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 24 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 (over 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 19 reviews

Communication & Punctuality
Communication & Punctuality

Liza Hermandez
I received my edits on time, and I loved everything she had to say. I am making the suggested changes, and I plan to work with her further on the development of my book. It is a wonderful feeling to understand the person you are working with. I have dyslexia, so this is extremely important to me.

Liza Hermandez, July 2022

patricia safo
Very patient

patricia safo, July 2022

Elizabeth Ridley
Hello Patricia, Many thanks for your kind words and your five-star review! I really enjoyed working on your manuscript, and I learned so much as well. If you ever have any questions, just let me k...
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Reply from Elizabeth Ridley

Emely Verba
Disappointed. Liz was enjoyable to work with and I liked her personally. Unfortunately, her services were less than I expected. She mostly did formatting and missed several instances where I had repeated used a very distinctive word in close proximity within the text. Several errors were found by other people who read the manuscript after Liz had given her input. I expected that a content e...
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Emely Verba, June 2022

Elizabeth Ridley
Dear Emely, Thank you for your candid feedback. I do appreciate it. It sounds like there was a miscommunication regarding the project. You had requested a copy edit in your brief, and I explained ...
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Margaret Stauffer
Elizabeth was amazing. She walked me through the process as I'm new to writing and publishing a book. Her work was impeccable, and she made me feel confident throughout the editing process. The timeline was short, and Elizabeth delivered. Very happy with her work.

Margaret Stauffer, June 2022

Elizabeth Ridley
Dear Margaret, Thank you so much for your kind words and your five-star review! It was a pleasure working on your manuscript. It was already in great shape when it arrived, so I was able to focus...
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William Carter
I think she was spot on the things that were right with the manuscript and the things that needed to be improved.

William Carter, May 2022

Elizabeth Ridley
Hello Billy, Thanks for your kind words and 5-star review! It is much appreciated. Your book was so fun to work on, and you did a fantastic job in recreating the story's time and place. Best wishe...
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Reply from Elizabeth Ridley

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