Melanie Votaw

I have been a nonfiction book ghostwriter and book editor for 20+ years. Mainstream publishers and literary agents often call on me to help their authors with their book proposals and manuscripts. I have written (as an author or ghostwriter) 40 nonfiction books for publishers like Little Brown, New World Library, Hay House, Hyperion, Perseus, and more.

I have developmentally edited 75+ additional books for publishers that include Penguin Random House. These books have won more than 50 awards, and three of these titles have been on The New York Times Best Seller List.

I specialize in prescriptive non-fiction (self-help or how-to / DIY) and memoir, and I write and edit both book proposals and full manuscripts. Book proposals I have edited have gone into auction with numerous offers for their authors.

I usually provide developmental editing, also called substantive editing or book doctoring, but I can also provide line editing. My developmental editing services actually include line editing so that I can deliver a manuscript ready for final proofreading and submission. I also offer book coaching services.

I frequently work with doctors, psychologists/psychiatrists, nutritionists, executives, life coaches, executive coaches, and spiritual coaches. I have extensive experience with psychology self-help, spiritual self-help, medical writing, dentistry writing, nutrition books, and cookbooks.


“Melanie is a total pro and a pleasure to work with. My clients have truly benefited from and enjoyed collaborating with Melanie on book proposals and books that sell.” ~ Wendy Sherman, Wendy Sherman Associates, Inc. Literary Management

“I had no idea what I was doing to get my memoir across the finish line when I reached out to Melanie. I had attempted to work with three other editors by the time I found Melanie. Each one had come up so very short from their promises that I was about to give up, but I gave it one last try. And I am so glad I did…. Melanie took the bull by the horns and drove my book to where it needed to be in order for it to create the bang I thought possible through the power of the memoir. When writing a memoir, I found it difficult to create the feeling that the pages were alive. She did that and more. I had read my story tons of times, but when I read the first 25 pages of her edit, I am not going to lie – I welled up with tears. I couldn’t quite place what she had done besides sheer magic. My words had come alive. She pulled them together and made the prose tight and vivid. My story had become something with breath and power, just what I had envisioned, but unable to do on my own. Working with her saved my memoir and has created a longing to learn more and perfect my craft in writing more. Thank you, Melanie. Thank you so much!” ~ Mark Turnipseed, author of My Suicide Race

“When I met Melanie, I was feeling overwhelmed and discouraged about ever finishing my first book. Working together over the past four months, I’m pleased to say that every interaction with her has been a confidence-booster. She has proven to be professional, highly efficient, and affordable. I know I made a wise investment. But best of all, her delightful sense of humor kept me moving forward with a happy heart. With her intuitive gifts and seamless editing, she preserved my ‘voice’ while making the message sing.” Lee Sumner Irwin, author of Radiant Wise Woman: Breaking Free from the Myths of Menopause and Aging

Editing Services
Developmental editing, Line editing, Substantive
Writing Services
Book proposals and query letters, Books, Ghostwriting, Magazine, Newsletter, Nonfiction, Web
Other Services
Author coaching, Content review, Interviewing, Manuscript critique, Query, proposal, and/or submission review, Research
Nonfiction Genres
Autobiography and memoir, Biography, Cookbooks, Creative nonfiction, Essay, DIY/how-to, Self-help, Travel
Age Levels
End Products
Books, book proposals, query letters, articles, websites, blogs, newsletters
Style Manuals
Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS)
Adobe Acrobat Pro, Adobe Acrobat Reader, Google Docs, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft PowerPoint, Microsoft Word