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Poetry Manuscript Editing



Please email or call me to arrange submission and scheduling.

Fee & Options

My hourly rate is $85, and I offer a range of editing options to suit different needs and budgets.

Most of my editing clients ask me to edit their poetry manuscripts with the goal of making their work as strong as they can and finding a suitable publisher, but I’m open to working with poets who would like to polish their manuscripts prior to self-publication and family/friend distribution. I also line edit individual poems singly or in batches, as  suits the poet.

Comprehensive Edit = $1,700 (20 hours) - $2,720 (32 hours)

This is the type of editing I did for authors I published while directing Alice James Books, with additions. It includes detailed line editing (basically, I note everything I see that could be polished or improved, line by line), inclusion, ordering, title brainstorming, and discussion of overall strengths and weaknesses, and whether or not I think the manuscript will be ready to submit for publication after revision, and if so, my suggested potential venues for publication. This option includes a free 60-minute telephone consultationupon my receipt of the balance owed, wherein we can discuss your manuscript, revision challenges, culled poems, writing going forward, manuscript submission strategy or other publishing concerns that you wish to discuss, including how to partner with your future publisher for an optimal experience (based on my mine as a book publisher and published author).

I estimate that a fifty to seventy-page manuscript (including front and back matter) should take between twenty and thirty-two hours ($1,700 - $2,720). The range is wide because the hours required vary greatly, depending on the page count, how much work needs to be done, the accessibility of the poetic style, and on how dense the poems are on the page (long-lined, long poems vs. short-lined, short poems) and on how many poems are to be lined edited. Most comprehensive edits take between twenty-four and twenty-eight hours (chapbook manuscripts take less time).

If you email me your manuscript (MicrosoftWord document or PDF’s only, please), I will give you an estimate of the total cost in advance. If you wish to place a lower cap on the cost (a modified comprehensive edit), I will do as much as I can within that limit.

This edit does not guarantee publication, but depending on what stage you are in in your apprenticeship or your career as a poet, how willing and able a reviser you are, and what your publishing goals are, it should bring you closer, possibly much closer. It will also assist your writing going forward.

Overall Edit = $850 (ten hours) - $1,275 (fifteen hours)*

This is a less intensive version of the comprehensive edit, which can range from a focus on poem inclusion and ordering, or line editing, or a combination, where I discuss overall weaknesses and strengths, and offer specific line edits for a number of example poems, allowing you to revise all the poems with those suggestions in mind. I will also offer ordering suggestions which will be more general or more specific, depending on which price/hourly commitment you choose, and suggest which, if any, poems should be cut or if some might be added. I will also give advice on whether or not I think the manuscript will be ready to submit for publication after revision, and if so, my suggested potential venues for publication

*The ten to fifteen-hour options include a free 30-minute telephone consultation upon my receipt of the balance owed, wherein we can discuss your manuscript, revision challenges, culled poems, writing going forward, manuscript submission strategy or other publishing concerns that you wish to discuss.

Manuscript Status Consultation $340 (four hours)*

I will read the manuscript and offer written advice regarding whether I think the manuscript needs heavy or light editing (and include sample line edits), whether or not I think it’s ready to submit for publication, and if so, potential venues for publication. This option also includes a 30-minute telephone consultation, wherein we can discuss any aspect of your manuscript status that you wish to discuss.

If you decide after the conversation that you would like to proceed with either the comprehensive or overall edit, the fee for that will be a little less than it would have been otherwise, as I will already have read and considered the manuscript, and will need to spend less time than otherwise going forward.

*The fee for manuscripts with over 70 pages of poetry is $425/5 hours (or more, depending on how many more pages there are).


One half of the fee (or estimated fee) must be paid in advance of comprehensive or overall consultations, and the balance upon your receipt of the edited manuscript.
The comprehensive and the six
to thirteen-hour overall edits include a free telephone consultation upon my receipt of the balance. The full fee for manuscript status consultations is due in advance.

I accept checks or money orders.

No refunds unless I fail to perform the work due to extended illness or injury. 


April Ossmann's editing skills were invaluable to me while preparing my manuscript for publication. Her comments, ideas, and gentle but firm suggestions made the process of editing my first book a delight. I came away with even more confidence in each poem's ability to move the reader and a sense that the overall order of the manuscript was the most powerful and most inevitable. I am so grateful to know she will be there for me when my next manuscript is almost-ready to go.

                                –Frank Giampietro (Begin Anywhere, Alice James Books, 2008)

From my own experience, I can tell you that when the poem or manuscript deserves critique and editing suggestions which are nuanced and subtle, then that’s exactly what April provides. And though it may be a difficult pill for our pride or our ego to swallow, she also offers the hard brass tacks when the poem or the manuscript needs them. And all of this she does in service to the text—to the writing itself—which I think is the greatest offer of respect one writer can offer another. April’s insights arise from a deep and expansive reservoir of craft knowledge, from many years of guiding writers to more polished and developed manuscripts. I encourage writers to do what I have done—give the bright instrument of your work to April so that she can guide you and your work so that it shines even brighter still.

                                           —Brian Turner (Here, Bullet, Alice James Books, 2005)

April told me at the beginning of our editing session that I would not be obligated to take her suggestions, but I took them—all of them—with tremendous gratitude and a sense of awe. Her understanding of the emotional pitch of the poem, attention to minute detail, and seemingly intuitive sense of extraneous material that could—and should—be removed made my poems unquestionably tighter and better, yet still entirely true to my voice and style. I was so lucky to have the opportunity to work with April. I can’t imagine a more skillful or more insightful editor. 

                    —Henrietta Goodman (Take What You Want, Alice James Books, 2007)

Unsolicited Praise:
Kazim Ali, The Far Mosque, Kicking Wind Interview

A Normal Interview with Christine Poreba, Rough Knowledge
Tom Daley, House You Cannot Reach, Garden of Words

April Ossmann talks about editing at Alice James Books:
Poetry Foundation Harriet Blog Feature: April Ossmann

April Ossmann Essay in Poets & Writers: 
Poets & Writers: The Practical Writer: "Thinking Like a Poetry Editor: How to Order Your Poetry Manuscript," by April Ossmann

April Ossmann Wikipedia Article:
Wikipedia Article

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