Academic Editing - Stacks of books

Academic editing

Research and writing make your manuscript good. Editing makes your manuscript great.

You’re working on your next big writing project.

Maybe it’s your tenure book and you need a meticulously researched monograph placed with a top press, maybe it’s a journal article you want to make a big impact, or maybe it’s your second (or fifth) book and you’re looking to shake things up and get a wider public audience.

You have a great idea, but you’re stuck. The writing isn’t flowing, you’ve gotten conflicting feedback, you’ve read the same sentences so many times your eyes are blurry, the citations are a mess, and you forgot what your point was fifty pages (and six months) ago.

Our team of professional academic editors is here to help

"Ideas on Fire’s advice to maintain rather than resolve the tensions embodied by the fraught position of my research subjects [Asian American fashion bloggers] helped to draw out my book’s critical framework and gave me important direction for revising and re-organizing chapters. They are wonderful readers who offer exactly the right amount of critical feedback and positive nudging forward."

Minh-Ha T. Pham wearing a blue sleeveless shirt

— Minh-Ha T. Pham, author of Asians Wear Clothes on the Internet: Race, Gender, and the Work of Personal Style Blogging

"Working with Ideas on Fire was an oasis, an opportunity to receive affirming, consistent, and constructive feedback on my writing from a knowledgable but impartial source. I trust my scholarly voice more consistently, have discarded the perfectionism that comes with long writing projects, and have more confidence with my capacity as a writer and thinker from their edits."

Ronak Kapadia wearing a black button-down shirt, in front of bright green leaves

— Ronak K. Kapadia, author of Insurgent Aesthetics: Security and the Queer Life of the Forever War

What can professional editing do for your manuscript?


It ensures you build a fierce argument and compelling storytelling arc that speaks to your specific readers​


It helps you find and woo the publisher who is already looking for your fantastic book or article​


It enables your work to make an impact that reverberates through scholarly and public communities​

Inderpal Grewal wearing a pink shirt and glasses

“Working with Ideas on Fire was terrific. They were incisive and clear, and could identify strengths and weaknesses in my manuscript. The book got much better because of their editing and very helpful comments. I was able to trust their judgement and comments and know that they understood the project and was making it better.”

— Inderpal Grewal, author of Saving the Security State: Exceptional Citizens in Twenty-First Century America

Types of editing



Book Proposal Editing

What: Developmental editing (editing of content) and copyediting (editing of writing) of your proposal draft.

You get page-by-page, in-text edits on your proposal as well as a publisher research report identifying 5 academic presses that we recommend you pitch your book to, complete with each press’s areas/lists of acquisition, submission requirements, relevant series, and review process.

When: Before you submit the proposal to publishers

Cost: USD $795 flat fee



Manuscript Review

For book manuscripts only

What: We read through your book manuscript (or unrevised dissertation) and deliver a manuscript review report that includes publication potential; big-picture revision advice about narrative arc, argument, structure, and scholarly engagement; and revision advice for each chapter.

Also includes a publisher research report identifying 5 academic presses that we recommend you pitch your book to, complete with each press’s areas/lists of acquisition, submission requirements, relevant series, and review process.

When: Before you submit the full manuscript to publishers

Cost: USD $1295 flat fee


Developmental Editing

What: Big picture-editing of your content—argument, analysis, organization/flow, engagement with sources, and authorial tone. Developmental editing helps you foreground your argument and assemble all the pieces in a clear narrative arc. You get in-text edits on the manuscript as well as an editorial report addressing the manuscript’s strengths and areas for improvement.

When: When you’re still hammering out the manuscript content. This can happen before you submit the manuscript to a publisher or after you’re received reader reports and want help implementing them.

Cost: USD $0.08 per word





What: Nitty-gritty editing of your writing—sentence structure, grammar, punctuation, consistency, typos, and citation formatting. Copyediting helps you polish a draft to ensure your ideas are what shine. You get page-by-page, in-text edits on the manuscript and a style sheet.

When: After you’ve finished the content. Copyediting can happen before you’ve secured a publisher contract (when you’re creating a full draft to submit) or after (when you’re polishing the final manuscript for production).

Cost: USD $0.07 per word



What: Final review of your typeset page proofs before they get printed. We read through your book or journal article multiple times for typos, formatting errors, citations, and inaccuracies. (If you’re still working with Microsoft Word, you’re at the copyediting stage not the proofreading stage.)

When: Last stage of the publishing process, when you receive proofs from your publisher. For books, proofreading happens at the same time the index is being written (see more on indexing here).

Cost: USD $6.00 per page

Many of our clients want more than one of these editing types, and we are happy to work with you over the various stages of your manuscript’s preparation.

"Before working with Ideas on Fire I felt good about my project but knew it needed the keen eye of outside readers who really had time to consider its merits and weaknesses. After getting developmental editing by Ideas on Fire, I feel much more confident about my project. The questions, suggestions, and probes are so helpful that I feel a sense of buoyancy about my project. I have more direction and clarity."

Shanté Paradigm Smalls wearing a grey shirt and blue glasses

— Shanté Paradigm Smalls, author of Hip Hop Heresies: Queer Aesthetics in New York City

"Previously, the managing editor and editorial board members of Catalyst copyedited the manuscripts in our journal. It was time-consuming and we were very excited to work with Ideas on Fire, which was recommended by a board member.Working with the group was straightforward and hassle-free. We are extremely happy with the results of our joint effort and look forward to working with Ideas on Fire on future issues."

Cristina Visperas wearing a white button-down shirt in front of trees

— Cristina Visperas, managing editor of the journal Catalyst: Feminism, Theory, Technoscience

Meet your editors

Cathy Hannabach wearing a black shirt, teal earrings, and teal glasses

Cathy Hannabach

Developmental editor and copyeditor

Summer McDonald wearing a blue blazer and button-down shirt

Summer McDonald

Developmental editor

Shazia Iftkhar wearing a green shirt and glasses in front of a brick wall

Shazia Iftkhar

Developmental editor

Morgan Genevieve Blue wearing a black blazer and red shirt

Morgan Genevieve Blue

Developmental editor

Emma Warnken Johnson wearing a beige sweater and glasses

Emma Warnken Johnson

Developmental editor and copyeditor

Michelle Velasquez-Potts wearing a black shirt

Michelle Velasquez-Potts

Press researcher

Laura Poole wearing purple glasses and a red shirt

Laura Poole


Rachel Fudge wearing a black shirt and glasses, in front of green trees

Rachel Fudge


Tala Khanmalek wearing a purple blazer

“I can’t tell you how helpful it was for me to work with Ideas on Fire as a first generation scholar of color in particular. There are so many things that I have to learn along the way, and writing a book proposal was one of them. The editors’ confirmation, guidance, and publisher report—as well as affirmation—were key. Ideas on Fire is an indispensable resource!”

— Tala Khanmalek, author of Living Laboratories: Remapping the Legacy of Experiments in American Empire

How we edit your manuscript



You fill out our project inquiry form telling us the details of your project, including the type(s) of editing you're looking for, word count, timeline, and goals for the manuscript. We evaluate your needs to see if we would be a good fit, then check our client calendar to determine when we would be able to work together. We then send you a price quote so you can decide what works best for your needs and budget.



After you've looked over the price quote, we have a discussion by email, phone, or Skype during which we go over the logistics. This is also when you can tell us if there are specific areas you’d like us to focus on like strengthening the argument, responding to reader reports, updating or trimming sources, or formatting citations. We then match you with the Ideas on Fire editor whose subject area expertise, skill set, and availability best fit your project.



You send us your manuscript by email or Google Drive/Dropbox, and we get started. We read through your manuscript multiple times, making page-by-page, in-text suggestions and changes based on the type of editing you want and your manuscript’s audiences. We do this using Track Changes in Microsoft Word. Publisher research reports, style sheets, and editorial reports are also delivered as Microsoft Word documents.



We deliver your edited manuscript and editorial report, publisher research report, or style sheet (depending on what kind of editing services you booked) by email or Google Drive. You incorporate the edits and changes you want. You can then go forward with your publication, confident that you have a fantastic manuscript!

"I was pretty nervous about my manuscript and overwhelmed thinking about the work of copyediting it. Ideas on Fire cleaned up the formatting, specified specific areas for improvement, and indexed the book—making my life a whole lot easier. Their services have improved my productivity immensely. I’d recommend Ideas on Fire to any colleague on tenure-track looking for more productivity and manuscript editing."

Aymar Jean Christian wearing a pale pink suite and black tie at the Emmys Performers Reception

— Aymar Jean Christian, author of Open TV: Innovation Beyond Hollywood and the Rise of Web Television

"My manuscript gained consistency and clarity after it was copyedited and quote-checked by the IoF team. English is not my first language and this was my tenure book so the stakes were high. I wanted another set of eyes and minds looking at it before it went to external reviewers and it paid off. I’d recommend IoF to any scholar working on a first book and I will certainly be returning to them for my own future projects!"

Julie Burelle wearing a navy blazer and gold earrings

— Julie Burelle, author of Encounters on Contested Lands: Indigenous Performances of Sovereignty and Nationhood in Québec

A few of the books we've edited

Want to see more? Check out our full portfolio

Frequently asked editing questions

Developmental editing, copyediting, and proofreading are the stages a manuscript progress through as it moves toward publication. All manuscripts will need all three types, whether you do them yourself or hire a professional.

Stage 1: Developmental editing (which includes manuscript reviews) addresses content, so if you are still hammering out your ideas and want feedback on what makes sense, how your argument lands (or whether you actually have one), how to organize your chapters or sections, or what needs to be cut or added, you are at the developmental editing stage.

Stage 2: Copyediting addresses writing, so if your content is all set but you need help fixing the sentence structure, grammar, punctuation, and citation formatting, you are at the copyediting stage.

Stage 3: Proofreading ONLY happens on typeset page proofs issued by a publisher. It is a last-chance review of your proofs for typos, formatting errors, citations, and inaccuracies before the manuscript gets sent to the printer. If you are working on Microsoft Word pages, you need copyediting, not proofreading.

Check out our editing page for more information on the difference between these types of editing.

Our team of expert editors specializes in academic books, journal articles, and book chapters published by scholarly presses. We work on both monographs and edited collections, as well as art books.

Our areas of expertise are the interdisciplinary humanities and social sciences. We mostly work on texts in the fields of gender and sexuality studies, performance, art, film/media studies, disability studies, area studies, social justice activism, ethnic studies, legal studies and prison abolition, science and technology studies, and humanities and social-science approaches to medicine.

For examples of some of our client work, see our portfolio page.

Yes. Our copyediting service includes citation formatting for in-text parenthetical citations, endnotes/footnotes, and bibliography. Our editors are well versed in the latest (and often changing) formatting styles used in the interdisciplines, humanities, and social sciences, including those set by the Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS), American Psychological Association (APA), Modern Language Association (MLA), Harvard, Associated Press (AP), and others.

When we confirm the editing schedule with you and sign the contract, we will match you with the Ideas on Fire editor(s) whose subject-matter expertise, skill set, and schedule best align with your project. You can read more about our editors by clicking on our about us page.

NO. We will not write your manuscript for you, whether it is a manuscript for publication or a thesis/dissertation for a degree—that would be plagiarism. We have a strong ethical and political commitment to academic integrity. For scholarship to have credibility it needs to be researched and written by the person whose name is on it. Thus, we do not ghostwrite. Further, we will not edit any manuscript that we believe contains plagiarized material. We work with authors to polish writing they themselves have produced and help them create their best work.

Great texts aren’t born, they’re made—through editing.