Who I Am and What I Offer

I'm an acquiring editor at Barrelhouse Books, and have been working as a freelance developmental editor since 2016. I was previously the memoir editor at Narratively and a contributing editor at Catapult, commissioning and editing personal essays. I'm also the author of Negative Space, a hybrid art book/memoir, and First Love, a collection of personal/critical essays. I teach nonfiction at Columbia University School of the Arts and Randolph College's low-residency MFA program.

If you have a nonfiction manuscript that you've pushed as far as you can on your own, I can provide a fresh perspective that incorporates both art and business. I will meet your work where it is, protecting its creative core while also pushing you to shape it into something with the best shot possible at succeeding in the crowded and competitive publishing market. 

My focus is creative nonfiction (specifically memoirs, essay collections, and all of the formally interesting stuff in between). I love projects that bring in elements of other kinds of nonfiction—reportage, cultural criticism, etc.—as well as straightforward immersive narrative memoir. I specialize in narrative structure—whether you're working with a straightforward narrative and just need help honing the arc, or you have a more complex braided or otherwise non-chronological structure and need to make sure it feels fluid and easy to follow. I will point out any extraneous chapters or scenes that may be slowing your story's momentum, as well as opportunities to expand and dig deeper. I will help you push yourself on the big-picture elements like theme, tone, and maintaining narrative tension; and the details like making the most of each scene and smoothing transitions.

Note: I do my best work on projects that I'm excited about. I will ask some questions and maybe ask to read a brief sample to determine whether I'm the right editor for you before we proceed. I only occasionally work on select fiction. I'm not a fit for humor, self help, or "inspirational"/religious projects; and I don't do line editing, copyediting, or proofreading. I am not currently available to edit individual essays.

Find details and rates below, and fill out the form at the bottom of this page to book! (Or email me at lillydancyger@gmail.com if you have any questions.)


Manuscript Evaluation

This developmental edit focuses on the big-picture elements of your book-length manuscript: structure, pacing, character development, balance of scene and reflection, and whether your main themes are developing clearly over the course of the story. My critiques come from both artistic and practical perspectives—helping to push your book to be the most compelling execution of your idea and honing its strengths on a craft level, while also taking into account the current memoir market and how best to position your book within it. I will give my honest assessment of the project's readiness to query/submit for publication, as well as a clear roadmap for how to get it ready if it isn't quite there yet.

You will receive an edit letter addressing the book as a whole and making suggestions for what the main focus(es) of your next revision should be (this often includes structure, main themes that could be deepened and emphasized more throughout, parts of the story that feel like they're missing or not given enough air time, etc.), as well as several pages of detailed chapter-by-chapter (or essay-by-essay) notes. 

I strongly recommend going through at least two full rounds of revision on your own before hiring me or anyone else to review your manuscript. If you're earlier in the process but still want some editorial guidance, I recommend starting with a First 50 evaluation (details below).

In order to make sure I can devote my full attention to each project, availability is limited for manuscript evaluations, and I generally book a few months ahead. Fill out the form below to reserve your spot.

(This service does not include line edits.) Starting at $1,500 for up to 50,000 words

First 50

An evaluation of the first 50 (double-spaced, standard format) pages of your manuscript is usually enough to diagnose big-picture issues like structure, pacing, balance of scene and reflection, and narrative trajectory/emotional stakes that likely apply to the full manuscript.

This package includes an edit letter with recommendations for the first 50 pages (aimed toward not just polishing those pages, but setting up the rest of the manuscript), and a half-hour call to discuss revision strategy and the project as a whole.

I don't do full manuscript reviews on early drafts, but will gladly do a First 50 review earlier in the process to help make sure you're on the right track before you wade through rounds and rounds of revision on the full.

Writers who have previously gone through a First 50 review with me get a $250 credit toward a full manuscript evaluation if you want more comprehensive feedback later in the process. I strongly encourage starting here!

(This service does not include line edits.) $500 


"Lilly is intuitive, smart, and sensitive, offering feedback that is both constructive and energizing. She possesses an extraordinary ability to see the big picture of a project while maintaining keen attention to detail. Each of my experiences of working with Lilly have invigorated me as an artist and brought clarity and focus to my writing. Warm and responsive, Lilly made me feel as though I had a coconspirator in the often lonely act of producing a book. I wholeheartedly recommend her to those seeking an editor."

"I’ve worked with Lilly numerous times. She helped me edit my entire book proposal, which resulted in my landing the literary agent of my dreams. As a fellow writer, Lilly understands the craft from an artistic perspective. As a professional editor, she understands the logistics. She examines work through both the lens of a creative writer and industry professional to highlight what works and what doesn’t. Her feedback is sharp, smart, straightforward, and constructive. Working with her taught me how to look at my own work with a critical eye. She has helped me become a better writer."

"I loved Lilly's attention to detail. She showed me where readers might become confused and offered great suggestions on how to better weave an emotional arc into my story line. Sometimes it's hard to 'kill your darlings,' but she was able to point out the ones I really needed to consider chopping. I also appreciated her timeliness, professionalism, and communication."

Terms of service:

Manuscript evaluations can be reserved with a 50% deposit, with the balance due upon delivery of written feedback. For all other services, payment is due in full upfront.

Reserved editing services can be rescheduled with at least 30 days' notice at no additional cost. A rescheduling/cancellation fee of 20% of the total editing fee will be charged for rescheduling with less than 30 days' notice, or for cancellation at any point after a deposit has been made. Deposits are non-refundable once materials have been submitted for review.

An edit includes one round of feedback only.