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 (almost 25 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 (about 11 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 31 reviews

Communication & Punctuality
Communication & Punctuality

Zakir Majumder
She is excellent in all respects!

Zakir Majumder, November 2022

Elizabeth Ridley
Hello again Zakir, Thank you for your positive feedback! It's been a pleasure, as always. Best of luck with your PhD applications, and do keep in touch! Yours truly, Elizabeth

Reply from Elizabeth Ridley

Linda Pierce
Elizabeth helped me improve my manuscript, not only with punctuation and grammar but also with coaching a more personal and emotive description of my experiences. My objective was to write my autobiography to give my family a broader insight into who I am. Since I have no intention of marketing my book, I can't comment on that aspect of editing. I would use her services again.

Linda Pierce, November 2022

Elizabeth Ridley
Hello again Linda, Many thanks for your review! It's been both fun and informative watching your memoir develop through all your hard work over the past year. I expect your family will be thrille...
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Reply from Elizabeth Ridley

Greg Wetzel
Ms. Ridley went above and beyond to deliver a detailed and insightful edit

Greg Wetzel, November 2022

Elizabeth Ridley
Thanks, Greg, for your review! It's been a real pleasure working on your memoir. What a wonderful and beautiful gift you've created for your family and future generations. I look forward to keeping...
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Reply from Elizabeth Ridley

Glaucia Monteiro
Elisabeth was a wonderful to work with. She was quick to answer any of my questions, but above all she respected my wishes and did a wonderful job as per agreement.

Glaucia Monteiro, November 2022

Elizabeth Ridley
Hello again Glaucia, Thank you so much for your kind words and your positive review! You have a remarkable story to tell, and I so appreciate you trusting me to help you bring it to life. I look ...
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Reply from Elizabeth Ridley

Heather Benson
I liked that Elizabeth did brief check-ins during the duration of editing my work. Her feedback on adding more dialogue (to my memoir) was the most valuable to me. She even provided a follow-up call weeks after our editing period ended and included more resourceful links! Yes, I would recommend her editing services.

Heather Benson, October 2022

Elizabeth Ridley
Hello again Heather, Thanks for your five-star review and positive comments! You have such a powerful story to tell, and it was an honor and a privilege to work with you. I wish you all the best s...
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Reply from Elizabeth Ridley

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