Mullane Literary Associates

MLA Editorial Services

Whether you’re looking to publish with a top trade house or a prestigious academic press, or considering self-publishing your work, we can help you shape and polish your manuscript to the highest professional standards. We offer a full range of editorial services to help develop your book idea into a concept, your concept into a saleable proposal, and your rough draft into a polished manuscript that will help you reach the widest potential audience.

Specializing in history, popular science, politics, narrative nonfiction, memoir, self-help, mind/body/spirit, and other works of serious nonfiction, we have more than two decades of experience developing projects that have been published by some of the most distinguished houses in the business.

The Proposal Process

Top editors see dozens of proposals a week, hundreds in a year. No matter what your subject or experience, you’ve only got a few minutes to make your case before the editor moves on to something more compelling.

Based on a careful assessment of your subject and your expertise, we will work with you to develop an exceptional proposal that:

Whether you’re refining an existing proposal or starting from scratch with your articles and notes, we’ll take you through a focused, hands-on, line-by-line process that turns your fascinating work into a high-concept and saleable proposal.

The Manuscript-editing Process

Unfortunately, in today’s high-pressure publishing environment, the common mantra is “editors don’t edit.” You’ve spent months or years doing the research and writing the book, but will usually find yourself under pressure to deliver it quickly, receiving scant editorial feedback and having little time for revision. You’ve only got one — very brief — opportunity to get your manuscript right.

From a careful structural review — which considers the organization, emphasis, and tone of the book — to an intense line edit that sharpens your arguments and polishes your prose, we provide a thorough manuscript development and editing experience. Our editing process will help you:

Structure your book: Have you presented your narrative or your themes in a way that is clear but interesting and original?

Find the right voice: Does the tone suit your audience? Are you coming across as professional, too academic, too personal, or not personal enough?

Sharpen your arguments: Are your ideas well presented? Are you building your case in a graceful and convincing way?

Support your themes: Have you provided enough of the right kinds of anecdotes, studies, facts, and personal observations to reinforce your points?

Hone your writing: Is your prose as forceful, engaging, and polished as you’d like?

Don’t expect a “once over lightly” from us. We’ll give your manuscript the focused review it needs to ensure that your work grabs your readers’ attention from the opening page while standing up to the scrutiny of even the toughest book reviewers, your colleagues, and your peers.

FAQs (Frequently-Asked Questions)

If MLA Editorial Services works on my proposal or manuscript, will you represent my book?
MLA Editorial Services works independently of the Mullane Literary Agency.
Unfortunately, Mullane Literary sees far more proposals each year than we can possibly take on for representation, but that doesn’t mean that these aren’t proposals for valuable books that could inform, entertain, get published, and sell. Our job at MLA Editorial Services is to help you develop and refine your book proposal or manuscript to the highest professional standards so that it makes a convincing case to an agent or editor. Please contact MLA Editorial Services for editorial services, not for representation.
Can you guarantee that my book will get published?
No, we cannot, but neither can anyone else! As much as we try to take every variable into account – your subject, your platform, the size of the potential audience, the robustness of the competition – in the end it’s about an agent or editor falling in love with the book, and as in all relationships, there’s no accounting for taste, timing, and individual passion. But we can help you take every step to give your book the best possible shot at publication. At MLA Editorial Services, we have the advantage of hearing from publishers every day about what’s “working” in the market and will help you avoid the Top Ten Things editors really don’t want to see in your proposal (a few hints: do not say that the market for your book is “everyone,” that it will “practically sell itself,” or that it’s “perfect for Oprah”).
How much do you think I can get for my book?
Please see above.
Why do I need help writing my book proposal?
Proposal writing isn’t rocket science. It’s also not a yoga practice, a guide to antique collectibles, the inside scoop on the worst boss in Hollywood, a history of the donut, or how to close on a house in 30 days. In other words, you have your expertise and so do we. You may have assembled all of the pieces, but agents and editors have specific expectations as to what a proposal must include – too much is just as bad as too little – and what it should look and sound like. It’s not a natural skill, but a professional craft that is honed by writing proposals day after day after day – like we do.
Why do I need help editing my manuscript?
Whether you already have a contract or are working on a manuscript for submission, publishers expect to see a much more polished “first draft” from you than they did even a few years ago. Gone are the days when you could send on a few sample chapters, have your editor’s unfocused attention, absorb her thoughtful comments, and repeat. Editors simply do not have the time they once had to walk you through the two or three drafts that are almost always needed to turn out a polished book, one that you’ll be proud of and that you may have been thinking about or writing for years. In some cases, your publisher may actually tell you that you need to work with an outside editor in order for your manuscript to be accepted. We have more than twenty years of experience thinking through the problems of a manuscript and finding solutions that satisfy the author, the publisher, and the reader.
What does the proposal or manuscript editing process involve?
Once we’ve agreed to work together, we’ll provide you with a brief overall assessment of the project’s strengths and weaknesses and how we propose to edit through them. In the case of the proposal, we’ll look for ways to enhance and polish each piece – author bio, the competition, overview, table of contents, and sample chapters – for greatest impact. In the case of a manuscript, we’ll first look at the “big picture” and suggest any structural changes it may require, before turning to an intensive line edit of your text. Generally, we’ll pass through the material twice, with our major edits and queries suggested in the first pass and our final edits in the second. We’ll need a hard copy of your materials, as well as electronic files, and will batch the edited material to you electronically.
How long does it take?
Before we begin, we’ll provide you with our best estimate, based on your time pressures and ours, of how long we’ll need to work together on your material. Generally, we can turn a proposal around in about 4-6 weeks. Manuscripts are trickier, but we’ll work with your schedule to meet any looming deadlines or important issues of timing to help you keep things on track or take advantage of exciting marketing opportunities.
How do I pay you?
We charge an hourly fee for editing of both proposal and manuscripts, but will give you our best estimate up front of how long the project will take, as well as establish a payment schedule with you depending on the size of the project. We may, in some instances, establish a set fee on a project basis.
What happens when the book or proposal is finished?
Once we agree that the proposal is in the best shape it can possibly be, we’ll talk with you about your publishing options, suggesting a select group of agents and publishers whose lists seem a good match for your book, as well as the rapidly changing world of self-publishing. We’ll even write a pitch letter for you that highlights your book’s strengths in the most attention-getting and marketable ways. Your success is our success and we’ll do everything we can to help you see your words into print.