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Work with Joan

Get a detailed, written critique of your writing and specific guidance on how to improve your work. Master the skills necessary for taking your writing to the next level. Only $4.25 per page.


Getting feedback on your writing will be perfect for you if you:

  • are not certain you're on the right track with your draft and need guidance before you continue;
  • have gotten conflicting feedback from others and need a second opinion;
  • have done all you can with your project and need to know what still needs to be revised; or
  • think you're ready to publish but want to make sure your work is as polished as possible.

Only $4.25 per page (double-spaced, 12-point Times New Roman font).

How Getting Feedback Works


Click the orange button below to secure time in my schedule. (First come, first served.)

You'll immediately receive an email from me that lets you know what happens next (you email me your work along with a note about anything specific you'd like me to focus on, and a requested time-frame for getting back to you).

NOTE: With longer works like novels, memoirs or creative non-fiction, it can be helpful to begin with just one chapter if we haven't worked together before. I often find writing habits in the first chapter that will be present throughout the manuscript; I can provide guidance on how to address these habits. I'll give you the tools you need to fix them yourself, and then you can apply those fixes to the rest of the manuscript so you don't waste your money on a full critique before your work is ready.

That said, I'm more than happy to help with your full manuscript!


I do the work! Depending on what we’ve agreed upon, I might do any of the following:

  • Provide detailed margin notes throughout your short piece, chapter or full-length manuscript in order to identify what’s working and what’s not.  
  • Make suggestions about big picture issues like the authenticity and consistency of the narrative voice, the plot, theme and story, the overall structure and the like. I'll also focus on setting, characterization, point of view, and voice (applies to both fiction and non-fiction).
  • Identify your writing “tics” or habits and give you suggestions for avoiding them in the next draft.
  • Provide sentence level suggestions for cutting out unnecessary words that clutter your prose and give you guidance for using those suggestions.
  • Whatever else we've identified that's helpful for you.


Via email, we’ll review and discuss the feedback.

* First come, first served. I'll do everything possible to accommodate your schedule as best I can.

I hired Joan to read 100 pages, and my advice to anyone thinking about it is to go for it! Joan not only picked up some habits I didn’t know I had, she looked at the whole picture, noted the strengths and weaknesses she saw, and most importantly SHOWED ME THE WAY FORWARD! I’m excited to revise this book, which I had thought was a) finished, and b) not very good. Thank you, Joan.
— Ann Dibble

The Cost

$4.25 Per Page

(double-spaced, 12-point Times New Roman font)

* First come, first served. I'll do everything possible to accommodate your schedule as best I can.

Types of Manuscripts I Consider

I welcome the following:

  • Individual short stories
  • Fiction collections
  • Novels, including literary, middle grade, young adult and genre fiction
  • Novellas
  • Individual essays
  • Essay collections
  • Book-length creative non-fiction
  • Memoir

I don't have sufficient expertise to help with:

  • Poetry
  • Screenwriting
  • Playwriting

I don't work on:

  • Blogs
  • Websites
  • Handbooks
  • Picture books

If you don't see your work reflected in any of the categories shown above, have no fear! I'm flexible. Simply get in touch and let me know what you're up to and we'll determine whether I'm the right developmental editor for what you'd like to get done.

Working with Joan

I love working with writers!

For more than ten years now I've worked with a wide variety of writers on all kinds of projects. I focus on what's called developmental editing, which means I read your work with an eye towards what's working well and what can be improved, and I provide you with guidance about what you need to learn or do to take your writing to the next level. I make both big picture and sentence-level suggestions.

Please note that I am not a trained copy-editor, so I'm not the right person for helping you polish your draft so it's perfectly free of typos, grammatical errors and the like. I do have someone to recommend, however, and you can read about her here.

What Other Writers Say About Working with Joan

I’ve known Joan Dempsey for over a quarter-century now, and I trust her absolutely — as a writer and as a friend. She’s one of the very few people to whom I always turn to read my work in its early stages, because she approaches writing not only with a rare intelligence and insight, but also with a tremendous compassion and integrity. She cares deeply not only about writing but also about writers, understanding from her own experience the dedication, commitment, and sacrifice that’s required to craft a writing life for oneself, and also the real joy that can arise from doing so.
— Matthew Goodman, author of "Eighty Days: Nelly Bly and Elizabeth Bisland's History-Making Race Around the World" and "The Sun and the Moon: The Remarkable True Account of Hoaxers, Showmen, Dueling Journalists, and Lunar Man-Bats in Nineteenth-Century New York"

Joan Dempsey was one of the first round professional content editors on my novel Bombardirovka. With her deep experience with story structure, Joan was able to point me in the direction of solving chapter-level plot issues in my work. Her insights helped me move my manuscript on down the line. Timely and thorough, Joan is a pleasure to have on your side, both for her love of writing and for her mastery of its essential elements.
— Crystal Allene Cook, author of "Bombardirovka"

I was losing hope that I would ever be able to figure out how to write the book I knew I had in me. Then I met Joan Dempsey! She totally understood what I needed. I felt I could explain myself to her and she ‘got it.’ She was able to explain the writing process to me in a way I could comprehend. With her help I was able to put my thoughts on paper. She helped me to understand how to go back over what I had written and fix what needed fixing. Sometimes she edited what I wrote but she always explained why and still helped me to keep it all true to my voice and what I felt was important.
— Sheila Swett Thompson, author of "Perley – The True Story of a New Hampshire Hermit"