Stephen Carver

Stephen Carver - Editor

Norwich, UK

A versatile book doctor whose years of experience as a writer and academic enhance his approach to editorial work and practical mentoring.

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I'm a published and award-winning author of fiction and nonfiction and a retired professor of Literature and Creative Writing (University of East Anglia, University of Fukui, Japan). I edit, proof, appraise and mentor manuscripts across genres - literary and general fiction, nonfiction, creative nonfiction, and life writing - and have a long professional association with The Literary Consultancy in London. I believe that writing is a craft that can be an art, and I am passionate about helping authors bring out the best in their work.

I work alone, I do not contract out. Because of demand, I ask for payment in advance and that you allow 4-6 weeks for completion of the job, although I try to be faster when I can. As a published author and academic, I bring a lot of extra experience to the work that you might not get with someone who solely edits. Many of my clients have gone on to gain agency representation and formal publication, or to succeed as indie (self-publishing) authors.

I am not here to hustle. I won't take a job unless I feel it's the right fit for the client. I will discuss your writing in advance of a quote to ensure that your are getting the best service for your project, product, and professional development. After the job, I always offer a follow-up consultation at no extra charge. It's all part of the service.


1. Manuscript Appraisal - I will read your MS closely (adding critical notes) + write a detailed feedback report (15 pages on average) realistically assessing its suitability to submit to agents and publishers, and advising how to do this if it is ready, and how to make it fit for purpose if it is not quite there. Feedback is constructive, honest, realistic, and polite. A follow-up phone or Skype call is included.

2. Mentoring - I will help you develop your project in 10,000 word submissions. Each part will be annotated and you will receive detailed written feedback and a follow-up phone or Skype call. You do not have to commit to anything beyond one read at a time, though a formal mentoring/developmental editing schedule can also be arranged.

3. Copy Editing - I will help you craft your manuscript, suggesting any changes I deem necessary and making minor correction myself. (All in Track Change so you can evaluate.) Your MS will also be proofread as part of this service, and we can go over the MS up to three times to prep it for publication.

4. Proofreading - Your manuscript will be meticulously checked for typographical errors, grammar, word choices, and factual accuracy. This should be the last stage before publication.

5. Literary Agent/Publisher Pitch Appraisal - I will critique you pitch package - your query letter, writing sample (10,000 words approx.), and synopsis. I will annotate your documents, suggest corrections, proof, and return a detailed feedback report. A follow-up phone or Skype call is all part of the service.

NB. Indexing and referencing service also available. Please contact for a quote or to discuss.


‘When Steve and I first crossed paths, we were unknowns to each other, setting off on a dark road to – the odds insisted – nowhere. Less than a year later, we emerged blinking into the sunlight as colleagues and confidants, with his expert guidance having enabled me to chisel a completed manuscript from the rough chunks clunking around in my malaria-addled mind. If my book gets published, it will be because Steve taught me how to write the bloody thing. If you get the chance to work with him, consider yourself lucky and get stuck in!’ - Dr Lachlan McIver, author of Martyrs and Madmen.

‘Stephen’s reports have given me help with the whole structure and pace of the novel and also in the specifics of character and story development. Equally importantly they have given me encouragement and validation that what I was doing was worthwhile. An unanticipated benefit has been that the reports have also validated my efforts in the eyes of family members. To be able to show them a professional editor’s positive response has been important. They are now a little less inclined to think that writing novels is another of my weird little fads.’ - Owen Gill.

‘There is no doubt that Steve’s is the best systematic approach to novel writing I’ve ever come across.’ – Sabine Meier, Writer’s Ink.

‘Steve Carver acted as my literary reader and editor on my novel Where's Sailor Jack? Without him, I wouldn't have written what I wanted to write. I finished with a novel I’m proud of, one which has been acclaimed by critics. I’m just finishing my second novel, using Steve again in the same role. He treats his authors firmly but with great respect, encouraging them to find the right creative thought and writing so that the author’s characters resolve the inevitable dilemmas a lengthy novel produces. I cannot thank him enough. I can’t believe there's anybody better for this role. – John Uttley, author of Where’s Sailor Jack? and No Precedent.

‘I could not have taken my story this far without Stephen’s advice. Not only does he suggest changes, but he gives examples of novels similar to yours, so you have something to quote in an eventual query letter to agents. Stephen has always been happy to dialogue via email and keeps in touch during his critiquing process. I cannot recommend his services highly enough. He has helped me create an entirely viable and commercial novel.’ – Jane Markland.

‘Dr Stephen Carver has, without question, changed the direction of my publication strategy for the better and forever. His reading of my submitted text was more detailed and attentive than that undertaken by even my closest personal friends and his feedback, if not always comfortable, was astonishingly comprehensive, honest and accurate. My confidence in the value of Stephen's feedback is further confirmed by the fact that I have since commissioned him to undertake reviews of two further books for me.’ – Michael Forester, author of Vicious, Dragonsong and The Goblin Child and Other Stories.

‘Stephen has really been a fantastic mentor. I was very unsure of my writing when I started, having has a rather disappointing experience on a previous course, so I was nervous when I first submitted work. Stephen’s feedback, and his interest in my project, soon made me confident enough to finish the first draft of a memoir. He is generous with his knowledge and expertise in writing and publishing, and he always gives heaps of useful feedback. I appreciated his love of the English Language, as well as his sense of humour. The most important factor was that I trusted him absolutely with some very personal material, where his guidance was both sensitive and sensible. I have learned an enormous amount about writing, and his mentoring enabled me to enjoy developing as a writer.’ – Jane Matheson.

‘I just wanted to say how brilliantly helpful Stephen Carver has been as an editor of my work. I came to writing fiction rather late in life and he has overseen the publishing of my Three Lives Trilogy and has just finished working on my next book – to be published in March. He has an ability to get on a wavelength with the writer. His advice is never patronising, but immediately helpful with great insights and suggestions. I cannot recommend him too highly for people who are looking for editing, or just advice with their writing efforts.’ – Jane McCulloch, author of The Three Lives Trilogy and The Brini Boy.

‘Steve is wonderful at instilling confidence in a writer. He doesn’t do this through empty platitudes and just being personally encouraging; instead he is adept at discovering what is potentially good in your writing and making you feel good about it and wanting to write more. When he picks up something you’ve got wrong or something that could be improved, he challenges you to improve and he does it all in a reassuringly chatty and engaging way. His evaluation was incredibly thorough, and I felt that he wasn’t just doing it for the money but because he was genuinely interested in the book. By the time he had edited and proofread it as well it seemed as if it was his book as well as mine. I would recommend him to anyone who wants to learn how to write or to have their writing appraised professionally. He’s top class.’ – Betty Hasler


‘Steve is not only my tutor, mentor, editor and friend, but he’s also the saviour of my project. Forgive me if it sounds biased, but to me he is probably the best professional editor in England.’ – Arun Debnath, author of Drifters in an Upside-down Land.

‘Both in terms of the breadth of his subject knowledge, as well as his skill in communicating with clients, I recommend, without reservation, Steve’s professional services to anyone fortunate enough to secure them.’ – Rachel Clarke.

‘Steve’s assessments and critiques of my manuscripts are full of invaluable insights into both the strengths and weaknesses of my writing. He covers all the bases: plot, characterization, story, structure, style, pace, language, point of view, and copy-editing to boot. His reports are packed with relevant and constructive criticism; the kind that encourages me as an author to develop and maximise my writing potential. I unreservedly recommend him.’ – Mark McKay, author of Dancing with Mortality and The Severance Trilogy.

‘At long last publication date for my book has arrived. This would never have materialised without your patience and professional input. I will always be indebted to you.’ - Professor Maldwyn Griffith, author of The Historical Jesus: The Origins of Christian Belief.

‘Your support has managed to restore the soul.’ – Celeste Penny.

‘My previous editor made me believe that copy-editing only slightly improves the quality of the text. But Steve's work was beyond my expectations: the text was thoroughly clean, tight, grammatically sound, yet still maintaining the original voice. I find it difficult to express in words how satisfied I am with Steve's work.’ - Mirza Klimenta.

‘Stephen Carver offers a thoughtful and sensitive approach to editing, essential for work based on personal experience covered by the term “life writing”. He’s thorough while not steam-rollering in with suggestions for changes to the tone of the piece. However, when a particular scene hits him as underwritten and lacking drama, he doesn’t hesitate to say so. He's rewarding to work with and keeps a tight schedule. What’s there to complain about?’ - Jane Hayward, author of The Baby Box.

‘I found Stephen to be a fantastic manuscript doctor. He made it clear when he would be able to review my story and what I could expect. Not only did he not disappoint, but his friendly communication meant that I got even more benefit because I felt encouraged to ask questions. As for his feedback, I felt that Stephen really “got” my story, picking up the deeper nuisances. His report was thorough, positive and constructive in its critique, and even simple in-line comments on my manuscript like “good” let me know that I had got my point across. I will use Stephen’s services again’. - Nathan Arrowsmith.

English (UK)
Biographies & Memoirs
Humanities & Social Sciences
True Crime
Contemporary Fiction
Historical Fiction
Literary Fiction
Science Fiction

Work experience

Reader and Mentor

The Literary Consultancy
June, 2013 – Present (over 9 years)

I have appraised literally hundreds of manuscript novels, memoirs, and nonfiction projects. I read closely, line-edit and then feedback in a detailed written report, following up in person, by phone, or online. I also mentor writers and act as a developmental editor. In addition, I sometimes copy-edit, proofread, index, and reference. I'm also the company's Complaints Moderator.

Freelance Editor, Author, and Writing Mentor

January, 2013 – Present (almost 10 years)

I appraise manuscript novels, memoirs, and nonfiction projects. I read closely, line-edit and then feedback in a detailed written report, following up in person, by phone, or online. I also mentor writers and act as a developmental editor. I also copy-edit, proofread, index, and reference. As a freelance writer, I contribute articles, reviews, and blog posts to a variety of traditional and online publications. I also write books, presently history and literary history for Pen & Sword and Morton Media.

Head of Online Courses

Unthank School of Writing
June, 2012 – December, 2018 (over 6 years)

Responsible for the management, design and implementation of an extensive online teaching platform in creative writing. Also taught courses in novel writing, short fiction, historical fiction, and life writing.

Lecturer in Literature and Creative Writing

University of East Anglia
October, 2006 – December, 2012 (about 6 years)

Full academic duties in both disciplines: lecturing and running seminars (classroom and online), research and publication, administration, exam marking, and student supervision.

Professor of English

University of Fukui, Japan
October, 2002 – September, 2005 (almost 3 years)

Full academic duties: lecturing and running seminars, research and publication, administration, exam marking, and student supervision (under- and postgraduate) in English Language, and English and American Literature.

Portfolio (29 selected works)

Unveiled: The First Unthank School Anthology

Stokes, Ashley, Carver, Stephen

The Brini Boy

McCulloch, Jane


Smith, Morgan

A Preamble to Depravity

Phillips, Akwesi

The Ash House

Chin, Audrey

Mother Earth

Jessett, A.P.

Where's Sailor Jack?

Uttley, John

No Precedent

Uttley, John


Fenton, Sarah, Butler, Sarah Jane

Stephen has 9 reviews

Communication & Punctuality
Communication & Punctuality

Ben Haagsma
Personable, punctual, efficient and honest opinion quickly given. Good value and very helpful in progressing my literary objectives. Thank you.

Ben Haagsma, October 2022

Stephen Carver
Ben is an excellent writer of speculative and science fiction and a superb world-builder. It has been a pleasure to work with him.

Reply from Stephen Carver

J. Elder
Stephen's notes were detailed, supportive, and clear. He is an excellent editor and teacher, meaning that anyone working with him will end up with helpful notes and understand why he gave those notes. I think Stephen went above and beyond by sending additional resources to support me as I transition my short story into a novel. Stephen's editorial help was well worth the money, and it was a p...
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J. Elder, September 2022

Stephen Carver
An excellent and accomplished writer and an absolute joy to work with. I expect much of the present work-in-progress, which is already highly original and beautifully written.

Reply from Stephen Carver

Isaac Webster
Working with Stephen was a pleasure of mine - his feedback and review had been all I was after and more, providing an incredible service for a most affordable price. I have been provided with not only his thoughts and suggestions in a very thorough and lengthy document but also additional resources on top of everything he has supplied me with. If he is available I highly recommend Stephen to a...
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Isaac Webster, September 2022

Stephen Carver
Isaac is a talented and sophisticated novelist, always open to the discussion of new ideas and directions. Working with him has been an absolute pleasure.

Reply from Stephen Carver

Thomas Charles Wheetley
Steve is wonderful to work with. He has been and editor and a coach for me. Providing me the feedback and direction I needed. Currently my book is too long and he is working with me clean it up and its truing out to be a much better read.

Thomas Charles Wheetley, August 2022

Stephen Carver
One of those most talented and visionary authors it has ever been my pleasure to work with. Deserves to be the next J.K. Rowling or George R.R. Martin

Reply from Stephen Carver

Chris Bee
Thank you Stephen for all your hard work and assistance, as I am a complete novice your knowledge and incite fullness have been a tremendous help along with your encouragement and honest appraisal of the book so far, and for pointing out area's where I can improve and suggestions on how to move my project forward, I definitely look forward to working with you again on the next stage and would...
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Chris Bee, August 2022

Stephen Carver
Chris was a real joy to work with: very open and friendly. Good writer too! He's novel is highly imaginative, funny, and potentially commercial. I'd recommend him to any editor or book doctor!

Reply from Stephen Carver

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