Elizabeth Ridley

Elizabeth Ridley – Editor

Don't Let Your Story Die Inside You. I'm an editor with 20+ years of experience, specializing in memoir, and I'm here to help.


As an author, editor, coauthor, and collaborator with almost three decades of experience in writing and publishing, I take my inspiration from a quote by Maya Angelou: "There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you." You have a story to tell, and it would be my honor and privilege to help you tell it.

My recent memoir projects include two "dog books," Incredibull Stella: How the Love of a Pit Bull Rescued a Family, with Marika Meeks (Kensington, 2019), and Saving Sadie: How a Dog That No One Wanted Inspired the World, with Joal Derse Dauer (Kensington, 2017), now in its sixth printing. But I don't just work on animal-themed books, and I don't necessarily take a cowriting credit on the books I work on. Instead, I will work with you to decide how you'd like to publish your book (Big 5, small press, indie, or hybrid), and how I can best be of service to you (coauthor, editor/coach, completely invisible "ghost").

As the author of five novels of my own from major publishers, I bring passion, compassion, and a highly trained eye to my clients' projects, helping to make their writing and publishing dreams come true. In addition to memoirs, I also edit all styles and genres of fiction, while in nonfiction, I especially like to work in narrative nonfiction, how-to, history, sports, true crime, psychology, and popular culture.

I would describe my approach to cowriting and editing as tough but fair. I know what it takes to get published today because I have received my share of rejection letters, along with my success. I like to "tell it like it is," but at the same time, I will never talk down to you. I know how hard it can be sometimes just to get words down on paper, and I will always honor and respect your journey, wherever you may presently find yourself on the often-twisting-and-torturous path to publication.

I'll leave the final word to Tim Fortner, a Vietnam War veteran I was blessed to work with on his riveting memoir, Waging the War Within: A Marine's Memoir of Vietnam and PTSD, published by McFarland in 2020:

"Without Liz, my manuscript would have fallen flat on its face. I had an idea and put that idea into words. But they were just words. Liz made it all work. She stayed with the project (that became 'our project') for more than five years. Liz pushed for more from me, and even though I disagreed with some of what she was proposing, in the end, she was right."

Biographies & Memoirs
Contemporary Romance Historical Fiction Literary Fiction
English (UK) English (US)
  • 2018: Regional Winner for the Americas, BBC World Service International Radio Playwriting Competition
  • 2015: First Prize, "Pitch Us Your Film!" Contest, Milwaukee Film Festival
  • 2011: Literary Artist Fellowship, Wisconsin Arts Board
  • 1994: Hawthornden Fellowship, Hawthornden Castle, Lasswade, Scotland
  • Bachelor of Science in Journalism, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, 1989
  • Master of Arts in Creative Writing, University of East Anglia, Norwich, England, 1997

Work experience


Feb, 1998 — Present

For the past 21 years I have owned and operated The Writer's Midwife, a freelance critiquing, editing, mentoring, and ghostwriting business through which I help aspiring authors of fiction and nonfiction achieve publication, both commercially and via self-publishing. Key services I offer include developmental editing, copy editing, line editing, and proofreading. In addition, I offer agent research and drafting of query letters, preparation of manuscript synopses, and ghosting of nonfiction book proposals. Through The Writer’s Midwife I have worked with more than 200 authors and authors-to-be, in addition to ghosting two full-length novels, two general nonfiction books, and five nonfiction book proposals. I specialize in memoirs but I'm happy to work in all genres of fiction and nonfiction.

becker&mayer!/Quarto Publishing Group

Jan, 2013 — Dec, 2017 (almost 5 years)

Projects I undertook included freelance copy editing, proofreading, and pre- and post-press cold reading (CMoS) of book-length fiction manuscripts. The majority of projects I worked on were for Amazon Publishing, specifically under their imprints Thomas & Mercer (mystery, thriller, suspense), 47North (science fiction, fantasy, horror), Montlake (romance), and Lake Union (contemporary and historical fiction). Copy edited or proofread more than seventy manuscripts for dozens of authors.


Nov, 2011 — Present

I provide freelance document proofreading, line editing, copy editing, and content editing for ServiceScape, a web-based global marketplace for service-related commerce. As of August 2021, I have edited almost 24,000 pages of text (7.2 million words), interacted with more than 1750 clients, and achieved a 4.948 average client rating on a 5-point scale, amassing more than 500 “5-star” reviews. Documents worked on include full-length book manuscripts (fiction and nonfiction); academic manuscripts including theses, dissertations, and research papers for journal submission; business reports, business plans, white papers, presentations; cover letters, resumes, CVs; undergraduate, graduate, law school, and medical school application essays; magazine and journal articles; web content.

Writer's Digest

Mar, 1998 — Dec, 2004 (almost 7 years)

Critiqued and edited more than sixty book-length fiction and nonfiction manuscripts through Writer’s Digest Criticism Service and Writer’s Digest “Second Draft” critiquing services. Also critiqued and edited query letters, partial manuscripts, and synopses.


Victoria Crossing

Wallace, Michael

The Gypsy in My Soul

Harris, Christine

Tips for Living

Shafransky, Renée


Bartol, Amy A.

The Golden Hairpin

CeCe, Qinghan


Tigner, Tim

Throwing Roses: A Novel

Ridley, Elizabeth

Rainey's Lament

Ridley, Elizabeth

Dear Mr. Carson

Ridley, Elizabeth

Searching for Celia

Ridley, Elizabeth

Elizabeth has 66 reviews





S B.

S B.

Mar, 2024

I have nothing but praise for Elizabeth. I am not a professional author. However, I feel that Elizabeth's skills have elevated and steered my work to a much-improved level. This was my first attempt at fiction. I really cannot speak highly enough of the assistance that she provided me with, always encouraging, positive, and gently persuasive. SB
Dan T.

Dan T.

Mar, 2024

Elizabeth WAS VERY DIRECT AND SEEM COMPETENT IN REVIEWING MY BOOK. I would recommend her to another writer. She answered all of my questions and gave good guidance.
Elizabeth R.
Hello again Dan, Thanks for your positive comments! Your book was a real pleasure to work on. I look forward to reading and editing books 2 and 3 in the series! Yours truly, Elizabeth
Sarah R.

Sarah R.

Mar, 2024

As a first time writer, I found Elizabeth to be wonderful to work with. She provided a lot of insight on the overall flow of my book and made great suggestions for improvements. She was also quick to respond to any questions I had about the editing process, along with questions I had after she was finished editing. She was wonderful to work with and I would definitely recommend her!
Elizabeth R.
Hello Sarah, Thanks for the lovely review! As you know, I have a soft spot for animals and for dog-themed books in particular, so I especially enjoyed working with you on this project. Best of lu...
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Tod M.

Tod M.

Mar, 2024

Elizabeth put a lot of time and effort into my work, frankly more than i paid for. She offered some excellent suggestions. I would (probably will) use her again.
Elizabeth R.
Thank you, Tod, for your comments and review! Your memoir is so dramatic and compelling, with excellent insight into Miami in the 1970s. I would be more than happy to work with you again on future ...
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Dorothy V.

Dorothy V.

Mar, 2024

Elizabeth provided invaluable feedback that helped me form a more solid structure and arc for my book. She answered all my questions thoroughly and was open to discussing different ways to approach memoir writing.
Elizabeth R.
Hello again Dorothy, Thank you for your kind comments and your five-star review! Your book has tremendous potential; I look forward to seeing where you go with it. Congrats on all your hard work!...
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