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.

Elizabeth has 54 reviews





Jo W.

Jo W.

Sep, 2023

Elizabeth has giving me very helpful feedback and has increased my motivation for finishing my manuscript.
Elizabeth R.
Hello again Jo, Many thanks for your positive comments and five-star review! I really enjoyed working on your manuscript. It's a wonderful premise, and I look forward to seeing how it develops from...
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S B.

S B.

Sep, 2023

As a first-time writer of anything approaching fiction, I had no idea what to expect, in terms of the type of advice to be anticipated, or how it would be presented. I have to say that I was delighted to receive Elizabeth's editorial critique, which was always relevant, always constructive, and always easily understood. Her suggestions opened my eyes, enabling me to reconsider the direction, fo...
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Elizabeth R.
Hello again Simon, and thanks for your very positive review! I very much enjoyed reading and editing your story, and look forward to reviewing the revised draft whenever it's ready. Best of luck, a...
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Mo M.

Mo M.

Aug, 2023

My collaboration with Elizabeth has been a positive and pleasant learning experience. Her suggestions and her engagement with my project allowed me to develop my book in a way that I had hoped for. Her editing of my project was professional and showed a wide ranging knowledge of the events of my story. All in all a satisfactory collaboration.
Loni B.

Loni B.

Aug, 2023

Elizabeth was an absolute pleasure to work with throughout this project. I would highly recommend her for your editing needs. While my book was very small, I have no doubts that Elizabeth could tackle any job that was sent her way. Her quick responses to my questions were so helpful and having her support was just what I needed as a first time author.
Elizabeth R.
Thank you, Loni, for your positive comments and five-star review! Your articles were already in great shape, and it was my pleasure to add those final tweaks and polishes to help get the full manus...
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Susan M.

Susan M.

Jul, 2023

I really enjoyed working with Elizabeth. She was flexible with my schedule and she always responded to my messages promptly. She also provided me with some very encouraging feedback on my book. She was easy to work with and affordable. Elizabeth...I DID IT! I've published my book thanks to your help editing it.

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