Lydia Bird
Work: 510.521.3332
Click here to contact by email


Manuscript Consultant • Developmental Editor • Book Doctor

A published author with 15 years’ editing experience, I work directly with clients on their fiction and nonfiction book projects.

Novels: I look at plot structure, character development, voice, believability, pacing, and the quality of the writing itself, jotting notes directly on the manuscript and offering overview observations and suggestions in a developmental memo or phone consultation. Many novels go through several drafts; I’ll always be available for guidance and moral support during your rewrite process.

Memoir and narrative nonfiction: As the SF Chronicle Book Review has stated, “Reading America just can’t get enough of true stories that entertain us like novels.” I approach creative nonfiction in much the same way as fiction, while also addressing the unique challenges of true accounts. Each detail included in your book should contribute to the story, develop a character, or illuminate a theme; the crucial question is not “Did it happen?” but “Does it work?”

Nonfiction: I often consult on works of practical nonfiction at an earlier stage than creative works. Many nonfiction authors know their material backward and forward, but are daunted by the prospect of organizing the information into a cohesive whole. I can help you clarify your book’s message and create a logical, well-structured outline, then keep you on track through the writing process.

The book business: Whatever your project—novel, memoir, nonfiction—I can help guide you through the labyrinth of writing a query and proposal, finding an agent or publisher, and marketing your book once it’s in production.

Self-publication: In today’s rapidly changing publishing world, self-publication has become a viable option, and many successful self-launched books have gone on to be picked up by mainstream houses. I’ve helped clients become not just authors but publishers—obtaining an ISBN, making design decisions, writing jacket copy, choosing a POD printer—and in a much tighter timeframe than traditional publication.

• Selected Client Praise •

Published Works:

“Lydia Bird, editor par excellence, nurtured me through valuable additions, deletions, and clarifications as we worked together over many productive months. She helped turn a compilation of records and memories into a coherent narrative, then shepherded me through the complex process of book production.”
Nancy Forster, Acknowledgments, Encounters: A Lifetime Spent Crossing Cultural Frontiers (Wind Shadow Press)

“Lydia persevered through draft after draft.”
Steven Voien, Author’s Note, In a High and Lonely Place (HarperCollins)

“Addressing Lydia’s insightful questions, comments, and criticisms enabled us to produce the final manuscript. Plus she understood my mission—‘Takes one to know one.’”
James Waste, Author’s Note, Don’t Shoot the Ice Cream Man (Ringwalt Press)

“Lydia Bird’s expertise, input, and humor were essential in shaping this book.”
Sue Fox, Author’s Acknowledgments, Etiquette for Dummies (IDG Books)

“You’ve helped me crucially and I will always be grateful.”
Poet Phyllis Koestenbaum, author of “The Secret Climate the Year I Stopped Writing” (Massachusetts Review)

“My heartfelt thanks to Lydia, who made sense of it all.”
Steven Voien, Author’s Note, Black Leopard (Knopf)

“Lydia Bird, an expert developmental editor, worked tirelessly on the structure and chronology of the material and helped me to let go of extraneous passages I found difficult to delete. I’m fortunate to have worked with someone who is not only talented but dedicated to this project.”
Susan Lankford, Acknowledgments, downTown U.S.A.: A Personal Journey with the Homeless (Humane Exposures Publishing)

“My editor, Lydia Bird, made the telling possible.”
Klaus Schmidt, Dedication, A Spy for Life (FirstBooks)

“Lydia Bird, my wonderful manuscript consultant, is kind and talented with the patience of a saint. Our brainstorming sessions were phenomenal and we made a great success team.”
Linda Hollander, Acknowledgments, Bags to Riches: Seven Success Secrets for Women in Business (Ten Speed Press)

“I want to thank Lydia Bird for her thoughtful critique and editing of my manuscript.”
Michael Paymar, Acknowledgments, Violent No More: Helping Men End Domestic Abuse (Hunter House)

“I am totally dazzled by the work you did on the manuscript. Such sustained, quality attention.”
Kia Penso, author Wallace Stevens, Harmonium, and the Whole of Harmonium (Shoe String Press)

“Gratitude to Lydia Bird for her invaluable comments on early drafts.”
Joel Jacobsen, Author’s Note, Such Men as Billy the Kid (University of Nebraska Press)

Works in Progress:

“Lydia, of course writers work alone (unpublished ones I dare say more alone than the published ones) but I feel like I’ve had a co-worker on this project. Thank you.”
Michael Shaler (mainstream fiction)

“THANK YOU!!! You did a terrific job. I completely agree with your comments on the POV, the need to improve the setting descriptions, and so many others. I can’t begin to tell you how useful all your feedback was.”
Susheela Vasan (young-adult fiction)

“This book would not be what it is without your guidance, creative input, and patient teaching. You’ve challenged me and opened my mind to so many possibilities, allowing the story to take its final shape. You’ve made me a better writer. I thank you for that gift.”
Ana Corman (lesbian romance)

“Looking forward to your comments on my second attempt and need I say--you were right, you were right, you were right...”
Serita Anand (suspense fiction)

“High quality, relevant, professional commentary is something I’ve had difficulty locating up to now. Yours is exactly what I need. While I can easily fix the punctuation goofs, the most important things to me are your comments on character consistency, believability, tone consistency, and style.”
Tom Dodington (mainstream/science fiction)

“You are right-on in so many areas, and on more than a few occasions your insightful comments made me laugh. I have lots of work to do, but I think I have a good sense of what needs to be done.”
Tammy Burton (biography)




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