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Michael J. Totten

Award-winning Writer and Editor
Transforming good manuscripts into great books,
and limp prose into writing that dazzles


All writers need editors 

Everybody needs an editor. J.K. Rowling, Stephen King, Michael Connelly. Everybody. Even editors need another set of professional eyes. If you skip the editing and press publish too early, readers will know, and they won’t like it.


Whether you’re a new writer, an established professional, or somewhere in between, I’m here to help. And since I'm a writer too, I know how much your work means to you. 

Why hire me?

I’ve been writing and editing professionally for more than fifteen years in media, publishing, and the private sector.  

  • 4+ years as a senior editor at Lucky Bat Books

  • 4+ years as a senior copyeditor and copywriter at the Reddbug marketing agency

  • 4+ years as a contributing editor at World Affairs Journal

  • 10+ years as a contributing editor at City Journal

  • My work has appeared in The New York Times Book Review, The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, and numerous other publications

  • Winner of the Washington Institute Book Prize in 2012


What kind of work do I edit?

Anything written in English, from book manuscripts and magazine articles to web copy, crowd-funding appeals, video scripts, and marketing communications.



Copy editing 

Fixes grammar and punctuation and improves readability. $50 an hour. Typically, between $500 and $1,000 for an 80,000-word manuscript.



The final pass after copy editing and before publication to catch last minute mistakes and typos. $50 an hour. Typically, between $300 and $500 for an 80,000-word manuscript.


Line editing

More in-depth than copy editing, line editing improves the way you use language, sands down the rough edges, smooths the flow of sentences and paragraphs, cleans up awkward syntax, and makes your prose more pleasant to read. $50 an hour. The final price depends on how labor-intensive the editing is and how deep you want to go. Ask for a free 1,000-word sample.


Content and developmental editing

$50 an hour.


Trade paperback design

$50 an hour. Typically, around $500 for an 80,000-word manuscript without a lot of images, tables, or text boxes. 


E-book design

Flat fee of $250 for manuscripts without a lot of images, tables, or text boxes.


Marketing consultation

Alas, publishing your book is only the first step. You need visibility and discoverability if you want to sell copies, and promoting your book on social media usually won’t get the job done. There are far more effective methods available. Send me a message and I’ll walk you through them. $50 an hour.


Ask for a free 1,000-word sample edit

Manuscript, magazine, and website editing
Business and communications editing
Paperback and e-book design


I’m an award-winning journalist and the prize-winning author of eight books. My first, The Road to Fatima Gate, won the Washington Institute Book Prize. My fifth, Resurrection, has been optioned for film.

I provide the full spectrum of indie author services as a managing editor at Lucky Bat Books, I work part-time as a senior copywriter for corporate clients like Adobe and Microsoft, and I’m a contributing editor at City Journal.

The Week magazine named me Blogger of the Year, and I won the Weblog Awards two years in a row.


I live in Portland, Oregon, with my wife and two cats.

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“I strongly recommend the services of Michael J. Totten. As an accomplished writer, journalist, and editor, Michael's expertise is second to none. He has helped me with two books and enormously improved both. He is very responsive to questions and concerns, is very easy to work with, and I look forward to working with him on my third book.” – Fred Litwin, author of I Was a Teenage JFK Conspiracy Freak
“I've admired Michael J. Totten’s work as a writer for years, but it turns out he is also a superb editor. He copy-edited my most recent novel, and he was a delight to work with from start to finish. He's quick, responsive, constructive, and sharp-eyed. You can't go wrong working with him.” – Judith Deborah, author of The Falling Knife


“If you're looking for an editor to help you take your book to the next level, look no further than Michael J. Totten. I've always found his astute insights invaluable.” – Scott William Carter, author of The Gray and Guilty Sea
“Michael was both professional and prompt. He edited, did the interior design, and published two of my novels. He brings experience as a prize-winning author to the table, and this enriches his editorial and procedural insights and recommendations. His critiques were constructive, encouraging, and took my unique voice and strengths into consideration. I highly recommend him and intend to use him again.” – Erik Bundy, author of Magic and Murder Among the Dwarves


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