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How IndieCat Editorial can help you

If you’ve stumbled onto this page, you are hopefully a writer of fiction or memoir. And you’re likely looking for some help in writing a book you can be proud of. And so you’re wondering if IndieCat Editorial can help you.

Does this sound familiar?

You try so hard to write a kick-ass novel that will wow readers and get everyone talking. Then you go around in circles tweaking and rewriting. Because you need to get it just perfect! And for a while your book genuinely seems to be getting better. Then you lose a subplot or a character falls out stage left.

Now you’re demoralised and stressed out. Your manuscript has turned into a monster, complete with tentacles. (Where did all these loose bits come from?)

You’ve struggled to find reliable beta readers. Maybe you’ve tried online writing groups only to feel intimidated or frustrated because some of the advice just seemed plain wrong or contradictory.

Unfortunately, serious indie authors and those hoping to submit to agents will always struggle with polishing their work. Everyone does, including seasoned professionals.

Indie writers don’t have a publisher to help

When you have an agent and a publishing house, you have a team working to support you and your book. You can take confidence in trained experts making your book the best it can be.

But when you’re publishing yourself or just starting out, you don’t have these things. Then, you’re often dependent on the conflicting advice of writing groups and beta readers.

Worse, they’re not trained to spot underlying problems, let alone anticipate the way different fixes impact one another in a manuscript. Because when you change one thing it can have a knock-on effect on everything else. Other writers or beta readers can also base their advice on how they would have written the book if it was theirs. That’s not the kind of advice you want. Because it’s not their book, it’s yours.

You need someone who will respect your author voice and intentions.

How developmental editing helps you

That’s where developmental editing comes in. Developmental editing, also known as structural editing or substantive editing, is the first round of editing. This is where a professional assesses the big picture issues in your manuscript. They look for plot holes, structural problems, slow pacing, weak characterisation, and more.

Think about it – how often have you given up on a novel you were reading because the story didn’t seem to be going anywhere or the characters were two-dimensional? A developmental edit highlights issues like this and allows you to fix them. Developmental editing takes your work to a whole new level.

And that’s how IndieCat Editorial can help you….


Developmental editor Karen McKellar


So, who am I?

I’m Karen McKellar and I’m on a mission to help writers knock out their best work. This is exactly why I launched my developmental editing business. Because, while grammar and spelling are important, a good story with strong characters is a reader’s number one priority.

Think about it – what is a book buyer looking for when it comes to novels or memoirs? They want a book they will lose themselves in, that will take them to another place.

That’s why it’s a waste of money paying for a proofread or a copyedit if your novel has fundamental plot or characterisation problems.

You need to sort out the big picture issues first.

Specialist developmental editor

I’m not a generalist who offers different forms of editing. I chose to specialise in big picture editing – also known as developmental editing, structural editing, or substantive editing.

As someone with years of training behind me, following decades of experience giving feedback to other writers, I know that no one can developmentally edit their own work. We’re too attached to it.

As Noel Coward once said, we must kill our darlings. And that’s a painful thing to do. Worse, it’s not always clear what needs to be cut.

It’s also true that once we’ve spent a lot of time reworking a manuscript, we lose track of what is still there and what has been removed.

In our minds, some of the things we cut are still there. We forget they’re gone and then miss the loose threads left behind.

Loose threads a fresh pair of editorial eyes would pick up. Or a Goodreads or Amazon reviewer. (And everyone knows Goodreads is a hellsite for writers. Don’t give anyone the ammunition.)

So what can an indie writer do? 

Easy – developmental editing looks at the big picture editing and shows you how to redraft your novel with confidence. Advice is given on what is best for you and your novel. Armed with this feedback and revision guidelines, you can rework your novel with confidence.

And – you can always get a follow-up round of feedback to see how you got on.

You absolutely do not need to do this alone

So, that is why IndieCat Editorial was born. And, in case you’re wondering, yes I do live under feline rule. (Don’t most editors?!)

How IndieCat Editorial can help you
My Boss

I’m also a member of the Editorial Freelancers Association, one of my primary training organisations. You can check out my training history further down this page.

How IndieCat Editorial can help you

As for what I offer, I do full developmental edits, manuscript critiques, and I also offer an opening chapters edit for those on a budget or who want to trial my services while receiving an in-depth assessment.

My Opening Chapters Developmental Edit includes track commenting in the margins of your manuscript, plus an editorial report, and a recommended reading list. This edit is for up to 10,000 words.

If you want more information on the difference between a full developmental edit and a manuscript critique you can check out this post here.


Member of the Editorial Freelancers Association

How IndieCat Editorial can help yyou


My developmental editing services cover the following genres:

Opening Chapters Edit

My Core Values


Developmental editing is the most expensive form of editing, putting it beyond the reach of many writers. I aim to offer custom packages, tailored to your budget.


I understand how nerve-wracking it is to have your work analysed by a stranger. I treat my clients with respect and empathy. My goal is to nurture your writing.

Customer Service

I believe in good customer service, which also comes with good communication. I assess the client’s needs and goals at the outset, and do my best to meet them.


I believe that a developmental edit should include an element of coaching, to bring a writer’s skills and knowledge up to a whole new level.

Professional Training

How IndieCat Editorial can help you

Whatever your genre, my job is to help you untangle plot threads, identify strengths and weaknesses, and help you write the very best book you can.

Member of the Editorial Freelancers Association

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