Elizabeth Ridley

Elizabeth Ridley - Editor

Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA

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.

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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."

English (UK)
English (US)
Biographies & Memoirs
Contemporary Romance
Historical Fiction
Literary Fiction


  • Bachelor of Science in Journalism, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, 1989
  • Master of Arts in Creative Writing, University of East Anglia, Norwich, England, 1997


  • 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

Work experience

Author, Freelance Editor, Publishing Consultant

February, 1998 – Present (over 23 years)

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.

Freelance Editor and Proofreader

becker&mayer!/Quarto Publishing Group
January, 2013 – December, 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.

Freelance Editor

November, 2011 – Present (almost 10 years)

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.

Freelance Editor

Writer's Digest
March, 1998 – December, 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.

Portfolio (27 selected works)

Searching for Celia

Ridley, Elizabeth

Dear Mr. Carson

Ridley, Elizabeth

Rainey's Lament

Ridley, Elizabeth

Throwing Roses: A Novel

Ridley, Elizabeth

Blood Moon Over Aceh

Nur, Arafat, Ridley, Elizabeth, Saputra, Maya Denisa


Tigner, Tim

The Golden Hairpin

CeCe, Qinghan, Woodend, Alex


Bartol, Amy A.

Tips for Living

Shafransky, Renée

The Gypsy in My Soul

Harris, Christine

Victoria Crossing

Wallace, Michael

The Year of Counting Souls

Wallace, Michael

Elizabeth has 1 review

Communication & Punctuality
Communication & Punctuality

Jody Lazzara
Elizabeth is diplomatic, and kind, professional, detail oriented and punctual.

Jody Lazzara, October 2021

Elizabeth Ridley
Thanks so much for your thoughtful comments, Jody! You've been a real pleasure to work with, and I'm looking forward to our follow-up. I really enjoyed reading your memoir and am excited to see whe...
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