Hi, I’m Sarah.
If you want your writing to have the best chance possible, great storytelling matters. Evocative, compelling writing resonates with readers, which inspires them to share your work with others.
You could read a dozen (or more!) writing handbooks and try to understand what your writing strengths and weaknesses are, and then figure out how to revise accordingly. Or you could hire me. I go beyond what you can learn from books, writers’ workshops, courses or even retreats, because my sole focus is on you and your work.
I can help you figure out which story you’re telling, find the most compelling structure, and teach you techniques to bring your story to life in the reader’s mind and heart.
I create feedback tailored to your specific needs, along with guidance to help you write effectively and self-edit with clarity, so that your story and writing can stand out from the crowd.
My approach is equal parts story and strategy, magic and logic, backed up by more than two decades of experience.
Over the past 25 years, I’ve developed a storytelling toolkit that includes techniques from literary nonfiction, journalism, theatre, long and short fiction, screenwriting for television and film, strategic brand storytelling and digital media. I’ve written for organizations from MTV Networks to NASA, and I’ve worked with manuscripts on topics from Buddhist psychiatry to the role of human networks in enterprise agility.
Look around, and if what you see speaks to you, please book a free 30-minute consultation to discuss your project.
Recent and Upcoming Client Books
I work with:
- Academics, journalists and subject-matter experts writing a commercial nonfiction book
- Authors writing about non-duality
- Debut or career authors writing memoir, narrative nonfiction, or humor/pop culture
- Those writing a nonfiction book proposal
- Those in the process of querying agents
- Those who desires more creative flow with less screen time
- Need help figuring out which story you’re telling (and how best to tell it)
- Seek deeper-than-usual feedback
- Want to give your manuscript the best chance possible
- Have been told your writing is too dense, corporate, academic or esoteric (this is not a requirement!)
- Thrive from one-on-one attention and personalized feedback
I can help.
- Developmental editing (nonfiction)
- Book proposal consultation / coaching
- Query letter review / coaching
- One-on-one Find Your Flow creativity coaching (mentoring)
- One-on-one writer coaching (mentoring) with monthly page reviews
- Memoir and nonfiction manuscript evaluation
- Hourly consultations (writing, publishing, queries, synopses, book ideas, book proposals, creative flow)
When you’re choosing someone to help you bring your creative vision to life, it’s important to find someone who has not only exceptional writing and editing skills, but also one whose personal style meshes with yours.
Creativity is not an intellectual process. I use the mind to analyze and synthesize information—and then I put it aside, in order to access deeper insights. That flexibility, in turn, requires a dedicated presence practice.
Words are symbols that can be misinterpreted. I’m a tough editor, and I speak directly. I’m also a bit obsessive about how structure, syntax and language impact how your story works.
By working with a limited number of clients at a time, I’m able to focus deeply and offer more astute insights. I treat each project with the complete dedication I give my own writing.
I have a deep personal commitment to integrity. That includes both rigorous honesty and alignment of my words and actions. I value projects that inspire organic, authentic change.
What I Bring to Each Project
I spend longer with each manuscript than most other editors, because that’s how my clients get the best results.
I bring my whole self to each project, and I work with my clients as whole human beings.
I help you discover which story you’re telling, as well as the structure, words, syntax and pacing that makes it outstanding.
I have a personal interest in seeing your work succeed. My service is equally to you, your project and your readers.
I got exactly what I wanted: concrete help and a conceptual kick in the pants. I highly recommend Sarah. She has a big brain, a huge heart, and a precious capacity to tune in. Sarah is a keeper.
“I hired Sarah in a moment of desperation after seeing her name in Jane Friedman’s newsletter. I had already paid for two separate developmental editorial readings, and they had taken me only part of the way through. My pages were still not a real book. I wanted help but felt great trepidation that I could find anyone who could actually help. I came into the initial meeting with clear instructions for Sarah: don’t waste my time.
Sarah got my message loud and clear. When I received her detailed report, I had in front of me a road map of how and where to revise it. Her commentary boosted my confidence about my project and encouraged me to look closely at key technical aspects of my writing such as voice, scene construction, and narrative tension. Sarah marked the manuscript with useful comments that served as trailheads for me to explore and praise for when the words and sentences and scenes worked.”
Author, Love in the Bardo
I would definitely recommend Sarah for developmental editing
"In writing memoir for the first time, I reached out to Sarah to get developmental feedback. I had written academic books before, but I had never written a story and needed a lot of guidance to make sure the story made sense and kept the readers engaged!
I appreciated Sarah’s attention to detail, the resources she provided (links and PDFs of helpful readings), and very specific ideas as to what I could do to improve the manuscript.
I really resonated with the feedback about integrating dialogue into my story. I had never written dialogue before and was wary of misrepresenting what really happened. She encouraged me to look back at text message exchanges I had to really capture a true dialogue. I couldn’t believe how much dialogue I already had just captured on my phone. Putting that in the book was game-changing!
I would definitely recommend Sarah for developmental editing, especially if this is a first book or a first book of its kind. I learned a lot of great tips and strategies for moving forward for future writing as well!
Thank you for your thorough and timely work!"
Corey Seemiller, Ph.D.
She’s intuitive, knowledgeable, funny, whip-smart, thoughtful and genuine.
"I hired Sarah to give me objective feedback on a manuscript that was trying to be too many things—a self-help book, a family memoir and a personal memoir. I had gotten emotionally stuck with it and couldn’t find my way forward. I was also trying to cover a huge time period by jumping around chronologically, like the TV show, This Is Us.
During my free consultation with Sarah, I knew she was the person for me. She’s intuitive, knowledgeable, funny, whip-smart, thoughtful and genuine. Her evaluation was the same way. She sinks deep into your material until she finds what she’s looking for, and has a natural ability, then, to see what the material is trying to be.
My husband was skeptical about the cost. But after reading Sarah’s evaluation, he said, “Wow. I now see why she charges what she does.” What you get for your money is comprehensive, beautifully wrought and presented, and professionally invoiced. Her knowledge of authors and the business of the writing world is extensive, and the quotes, references, articles and links she has at her fingertips are a rich resource for any writer. I learned a lot, am still gleaning from her notes, and I’m so grateful for the pure joy it was to work with her. Sarah is a genuine manuscript whisperer. It’s a gift she has. Do not hesitate to work with her!"
Author, Grief is a Dancer
She is very perceptive and her comments were helpful throughout.
“Sarah did a substantive edit on my book of essays about the changing relationship between humans and landscape. Her edit was extremely useful; she is very perceptive and her comments were helpful throughout. It would be easy to say that I anticipated some of he issues Sarah had with my writing—which is true—but she (thankfully!) showed me how I can improve, all the way along. The breadth and depth of her edit, and a subsequent manuscript review of the revision, helped me understand how writing weaves across all scales.”
Author, Out of Place: Landscape and Liberty
She's a good editor and a good person to boot!
"As a business writer, I hired Sarah because I wanted some help bringing my writing to life. As expected, she did just that--helping me add another dimension to a few flat stories and make my book more dynamic in the process. Sarah brought a refreshing combination of directness and encouragement, helping me tweak what needed editing while maintaining my confidence throughout the process. She's a good editor and a good person to boot!"
Author, Humbler Leadership
If you're looking for a companion who will give you tough but kind editing, Sarah’s your girl!
"The eighth draft of my 60,000 word memoir was complete when I hired Sarah to do a substantive edit. I had already put the seventh draft through another editor’s eyes and had made revisions based on her suggestions. But something was missing. I wasn't compelled to move forward.
Sarah had a gift for getting into my story. I thought I’d incorporated the “show and tell” principle, but Sarah brought me to a whole new level of developing scenes with telling segments as bridges between them. She helped me come out of my very cerebral mind (which is so good at telling) into my feeling landscape (which is better shared through imagery). She helped me see what parts of my story were relevant to the memoir and what parts were good writing but not meant for this showcase.
Once, she told me she was the second toughest editor she knew, and I said, “Great, that’s what I need!” She was serious about the work but light and humorous in her tone. Sarah was more than an editor for me; she became a companion on my journey. If you're looking for a companion who will give you tough but kind editing, Sarah’s your girl!"
Author, Crazy: In Search of a Narrative
I’m so grateful for her gentle editing and for the support and encouragement she gives me still.
“One of Sarah Chauncey’s blogs on Jane Friedman’s weekly newsletter inspired me to reach out to her. I’m a first time author who had benefited from the help of five previous editors, all with different skills and points of view. Sarah was the one who took my manuscript across the finish line. Some editors might have been tempted to suggest major changes, but by this point in the process, Sarah recognized that the manuscript only needed polishing. I think that holding back is equally as important as pushing new ideas. Editing is a tedious task, but the best editors approach the process with sensitivity to the author’s message. It’s always personal and Sarah recognizes that. I’m so grateful for her gentle editing and for the support and encouragement she gives me still. Thank you, Sarah.”
Author, Outside the Gate
I would highly recommend Sarah for your writing project. She put her heart into my book and went above and beyond to give me the feedback I needed
"I hired Sarah Chauncey to do a full manuscript evaluation on a large project I have spent the last six years on. I was too close to see it objectively, and I was really struggling to understand what sections were working, what weren’t, if the structure was sound, and whether the book might be of interest to the audience I was seeking.
I had spent six months trying to find someone who could help me with this, asking friends and colleagues, looking at workshops, and searching the internet. I knew I needed a professional but wasn’t sure even then if I’d get the feedback I was looking for. Then I found an essay in my in-box that Sarah had written. It was in a newsletter I get from another editor. Sarah’s words really spoke to me, so I went to her site, reached out and had an initial conversation to see if we would be a good match for each other.
The feedback I received from Sarah — the editorial letter, the markup, and our follow-up phone call — has been invaluable. It’s exactly what I needed. She delivered just what I asked for — what works, what doesn’t, and great points about the potential audience. But beyond that, she was able to see my idea through a fresh lens and she provided ideas for how I could move forward, what my book could be, and how I could get there. Sarah also provided some insight into my writing that I’d never seen before. She saw qualities of my writing that I’d never noticed and am now eager to focus on.
I would highly recommend Sarah for your writing project. She put her heart into my book and went above and beyond to give me the feedback I needed."
Author, Carpool Confidential
I gained access to not only a wealth of years of knowledge, love of the craft of writing and a high calibre mentor; I got access to a human being who has walked a very long road and does not walk ahead of you.
"I hired Sarah to do a developmental edit on my 270-page memoir/manuscript, then substantive editing on two 5,000-word chapters. I chose Sarah out of 14 editors. It was her kind, patient and generous guidance that convinced me of her commitment and belief in my project that sealed the deal. I was quite impressed with her knowledge but more importantly felt a deep resonance with her.
She challenged me to grow not only as a writer but as a person. That in turn made my writing all the more sincere and authentic, finding a deeper voice for the story. Her combination of humility and professionalism instantly sealed a trusting relationship which, to me, handing over my life to someone on paper, was extremely important. Her honesty and easygoing nature made her approachable for sometimes difficult territory to tread and she was very accessible by phone, email and Skype.
I gained access to not only a wealth of years of knowledge, love of the craft of writing and a high calibre mentor; I got access to a human being who has walked a very long road and does not walk ahead of you. She makes room for people to walk alongside her in awe of the mystery called life."
Author, Natural Light (Friesen, 2023)