Manuscript Consultations

Several members of the Orca staff now offer full manuscript consultations. These are in-depth critiques of your writing that cover all aspects of fiction, from premise to climax and resolution. Rates are based on each staff member’s experience. Please read the bios below and contact the editor you’d like to work with to discuss your project.

Jump to:   Joe Ponepinto   Renee Jackson   Ai Jiang   Lauren Voeltz  


Joe Ponepinto is one of the founders and senior editors at Orca. He’s been writing and editing professionally for more than 25 years, first as a journalist and later as a creative writer. He’s published two novels and nearly 50 short stories in the US, Europe, and Australia. He has taught creative writing for more than 10 years in college and similar settings, and has been a frequent panelist at writing conventions.

He specializes in developmental and substantive editing for short stories, flash fiction, and novels. Many of his clients have gone on to have their work published. Joe says one of the most satisfying aspects of being an editor is when a client comes back and says that their story was published thanks to the revisions he suggested.

Joe adds: “As a writer myself I understand the time and passion writers invest in their manuscripts, and how difficult it can be to open that writing to criticism. That’s why I evaluate every manuscript based on the author’s intent, as well as literary conventions.”

Authors and editors who have influenced Joe’s critical approach include James Wood, Zadie Smith, Robert Olen Butler, Margaret Atwood, Robert McKee, Francine Prose, George Saunders, Gordon Lish, and many others. He has also learned much from the great writers and critics of decades past, especially Chekhov, Joyce, Forster, James, and Stein.

Joe’s fees
• flash fiction – $40
• short story (1000-2500 wds) – $75
• short story (3000-5000 wds) –  $110
• short story (5000-8000 wds) – $145
• longer forms, including novels – quote

Contact Joe

Renee Jackson is one of the editors at Orca. Her editing style advocates for the reader’s experience of the text while always working to honor the writer’s intent. She specializes in developmental and substantive editing for short stories, flash fiction, and theatrical scripts. She has done literary development work for many plays receiving their first workshops and stagings.

Renee notes, “Writing does not exist in a vacuum: the audience is as much a part of the story as the author. Editing at its purest is truly about opening up a dialogue between reader and writer in order to make sure the final product serves the needs of both.”

Renee’s fees
• flash fiction – $30
• short story (1000-2500 wds) – $50
• short story (3000-5000 wds) –  $75
• short story (5000-8000 wds) – $95

Contact Renee

Ai Jiang is a reader at Orca and Strange Horizons. She has always been an avid reader and passionate writer with a love of refining her craft. As an alumnus of the University of Toronto, Humber School of Writers, and Gotham Writers’ Workshop, she has been exposed to a variety of genres and writing styles that have helped inform her own writing. Prior to dedicating most of her time to writing, she worked as an English and ESL tutor and taught students across a broad age range. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in both speculative and literary journals such as The Dark and Prairie Fire.

She specializes in developmental and substantive editing for flash fiction, short stories, and novels. Ai believes one of the most rewarding experiences as an editor is helping fellow writers tap into the hidden potential of their writing.

Ai mentions: “It is often difficult to notice every merit and pitfall in your own manuscript when you are the closet person to it. Sometimes it takes an outside voice to nudge you in the right direction, and sometimes the voice tells you what you already know but could not point a finger to.”

Ai’s fees:
• flash fiction – $30
• short story (1000-2500 wds) – $50
• short story (3000-5000 wds) –  $70
• short story (5000-8000 wds) – $85

Contact Ai

Lauren Voeltz is a reader at Orca who loves reading and writing micro, flash fiction, and short stories as well as longer form fantasy. She completed the developmental novel editing course, Cut, Shape, Polish, through the Australian Writers’ Centre and the developmental editing class, Advance Self-Editing Master Class, taught by Roz Morris. Lauren attended the Writer’s Digest’s Short Story Conference in 2021. She’s passionate about learning.

Lauren graduated summa cum laude from the University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, where she spent time as a teacher’s assistant and research assistant for several semesters. She uses her degree in psychology to infuse characters with depth and nuance.

Lauren specializes in developmental editing for short fiction, novellas, and novels. She’s interested in helping writers nail their opening pages. She’s served as a beta reader for novel-length works, and some of the novels she has beta-read have landed literary agents and are currently out on submission to major publishers. “I love helping emerging writers learn and grow,” Lauren says. “Having someone to come alongside and offer their experience is one of the best parts of the writing community.”

Lauren’s fees:
• short fiction $50 (limit 4K words)
• first chapter critique (up to 15 pages) $100
• first three chapters $250
• full manuscript critique of up to 80K, $1000

Contact Lauren