We offer structural editing (deep analysis of the big picture), copyediting (finessing at the line level) and proofreading (the final tidy up).

Illustration of pens

Shaping your work

Shaping your work to best deliver your intent takes meticulous care.

There are different levels and types of editing appropriate for different stages of manuscript development. We work with the topography of a story as well as the mechanics of the vehicle that is carrying the reader through the text. Editing ensures your reader will reach the intended destination.

Structural editing

Structural editing provides a deep analysis of the big picture issues, with suggestions and proposed changes to address structural problems. With fiction manuscripts this may relate to story design, character arcs, point of view, and a range of other elements at play that create the structure of the work. With non-fiction works we consider the way the central thesis/argument is presented, built upon and concluded.

A person wearing a sweater writing with a pen


This is the most meticulous form of editing, looking at the text at a line level, and should only be carried out after structural issues have been addressed. It looks at grammar, spelling and punctuation, flow and clarity, consistency of style and presentation. The aim is to ensure your voice is working as well as it can to communicate your intent.

Red pen corrections on a written document


Proofreading involves checking text that is ready for publication – picking up typographical errors and errors that have crept in through the copyediting process as well as errors of layout and formatting. In addition, a proofreader will check contents pages, preliminary pages and indexes, and front and back covers (where appropriate).

A professional proofreader not only has an eye for detail, but is familiar with publishing conventions and requirements, as well as design and layout issues.

Reading glasses sitting on a document

What our authors say

‘I couldn’t have written my book without Laurel.  When I sent her my first draft, I was lost and uncertain how to shape the manuscript. She suggested a structure that I had never considered. I followed her guidelines and rewrote the story which was dramatically improved. Laurel also worked with me on later drafts and copyedited the work. In the end, the book came out exactly how I wanted it to. Besides being a skillful editor, Laurel is a kind person who always made me feel supported in my writing.’

Ellen Holtzman
Bouncing Back
(Ferry Street Press, US)
Manuscript assessment and copyediting
Tarab by Cark Cleves

‘My book ‘Tarab: travels with my guitar’ would not have been published without the expert help and advice of Laurel Cohn. Her invaluable and generous help with plot design, character development, proofreading and overall structure lifted my drafts to a level of quality where my book was received with enthusiasm by a publisher and with excellent reviews in the press. I must strongly recommend editor Laurel Cohn to anyone that dreams of seeing their work published. Her professional expertise, patience and appreciation for my writing were the best gift my book could have hoped for.’

Carl Cleves
Tarab: travels with my guitar
(Transit Lounge Publishing)
Structural editing and copyediting
Cover of The Writer's Guide by Irina Dunn

‘Laurel Cohn can turn a rough diamond of a manuscript into a polished gem of a book. She is expert in structural editing, copy editing and proofreading, and offers insights into your work that will help you realize your publishing goal.’

Irina Dunn
The Writer’s Guide
(Allen & Unwin)
Structural editing
Your Sould Purpose by Brendan Nichols

‘Laurel Cohn, did an outstanding job in editing and providing valuable feedback in my book. At all times she was genuinely interested in my project and often gave me great insight in how I could improve the text. The book went on to become a best seller as a self-published book and then published by Harper Collins.’

Brendan Nichols
Your Soul Purpose
(Harper Collins)
Structural editing and copyediting
Girl Woman Matriarch By Marjorie Lord

‘I have greatly appreciated all the help, support and feedback you have given to me throughout my journey in creating the book Girl Woman Matriarch: Wisdom Love Connection. Although the process was pretty daunting for me at many stages along the way, your professional help got me through it all. I can’t express my thanks to you enough.’

Marjorie Lord
Girl Woman Matriarch
Structural editing, copyediting and proofreading

‘I have enjoyed my whirlwind journey and ‘bookmaking’ with you tremendously and I want to thank you sincerely for your skill, insight, lightness and patience, but more than that, the way you made me feel. And that was that I could do it!

Patt Gregory
Woodwork for Women
(Woodwork for Women)
Manuscript assessment, copyediting, proofreading

‘Through Laurel’s skills and wisdom she has taught me so much as she has prepared the manuscript to be sent to the printer for publication. Thanks to Laurel, not only do I have a beautiful book, Look to See – The Art of Drawing, but my computer skills and confidence in my work have grown enormously.’

Hilary Kerr
Look to See
(Look to See Publishing)
Manuscript assessment, copyediting, proofreading

‘Masterful is how I would describe the efforts of Laurel Cohn. As an editor, her suggestions, advice and constructive comments opened up my options better than the way things were without compromising the essence of what I wanted to capture in my story. My experience with Laurel has been reflective and empowering, and made me look at what I have learned and to embrace it. What I really enjoyed was being able to talk with Laurel without being judged.’

Paul Ishiguchi
Yearning to Go Home
(Give It Time Productions)
Manuscript assessment, copyediting

‘Working with Laurel was easy, effortless and fun. Her editing style is constructive and insightful. She particularly helped me with the internal structure of my book, transforming it from something rather clumsy into a layout that really serves my message. I will happily use her services again.’

Pollyanna Darling
The Relationship Revelation
Manuscript assessment, copyediting
Boo and the Big Storm by Wendy Lawrence

‘I’ve got some wonderful news: Boo and the Big Storm is the winner of the Children’s Reader category in the Whitley Awards of the Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales. Thank you, again, for all your help – we wouldn’t have had a chance of winning without your magic!’

Wendy Lawrence
Boo and the Big Storm
(Wild Publishing)
Manuscript assessment, copyediting

Editing FAQs

The main role an editor plays is to guide the writer to realise on the page the full potential of the story they are compelled to tell. There are different levels of editing: structural editing, copyediting and proofreading. Some editors, like Laurel Cohn and her team, also assess manuscripts and mentor writers.

See: Manuscript Assessment, Mentoring

The best way to give you editorial feedback in the first instance is to provide a manuscript assessment. The editorial report that you will receive from an assessment will help you approach the next draft and decide whether you require editing services.

See: Manuscript Assessment

Yes. A submission usually comprises a synopsis and the first three chapters. Non-fiction writers will need to also include a chapter outline. We can give you valuable feedback on how successful your submission may be, and why. This is akin to an assessment of a partial draft. Fees for manuscript assessment are based on word count. We can also copyedit a submission package to make sure it is as error free as possible. Please get in touch for further information and fees.

See: Manuscript Assessment

Costs vary depending on the length of the manuscript, the type of editing (structural, copyediting or proofreading) and the level of intervention required. Please get in touch for a quote. 

We work with book-length manuscripts and short-form writing (essays, short stories, novellas). We are experienced with fiction (literary, popular, genre fiction), narrative non-fiction (e.g. memoir, travel, history, personal essay), general non-fiction (e.g. personal development, reference, health) and children’s books (picture books, middle grade and YA). Get in touch if you have any questions about the genre of your manuscript.

Many writers we have worked with have been successfully published, but we cannot guarantee that your work will be picked up by an agent or publisher. While we can offer you the guidance and support to help you produce a high standard manuscript, much depends on your commitment, patience and determination, as well as the vagaries of the market.

See: Manuscript Assessment, Mentoring

Most copyediting and proofreading is done with a digital version using Track Changes in Word and inserting comments, but can be done on a print out. Most structural editing is done on a print out to allow for more dynamic annotations. Please get in touch to discuss the options.

For both digital and printed manuscripts, please use the following formatting:

  • line spacing: 1.5–2
  • font: Times New Roman 12 pt
  • margins: minimum 3 cm all round (Word default margins are fine)
  • paragraphing: indent first line of paragraphs except the first paragraph of a new chapter or section (consult published novel for reference). Only put spaces between paragraphs where you wish to indicate a section break. Word often has a default setting of space after a paragraph. Please turn this to 0.
  • text should be range left, not justified, which means right edge is ‘ragged’
  • page numbers: consecutive from beginning to end
  • title page to include name and contact details, including phone and postal address

For printed manuscripts only:

  • unbound, with a large clip or rubber band around the pages
  • include self-addressed stamped envelope for return of the manuscript. A prepaid parcel post satchel is often the best option (includes tracking number).
  • We encourage you to print the manuscript double-sided to save paper and reduce weight.

If you have any questions about formatting your work, please get in touch.

See: Manuscript Assessment, Mentoring

Your work is considered automatically protected by copyright under Australian law. There is no registration of copyright in Australia or in most other countries (the U.S. is an exception). Through technological protection measures and contracts, you can limit other people’s ability to use or access your copyright material. Keep in mind also that it is extremely rare for writers to have their ideas stolen by others (and you can’t copyright ideas, only text). We do not as a matter of course use non-disclosure agreements as we treat each manuscript as confidential. However, if you wish to send us a non-disclosure agreement, we are happy to have a look at it. Please feel free to get in touch if you have any concerns about confidentiality.

See: Manuscript Assessment, Mentoring

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