"Philippa, you are simply the BEST. The two books you worked on with me have both been international smashes. One becoming a Top 10 Sunday Times Bestseller, the other getting an outta this world movie deal. Whoop! Whoop! You’re a pro, an insightful editor and you taught me so much about my chosen genre. Thank you! Thank you!"
Dreda Say Mitchell MBE, award-winning crime writer, February 2023
“Philippa has helped me with all aspects of writing and getting published.
Her editing is impeccable, her feedback fair and to the point.
She does what a great editor does which is make your story even better while making you feel like a genius in the process.
Somehow she manages to do all that with a smile on her face.
She’s well connected in the publishing world, and has the ability to think both in the short and the long term simultaneously
which enables her give the author good advice and some peace of mind.
I can’t recommend her more enthusiastically.”
Risto Pakarinen, February 2023
"If you have written fiction, before pitching it to an agent or publisher, you need Philippa Donovan!
As well enabling me to identify and address plot holes and greatly strengthen two manuscripts,
her sage and clear input has helped to develop my writing skills and literary voice.
Philippa is a friendly and efficient lateral thinker who has an excellent balance of technical insight,
pragmatism and deep understanding of the market place."
Simon Mitchell, February 2023
"Even though I live in Sydney, I deliberately chose Philippa as a London-based editor for her international perspective (as well as her warm manner). In addition to the specific editing advice given in her manuscript assessment, what I most valued about working with Philippa was the faith she showed in my ability as a writer, and which was essential to giving me the confidence to take my book to this next exciting step of my publishing journey. I submitted my manuscript to two publishers and was thrilled
to receive an offer and contract from one of them."
Kyra Geddes, February 2023
"I wish I had met Philippa years ago. Her clear sense of story, character and P.O.V. improved my manuscript no end, and her warm and engaging personality made communicating back and forth so easy. She has the knack of offering feedback without being critical, always keeping a keen eye on the spirit of the work. She instantly 'got' where I was coming from, and was a terrific support in the whole editing process."
Rob Selzer, September 2022
"American writers like me have been eager to reach across the Atlantic to benefit from Philippa’s terrific talents in book doctoring. Philippa understands the special ingredients needed to make your story dazzle and pop. She drills down and figures out solutions so your story will attract agents and publishers. Philippa is friendly, resourceful, and eager to help, which put me at ease. I followed up her assessment with questions and concerns and she guided me through the completion of my project. She’s a wonderful advocate for writers."
Annette Bernard, April 2022
"Every writer needs an editor, no matter their experience or knowledge of writing, and I can highly recommend Philippa and Smart Quill for many reasons. First of all, she is very professional, quick to respond to questions, and always meets the deadlines set which reduces the stress many writers can feel during the process of preparing their novel. Secondly, while Philippa offers tips and comments that can improve a novel quickly, she doesn't simply look at 'quick fixes'. Instead, she encourages clients to look deep into the heart of their work to see what fundamental changes can be made. From personal experience, this has improved my work immeasurably because it results in writing of a much higher standard. In addition, Philippa has a lot of experience in the publishing industry and, as such, has an eye for what agents and publishers look for in a book. It's easy to feel lost (especially for new writers) when deciding on an editor with all the options on offer but I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to anyone and Philippa is definitely on top of her game. Thank you Philippa!"
Sarah, January 2022
"You helped me so much with the book - both with literary expertise and moral support."
Rosalind Russell, winner of the 2022 Moore Prize for human rights writing
"Philippa's editorial comments on my writing were excellent and insightful, and really helped lift the manuscripts to a more professional level. With her assistance, I was able to sign with agents and publishers. I can't recommend Philippa highly enough if you are looking to become a professional author, she is fantastic to work with!"
Peter Papathanasiou, author of Little One (Allen & Unwin, 2019), Son of Mine (Salt, 2019), and The Stoning (Transit Lounge and MacLehose Press/Hachette, 2021).
"I took a real chance in hiring an editor based overseas amidst the general world chaos, but both your website and our initial communications showcased a level of professionalism, wit and grace that have only been sustained throughout this entire process - and I appreciate it all. You're a fantastic editor, and a fantastic person, and I feel privileged to be able to build a working relationship with you."
Jack, Premium Report, December 2020
"Thank you Philippa, for the help you gave me. Your advice with the written word is skillful and insightful but your most vital contribution was helping me to nurture and develop my true voice on the page. You introduced me to my wonderful agent Gill McLay. The journey has been magical and I have signed a fantastic first book deal, with publication agreed for 2021."
Ros Roberts, April 2021
"As any aspiring author will know, what you learn at some point is you’re never going to get a book published without a professional editor. I had dabbled with two or three before I found Philippa. Within a few weeks of my speaking to her I had a fully edited novel, cut by 20,000 unnecessary words, lean and ready to go. Since then Philippa has found me a professional agent who is at this moment pitching to various publishers. I have no hesitation in recommending Philippa and SmartQuill."
Phil Platts, January 2020
"Philippa has helped me understand story telling and is coaching me to get my book as good as can be. As well as her professionalism and technical knowledge, I’ve really appreciated her empathy, warmth, and how she’s taken the trouble to understand my motivation for writing and the deeper emotional story that motivated me to write."
Peter Straker, January 2020
"Writing a novel can be a solitary and painful experience, the latter amplified tenfold when it comes to getting an agent. That Philippa has faith in my ability is priceless. She is what all first-timers need; a rigorous editor and relentless advocate."
Stephen Ferns, January 2020
"Dear Philippa. Thank you so much for your hard work editing and scouting. With your help I've now signed with a literary agent. Your insightful feedback and positive approach has been a pleasure to work with."
Rob Clouston, April 2019
"The most exciting moment of my writing career to date came when my debut novel, Blood on the Stone, was accepted for publication by Unbound Books. I would never have been able to enjoy it without Philippa Donovan. The acuity of her reading, the wisdom of her advice and the creativity of her suggested edits were all the more effective for her tactful and constructive approach in proffering them. Once I had implemented her recommendations, I began sending off the manuscript with greater confidence, and even rejections from publishers and agents started to come with compliments for my work. I cannot commend her services too highly."
Jake Lynch, author, Blood on the Stone (Unbound Books, 2018)
"I would recommend any unpublished writer to use smartquill. A fantastic service which helped me to improve my work, find an agent, and set me on my way!"
Harry Heape, author of Shiny Pippin and the Broken Forest (Faber 2018)
"It is with great pleasure that I can recommend Philippa as an editor. I engaged the services of Philippa to offer editorial advice on my novel. The subsequent report I received of my draft was frank, direct and candid and offered suggestions on areas where improvements could be made. There was sobering advice that was delivered with professionalism and compassion. My initial reaction was to resist the change but when I worked through her analysis I could see the merit in what she had provided. My re-draft is still in the process of being completed but I can feel the difference in engagement with the characters and the flow in the work is much improved. If you are searching for an editor for your work, I can recommend Philippa. Mark Barkley" Classic report, September 2016
"I have started work on your edits. They are AMAZING. I am going slowly but already I feel the start is stronger. A lot of what I originally wrote got culled so the issues you are flagging up are bang on the money. Roxane"
Roxane Dhand, author of The Pearler's Wife and The Orphan of Good Hope (Penguin Random House Australia, 2017 and 2020)
Premium report, December 2015
"The many benefits of having Philippa as an insightful and eagle-eyed editor are highlighted in the testimonials on this website, and I fully agree with those. But I discovered that once you gain a place in her agent recommendation service, it gets even better. And paradoxically, I found out that getting rejected can be a good thing! Since agents are inundated by submissions, aspiring writers rarely get detailed reactions. So they keep sending out submissions without knowing why the rejection slips keep piling up. Submitting via the recommendation service however, got me incisive and helpful comments from the agents in question. Adding these voices to that of Philippa’s, I was able to reshape my crime novel and make it far more marketable. So all in all, Smart Quill Editorial is more than a very professional editorial service: it is a fully-fledged author services platform, run by a dedicated professional!" Mike Bos, November 2015
"I just want to thank you for the in-depth and constructive report. It certainly took the lid off my every concern I had regarding the manuscript. There’s so much positive feedback here where you have drawn attention to factors I never contemplated. The prospects for successfully correcting the manuscript are so clear to me now. Every fact you identified in your premium report proved accurate. Once again, I’d like to thank you for the valuable advice and guidance.Yours sincerely, Ronald George Jelf"
Premium report, September 2015
"As a complete novice I knew I needed an editor. Not having one was never an option but where to start, what to look for? I had no real idea what to expect from an editor, naively I probably thought I would receive little more than a copy edit with a few pointers on plot. Philippa’s report kind of blew me away. Her attention to detail is impressive. Her clarity and understanding help to draw the focus where it needs to be, character consistency and story credibility. I honestly felt I had a much tighter, better story as a result of her scrutiny and as such I couldn’t be happier. I would recommend her without exception and hopefully will continue to have a valued working relationship for many future projects. But be warned she gets booked up real quick! Dee Palmer"
Classic report, April 2015
"Dear Philippa, Thanks so much for the report — it is very clear and insightful and, best of all, very very useful. It is now apparent to me that there is no substitute for an experienced editor's notes — prior to this I have been relying on a couple of long-suffering friends which has been fine but only up to a point… Thanks so much again. Best wishes, Caroline."
Precis report, April 2015
"Dear Philippa, Just wanted to send you a quick thank you for your report. I'm amazed at the depth you've been able to go into in such a short space of time. There's a lot of really useful stuff there - I have no doubt it will greatly improve the book. I'm currently on a school holiday-enforced break from writing, though, so it'll be a few weeks until Veronique and I have the time to sit down and go through it all properly together. I'll be back in touch then if I have any queries, if that's ok? In the meantime, thanks again, and have a great Easter. Best, Ed."
Ed Sinclair, screenwriter of Landscapers (2021)
Pointer report via David Higham Associates, April 2015
"Philippa, Thank you for your wonderfully insightful and constructive report. It has really shone a light on many aspects of the novel that I was unhappy with and which I was clearly unable to recognise the reasons why, close up, myself. You have also highlighted other elements that I’d not even considered - with the net result that I can’t wait to get stuck into reshaping parts of the story - I’ve got plenty of ideas coming to mind already. Thanks again. All the best. Alan."
Classic report, March 2015
"Hi Philippa, I just wanted to let you know how I have got on with The Pirate's Code since you sent me your report in Spring of 2014. My original idea was for this to be an interactive e-book and I have engaged some developers with this in mind. I am delighted to report that the project is now complete and the e-book app is now available on both the Apple App Store and Google Play App Store. Thank you for your advice and wisdom. Kind regards, John."
Picture Book report, April 2014
"Hi Philippa, Whoever it was that said that 'all writing is re-writing' knew a thing or two. Phew! I've been through your report several times now and I'm more impressed with every reading. Thanks again, Jock."
Premium report, January 2015
"I was recommended to use Philippa by a literary agent who's the friend of a friend. I was so glad that I did. I chose a Premium Report as I wanted to give my children's book the best overhaul possible. The service was first class, the report was delivered on time and was all that I hoped it would be. Philippa really 'got' my book and was super helpful in trying to get it placed with an agent. I would use Smart Quill again, without hesitation. It gave my writing and my confidence a great boost."
Premium report, December 2014
"The insight, scrutiny and experience Smart Quill applied to an edit of my pre-submission MS, delivered with professionalism and warmth, played a vital role in securing me my first publishing deal."
Piers Torday, winner of the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize 2014
"Getting the support of Philippa and Smart Quill Editorial was the best thing I could do to improve my book. The feedback I received was more than I had hoped for and very insightful. It touched in a very clear way on things I had never considered before and as a first time fiction author, really helped me improve the story-delivery and character building. Friends who read the draft versions of my novel The Traders - Trading Owls with Athens before and after Philippa's input, commented on the noticeable improvement, which is the best independent testament to Philippa's professionalism and skill. When I write my next book, I'll go to Smart Quill again!"
Premium report, September 2014
"Hi Philippa, Just to let you know, Scholastic, the first publisher to see Archie Bloom after my edit based on your feedback, snapped me up for a three book deal and will be heavily promoting at Frankfurt. Scholastic, Ben Illis and I should be announcing in the next few days. Thank you so much for your help, it was just what I needed to clinch a deal! Best, Gabrielle."
Pointer report, July 2014
"Dear Philippa, Many thanks for the feedback which was more than I had hoped for (which is not to say I had any doubts it was going to be useful). Very insightful and hitting on things I had never considered before. Lets see how I get on, but many thanks. Really appreciated. Peter."
Premium report, May 2014
"Thank you so much, Philippa. Thorough and fascinating. I will consider all the observations you have made and use your expertise to improve my submission. I will be back in touch at the first opportunity. Best wishes, Steve." Agent Submission report, April 2014
Dear Philippa, When I woke this morning and saw your email, I sat at my desk in a state of nervous excitement as I read your assessment for the first time. Indeed, I was so absorbed in your critique that I don’t remember breathing at all. By the end, I sat back and felt such relief that I couldn’t do anything for a while. It was my first attempt at a novel and I hadn’t realised how much it meant to me. After the second reading my hands were shaking with excitement, (which had nothing to do with the double espresso). The possibilities for improving the manuscript are so clear to me now. Every note you struck in your comprehensive report rang true. It was as if I was seeing the manuscript again with new eyes. Thank you so much. Your advice and guidance will be invaluable. Kind regards, Mark."
Premium report, January 2014
"Dear Philippa, Thank you very much for the rigorous scrutiny of my manuscript. Your report is incisive, constructive, and tremendously eye-opening. I will obviously need more time to mull over your sound comments and suggestions, but I can already see several exciting possibilities for improvement."
Felicia Yap, author of Yesterday and Future Perfect (Headline/Little, Brown 2017 and 2021) Premium report, November 2013
"Hi Philippa, I took your advice on my novel, changed a few things as per your suggestions and entered a competition. I have just received the good news that my novel has been long listed. I will find out if I have made the short list soon. I just wanted to thank you for the service you provided, well worth the cost. Regards, Shellie Kelly."
Precis report, October 2013
"Whatever qualities my book possesses were without question augmented by your report. It takes a fair bit of courage for an author to risk this kind of assessment, and so the objectivity of your extensive comments gave much-needed encouragement where it was merited, and equally much-needed criticism when that was appropriate. And in the present climate, the additional outlay of the Agent Submission was, quite simply, invaluable. If my book should eventually find a home with a publisher, that will be in no small measure thanks to your painstaking reading and acuity. Thank you so much."
Pointer report and Agent Submission report, July 2013
"Thank you very much for this report. It is very detailed and extremely helpful. Your report has strengthened all the issues that I had suspected were holding the story back and now having a professional opinion on those issues has given me leave to go ahead and change them with confidence."
Pointer report, August 2013
"Thank you for a very thorough and professional job. This is exactly the kind of analysis that I had in mind, and exactly what I needed to hear."
Premium report, July 2013
"Many thanks for the report, I’ve been musing over it and letting your ideas gestate a little. I really like all your comments and in some ways the report comes as a relief as I knew something wasn’t right with the beginning to the book. So to have the clarification on that is just great."
Precis report, July 2013
"Philippa Donovan reads accurately, and translates that close reading into technical analysis which not only identifies aspects of a narrative that are failing its readers, but what to do about it. Good editors are rare; Philippa Donovan is a good editor."
Sam North, author of The Old Country (Simon & Schuster, 2007)
"I think its just what I need right now to take this further. I can see how much time and thought you've given this - far beyond what I anticipated, so thank you for doing that."
Niel Bushnell, author of Sorrowline (Andersen Press, 2013)
"It was such a relief to find an editor so in tune with what I was trying to write, and in many instances suggesting how it could be written better! I’ll certainly be asking your advice again."
Kjartan Poskitt, author of the Agatha Parrot series (Egmont, 2011 – 2013)
"Thank you so very much for your exhaustive appraisal of the ms. I appreciate the suggestions and advice on where and how to move the book onto the next draft. As this is the first professional feedback that I have received, it is both enabling and refreshing as I can clearly understand what needs to be addressed."
Premium Report, June 2011
"Many thanks for your very thorough and thought-provoking picture book report. Your expertise has been extremely useful in providing insight into how editors think and moving my story along to a much, much better place!"
Brief Picture Book Report, February 2012
"Your feedback is that lovely combination between constructive criticism and encouragement with thoughtful and considered analysis. It also gave me confidence in my own hunches, as much of what you said, I had suspected was the case, but didn't want to confront it."
Pointer Report, July 2012
A topline report covering only those areas which need editorial attention.
For literary agents looking to hone a manuscript before submission.
A line report covering basic categories of editorial contribution.
For writers who have reworked their manuscript more than once, or are in need of less comprehensive direction.
A full structural report, expanding on the points covered by a Precis report by giving specific examples from your text. Further categories of editorial feedback will be covered.
The most detailed structural report, highlighting mistakes by example as in the Classic report and suggesting corrections. The Premium report offers indispensable advice about how to write effectively, giving you the tools you need to advance your writing career.
In addition to the established categories, it will identify your book's most commercial hook and potential market – invaluable knowledge when submitting to agents and publishers.
Analysis of submission material (covering letter, synopsis, first three chapters) in order to gauge whether a manuscript is ready for agent assessment. Useful follow-up after a structural report.
Picture Book Reports
A thorough report for texts between 500 and 1,000 words with or without illustrations.
A topline report for texts under 500 words with no illustrations.
We aim to respond to your work within 3-5 weeks on receipt of payment.
If you require a faster response, please contact us and we will do our best to accommodate this.