Join the nearly 300 serious creative writers who have worked with me—award-winning author Joan Dempsey—one-on-one over the past several years.

My feedback will help you not only with your current writing project, but with every future manuscript. Get a detailed, written critique and specific guidance on how to improve your work. Master the skills you need to take your writing to the next level.

  • I look forward to getting to know you and your writing!


I'm so sorry to disappoint, but my schedule is currently booked solid through the end of October and I will be on hiatus after that, likely through the end of the year (got a novel to write, don'tcha know!).

I am not providing any feedback at this time.

Why Get Feedback?

You're not certain you're on the right track and need guidance before you continue.

You've gotten conflicting feedback and need another, professional opinion.

You've done all you can and need to know what still needs to be revised.

You think you're ready to submit to agents or publishers but want to be 100% sure.

Click Here to Discover the Type of Feedback You'll Receive

Here's What You'll Receive

  1. Detailed margin notes throughout your manuscript that identify what’s working and what’s not.
  2. Suggestions about big picture issues like the authenticity and consistency of the narrative voice, the plot, theme and story, structure, setting, characterization, point of view, and more (applies to both fiction and non-fiction).
  3. An assessment of your writing “tics” or habits, with suggestions for avoiding them in the next draft.
  4. Sentence-level suggestions for cutting out unnecessary words that clutter your prose, and guidance for using those suggestions.

Why Work With Joan?

One of "5 More Writers Over 50" to Watch (Poets & Writers)

This Is How It Begins, A Novel by Joan Dempsey

Independent Publisher Awards Bronze Medalist, 2018

Lambda Literary Award Finalist, 2018

Sarton Women's Book Award Finalist, 2018

Foreword Indies 2017 Book of the Year Award Finalist

Poets & Writers Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award Winner, 2017

  • Terrific edits, Joan! Now I can finally see where I’m overwriting and underwriting. I know just where to streamline and where to amplify, which is such a relief; you helped me find the confidence I needed to keep writing. What more could an aspiring crime thriller novelist ask for? Thanks again.  —Maureen C. Berry, author of the forthcoming memoir 'Hurricanes, Handcuffs, Pepper Spray & Scrambled Eggs'
  • I sought you out because I could no longer identify which details in my manuscript might benefit from an additional look – I was too close to it. Now I can see sentence level opportunities for improvement as well as thematic gaps I can fill in. My work is stronger on every level! Shannon Huffman Polson, author of 'North of Hope'
  • Thanks for your excellent help, Joan! I appreciate how you saw some of the intention behind my piece while at the same time giving me a few specific points on which I can improve. I will absolutely use those suggestions as I revise the rest of the manuscript. —Tim Queeney, author of 'George in London'
  • Now I can see Katie Reeves and the Dragon’s Heart through fresh eyes, more like a reader than a writer – just what I needed. I’ve also figured out one point of view issue that was troubling me, so now I can fix that in the rest of the manuscript. —S.K. Lamont, author of the forthcoming novel 'Katie Reeves and the Dragon's Heart'
  • Joan helps clarify your prose without taking away your ‘voice’ and coaches you to be the best writer you can be. When I thought I couldn’t go on, Joan helped me see ways to further enrich my writing and helped me achieve my goal. —Dr. Pardis Mahdavi, author of 'From Trafficking to Terror' and 'Passionate Uprisings: Iran's Sexual Revolution'
  • Working with Joan Dempsey is a writer’s dream. She shows you how to revise your work and is thorough in her editing. Joan gives you the necessary tools to write with confidence. She is easy to work with and I know I will be consulting with her again. —Cheryl Blaydon, author of 'The Heart of Stone' and 'Beyond the Ledge'
  • Joan's one of the very few people to whom I always turn to read my work in its early stages, because she approaches writing not only with a rare intelligence and insight, but also with a tremendous compassion and integrity. —Matthew Goodman, 'New York Times' bestselling author of 'Eighty Days'
Read What Other Writers Say About Working with Joan
Cheryl Abney

As a student and editing client of Joan Dempsey, I have always been appreciative and fully satisfied as the recipient of her knowledge, expertise, and dedication. Applying her teachings, my short stories were selected two years in a row (2016, 2017) for the Florida Writers Association Collection. I respectfully credit and thank Joan for sharing her ability to cut and polish manuscripts, create great dialogue, and produce quality work. I highly recommend Joan Dempsey as a mentor to help aspiring authors produce publishable writing pieces. I will always be in her debt.

Cheryl Abney
Diana Rigor

I recommend Joan Dempsey's writing courses to any writer wanting to better their craft. Designed for adult learners, her lessons and exercises are directly applicable to improving your writing today. As an instructor, Joan is present and active. Her online revision courses were well worth my time and money. They have been the best investment in strengthening my writing craft.

Diana Rigor
Elena Schwolsky-Fitch

Working with Joan Dempsey, both in an online class and receiving individual editing feedback, has been invaluable for me. I was able to take a writing project that had been sitting dormant for several years off the shelf and look at it with fresh eyes and begin a whole new revision. The process of revising enabled me to dig deeper into the narrative and complete new chapters. And the individual editing feedback I received from Joan was sharp, perceptive and encouraging. I am now almost finished with the revision of what is now a complete manuscript that has grown from a project I had almost tossed away in frustration. I can’t say enough about the value of this kind of support to a self-doubting but determined writer!

Elena Schwolsky-Fitch
Elizabeth De Wolfe, PhD

There can be too much of a good thing! Joan showed me how an overabundance of detail can bog down my narrative. Thanks to her feedback, my chapters have become leaner and meaner—I've learned how to resist research fact overload and now my narrative has more energy and excitement.

Elizabeth De Wolfe, PhD
Lynne Marino

Joan’s insights and advice about the process of writing proved to be invaluable. I walked away with concrete, helpful suggestions about my manuscript and a sense of new direction. Learning from Joan was easy, too—she’s fun and organized. I now feel better equipped to appraise my own writing in a more objective manner.

Lynne Marino
Frances Barrett-Reed

One of Joan’s outstanding skills is she cuts to the heart of the issues in one’s writing but does it in such a way that inspires and empowers you to get it right. For instance, I didn’t know until I hired Joan that my characters were flat and sounded exactly alike! Joan helped me breathe life into my people by pointing out how each individual can be recognized by their speech patterns, and how written dialogue is different, and needs to be sharper, than the normal spoken word. Strong dialogue, along with her other suggestions for character development, helped me make huge improvements to my novel. Joan’s input and advice has made me a far better writer. If you want an editor who is honest, superb at her job, and kind as well, I unhesitatingly recommend Joan. She’s the best!

Frances Barrett-Reed
Lillianne Milgrom

Joan’s thoughtful and insightful editing challenged me and encouraged me to push myself even further. One thing that has already changed now that Joan’s got my back is my willingness to try things out. I appreciate the genuine nature of our collaboration and the fact that Joan has created a safe environment for me as a writer. She has given me a priceless gift—validation.

Lillianne Milgrom

How the Feedback Process Works

  1. Sign up. Scroll down and click on the green button below to sign up and pay to secure time in my schedule, which is first come, first served (I'll do everything possible to accommodate your schedule).
  2. Check your email. I will send a message with complete details about next steps, including questions about any specific areas you'd like me to focus on, your preferred time frame, and how to send me your pages.
  3. Relax while I read your work. Once finished, I will email your feedback, which is written using the track changes feature in Word or Pages. (NOTE: You will need to use track changes, or be willing and able to learn how to use them—I can provide links to online instructions, but can't coach you.)
  4. You and I will discuss the feedback via email.


Please read through the FAQs below before signing up. Thanks!

The Cost

$5.50 per page*

*Formatted as follows:

8.5" x 11" or A4 page, double-spaced, 1-inch margins, 12-point Times New Roman font.

You're welcome to send 10-pages, your full manuscript, or any number of pages in between.


I hired Joan to read 100 pages, and my advice to anyone thinking about it is to go for it! Joan not only picked up some habits I didn’t know I had, she looked at the whole picture, noted the strengths and weaknesses she saw, and most importantly SHOWED ME THE WAY FORWARD! I’m excited to revise this book, which I had thought was a) finished, and b) not very good. Thank you, Joan.

- Ann Dibble

Frequently Asked Questions


Q: How many pages can I submit and what genre of writing do you accept?

You're welcome to send as few as 5-pages, your full manuscript, or any number of pages in between. I am happy to work with you on the following:

—Individual short stories

—Fiction collections

—Novels, including literary, middle grade, young adult and genre fiction


—Individual essays

—Essay collections

—Book-length creative non-fiction


I do not have sufficient expertise to work on:







—Picture books

If you don't see your work reflected in any of the categories shown above, have no fear! Simply get in touch and let me know what you're up to so you can determine whether I'm the right developmental editor for what you'd like to accomplish.

Q: What format does the feedback come in?

I use the "track changes" feature in both Word and Pages, so you're welcome to send your manuscript in either program. NOTE that you will need to be familiar with track changes, or be willing and able to learn how to use them—I can provide links to online instructions but can't coach you through how to use them. If you don't think you can manage track changes, then I'm probably not the best fit for you.

I will send your feedback to you as an email attachment.

Q: Can you review the changes I've made after I've applied your feedback?

I'm happy to exchange emails to answer any questions you have about the feedback I shared. If, however, you want me to review your work a second time after you've revised it based on my feedback, you'll need to sign up again and pay the same per page rate of $4.50. The reason for this is that it takes the same amount of time for me to review the work again as it did the first time around; in fact, it often takes longer because I'll need to compare the revision to the first draft you sent. When in doubt, just ask me what's possible and I'll let you know.

Q: When can I expect to receive my feedback?

I always do my best to accommodate your schedule, and usually that's possible. I don't take on more work than I can manage, but please note that I'm in high demand, so my schedule is nearly always jam-packed.

When you sign up, I'll ask you to let me know your preferred time-frame, and I'll let you know how that works with my schedule. So far (knock on wood), I've been able to satisfy most preferred deadlines.

Q: What are your credentials?

I love working with writers!

For more than ten years now I have worked with a wide variety of writers on all kinds of projects. I focus on developmental editing, which means I read your work with an eye toward what's working well and what can be improved, and provide you with guidance about what you need to learn or do to take your writing to the next level. I make both big picture and sentence-level suggestions.

Here's my official bio:

Winner of the 2017 Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award from Poets & Writers and named by "Poets & Writers" magazine as one of "5 more writers over 50" to watch, Joan Dempsey is the author of the novel, This Is How It Begins, which won a bronze medal for literary fiction in the Independent Publisher Book Awards (IPPY) and was shortlisted for the 2018 Lambda Literary Award, the 2017 Foreword Reviews Book of the Year Award and the 2018 Sarton Women's Book Award. She holds advanced degrees in fiction and creative writing pedagogy from Antioch University Los Angeles.

You can read more details about me here.

Q: Do I have to pay up front? What if I don't know how many pages I have?

Yes, I do require you to pay up front.

The reason for this is that I'm in high demand and want to make sure I reserve time in my schedule for the writers who truly want to work with me. By paying in advance, you're making a commitment to both me and yourself that we will work together. That way I don't find myself with gaps in my schedule that could have gone to another writer.

The cost is $5.50 per page (8.5" x 11" or A4 page, double-spaced, 1-inch margins, 12-point Times New Roman Font).

If you don't know exactly how many pages you have, that's okay. Estimate as best you can—if you end up sending fewer pages, I'll either reimburse you or give you credit for future pages (your choice), and if you end up sending more pages, you can simply pay the difference when you send your work.

The sign up form allows you to choose the number of pages.

Q: What types of payment do you accept?

You can pay right here with a credit card or PayPal.

If you'd prefer to send a check, you're welcome to do that, but please email me first to alert me to the number of pages you'll be paying for.

Make your check payable to Joan Dempsey, and send it to:

14 Dougherty Road

New Gloucester, ME 04260-5028

Q: Are you a copy editor or proofreader?

I am neither a copy editor nor a proofreader, so I'm not the right person for helping you polish your draft so it's perfectly free of typos, grammatical errors and the like.

I focus on what's called developmental editing, which means I read your work with an eye toward what's working well and what can be improved, and provide you with guidance about what you need to learn or do to take your writing to the next level. I make both big picture and sentence-level suggestions.

If you need a copy editor or a proofreader, let me know and I can make some recommendations.

Have more questions?


Don't Miss Out!

I'd love to work with you! My time, however, is extremely limited and I always have a long waiting list, so if you'd like me to read your writing, sign up today to secure your time in my schedule. Getting feedback on your writing will help you not only with your current manuscript, but with every word you write in the future. And don't forget, it only costs $5.50 per page.

GREAT! SIGN ME UP!I Don't Want to Miss Out