Let me introduce myself. My name is John Cameron McClain. The beginning of my professional editing career was in 1992, at SEGA Enterprises in Tokyo, working on game software manuals, though my first round in college in the 1980s, majoring in Communications and focused on news- and script-writing is worth noting as well. In my five years at SEGA, I wrote and edited almost a hundred game software manuals, which gave me a thorough grounding in the art of storytelling. From there I moved back to the U.S., where I worked for a PR agency, two nonprofit organizations, an architecture firm, and a SONAR data software firm, as copywriter, editor and designer. Finally, I went back to school, majoring in English and focusing on creative writing. This soon led to my opening a small publishing house (Ponahakeola Press), which currently has seventeen published novels, and three more coming out soon. I’ve written and edited ad copy, environmental impact statements, game software and hardware manuals, SONAR software usage manuals, academic writing up to Ph.D. level, and a variety of speculative fiction (fantasy, science fiction, and horror), which allows me to say with confidence that I’m an editing and writing chameleon. At present, however, my main focus is speculative fiction.
If you’re here, I’m going to assume you want your writing to improve. So do I.
Good writers aren’t working on projects, they are engaged in a process. I help writers improve their craft, which means after I correct something I explain why I’m correcting it, so that you know how to write better (and on a side note, have a look at my posts available on how to improve your writing), from a work in progress about writing stories. No matter the level of editing involved, you’re making an investment in me as an editor, and I’m making an investment in you as a writer. My current clients write fantasy, paranormal romance, memoirs, erotica, spy thrillers, horror novels, and coming-of-age stories, among others. I’ve worked on everything from academic essays to sword-and-sorcery fantasy epics, and believe that the crucial element common to all forms of writing is providing a compelling narrative in clear prose. That is the writer’s first and most important task. I’m here to help that happen. Below is a list of services offered.
Review and Critique
Once a writer is finished with a manuscript, she or he needs an expert opinion as to how well the work holds together. With the Review and Critique package I read through the manuscript at least twice, once for overall story structure, and the second time for writing clarity. Once I’m finished, I provide the client with a critique of the manuscript, including structural problems, continuity problems, suggestions as to chapter order, as well as notes on common spelling and grammar errors.
If all you need is a final review of your manuscript to ensure correct spelling, punctuation, and tense use, I can help. Please note that I won’t be checking for story, chapter, paragraph or sentence structure.
This service provides correction of grammar, a review of consistent word use, style, and clarity of sentence structure. If you are confident in your character development, story structure, chapter order, narrative structure, and other elements to a successful story, and you could use suggestions as to better wording and writing for clarity, this service is for you. I’ll clean up the minor stuff, tell you where you can tweak your manuscript to make it shine, and you can go get published.
I strongly believe that in the art and craft of writing, the craft shoulders the greatest burden on the path to success. There are very few examples of popular stories that are badly written. It could be argued that they are plainly written, but that is why my writing mindset is, “don’t let your words get in the way of your story.” Strip away all the junk and the bad habits, and you’re usually left with a readable story. Even if it’s not elegantly expressed, it has a far better chance at success than a convoluted, badly-written series of events that have no structure. In addition, once all the junk is stripped, you can then go back in and fill it with more good stuff.
The only way you’re going to be a success is to make sure you have a good story and clean prose. You don’t want too many points of view, too much telling, not enough showing, and other structural errors that throw the story. My job is to point out where your storytelling is weak, where you’re relying on writing styles or tricks that aren’t working, help you improve sentence structure, and improve story flow. In this case (and the following Story Development service) I’m as much writing coach as editor, and clients should be ready for that level of commitment to the process.
You have a story or story outline, have written a great deal of the manuscript written (or even have a first draft completed), but feel that it can be further improved, and wish to take what you have to the next step of quality. If you need help improving story structure, character development, setting, theme, or other elements to the story-creating process, email me an overview of what you have and what you feel you’re missing, and we can talk about next steps.
(Note that at present I do not offer ghost-writing services. Please do not contact me with ghost-writing requests.)
My work history includes fifteen years’ experience in designing, laying out and printing posters, flyers, business cards, leaflets, logos, newsletters, magazines, and other P.R./advertising materials. While my current focus is on writing, I also offer an inexpensive book cover design service (cover prices can range from $100 to $200). Note that I may not be able to take on all projects, but I am willing to discuss your needs to see if I am the right fit for the job. Here are some of the covers I’ve designed so far:
After reviewing the completed manuscript and cover, I will provide you with an Amazon CreateSpace print-ready PDF which you can then upload to your account for publishing, within a week.
I can provide you with AZW, EPUB, MOBI, and PDF formatted documents within the week.
If you’re looking for assistance in publishing to venues such as Amazon (Kindle), Smashwords, BookBaby, Draft2Digital, and Lulu, I can help you set up accounts and upload your materials.
If you would like to discuss your project, email me the following (j.cameron.mcclain.stories at gmail dot com):
- Your name.
- Word count of the project (where appropriate).
- Service you’re requesting.
- Story type: e.g. memoir, horror, dissertation (where appropriate).
- Deadline: date, or month. I need some idea of where you will fit on my schedule.
Once I receive your email I’ll get back in touch and we can discuss your project further. If you decide to use me as your editor, I typically ask for a 50% deposit (based on the total project cost, minus any discounts) at the start, with the remainder payable upon receipt of a message from me letting you know your project is complete. After I receive payment I send the finished manuscript.
As my current clients will attest, I am always open to providing additional information after your project is completed, including answering questions and providing suggestions. I am investing in your future success as a writer. As long as you’re willing to keep improving, I will keep supporting you.
Here’s what some of my current clients have to say about my services.
An editor isn’t just someone you pick out of the phone book at random. At least, it shouldn’t be. Knowledge is important – and John’s got a ton of that – but so is similarity of vision and understanding of genre. When we send a manuscript to John, we nod all the way through the changes he sends back because they’re always spot on. John understands just what we’re going for when we write. He never strikes the important bits, but instead helps us to improve them.
He always sends those changes back right on the schedule we’ve agreed upon, too. John’s helped us out with sci-fi, fantasy, urban occult fiction and even erotic stories. When we’ve got a question on a change, he always takes the time to explain why he marked up that blocking segment or changed that comma. Whether we’re looking for basic copy edits or a comprehensive story critique, John has always got us covered.
Basically, we can’t recommend him enough. Thanks, John!
—Erica Lindquist and Aron Christensen, authors of the Reforged trilogy, Whisperworld, and The Dead Beat
“I really appreciate John’s corrections and suggestions. Sometimes, out of curiosity, I try different things and compare the end result, but his suggestions are always spot on and I can’t go wrong with them. He has captured my voice and went along with it, which is great. Whenever I read a paragraph that he’s modified, it’s seamless. That’s a great quality because not everyone can immerse themselves in someone else’s writing.”
—Steve S. Grant, author of The Dreamer Genome and Orbiting Sins
“A writer needs feedback. It’s just that simple. But when looking for feedback it’s like being in a jungle. No two readers will share the exact same reaction to your work and no two editors will have the exact same opinion. You need to find someone you can trust.
In my 20 plus years of writing I’ve been in many writing groups and have worked with many beta readers and editors. Having the right person review my work has been indispensable for my growth as a writer. Someone who understands what I’m going for and whose comments resonate and make sense. As an editor myself, I know the importance of pushing a writer to excel. It means seeing not just the grammatical errors or places where the writing can be tighter, but having a vision of what can be achieved in the next draft and helping the writer stretch to get there.
Do you need an editor? Of course, if you want to have a professional product. And John Cameron McClain is the one that I trust to edit my writing.”
—April Grey, author of the Cernunnos series
“John is always professional, has tremendous knowledge about creative writing, and is very meticulous. All great characteristics for an awesome editor! He is very encouraging and always trying to make his writers go to that untapped place to bring out the best in us. Throughout the editing process, John has remained very approachable and continually supportive. This is priceless for us new writers. Actually, this attribute is priceless for any writer. I greatly appreciate him and would recommend him to anyone.”
—Sonya Ray, author of the Three Crowns series
“If I ever have any questions, whether about grammar, marketing, or even just general book-related questions, John is there. Even after all the editing is over and a book is ready for publication, John continues to help his clients by promoting them when he can. He sticks by his clients, never leaving them in the dark, and helps them succeed in their goals of writing, and beyond.”
—Brandy Nacole, author of the Shadow World and Spiritual Discord series
“As a new author, I was very lucky to have met John C. McClain through LinkedIn. He helped me with a silly movie trailer I was making for a Kickstarter campaign at the time. After discovering how talented he really is, I count myself blessed to have stumbled across him. As my editor, he has made a large difference in my writing style, pointing out the ‘not so worthy’ prose and explaining how to make it better. He takes the time to clarify specific points and even goes so far as to help brainstorm a storyline. He is currently editing my first finished novel and, having seen the first half edited, I’m very excited to see the final version! I’m sure that John will make it glow!”
—Marlene Wynn, author of Chandrea: The Return of the Avatar Queen
“It was a wonderful and encouraging experience to work with John. Ionshaker is my first book and as you can imagine the first book for many writers is quite a challenge. But all through the edits John was both friendly and professional. With the comments he made in the edits and the review he provided, I could feel the seriousness and keenness he put in. He does what he does because he understands it, loves it and cares. I think John is one friend all indie writers want to have.”
—Felix Timothy, author of Ionshaker
“John McClain is one of the most intelligent and creative people that I know. He has helped me edit the content for my website as well as submittals for my business. I have known John for years, and he is extremely creative and meticulous in his art and writing. These qualities also transfer over nicely to his editing. He makes sure to understand his client’s point of view and goals to provide them appropriate feedback. I also read his first published novel, The Five Watchers. The characters really come to life and so does the story, which makes it all the scarier.”
—Maikalani Hill-Higgins, creator/manager of the SF Loves Tango website