Polished Pen

The Polished Pen

Inspired Editing for Indie Authors


“There is no greater agony than bearing an
untold story inside of you.”

-Maya Angelou

The thing that distinguishes an author from a writer is what they do with those words. Authors are not satisfied once the story is complete and the pen has run out of ink. They will not rest until they can share it with the rest of us. They know it’s the poetry of their language, the beauty of the world they created, the love we have for their characters that we crave. These are what we stay alive for.

Independent publishing has grown in leaps and bounds just in the past year alone. In fact, many mainstream authors are  abandoning their longtime publishers for independent publishing, not just because it’s more lucrative but it gives them more creative freedom.

Isn’t that what writing is all about?

At the Polished Pen, we pride ourselves on our ability to work with you and your specific needs as a writer.

Just looking for a quick line edit to check for grammar, punctuation, spelling, consistency and word usage, and a little extra help rewriting/rewording sections to give your manuscript that “polished” look? No problem.

Want a heavier hand to cut through the purple prose and check your manuscript for overall clarity and flow? We have that covered.

Do you need someone to go over your manuscript with a fine tooth comb to catch inconsistent character behavior/speech and the overall readability of your novel?

There’s an editor for that!

Our Services


“You write to communicate to the hearts and minds of others what’s burning inside you, and we edit to let the fire show through the smoke.”

-Arthur Plotnik


Line editing focuses on the most important part of your book—the language, the words that convey your story. Errors in mechanics or awkward sentence structure can take away from the reading experience. Line editing is usually the final step in the editing process, not including a final proof read.


Copy editing makes sure your manuscript is standing on a strong foundation. A copy editor will make sure your prose is efficient in conveying the story you are trying to tell. They also check the manuscript for clarity, flow, timeline issues, and basic fact checking. Copy editing and line editing usually go hand and hand, but it’s important to know the difference between the two.


During a developmental edit, a fine tooth comb is taken to your manuscript. A developmental editor keeps an eye out for inconsistent character behavior/speech, style issues, thematic variances, plot holes, and readability. A single inconsistency or character flaw can ruin an entire story.


This is the first step for aspiring authors. An editorial review is similar to what happens in the acquisitions department. A manuscript or query comes in and one of the acquisition editors will read through it and decide if it’s something they’re interested in. In other words, if they’ll make money off of it.

Meet Max


“It’s none of their business that you have to learn how to write.
Let them think you were born that way.”


Meet Max

I always had these grandiose ideas of leaving my mark on the world through literary genius.

In true angst brigade fashion, I donned my best black (paired with my favorite skinny jeans of course), drank copious amounts of caffeinated beverages, often letting a Marlboro 27 dangle from my lip, and typed away at a dangerously fast speed that probably mirrored my heart rate thanks to the espresso and Redbull. I had all these ideas and words, and in my head it made sense but not so much when it made it to the page. I decided that maybe I just needed a little guidance. So while my friends were applying to college and planned to major in things like Engineering and Business, you know majors where they actually had a chance of finding a job after graduation, I looked into schools with the best Creative Writing programs.

When someone asks you where you go to school and your answer happens to be on the list of the top 10 in the country, their eyes widen and they almost seem to falter in the presence of your greatness…until they ask what you’re studying. Apparently your Alma Mater doesn’t hold much stock when you announce you’re majoring in something about as useful as basket weaving. But that didn’t matter to me. I was going to change the world, man. I was doing it for the art, not the money. But so were a hundred other students. And that’s where I learned I’m not really a writer. Sure, I did the course work and graduated Cum Laude, but that didn’t make me a writer. During peer reviews and critique, I realized my strength was in the editing process…it just didn’t happen to be mine. I wanted to help writers leave their mark, with lots of red marks from yours truly.



My nose is always in a manuscript, my red pen of doom not far behind. Literary Ninja, High Priestess of Punctuation to the Grammatical Goddess, and Defender of the Oxford Comma. Hemingway lover and gin enthusiast.



I managed to master my developmental, line, and copy editing skills while obtaining my MA in Publishing & Writing. I also spent a great deal of time interning in the acquisitions department of several publishers, and I even learned the ins and outs of book and magazine design and production; publishing for tablets, readers, and mobile devices; and desktop publishing. I also managed to get my toes wet with the publicity and marketing side of things.

Armed with the best education money could buy, I started my very glamorous career as an editor…of catalog copy and textbooks. Not exactly what I was hoping for but it did allow me to home in on my ridiculously keen eye for detail. It also helped me make contacts in the industry, and I managed to line up several freelance editing jobs with the Big Six.



  • I worked with Max long before I ever decided to publish a book. As soon as I made that decision, I knew there was no one else I would rather have by my side when I took the leap. She is amazingly knowledgeable about all things grammar and has worked tirelessly by my side during the entire writing process. Max has made my books a thousand times better than they ever could have been, and I would never hesitate to work with her in the future and recommend her to everyone I know.

    Tara Sivec

  • Max helped me see my manuscript with fresh eyes. Her professionalism and her willingness to be there through every stage of the editing process had me motivated and excited for the finished product. Max has a wealth of knowledge and experience, and I’m so thankful she shared that with me. I am looking forward to working with her again.

    Kate McCarthy

  • Professional, approachable, and down to earth–Max was incredible to work with! I put my complete trust in her and was not disappointed in the slightest. She took my manuscript and treated it with such care whilst applying her very accomplished and “polished” pen.
    She went above and beyond my expectations by giving me fresh ideas, leaving encouraging notes throughout, and then formatting it so it looked like the real deal. By the end of the process she had instilled in me the confidence to publish my debut novel.
    I really look forward to working with her again in the future!

    Sieni A.M.

  • I absolutely love working with Max. As a first time self-publishing author, I was terrified of what the editing process would entail and how long it would take with a deadline quickly approaching. The stories I've heard didn't help either. But I quickly figured out that I had absolutely nothing to be scared of with Max. She reassured me that getting my book out by the deadline was not a concern. And when the first round of editing came back, I actually enjoyed doing it. It was so easy to follow and correct. The notes of encouragement helped my confidence in writing. It never felt like "work" like I thought it would. Instead it felt like best friends shooting ideas back and forth. I will never have another editor and will recommend Max to anyone.

    RD Cole

  • I found out that writing the book was the easiest part. Was it any good? Did I miss anything? Were there plot holes? Was the dialogue believable? Were my ideas original? How do I go from a completed manuscript to a published author?
    These and a million more questions ran through my head. I was completely lost. Then I found Max. She has an amazing education and the professional experience to help even the most clueless writer get their work into the hands of eager readers. Max helped me flesh out my characters by asking insightful and imagination provoking questions. She kept a sharp eye on the pacing and development of my plot and talked me off of multiple ledges when I lost my confidence. Grammar, punctuation, proper use of slang, and popular sayings—need to know the origins of a word? How about the proper pluralization of elf? Is it dwarf or dwarves? Shoo in or shoe in? She knows it all and didn’t let me make a stupid mistake.
    Her contacts and referrals for both the cover art and formatting, and then suggestions for promotions and marketing, were professional and helpful. Max helped me form a team to take my manuscript from a draft to a book—from a dream to a realization.
    Thanks to the advice and guidance of The Polished Pen, I have a novel that I can be proud of. I would not and do not hesitate to recommend Max’s services to anyone looking to publish their book. I could not have done it without her.

    James Ramsey

  • Working with Maxann has made the stress of publishing that much easier in that I know I am giving my readers a better quality reading experience. Love her work and especially how she can give my book its full potential. Definitely recommend her for all of your editing needs!

    Terri Anne Browning

  • As a new author, I wasn’t sure who to use to help polish my second novel. Max came highly recommended from a fellow author so I thought I’d give her a try, and I’m so glad that I did. Not only is Max professional in every sense of the word, but she knows all of the ins and outs of grammar. She understands that time is of the essence to an author and their deadlines and isn’t afraid to call you out on a developmental plot ribbon that doesn’t hold true to the characters you’ve created. She was a pleasure to work with and her vast knowledge of the industry can only be considered a huge plus to any author trying to hone their craft. Thank you, Max, for helping add fuel to this author’s ride.

    K. Bromberg

  • I could not have asked for a better experience with Max from The Polished Pen. She was very professional and willing to go that extra mile to help me not only improve my manuscript but my overall writing as well. Max gave excellent attention to detail and one could tell she was extremely knowledgeable in her field. With her help, I was able to finalize a manuscript I was proud and confident with. She was able to bring a fresh set of eyes that brought new light to my manuscript and I look forward to working with her again in the future.

    Whitney Lee



“To be successful, you must decide exactly what you want to accomplish,
then resolve to pay the price to get it.”

-Bunker Hunt

Depending on the needs of an individual author, the editing process varies. These are standard industry rates for editing services, but during the free consultation we determine how we can tailor our services to give the author exactly what they need and want while staying within their budget. All quotes are based on complete word count of the manuscript.

  •  .008 cents a word
  • ex. 120k manuscript would cost $960
    *Price includes a separate proofread after final edits have been returned
  • .01 cents a word
  • ex. 120k manuscript would cost $1200
  • .02 cents a word
  • ex. 120k manuscript would cost $2400
  • Manuscripts up to
    50k – $25
  • 51k – 75k – $50
  • 76k – 100k – $75
  • 100k+ – $100
  • Anything over 150k will be subject to additional charges.

Awesome Authors


“Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don't feel I should be doing something else.”

-Gloria Steinem 



“Easy reading is damn hard writing.”

-Nathaniel Hawthorne

How do I format my manuscript?

Use a standard font, 12-point type. Times New Roman, Arial, or Courier is acceptable. Double space the entire text and use 1″ margins on all sides.

How do I submit my manuscript?

We accept Microsoft Word, Pages, or Open Office documents which can be attached in an e-mail once. If you do not have access to any of these word processing programs, please inform us at the beginning of our working relationship so we can discuss other arrangements.

What are “Track Changes”?

“Track Changes” is a feature within Microsoft Word (and the other mentioned programs) which allows you to see the changes that have been made. Changes appear in a different color for easy recognition. Things that have been deleted will have hash marks through them. “Track Changes” allow you to accept or reject any suggested changes. You must “accept” the changes for them to take effect and be saved. Otherwise, it will revert to the original document. We also use the “Comment/Notes” feature to leave additional remarks in the margin.

What is the Chicago Manual of Style?

The Chicago Manual of Style is a style guide for American English published since 1906 by the University of Chicago Press. Its sixteen editions have prescribed writing and citation styles widely used in publishing. It is one of the most widely used and respected style guides in the United States. The CMS deals with aspects of editorial practice, from American English grammar and usage to document preparation. All rules will be followed according to their guidelines. Spellings are all checked against the Unabridged Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary.

Do I need to pay upfront?

We do not require any form of payment until the initial consultation is completed. Once we decide what editorial process is right for you, we require a 25% deposit once the contract for editing services has been signed.

We know editing costs can be rather pricey and a hefty overhead for an independent author. Another 25% of the cost is required once the manuscript has been edited and returned to the author for the first round of edits. The remaining 50% is due before the final manuscript is returned.

Authors requesting an editorial review must pay in full at time of booking.

What types of payments do you accept?

We prefer PayPal (which will allow you to use either a credit card or your bank account), but we will also take money orders.

What if I need more than one service? Do I need to pay for each one?

After our free consultation, we’ll figure out what type of editing you need. You may not need as much as you think! We alter the scope of our editing for your specific needs. Your manuscript may need heavy developmental editing but not much copy editing, or vice versa. We’ll take care of all your needs for one flat rate.

How long will it take?

This depends on the individual needs of an author. Line editing and copy editing do not take as long as a developmental edit. Often times, during a developmental edit, the editor and author will go back and forth several times before it is ready for a copy edit. We do offer rush services for an additional charge.

Do I need to have a proofread done on my manuscript?

YES! Absolutely! Whether you use The Polished Pen, or another proofreader, you must always have your manuscript proofread before you publish. Since editing of any kind is an extensive process, it’s easy to miss unintended typos and errors. During a proofread, a proofreader is given a nearly flawless manuscript that has already gone through editing. The proofreader is essentially an extra set of eyes. This is where last minute things like typographical errors, end-of-line breaks, and letter, sentence, and paragraph spacing issues are caught. For more information about proofreading, please view this post.


Although you have been through the editing process, and we are incredibly skilled at what we do, we cannot, nor can any other editor, guarantee that your manuscript will be completely error free. Even traditional publishers have an error ratio they let slide. It can range anywhere from 1 mistake per 1000 words to 10 mistakes per 1000 words.
Proper editing takes more than one pass on more than one level. Even if you do not use The Polished Pen for every step of the editing process, I urge every author to have their manuscript edited on as many levels as they can prior to publication whether you plan on self-publishing or sending it off for traditional publication. AND PLEASE HAVE YOUR MANUSCRIPT PROOFREAD!
This also does not ensure  that your book will sell, make millions, get your name on the cover of Publisher’s Weekly and all of the best seller lists, or be picked up by a publishing house. For tips on how to sell and market your book, please visit our Writing Tips and Resources section.

Work With Us


“No passion in the world is equal to the passion to alter someone else's draft.”

-H.G. Wells

To help you decide what type of service you require,
ask yourself the following questions:

  • Am I unsure of my story? Does the plot seem to be lacking something? Are my characters flat? An editorial review will put you on the right track.
  • Do I feel confident about my manuscript but need a second set of eyes to check for clarity and flow with just minor revisions for syntax, spelling, punctuation, and other sentence-level errors? If so, arrange for a copy edit.
  • Does my manuscript need some extra help with tone, flow, transitions, and overall execution of the story regarding character development and readability? If so, undergo a developmental edit.
  • Has your manuscript already been edited for any or all of the above, and just needs another vetting for remaining errors? If so, you may only need a line edit.

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Writing Tips & Resources


“Just get it down on paper, and then we’ll see what to do with it.”

-Maxwell Perkins


Developmental Editing

14-Jun / Plotting / 1 COMMENTS

Do you have a plot that looks like Swiss cheese? Maybe you think that twist at the end is amazing, but a reader leaves a review that sounds something like, “Are you for real? What are you smoking? Can I have some?” It’s time to bring in a pro! Developmental ...


Book Covers

28-May / Book Covers / 0 COMMENTS

I’m a word girl through and through, but there’s one thing I can’t deny. No matter how amazing a story is, if it doesn’t have the right cover, it will never see the light of day. There are two things every author should invest in: good editing and an amazing ...


The Difference Between Editing and Proofreading

28-May / Grammar-View All / 2 COMMENTS

I cannot stress enough to people, readers and authors alike, that proofreading and editing are two different things. The editor’s task is to finesse a writer’s prose so that it observes all the conventions of good writing. A writer may be skilled at explaining a procedure or verbally depicting a ...


The Art of Narration

29-Apr / Point of View-View All / 2 COMMENTS

If I could only ask an author I’m working with one question, it would be this: Whose story are you trying to tell? There are many different types of authors out there. Some like to outline the whole story and map out every detail from a character’s favorite color to ...


Defending Third Person

29-Apr / Point of View-View All / 2 COMMENTS

As mentioned in a previous article about point of view, third person is not an easy narration to tackle. Even still, there are plenty of novels written in third person—especially third person omniscient. Known as the emotionally coldest POV, when you write in third person omniscient you have to work extra hard ...



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