Freelance Editing

For self published authors in Canada


Substantive and Copy Editing

As your editor, I cheer you on while providing constructive criticism to push you to publish your best work, every time. Expect detailed, honest feedback written in a complimentary style. Blunt; not mean. I’m your biggest fan!

Services available:

  • Content (Substantive) Editing
  • Copy Editing
  • Proofreading
  • Beta Reading
  • Back Cover Blurb

Fees are tailored to each project. The cleaner the manuscript, the lower the fee. We’ll go back and forth with it until you’re happy. Need help figuring how to get the price down? Just ask. Flexible payment schedules can be negotiated.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Who are you and how long have you been editing?
A: My name is Catherine Muss; no fuss, no Muss! I’ve been freelance writing and editing full time since March of 2015, and switched my focus entirely to editing in early March of 2020; about ten days before Canada closed the borders due to the covid-19 pandemic. I like March; it’s a good month to make big career changes.

My Bachelor of Journalism from Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson University) was hard won in 2006, but I found that the behind-the-scenes components of the field were more attractive than reporting. In the decade between graduation and full-time freelancing I worked at a not-for-profit community centre leading child and youth programming; ran the office for a small- to medium-sized (SMB) business grant-writing company; took an internship as an office administrator for Canada’s *best literary magazine, The New Quarterly. (*I’m entirely biased. I volunteered in the office and at large for over 15 years, played a small role with the organizing committee of TNQ + co.’s Wild Writers Literary Festival for a few years, and womaned the front desk of the festival for the first eight years of its existence. Biased, but I’m also not wrong.). And, I have done a lot of house- and pet-sitting.

The first five years of my freelancing career focused on small business marketing writing, e.g. website content and blogging for companies that included STEM, health & wellness, pet boarding, food services, marketing, and youth sports. During those years, my book editing started with one project in the first year and grew steadily until by the end of 2019 I had as much editing as writing on my work list.

Additional education include successful completion of online courses in technical writing, social media for business, basic HTML, romance novel writing, and a grammar refresher; alas with that latter, I can tell you what’s wrong and provide you with a variety of ways to fix it, but I still have to ask Google to help me explain to you why your work is grammatically incorrect, because at this point in my life I recognize that the grammar I was taught was strictly from a single perspective. I’m not a stickler for grammar rules at large, I’m a stickler for consistency in the individual document and in supporting the writing voice. Which means I don’t edit according to my grammar preferences, I edit to those of the client.

I’m a cat person who likes dogs, I drink tea and not coffee, choose dark chocolate over milk, am a big fan of fandom conventions, and have no regrets on the thousands of dollars I’ve spent attending live music events. My professional life experience is varied, creating a broad knowledge base on a great number of topics to the benefit of my clients and their varied writing topics. AND you benefit from my journalist-research superpowers.

Pleased to meet you!

Q: Where do we start?
A: After you get in contact with me, I will request details of your manuscript: genre, brief synopsis, total word count, and two 1000-word samples: one that you feel represents your strongest writing and one that you feel is your weakest within the piece. Not all editors and writers are a good match, so it is critical to your success that I receive an honest sample of your work. If I feel that I am the right editor for your manuscript, I will reply with a proposed start date, quote and contract and further directions.

Q: How soon can we start?
A: I’m often booked 8 to 12 weeks in advance; it’s never too early to reach out. Cancellations do happen, however, so reach out no matter your timeline.

Q: How long will it take you to edit my piece?
A: That is unique to each manuscript and each client. Considering an average manuscript of 50,000 to 90,000 words, I aim to have your first round of edits returned to you within 8 weeks of our start date because it may take me that long to go through it thoroughly, research solutions to challenges within the piece, and because in order to pay the bills on time I often work on two to three projects that are at different stages simultaneously. After that, it depends on how quickly you get back to me with the next draft. We will go back and forth until you’re happy with your manuscript. I’ve had projects complete within a few weeks, and I’ve had others stretch out over a year at the client’s preference. We can customize the timeline to your needs — I respect that most of my clients have full time jobs and families. Retirees are even busier!

Q: How does payment work?
A: Fifty percent of my fee is due within 15 days of the date I return the first round of content or copy editing to you. I will not continue to work on the draft until that initial fifty percent is paid in full. Final payment is due within 15 days of the date you sign off on the project entirely. For all other services, full payment is due within 15 days of the date I return the file to you. Don’t panic, remember that flexible payment schedules are available upon request, if you choose to use one it just means your project may take longer to complete, and that’s okay.

Q: What can I expect from your editing services?
A: I work in MS Word with Comments and Track Changes turned on so that you can see everything I’ve done. Conference calls, via video or phone, are available at my discretion unless otherwise agreed upon in our contract, (a.k.a. that will cost more). I largely leave the writing up to you, my comments tend to be long because I like to provide an example of how you could rework something. I’ll also explain why I feel a concept might not be working, when something might be taken unintentionally offensively, what page another character wore that exact same outfit, where you’ve interchanged tenses, ask you when the characters dropped hands, discuss why your reader may not trust your wisest character, demonstrate how your vocabulary is not suitable for the age group you’re aiming for, and point out plot holes. I’m also likely to mention that I’m never eating chips and salsa while reading your battle scenes ever again, comment merely with “swoon” repeatedly, and highlight sections that particularly jump out at me as brilliant.

Also, and this is the one that causes the most rewrites: I will push you to write your entire manuscript consistently to be your best. I have been known to highlight a section as your strongest work, and then highlight all other sections (in a different colour, of course!) that fail to compare to the high caliber of writing and storytelling that you’ve set for yourself, and insist that you bring each weaker section up to the same level. I have been known to say; “I can tell you felt like this scene was needed but didn’t feel like writing it.”
I really am your biggest fan. I want you to be so proud of your work that your cheeks hurt from smiling every time you think about it!

Q: Can I get a sample of your editing before committing to the contract?
A: Absolutely! Just like I want to be sure we’ll be a good fit, I want you to feel the same. Once I’ve sent you the contract, feel free to submit your first chapter for a complimentary light content or copy edit.

And now, a few words from my clients:

“Thank you for everything Catherine!!! It’s been so fun to work with you, and none of this would have been possible without you 🙂 Can’t wait to have the book in my hands, I will be crying so many tears of joy!”

Ella moore author of elements of the earth

“I would hire Catherine Muss again in a heartbeat!
Best beta reader on the planet.”

paul langan author of Tales of Opera Waterloo County/Region 1885-2021

“Catherine’s attention to detail and her curious nature are characteristics that make a good editor.
Her efforts saved me from some embarrassing mistakes and in doing so made me look better than I am. What more could you ask of an editor?”

bob burtt

“Thank you for your patience while editing each of my books. You went far beyond being an editor, you taught me how to write. You showed kindness, tolerance, a gentle tenacity, and offered endless encouragements when guiding me through this process. You have enabled me to write my stories (memoirs), that I will be able to pass on to the future generations of my family.” 

beverley burman, personal memoirist

“Thank you for finding things I never could, and for all the little extras you’ve done for me. I’ve learned a lot working with you. Your edits, suggestions and comments have strengthened the story to a point that I couldn’t have gotten to on my own.”

telma rocha author of from far and wide

With a hefty story, from a first-time author, thank you for putting up with me over our time working together. I always looked forward to receiving emails when they came from you. Each time another editing draft was completed, I couldn’t wait to dive back in and read your thoughts and recommendations on how to make my story even better.

Throughout this process, I was glad to hear I inspired you to pick up a manga in order for you to get a better understanding of the style and atmosphere of which I chose to tell my story. There are pages beyond pages I could write about how wonderful you have been, but unfortunately, I need to keep this short and sweet. Without you, I would not be where I am today. A million times, thank you!

Lindsey-anne pontes author of let me save you

“What a pleasure it’s been to work with you. I’ve learned so much about the writing craft, about pausing and reflecting, about letting elements go, about laughing at my own goofs, about looking dispassionately at my own work and understanding editing as ESSENTIAL to a finished work. Thank you for the work you’ve done to polish my manuscript.”

Jockie Loomer-Kruger author of Until The Day We Die, A Novel

“This is outstanding Catherine.
I almost want to go out and buy the damn thing myself.
Your masterful job on the back cover copy of my novel ‘The Devil’s Portrait’ drew the reader in immediately and the book shop owners loved it, passing along the note that the cover is what prompted many of their customers to buy it. Cheers.”

G.S. Marriott, author of the devil’s portrait

“I just want to say…I love you!”

Tara Mondou, author of Little Girl In The Mirror: Cathy’s Story

“I enjoyed the experience. So much so, that I’m wondering how your schedule is looking…”

DaryL J Ball, author of The Name Of The Bear

“You have given me such a boost! I’ve been on cloud nine. It makes me feel good that my book touches you, that’s what I’m hoping others will feel. Your support and encouragement mean so much. I’m glad you’re on this journey with me.”

 Debby Spitzig, curator of
Inspiring Birth Stories: Letters of Encouragement, Support & Love

Interested in working with me? Use the form below to send me an email using the form below. I will reply back as soon as possible (usually within 24 hours Monday through Friday).