What I Do

I offer three types of services:

  1. Intensive memos on completed manuscripts for authors to follow in their revision. Comprehensive memos for all genres provide an overview assessment, detailed chapter-by-chapter (or scene-by-scene) notes, and a list of global suggested revisions, including additions and cuts needed.
    Creative writing: structure, content, voice, characterization, scene building, pacing, and style.
    Trade nonfiction and academic writing: structure, organization, argumentation, and (when I have the expertise) content. Help in converting an academic thesis into a trade book.
    –As part of my teaching pedagogy, I include a list of suggested readings of craft books and published works in the relevant genre if I think they might be helpful during the revision process.
    –I provide a one-hour follow-up phone conversation after I’ve delivered the memo. (Note: My experience in the pre- and post-pandemic worlds has been that a phone conversation allows for better concentration than a Zoom conference.)
  2. Intensive line editing/rewriting, development or cutting of a manuscript from top to bottom—from detailed line editing to global reorganizing. (I do not do ghostwriting from the blank page.)
  3. Mentoring of ongoing writing projects, including coaching and targeted exercises I use with my graduate students in guiding them through the process of writing and completing their creative theses. I have a long background working with writers experiencing resistance (see my book On Writer’s Block, linked on this website) and we can explore possible reasons as part of the process. (Hint: it’s never procrastination!)
  4. If a client has a publishing contract, I will work with the in-house editor. Publishers I have worked with directly include Houghton Mifflin, Simon & Schuster, PrenticeHall, Brooks/Cole, Wadsworth, AddisonWesley, Stanford University Press, University of California Press, University of Tokyo Press, University of Hawaii Press, the Bishop Museum, and numerous others. Past projects with these publishers include Lynn Quitman Troyka, The Simon & Schuster Handbook for Writers, 4th ed. (principal writer); Donald Johanson and Blake Edgar, Ancestors, companion volume to the Nova miniseries, In Search of Our Ancestors; principle developmental editor for inaugural six books in the Sociology for a Changing World series, Pine Forge Press; and many more.
    Recent editing projects include a memoir by a multimillionaire entrepreneur, a novel set in Renaissance Italy, an autobiographical novel about a boy raised in a home for unwed mothers, a memoir by one of the principal actors in a famous TV series, a spiritual memoir about marriage to others versus marriage to oneself, a widely reviewed nonfiction trade book that revisits the story of California’s last surviving wilderness Native American, and a scholarly study of the influence of Asian spirituality on the artist Marcel Duchamp.
  5. Spiritual memoirs are a specialty. Paul Selig, noted spiritual author of the I Am the Word series, says: “I can’t think of a better writing mentor, coach, or editor than Victoria Nelson. In my many years running a graduate writing program, Victoria showed herself to be a consummate professional, supporting writers through the inception of a project through publication. She works effectively with beginning and accomplished writers. I recommend her highly.”

What I Can’t Do

  1. Ghostwriting from scratch or an idea. I only work with manuscripts you have written or are in the process of writing.
  2. Help in locating a publisher. It’s also important to realize that even a professionally edited manuscript is not guaranteed a publisher. In today’s publishing world too many factors besides mere worthiness are at play! Based on your book’s content, however, I can advise on whether you are better off seeking an agent or going directly to publishers.