthy author-editor relationship.


What I Do

In July 2017, I received my Certificate in Editing from the University of Washington. I provide editing services that are best defined by what the Editorial Freelancers Association considers to be the various levels of editorial work and fee rates.

I currently work with authors of both fiction and nonfiction in the following ways:

  • Developmental editing/manuscript evaluation: I perform an evaluation of the author’s manuscript in which I give feedback regarding the strengths and weaknesses of the work to help determine the level and scope of any future editing it may require. This includes the creation of an editorial letter (8-20 pages)  in which I summarize each chapter and assess literary elements, such as dialogue, tone, voice, point of view, plot, character development, pacing, theme, and structure. I also return a unique version of the author’s manuscript in which I have made more targeted comments using Microsoft Word’s Tracked Changes feature. Click here to see a custom editorial template I use for manuscript evaluations.
  • Copyediting: I correct spelling, punctuation, syntax, and word usage while preserving the meaning and voice of the original text. I check for consistent style and format while maintaining my own style sheet that reflects these elements. Most importantly, I do no harm: all of my edits are easily undone.

I am also an active member of the Editorial Freelancers Association and the Northwest Independent Editors Guild.

For detailed information about my work history, please see my résumé or LinkedIn profile below. You may also contact me directly at john@belmontediting.com.

Editing ResumeLinkedin Profile


Editing Samples

1. Copy edit of an ESL writer’s personal statement

  • Writer: The writer is a non-native speaker of English who has a an above-average command of spoken English.
  • Type of writing: This short essay is a response to a writing prompt for MBA graduate school admission.
  • Level of editing: I completed a light to medium copy edit with light line editing where appropriate.
  • Comments:  Since this client is a non-native speaker of English, I commented more often than I normally would have with a native speaker. My intention with this client was to correct her errors, offer more English-appropriate wording/phrasing, and ultimately to teach her why she was making errors.
  • Downloadable file: word icon

2. Copy edit of The Glass Vampire – Chapter 20

  • Writer: David Page – Click here to learn more about this work and the author at Amazon.com.
  • Type of writing: This is a work of fiction (dark fantasy) that the author published using CreateSpace.
  • Level of editing: I completed a light copyedit of this 315-page novel.
  • Tracked changes/edited version:  pdf-icon


Editing Testimonials

January 17, 2018

I asked John to copy edit and proofread my graduate school application essays. He was quick at responding and easy to work with. He genuinely wants to get to know his student and understands what they want for their essays. Because of this, he was able to edit my essay in a way that does not take away my voice. Highly recommend you to work with John!! 

Lay Kuan L., Graduate School Candidate – Seattle, WA

June 8, 2017

John’s editorial work is fantastic. He made great suggestions, figured out the tracked changes feature for me, and asked really great questions. He did a great job of managing me through the entire process (not an easy task). He was able to set clear goals and keep me on track. I accepted almost all of his proposed changes and enjoyed the back and forth. 

John’s written communications were well crafted, carefully thought out, and super helpful. In person, John is easy to get along with and great to work with. I highly value John’s work and I am looking forward to working with him again!

David Page, Author – Seattle, WA

October 12, 2016

John reviewed my wife’s essay and fixed grammar/structure/style issues quickly and efficiently. I highly recommend him! I enjoyed working with him. Next time when we need to review an essay, I’ll definitely ask to work with him again.

Marat S., – Seattle, WA

January 26. 2017

John really helped me focus my thoughts and my writing in my application for my master’s program. I was full of ideas, and he helped me rein them in instead of letting them run amok.

Gia P., Graduate School Candidate – Seattle, WA