Manuscript Isn’t Selling?

The thing I hear most often at writing conferences is the following : I’ve edited and edited. Worked and worked. And I still can’t get an agent or publisher interested in my Manuscript.

So, I paired up with MAKEREADY DESIGNS/QUIRKS & COMMAS to offer the following:

  1. A free read of chapter one (no more than 4k) – at this point, we can both decide if I’m a good fit for your story. I’ll happily pass on 2-5 paragraphs of notes without charge. If I don’t think I can help you with the MS, I’ll let you know.
  2. If you’d like me to help you know why your MS isn’t selling, and what you could do to make your story more marketable, I’ll read your manuscript and write up an edit letter – similar to what you’d get from an acquisitions editor when your novel sells. This is generally 2-5 pages long, depending on the issues found.
  3. After you’ve read over my notes, if you have other questions, I’d be happy to work those out with you. If you’d like help finding comp titles, I’m happy to help with that once we’re finished.
  4. If you need query letter help, cost varies from 30.00 (one edit pass) to 90.00 (if you want me to write the whole thing).


What sets us apart?

Our focus not only on storyline but marketability.

FREE first chapter and $50.00 per 10,000 words after.


Here’s what I bring to the table:

  1. My obsessive watching of Publisher’s Marketplace, outlining recent sales.
  2. Over a year of interning with a large, reputable literary agency.
  3. Time spent with content, line, and copy editors from five different publishing houses.
  4. Seven years working as a published author.
  5. Years of working as mentors for numerous writing conferences, including drafting, editing, and query workshops.
  6. A willingness to discuss my notes with the author when I’m finished with their manuscript and have passed along my notes.


To schedule a read, please email me at jolenebperry (at) gmail (dot) com

I’ll ask you for your first chapter, send you notes, and then you and I will decide if I’m a good fit for you. What’s the purpose of this? If I don’t think I can help, I don’t want to read your book. On the flipside, if you’re not sure about me, my advice won’t help you either.

Happy Writing!
~ Jo

How to be Your own Beta-Reader

I’d like to begin this post by contradicting myself – YOU NEED BETA READERS WHO ARE NOT YOURSELF. But really, there are a few things you can do to be a more effective self-editor in early editing rounds – big picture stuff.

  1. You have to be willing to set the MS aside for long enough that the words feel new. For me, this is about 3 months, IF I’ve seriously worked on at least one other project during that time.
  2. Pretend you’re reading for someone else. No in-text notes, just overall ideas and thoughts at the end. (Remember, we’re talking early edit rounds here).
  3. Read the MS on something like a kindle. Something that would make it super annoying to fix anything, or impossible to fix.
  4. Do your best to read in one day, maybe two.
  5. I like to make ONE SENTENCE notes and some highlights on the kindle text, but you really just want to get through the entire novel so you have a solid big picture idea of what’s missing or needs to be re-arranged. So, the below is from a book I’m working on now. My kindle notes are hard to decipher b/c I don’t fix typos, and I opened the MS, so I’d know what chapter I’m in. (I like to be able to check off chapters). And then in blue, I have notes that are bigger than the chapter. The chapter notes, I can strike through, but I leave the blue notes to check over at the end. Often, those blue note things lead to questions that I ask my first reader.Screen Shot 2017-06-21 at 6.59.16 AM
  6. When your notes are all together, read them over before digging in. You might take a day or two off to really think about your notes before diving in.
  7. If you haven’t blurbed your book yet, do it NOW. (Like a query letter  – something similar to what you’d read on the back of a book at the bookstore).
  8. Write your theme or main idea. Maybe the reason you wrote the novel. Maybe the idea you hope people will walk away with.
  9. Write how you want your reader to feel at the end.
  10. Write how your MC feels at the end of the novel.
  11. Look back over the notes you took, and add to them after writing up those three things. Make sure your story is tight (revolves around that blurb/theme/idea/feels)
  12. Put your notes to use in your MS.
  13. NOW send to someone else 🙂

While I’m a HUGE believer in good readers, I also believe that sometimes we get off track from what we want our story to be. If I’m able to force myself to spend time away from my book, I’m able to keep my stories closer to what I want them to be, and so when I get notes back from other readers, I can sift through them more easily.

Sometimes our readers come back with – “I don’t like how your MC did X.”

And you think,, “But she has to do X. Oh, well…” And you take out that thing b/c someone didn’t like it.

When in reality, you maybe just needed to bring your reader to the point where it makes sense that your character would do X. THIS is the exact reason that I try to do the above with every story. When I’ve done a read myself, and written up those few extras (#6-9), notes from other readers are so much more valuable, and my story remains my story.

Happy Reading!

~ Jo


A Little Late for an Intro.

img_9581Yeah, it’s a little late for an intro,  but I’ve rarely been good at following rules.

I grew up with the kind of dad who used a lighter to detect possible gas leaks in gas lines. A dad who said things like, “They let electricians do it! Of course you can wire your house!”

Because of this line of thinking, and my mother’s ENDLESS patience and support, I competitively show-jumped, I went to college, I became a teacher, I tried new things. Every year. At least one. Because of my parents, I drew plans for a house, because hey, they let architects do it! And then twice (because much like childbirth, you forget the pain) we built two houses starting with the plans, all the way to the final bits of paint on the walls. And there is nothing like building your own home.

But when it came to thing that I wanted to do more than anything else, that thing that felt so unattainable, I put off trying. I put it off by switching away from an English major in college. By keeping only a moderate journal. By quashing the idea as soon as it formed.

And then blogging became a thing. A big thing. Everyone had a blog! Even stay at home moms like me! And it was a struggle learning to stay home with the same single, small person every day after herding classrooms of middle and high school students. So I began to blog. The first ones were clunky, but they got better, more succinct. The writing came easier. Sharing small stories about our day became easier. That brilliant part of storytelling where some tidbit from the beginning, comes back around in the end… That got easier too.

So, one day I’m playing my guitar (guitarists do it!) and I had this idea for a story. We were feeling particularly broke at the time (student loans – almost everyone does it!) and driving up the road when I mentioned having this idea for a scene or story, and my husband said, “Why don’t you write that down? Just for fun?”

He had no idea what he would start with those few words.

I’ve been seriously writing close to ten years, worked with five publishers, done literary internships, switched agents, helped with writing conferences, attended many more, seen a few successes and many failures. Over thirty novels later, I’ve written a few stories.

Happy Writing!

~ Jo