Welcome to my writers' services page. I can help you in all sorts of ways, from manuscript appraisal to submission appraisal and editorial services, working with both fiction and non-fiction writers. If you have a question you can contact me here.
You've laboured long and hard over your work. When it's finished, it's only natural that you want to share it. You may start with friends and family. You may send it out to an agent. What are you looking for – apart, of course, from total adulation and a mega-book deal?
You're looking for understanding. Appreciation. Validation. You want to know your words have struck home. You want to be memorable for all the right reasons. You want your readers to say 'It's perfect! Don't change a word.'
And is this the reaction you get?
Maybe not. All too often, you get vague flattery, a blank stare, even open hostility. The agent sends a curt rejection, if they reply at all.
You wonder where you went wrong. You wonder what the agent is really looking for. You realise you had that feeling in the pit of your stomach, all along, that the story wasn't quite right, but you don't know what to do to redress that.
I can help. Whether you’re writing fiction or non-fiction, I can look at your work with a sharp eye, a fair mind and a kind, constructive attitude.
I can highlight where things can be improved – and precisely how you can set about improving them.
I won't massage your ego with meaningless compliments, but I won't be harsh either. I'll give you consideration and encouragement because I want to help you overcome the challenges of the writing life. If you’re writing fiction, I'll help you maximise your chances of fulfilment through storytelling, leading to potential publication. If you’re writing non-fiction, I can help you ensure your book is structured and expressed in the best way to reach and help your intended readership. If you're self-publishing, I'll help you to polish your text to a professional standard.
I will always bear in mind that this is your book. And it is my job, always, to offer solutions to problems.
Writing may seem like a lonely business – but you are not alone!
Scroll down to find out about appraisals, full edits, and opening section reviews. I also offer an agent submission review service- contact me for details of this.
An appraisal involves taking an overview of how your narrative is working. Fiction: I'll be examining pace and plot-structure, characterisation, dialogue, and any other key aspects affecting your reader's experience of the story. I'll also comment on your writing style: are your images telling, are there certain words and phrases you over-use? Do your sentences flow well and is your meaning clear? Non-fiction: I will be examining your structure and argument, how well you convey your message, how the flow of your book is working, whether everything hangs together and makes sense, plus aspects of your style, tone and expression. The in-depth report I'll write will give you constructive advice on how to address any of the issues I have pinpointed. Bonus: each appraisal includes a free line-edit of the first five pages of your manuscript.
'Thank you so much for the time and effort you put into the review. I was not expecting that level of detail. I'm really pleased with the feedback, it was exactly what I was after. It's great to get an objective view on this. I was struggling to pinpoint my own mistakes.' Conor W.
Up to 20,000 words: £275; 20,001-40,000 words £380; 40,001-50,000 words £425; 50,001-60,000 words £455; 60,001-70,000 words £490; 70,001-80,000 £525; 80,001-90,000 words £560; 90,001-100,000 words £595, after which level the fee will be £595 plus an additional £6 for each thousand words over 100,000.
In the first instance, contact me to book your appraisal, telling me a little about your project: for example, whether it is fiction or non-fiction, its genre if fiction and its subject if non-fiction, the word count and your timescale.
As an experienced editor (1.2 million words edited for clients in 2017 alone!), my strength lies in concentrated and close focus attention on your story. I treat every client's story with as much care as I would my own. When I edit fiction, I 'inhabit' your story, thinking about the big picture aspects such as plot, pace, genre and market, characterisation, location and dialogue – but I also pay very close attention at the 'micro' level, homing in on whether that particular comma adds anything, whether your chronologies and internal dynamics are consistent, whether your facts are accurate, whether you know how to lay out dialogue, whether you've repeated the word 'peered' forty times in the book ...
If you’re writing non-fiction, I will apply these skills to the structure and expression of your book, taking an overall view of the flow, shape and argument as well as the features noted below.
My full edit service blends the best of line editing and structural editing. You'll benefit from an overall review of your book, plus a meticulous line-by-line examination of it. I will edit your manuscript using Track Changes in Word to highlight repetitions, inconsistencies, ambiguities and factual errors. I will note where you could improve clarity and flow, where you could sharpen images and vocabulary. I will draw your attention to grammar, spelling, punctuation and presentation. In addition, comments in the sidebar will explain in more detail where issues have arisen and present potential alternatives. You'll also receive a detailed, multi-page report summarising the book's strengths and problems, a review of each chapter and a section of recommendations for revision or development.
You can request a line edit only, without the report, of course, at reduced cost.
'It's clear to me that you are very thorough indeed. You don't miss a thing! I need that. You do offer a very high quality service, that's for sure. Honest, accurate, intelligent and insightful. Just what I need!' M.A.
Contact me first to tell me a little about your project and its word count, plus the timescale you're working to. I'll ask you to send through a sample so that I can quote a fee for the work. Fees will vary according to the complexity of the work involved but for a novel of 80,000 words the cost would typically be in the region of £1120 to £1280.
test your first ten thousand
Wondering how the story is going? Wondering if you're making mistakes? This service gives you the chance to find out what's working and isn't working before you've gone too far. It will also help you if you've finished your novel and are thinking of editing it yourself. The advice I'll give you based on your first 10,000 words will give you the confidence and awareness you need to help you write the rest of the story. If you're self-editing, you'll be aware of potential issues the work as a whole may have, such as problems with spelling and punctuation, clarity and power of language, plot and pacing, redundancy and repetition and so on. In fact, this review is a writing course and an editing course all in one! Test your first 10,000 and make all the thousands of words you go on to write sharper, pacier, more accurate.
What do you receive?
a written report which goes into detail under relevant headings such as concept, pace, plot, characterisation, use of language and presentation
a full Track Changes edit and a summary sheet to keep you focused as you write or edit the rest of the work
'A good editor is the difference between an amateur writer and a professional writer. An excellent editor takes things one step further, challenging the writer to rethink, rewrite and rise above the writer's own expectations. Ms Fergusson is an excellent editor. I think that says it all.' Anna Belfrage, author
‘Working with Lorna offers the writer peace of mind, as she is a professional who pays attention to detail as well as offering astute guidance on setting, character and plot. I've attended Lorna's in demand Oxford University Summer School for Adults classes, and have used her editing services for both of my young adult fantasy novels, Last of the Tasburai and Scream of the Tasburai and for A Tudor Turk, the first in my new series The Chronicles of Will Ryde & Awa Maryam Al-Jameel, for HopeRoad Publishing. Without doubt I would recommend her Fictionfire services to all levels of writers.’ Rehan Khan, author
'The problem with giving writing to friends or relatives to read is they won't give an objective unbiased opinion on your writing. They also frequently can't guide you how to correct any problems. To use a plumbing analogy, they'll tell you that the sink is blocked, but they can't tell you where it's blocked, or help you to unblock it. Either that, or they'll tell you that the sink is wonderful and isn't blocked even though it is! In the worst case scenario, a bad critic can leave you feeling humiliated and demotivated.
Lorna is an excellent appraiser and editor, because she gives precise and professional guidance, but leaves you feeling happy and motivated to continue improving the piece. She has a deep respect for writers of all levels, for those brave enough to try to create something, and this respect shines through in her comments. She doesn't shy away from telling you the truth and giving suggestions on improvements, but she mixes criticisms with positive comments in a way which is fun and upbeat and spurs you to continue.' Daniel Emlyn-Jones