Our Services

Our priority is to provide you with timely, thorough and encouraging feedback on your work. The approach is focused on courteous, constructive critique to make your personal style as strong as it can be to deliver the story you’re burning to tell.

In practice, what this means is:

  1. Bowler Fern will not edit on the basis of writing fads. For example, if you have a love of adverbs, then this will be respected. We would tame them where they’re conspicuous, redundant or intrusive, but they would not be stripped out on principle. Likewise, if you choose to write omnisciently, we will help you to get the best out of this narrative style, rather than push you towards the more common third-person limited narration style, which is more standard in the fiction-writing industry.
  2. You will be told what you’re doing right, as well as what needs further work. Positive feedback is just as important to the editing process as the focus on work yet to be done. You can’t replicate your strongest writing if you’re not told where your best writing occurs.
  3. We will explain in detail where we have found problems (and why), and provide options for addressing those issues.

As a company, we operate by charging at the lower end of the editorial budget range in exchange for a longer turnaround time. If your publication calendar has more room for manoeuvre than your wallet, then our services are likely to suit you very well. This method of working allows us to overlap projects without compromising quality.

What do we offer?

All line edits and proofs are carried out in Microsoft Word, using the tracked changes tool. We are happy to save copies in Open Document Formats for writers who choose to use other programs, like Libre Office.

Let us know whether you want your proof or edit in US, AU/NZ or UK English. We’re currently in training to become more familiar with the particular rules of Canadian English. Watch this space.


This is a final polish to catch things like:

  • formatting glitches
  • typos
  • spelling or punctuation mistakes
  • missing words
  • missing or reversed quote marks

By this point, all your editing should be done. This process is just to zap any last straggling mistakes which have survived all your drafts and made it to the finish line.

Line-editing service

The line-editing service is ideal for you if you are comfortable with the shape of your novel, and you’re committed to your characters’ reactions as the events of your novel unfold. You’re not looking for any more structural or high-level commentary on your story. You simply want the best possible delivery.

Our line-editing service combines two functions. We address the prose itself:

  • grammar and punctuation
  • paragraphing conventions (particularly where dialogue is concerned)
  • word choice
  • succinctness
  • repeated words in close proximity
  • other repetitions and redundancies
  • sentence structure variation

We’ll also comment upon (or write in easy solutions) to story-focused matters, such as:

  • consistency issues (red scarf on page 22, green scarf on 24)
  • excessive recap of information already revealed to the reader
  • over-long (or abrupt) scenes
  • dialogue voice, pacing and realism
  • pacing and flow (looking particularly at disproportionate detail)
  • successful delivery of foreshadows and/or red herrings

With your line edit, you also receive:

  • A ‘clean’ copy of the edited document, which shows you how the MS looks if all the tracked changes are accepted.
  • The chapter summary, which sets out key events and provides a commentary on any issues that we suggest you look at a little more closely.

Your clean copy doesn’t commit you to anything. Think of it as a cross-referencing document to make it easier to see the result of the tracked changes. Most clients find it helpful to use their clean copy as a template for their next draft.

The Editorial Assessment (Developmental Edit)

The editorial assessment is a critique document that covers the broader facets of your manuscript. These include:

  • Plot
  • Character
  • Pacing and flow
  • Perspective management
  • Plausibility and suspension of disbelief
  • Dialogue: format and content
  • Recurring issues of grammar or punctuation

We will provide you with a critique of the shape and standard of the overall story and its component parts. Where problems are identified, we will explain why we feel that an adjustment is called for, and set out a series of options for addressing the issue. We may provide appendices with examples of how particular writing issues can be addressed so that you have a concrete frame of reference.

This document can be anywhere between 20 and 50 pages, depending upon the number of issues we’ve addressed, and how many samples from your original document we’ve copied across for demonstration purposes.

The Full Critique

With the full critique, you receive:

  • The editorial assessment
  • The line edit
  • A chapter summary
  • The ‘clean’ copy showing how the manuscript would look if all the recommended tracked changes were to be made.

You can choose whether you want the entire package delivered together, or whether you prefer to receive the editorial assessment first, and then return for the line-editing process. Whichever your preference, payments will be arranged to ensure that your discounted rate is applied.

Cultural Edit

This for non-British writers who have British characters or settings. While enjoying your story, we’ll use the annotation feature of Word/LibreOffice/Google Docs to show you if and where your Anglicisation has gone a bit awry.  We’ll help you to be authentic. Examples of where it can all go wrong:

  • Settings and environment (road layout; topography; housing)
  • Brands (Vauxhall rather than Opus; Walkers crisps, not Lays chips)
  • Demography  (Car makes appropriate to income)
  • Legal and social culture (driving on the left-hand side of the road; legal drinking age, National Insurance numbers instead of SSNs, etc)
  • Dialect, accent and slang

The cultural edit will not include proofing or line-editing. We may comment on parts of your story which we particularly enjoy (positive feedback is good for the soul) but we’re purely looking to keep your manuscript authentic. Charges vary depending upon the length of the manuscript and how quickly you want it culturally proofed. Feel free to email us for details.

Contact us to discuss services or samples: