Developmental Fiction Editing


Fiction editing is a unique skill. Recognizing problems can be easy. The true art comes in offering solutions. My strength is in recognizing a manuscript’s weaknesses and then devising ways to correct them, ensuring your story reaches its full potential.


While I’m a mystery author, I edit across all genres and have worked with clients on mysteries, thrillers, romances, science fiction, fantasy, horror, and erotica. Each developmental edit is done in Microsoft Word with tracked changes and includes:


– Line Edit: typos, grammar, punctuation, spelling, word use, consistency, etc.

– Content Edit: characterization, dialogue, description, pacing, plotting, setting, etc.

– Summary Report: detailed critique, instructional tips, and suggested fixes.


I will never turn away a writer in need. Fees can always be scaled. And a free 10-page sample edit can be provided upon request.


The average project will take between a week and 10 days to complete, and I will provide regular progress updates.




“Michael Dell is a fabulous writing coach and editor. He has helped several of my students with the final edits of their manuscripts, pushing them from ‘okay’ to ‘publishable’ with the gentlest of touches.  He’s great at spotting plot holes and suggesting possible plugs for them.  He will find all the things you missed and help you fix them.  He even did a final edit on this endorsement for me. Don’t go it alone!  Get the best help available.”

Victoria Thompson, bestselling author of the Edgar®-nominated Gaslight Mystery Series


”I’ve had a few editors during my career and stopped looking after I began working with Michael Dell. He’s the consummate professional; sharp, diligent, courteous, and naturally inquisitive. Best of all, he knows and can empathize with writers, being one himself, and understands the business thoroughly.”

Patrick Picciarelli, author of Undercover Cop


"Michael Dell is every writer's best friend. His editorial advice is exceptional. He's helped me not only with my fiction writing, which includes Dark Reservations (Tony Hillerman Prize, St. Martin's Press), but also with several public-service grants and narrative writing projects. Mike was instrumental in helping draft and polish two library-recognition submissions, both of which resulted in the library receiving the award. The first was for the prestigious Institute of Museum and Library Services Award. The second was the I Love My Librarian Award (presented by the Carnegie Corporation and the New York Times).

"Mike's line and content edits, as well as his structural advice, have significantly improved my writing. I highly recommend him to any writer. Whether you are working on the next great American novel or an exemplary non-fiction piece worthy of a Pulitzer, Mike should be on your short list of freelance editors."

John Fortunato, Tony Hillerman Prize-winning author of Dark Reservations

“For anyone who needs a sharp editor, check out Michael Dell. We’ve swapped stuff in the past, and he’s amazing.”

John Dixon, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of Phoenix Island


"I said it in the acknowledgements of my first novel, and I'll say it again: Michael Dell's eye for story and structure are second to none. I wouldn't dream of writing a book without him."

Miles Watson, author of Cage Life


"For any of you who might find yourself in need of a professional editor, I heartily recommend Michael Dell, an SHU alum. A week ago I asked if he'd take a quick look at my latest novel before I send the final copy off to my new editor, and this morning he sent me the results: a half dozen content inconsistencies, and, I am embarrassed to admit, a page and a half of typos...on a manuscript my agent and I have read at least a dozen times. Thank you, Mike! What a fantastic job!"

Randall Silvis, author of Two Days Gone


Cover Design and Manuscript Formatting


If you’re interested in self-publishing, I can also design your cover and format the manuscript for Kindle, CreateSpace, and other platforms. Some of my previous covers are posted below.


My goal is to make your work the best it can be. Payment hires me for the initial edit and secures my advice until the project sees publication. If you have any questions, please contact me at


Additional Information







Malice Domestic 12: Murder Most Historical

Honest John Churchfield

Honest John Raises Cain

Honest John and the Sticky Wicket




2019 Best Independent Book Award - Mystery

2022 Next Generation Indie Book Awards Finalist - Mystery




Bachelor of Arts in Literature from Charter Oak State College

Master of Fine Arts in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University