Northern Waters Books

Margaret Copeley Editing ~ Writing ~ Self-publishing

Services 2020-06-14T19:20:22+00:00


Nonfiction Books
I can help you write a publishable nonfiction book
I have extensive experience building nonfiction books in fields like these:
  • Art Therapy
  • Baseball
  • Gardening
  • Health & Healthcare
  • Law
  • Memoirs
  • Post traumatic stress disorder
  • Religion
  • Spirituality
My role as your nonfiction book editor

  • Help you make a plan for a well-organized book with a clearly defined topic that meets readers’ needs
  • Identify your specific audience and market and their needs
  • Create a table of contents and detailed outlines for each chapter
  • Support you through each step of the writing process, breaking your tasks down into small, manageable bits
  • Help you step up to the next level in your writing skills to produce clear, organized, polished writing
  • Prepare your book for submission to publishers, including writing a publishing proposal and query letter
  • Or prepare your book for self-publishing

Book Reviews
An in-depth book review can help you decide whether your book is publishable and understand its strengths and flaws to help you make revisions. A review is typically 12–20 pages long. It contains general comments on the book as a whole, strengths and weaknesses, suggestions for revisions, and a list of smaller problems I find (“Wrong dates for the Civil War”). The suggestions may be of a general nature (“The structure of the book falls apart in the middle. It needs to be revised from chapter 6 through the end”) or more specific (“In chapter 6 your analysis of the causes of the Civil War is weak. I suggest that you take another look at the impact of the election of Abraham Lincoln.”).
Points covered in the review:
  • Strengths and weaknesses
  • Readability, level of interest
  • Clarity of topic
  • Clarity of purposes and whether the book achieves them
  • Suitability for a specific audience
  • Organization of your table of contents
  • Organization of each chapter
  • Quality of your writing: clarity of expression; depth of ideas; mechanics
  • List of problems noted
  • Suggestions for revisions
  • Recommendations for editing
To request a review, please send me a very brief synopsis of your book (maximum 100 words, please) and I will let you know whether your topic fits my background.

Academic Books

Publishing a series of articles and at least one book is required for tenure at many institutions. For faculty at ivy-league schools, publication with a top-tier press may be expected. I have extensive experience planning and editing academic books and writing publishing proposals. I can handle most humanities and soft-science topics at the PhD and postgraduate level.
Academic presses are increasingly looking for books for wider audiences for increased sales. My approach to editing will help you weed out jargon and make your writing accessible to your specific audience: undergraduate, graduate, or scholarly.
For an emerging scholar, writing a first book can be intimidating. Writing a dissertation usually doesn’t prepare you adequately for writing a book. Often my support for first-time academic book writers includes skills coaching in basics such as developing a clear topic statement and a detailed outline. I will help you break your tasks down into manageable bits and develop a reasonable timetable. I will hold you accountable for your deadlines with on- going support by email or phone.
See samples of my edited academic books.

Fiction Books

I’m a lifelong fiction reader and writer who appreciates a good story that keeps readers turning the pages. I provide two fiction services:
  • Comprehensive book reviews
  • Copyediting
I don’t provide content editing or writing coaching for fiction.

Comprehensive book reviews

A review is typically 12–20 pages long. It contains general comments on the book as a whole, strengths and weaknesses, suggestions for revisions, and a list of smaller problems I find (“Jack has red hair in this chapter. In the last chapter he had brown hair”). The suggestions may be of a general nature (“The plot falls apart in the middle of the book and loses credibility. It needs to be revised from chapter 6 through the end”) or more specific (“The dialog on pages 261–265 needs to reflect the changed relationship between Jack and Lucy”). Points covered in the review:
  • Strengths and weaknesses
  • Readability, level of interest
  • Plot
  • Character development Dialog
  • Development of themes and conflicts
  • Quality of your writing: style, description, mechanics
  • List of problems noted
  • Suggestions for revisions
  • Recommendations for editing
To request a review, please send me a very brief synopsis of your story (maximum 100 words, please) and I will let you know whether I can give you helpful feedback. Please note that I do not handle erotica, urban fiction, violence, and similar books.
See a sample of my fiction book review.


To correct mechanical errors (spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc.) and prepare your book for publication.

Children’s Books
Children’s authors have more fun

Johnny Magnificent and the I-Man

With my master’s degree in education and my elementary-school teaching experience, I understand children’s emotional development and their reading level. During my 15-year teaching career, I examined hundreds of books for use in my classes and I have a good sense of what children find interesting.
I’m an avid reader of children’s literature. I take a children’s book along on every hiking and kayaking trip — because the books are light in my pack and they make for ideal relaxed summit or lakeside reading. Some of my all-time favorites:
The Secret Hum of a Daisy, by Tracy Holczer
Gratefully Yours, by Jane Buchanan
The Invention of Hugo Cabret, by Brian Selznick
The Lost Flower Children, by Janet Taylor Lisle
Ruby Holler, by Sharon Creech
And of course Charlotte’s Web, by E. B. White
A good children’s book has much in common with a good adult novel: it follows the same arc of rising and falling action; provides young readers with a strong emotional experience; has memorable, lifelike characters and realistic dialog; and so on. Children’s authors need all of the same skills as adult novel writers—but they can have a lot more fun with their stories and characters!
Here’s a sample of my own writing for children (a chapter from a 150-page manuscript written for children ages 8–11).
How I can help you
  • Comprehensive review of your children’s book listing the strengths and weaknesses of your storyline, characters, dialog, and writing skills, including a detailed list of suggestions for improvement
  • Coaching to support you with your revisions
  • Copyediting to correct all mechanical errors (grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc.)
  • Style editing
  • Rewriting if you have a great story idea but limited writing skills
Feel free to send me a brief synopsis of your story (less than 100 words, please) and a sample chapter. I’ll offer you some initial impressions. Confidentiality guaranteed.

Faculty & Graduate Students

I offer complete career and education services for faculty and graduate students. I’ve worked with faculty at Harvard, Duke, Brown, Boston University, McGill, Stanford, and UC Berkeley as well as smaller colleges in the U.S. and universities in Canada, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. I have extensive experience working with non-native English writers.

Books, publishing proposals, journal articles (including revisions and detailed responses to peer reviews), conference papers, grant applications, complete job application packages (cover letter, CV, teaching statement, research statement), syllabi, lesson plans for teaching observations.
Looking for an academic position? A personal website might make a difference for your job hunt in a tight academic market. An academic website contains your CV, teaching statement, research statement, photo, and possibly sample papers. It can be designed with attractive graphics.

Graduate students

Master’s theses, dissertations, admissions essays, grant & fellowship applications, job applications. I will support you through each step of your thesis or dissertation and help you develop the writing skills you will need for your future career.


Living Well With Chronic Illness

Self-publishing a book with a large, impersonal internet company can be frustrating and the quality is sometimes disappointing. I work with a local book designer and local printer to ensure that your book turns out exactly as you specify. The designer designs the cover and the interior of the book and does the layout according to my specifications. I work onsite with the printer to solve any problems and to examine the final book in person. I’ve selected a designer and printer who do quality work for a reasonable price.
Your self-published book will look and feel exactly like a traditionally published book. It will have a copyright page and an ISBN number (if you choose). I can also handle your book marketing needs, including a website.
See samples of my self-published books.


I have a strong interest in people’s life stories. I’ve worked with memoir writers about experiences like these:
  • A client’s experiences with Andy Warhol, other famous artists, and the Mafia in 1970s New York
  • A New York City firefighter’s experience on 9/11
  • An elderly woman’s childhood growing up on the Jersey shore in the 1940s
  • A journalist’s experience of living among Mormons in Salt Lake City
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder
  • A classical guitarist’s experience with a debilitating hand impairment
I look for memoirs that bring readers into a world they are unfamiliar with to offer them a moving, stimulating, thoughtful experience.
To request a review of your memoir idea, please send me a brief synopsis of your story (maximum 1 page, please) and tell me why it’s unique and what it offers readers.

Publishing Proposals
(Academic & nonfiction books)
A publishing proposal is a sales tool
A wonderful book can be rejected solely for the lack of merit of the proposal. Writing a publishing proposal takes a high level of skill. I have written publishing proposals for all top-tier humanities academic presses in the U.S. and have won contracts with presses such as Duke University Press (Slavery Unseen), University of Texas Press, and Springer (Healing the Heart of Trauma).

My proposal for Healing the Heart of Trauma and Dissociation with EMDR and Ego State Therapy was accepted by the first publisher I sent it to and brought in two contract offers. My proposal for Excluded Americans: The Silent Generation, about Chinese Americans, was rated “just about perfect” by a New York agent.

My writing style is concise and persuasive. I craft a strong argument for publishing your book, beginning with the current social and other conditions that make this the right time to publish your book, and I show why you’re the right person to write it. Together we research the book market to identify competing books and show the need for your topic.
Contents of a proposal package
  • Query letter
  • Proposal: about 30–40 pages
  • Two sample chapters (the number may vary by publisher)
  • Other documents to support your proposal and add interest to it: photos, a CV or résumé, etc.

I work in tandem with a local creative agency to plan, write, edit, and design your website and get it up and running.
Who needs a website?
  • Any business person or organization
  • Authors, artists, photographers, musicians
  • Tradespeople: home maintenance, landscaping, plumbing, etc.
  • Therapists & psychologists
  • Freelance professionals
  • Lawyers
  • Academic faculty: a personal website could make a difference in your job search in a tight job market
Some website and graphic design services available include:
  • Custom and basic websites and e-commerce sites
  • Complete monthly website maintenance
  • Onsite search engine optimization
  • Photography for products, businesses, headshots, lifestyle, real estate, etc
  • Graphic design for logos, business cards, postcards, flyers, brochures, books covers, etc.
  • Email newsletters

Writing Coaching
Much of my work involves training authors to write better. This is built into how I work with graduate students, faculty, and anyone who plans to do more writing in the future.
Graduate students & faculty
Did your academic program inadequately prepare you for the demands of the next level? Often new scholars are surprised (shocked!) to find that their master’s program didn’t prepare them to write a PhD dissertation, and their PhD program didn’t prepare them to write the book and articles that are required for tenure.
While those tasks may feel monumental and make you panic, the same basic skills and processes form the foundation of all good writing. They are teachable and learnable. Together we will work on developing a clear topic, listing the main sections of a paper or book, and developing a detailed outline. Your confidence will triple with that road map in place. Then we will work through the writing and editing process. In each phase I will break your tasks down into manageable bits and plan a reasonable timeline for each stage.
For writers with weak skills, I’ve developed a series of worksheets to help you practice each skill.

Translation (French to English)
I am bilingual in English and French and can translate a variety of documents from French to English.