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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

3. Copy edit of a résumé.


Editing Testimonials

March 20, 2020

John has been helping my family to improve our English writing since 2015. I believe that writing is a skill and an art, that anyone can develop over time. Having an expert in the industry as a tutor or editor, that can provide unbiased authentic and respectful feedback and challenge at the same time, makes the process of learning more effective and engaging. John is that person! We worked with John on a wide range of projects, starting from reviewing/editing our essays and resumes to asking basic English language grammar questions. Through every project John maintains a high-quality bar, which eventually leads to excellent results and a feeling of accomplishment. Thank you, John!

Marat G., IT Developer, Microsoft – Kirkland, WA

January 16, 2020

John was timely, knowledgeable, and responsive. He gave great editing feedback for grammar, punctuation, and positioning, even offering great suggestions that enhanced the verbiage to make a more compelling statement. I would certainly suggest that everyone take a strong look at John when you are looking to hire a great editor for your project.

Daryll Paiva, Content Writer, Event Planning – USA

October 18, 2019

As an English as a Second Language student, writing in English has always been challenging for me. I came across John’s profile more than a year ago. His extensive editing experience, knowledge of my native Russian language, and linguistic background caught my attention. He was able to explain “why,” in grammatical terms, and clearly articulate the comparison between the two languages. My ability to express my thoughts in writing improves after every review of my editor’s comments. In addition to the grammar suggestions, John makes every effort to help me with the logic and clarity of my work. He also provides incredible sources for my further writing and linguistic advancement. John’s assistance has exceeded my expectations and transformed me into a confident writer.

I highly recommend his services to anyone who needs help with grammar, editing, or logical coherence of any style of writing – John can do it all! He is an incredibly knowledgeable, patient, affirmative, and reliable educator.

Olga B., Executive Assistant, Real Estate – Fairfax, VA

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 G., IT Developer, Microsoft – Kirkland, 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