Writing Consulting

Through consulting with me, you will recognize the strengths and weakness of your manuscript, what its most compelling focus and corresponding structure is, and what revisions are needed.

I have been a manuscript consultant and editor for over twenty years. I prefer face-to-face consults but if you live at a distance, we can make that work too. Manuscript development and substantive editing are my most sought-after skills. I also do line edits and copy editing on creative nonfiction manuscripts, nonfiction (essays, memoir, etc.), poetry, mixed genre and experimental fiction manuscripts.

Betsy Warland manuscript consulting with a writer

Why work with Betsy?

Writers and authors with whom I’ve done manuscript development and editing have gone on to publish books, and to win, or be shortlisted for, prizes such as these:

  • Griffin Award
  • B.C. Book Award
  • Pat Lowther Award
  • Writers’ Trust Award
  • Great B.C. Novel Contest
  • CBC Literary Competition
  • City of Victoria Butler Award
  • Trillium Book Award of Toronto
  • Maritimes Poets’ Corner Award
  • Governor General’s Literary Award
  • Surrey Writers’ Guild International Competition

My experience of working with Betsy was life-changing. She’s an extraordinary mentor and editor who with gentle yet clear direction helped me identify the real story hidden inside my early drafts, and to ‘trust the narrative’. Betsy’s faith in my story (and my ability to write it) gave me the confidence I needed to take it through to publication. I felt ‘held’ by Betsy throughout the entire time we worked together.

Photo credit: Becky Livingstone

Becky Livingstone, the author of The Suitcase and the Jar: A Mother’s Journey

Without Betsy Warland’s support, I’m not sure my first novel would ever have been published. The support she offered had everything to do with discovering what I was really getting at: the story beneath the story line. The last workshop I did with Betsy taught me something vital about using words sparingly. The beauty of simple elegance. She is an insightful listener, offering analysis that opened space to go forward when I felt completely stuck. She put the responsibility for my work squarely in my hands while at the same time expressing boundless belief in my ability to reach the finish line. Her confidence is infectious.

Photo credit: Ethel Whitty

Ethel Whitty, author of The Light a Body Radiates

In Betsy’s Manuscript Intensive, I was able to develop a long poem that was a finalist for a CBC literary prize and won the Gwendolyn McEwen Award.  With her help and guidance, I was ultimately able to publish a complete poetry manuscript. For me, the best things about working with Betsy were her understanding of how to structure the manuscript and her detailed attention to every word in it. Her way of grounding the writing practice in the body is so useful; her sensitivity to the writer and to the work are unsurpassed.

Photo credit: Adrienne Drobnies

Adrienne Drobnies, author of Salt and Ashes

Choose from three types of manuscript assessment consults or a manuscript development consult

1. Initial mini-assessment and consultation

I read, assess and write editorial comments and suggestions on a portion of your manuscript OR selection from your body of work that may be the basis for a manuscript. Then we have a consultation to discuss my suggestions for how you can move forward with your revisions. You then continue to work independently.

2. Initial full assessment and consultation

I read, assess and write editorial comments and suggestions on your manuscript OR your entire body of work that may be the basis for a manuscript. Then we have a consultation to discuss the focus and structure of your manuscript and what my suggestions are for how you can move forward with your revisions and new writing that is required. You then continue to work independently.

3. Initial full assessment, consultation and editing to finished draft

I read, assess and write editorial comments and suggestions on your manuscript and we meet to discuss how you can proceed with revisions and additional writing. I usually do detailed line edits on a portion of the manuscript to illustrate improvements needed throughout.

I repeat the process once you have given me your rewrite. At this point, if needed, I proceed with substantive edits, structural suggestions and and I do line edits throughout the manuscript. The number of these rounds, and their frequency, is up to you. The goal is usually to bring the manuscript to finished draft. In this arrangement, I often advise on the publishing process.

4. Manuscript development consultation

We meet and I ask you a number of questions about your manuscript idea, then suggest how you might begin writing. Sometimes, prior to the consult discussion, a writer will send me a few pages of writing that example what she or he is interested in finding out how to develop more.

Or, another approach is when I read from a broad range of your writing, then we discuss the pieces of writing I find most compelling and I suggest how you can generate more writing.

You then either work independently or continue to work with me.

On revision: Interview with Rachel Thompson


Video courtesy of Rachel Thompson from Lit Mag Love 2019

Referrals to other author/manuscript consultants

Please note that if I am fully booked with MS consults, or, if I think I am not the best match for your MS, I do offer a referral service (if it is requested). Note that there is a flat rate referral fee to cover the time required to set up a referral..

Work With Betsy


Long Manuscript Consult

Short Manuscript Consult


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