"You should write a book!"

"You should write a book," your friends tell you. Easy said!

Maybe you're writing a novel, a dissertation, or the story of your life. If so, you've probably discovered it isn't so easy. The Book Doc can help.

Your friends may say your project's wonderful, but they won't tell you what you need to do to improve it, or finish it, or fix it so that it has a better chance of being published. The Book Doc will.

Maybe you just need encouragement and motivation, or help getting grammar and usage right. Or maybe you need someone who'll listen to your ideas, ask you hard questions, give advice about structure, and show you how to revise and rewrite. Self-help is fine, but sometimes a writer needs more.

Could advice from an experienced editor, book doctor, and writer help you to successfully realize your project? Why not find out?

Make an appointment with Robert Rubin to discuss your idea, and how he can help you realize it. No fee charged for your initial consultation!


Contact the Book Doc!


Twitter: @RUBINRA

Phone or Text: (919) 346-4887

Mail: The Book Doc • 728 Minerva Dale Drive • Fuquay Varina, NC 27526

editorial services

RATES — The Book Doc's rates are based on standard rates for editing and proofreading posted by the Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA). Of course, not all jobs are the same, and rates can be adjusted. For longer jobs, such as editing or ghostwriting a manuscript, I prefer to charge a fixed fee based on discussions with you, rather than charging an hourly rate. See the EFA rates here.

Developmental Editing • Manuscript/Proposal Critique • Ghostwriting • Line/Copy Editing
Dissertation Editing • Proofreading • Illustration/Design • Consulting

developmental editing

Are your characters consistent? Is the plot working? Have you structured your book well? Are there holes in the research? Have you considered other arguments? • Advice and structural guidance, planning, outlining, and coaching the development of a manuscript. Developmental editing by the Book Doc helps you with the big picture, not word or sentence editing.

Line- and Copy-Editing

Is your manuscript ready to be read by a publisher or go to press? • The Book Doc will suggest detailed changes for clarity, concision, accuracy, consistency, and correcting spelling, punctuation, grammar, and usage. For books going to press, this includes correcting for adherence to style guides (APA, Chicago, MLA, etc.), and light fact checking.


Is it spelled right? Are there errors of grammar? • The Book Doc corrects typographical errors, spelling,  grammar, and punctuation, and checks for consistency in final manuscripts and galley proofs.

Manuscript/proposal critique

What will a publisher think? • The Book Doc will read and criticize your manuscript or proposal from a publisher's perspective, and give you an overview. Are there basic problems that will get your submission rejected out of hand? Are there easy revisions you can make? The Doc can help you answer those questions.

Dissertation/thesis editing

Is your scholarly work ready for evaluation? • The Book Doc will proofread and copy-edit academic writing for accuracy, style, and mechanics, making sure that references are correctly presented for the MLA, APA, Chicago (Turabian), or other required formats. This may include substantive or developmental editing.

Illustration and design services

Do you need art to accompany your words? • The cost will be per illustration/page, or a negotiated flat rate. The Doc can addvisual elements to accompany a written manuscript: Line drawings, cartoons, watercolors, acrylic paintings, computer art, page design, type design.


Do I need help with the actual writing? • Ghostwriting means writing that is credited ("As told to," or "With the assistance of") or uncredited (published under your name). Either way, ghostwriters typically do not share in the copyright ownership or publishing rights. The Book Doc is an experienced writer who can help readers hear your voice.


Is it a good idea? • The Doc offers phone, video, or in-person discussion of your idea or project. You can get advice about strategies of submission to publishers, self-publishing, Web publishing, etc. Evaluating and honing your ideas for a project.

The Doc's Blog

Which is more important: plot or character?

Novels are often described as "plot-based," or "character-based," and there are important differences. Of course, all novels (or, at least, all but the most experimental or misguided) have both plot and characters, but often the balance is what matters. So-called "mainstream" novels, meant to appeal to a wide audience, tend to be plot-driven. So-called "literary" novels, meant to find an audience interested in other things than plot, are often character-driven.

The Harry Potter novels are a good example of plot-driven novels: lots of things happen, lots of fascinating details are described, and the main characters are in for a bumpy ride. J.K. Rowling typically spends the first half of her novels setting up an exciting, action-packed second half. But, though the personalities and quirks of the main characters are important, we're more interested in what happens to them than in who they are.

E. Annie Proulx's novel The Shipping News, published in the 1990s, is a good example of a best-selling literary novel, and one that is essentially character-driven. The main character, a sad sack loser named Quoyle, takes a last-ditch job in an out-of-the-way place, and his development from a schlub into a competent and even heroic protagonist is what gives the story much of its appeal. What happens to Quoyle is important, but we're more interested in who he is and how he must change.

A key to writing a good novel is understanding what you're after, and getting the balance right. A thriller that spends too much time plumbing the psychological depths of its main character is likely to frustrate readers. And too much wham-bang plotting can harm a novel whose main attraction is the sensitive portrayal of its main characters.

Do you know where your novel fits on the spectrum? Is the balance right? Often, when you're in the middle of writing your book, that sort of perspective is hard to come by. That's where someone like the Book Doc can help.

What is "de- velopmental editing"?

Developmental editing is what most professional writers think of when they use the word “editing.”

It isn’t fixing spelling and grammar. Rather, it’s offering guidance and feedback to help you develop your book. A developmental editor’s job is to look at your book from the reader’s point of view, and ask some key questions.

If it’s a novel, or work of fiction, these may be, “does the plot make sense here?” “Are the characters vivid?” “Are you using dialogue correctly?” Is the pacing right? Are you telling the reader what to think, rather than letting the reader discover his or her own ideas about your book?”

For a nonfiction book, the questions might be, “Is it structured well?” “Do the arguments make sense?” Are the examples sufficient? Are there holes in the research? Are you telling the whole story? Does the book need to be cut, or added to? Are you being wordy? Are you being vague?

In short, the developmental editor asks the hard questions that you may not have the perspective to ask yourself when you’re writing your book. Typically, the Book Doc will write you a letter asking questions and making suggestions aimed at helping you get the big things right.