Painting of stack of Don's books
Painting of stack of Don's books

Don's repair shop

Don’s Manuscript Repair Shop

Give me your manuscript.

Short story, memoir, novel…doesn’t matter. I’ll read it. I’ll read it again. I’ll make notes. I’ll write up a critique of the manuscript, including all of the strengths and weaknesses, and my advice for how to make the story optimally successful. Then we’ll meet and discuss my findings.

I’m not an editor, though I’ll give editorial advice. I’m not a proofreader, though I’ll fix small mechanical issues. I’m not a teacher, though where applicable I will get you to understand a concept or technique. What I am, more, is a diagnostician: I’ll find my way into your vision for the story, come to understand the characters, study the plotting, listen carefully to the voice and rhythm of the narrative, and generally make myself an expert on your work-in-progress.

Then I’ll share my expertise.

There’s more to it than that. I have lots of underlying philosophies about the best way to communicate my thoughts and ideas; about the goals of the author in relation to the type of advice I’ll dispense; about the relative talent of the writer and how that impacts his or her ability to realize a better draft.

All of it, though, comes down to this: I’m confident I can help you make your story better. Maybe a lot better. Assuming you’ve completed a whole something (story, essay, book), but want help getting it truly done, then hire me. You probably won’t ever sell enough books to cover your expenses—in fact, you probably won’t ever sell your book. That’s just a reality of the marketplace, and I don’t make any promises there. But realizing the best version of a story has intrinsic value: it’s a source of pride, makes you a better writer, and, once in a while, leads to an agent or a publisher taking a chance on you or it or both.

You can email or call me at 773 414 2603 to discuss whether or not I might be able to take on your project, and if so what my work will cost.

6 fountain pens and a quill

Ghost Writer

I don’t do much of this, but if the project and money are right, I’ll write your book for you. How I do this varies, but generally I’ll sift through whatever writing you’ve already done; conduct extensive interviews with you or other subjects; do all necessary research; visit with you and/or places important to the story. I’ll try to inhabit your voice and make it your story—only, presumably, better told than you might have done on your own. Again, email, or call 773.414.2603 if you want to discuss your project. 

a quill and 6 fountain pens

Stories on Demand

I’m always hearing, “Man, if I had the time, I’d write about this place.” Or, “My family: that’s a book I want to write someday.” Only, you don’t have the time, and someday might never come. I’ll do it for you. The way it works is this: you give me a character, or situation, or storyline. I’ll fill in the blanks. For me, it’s a sort of party trick: I can make something out of just about anything. For you, it’s a novelty—a gift to your friends at the barber shop, or to your mom on her birthday, or Granny in the nursing home. I’ll even (if you want to spend more) work with an illustrator and publisher to produce a small limited edition of the story. You get what amounts to first rights—you can use or publish the story however you see fit; I retain ownership, in case I want to publish some version of it in the future. As always, email  or call 773 414 and I’ll give you a quote; depends on what you want done, how long it will take me, etc.




I recently worked with April Kirkwood to turn her Frankie Valli "Me Too" story into a readable memoir that can help others understand their own histories.

Don Evans provided an astute and detailed critique of my working manuscript. His insightful feedback helped Alchemy’s Daughter garner several book awards and acclaim from Kirkus, Booklist, and other top reviewers.

—Mary A. Osborne

Every book can benefit from a thoughtful, thorough and honest critique from a respected editor who knows what has publication potential and what does not. Don Evans is that kind of editor. His vast experience with some of the brightest literary minds in the Midwest and his keen eye for language, structure and tempo makes him the perfect choice. Don edited two of my manuscripts and brought to my attention issues large and small that ultimately made both books so much better. If you only want someone to tell you how good your book is, Don is not that guy. But if you want an honest, helpful critique that vastly improves your manuscript, hire him. You won't be sorry...

—Mike Bailey

I managed to get lucky, once again, when Don Evans agreed to critique my manuscript for Luck is a Talent. His suggestions and editorial comments not only improved my book, but they also made me a better writer and boosted my confidence.

Thank you Don.
—Gary V. Johnson

I trust very few people to review my manuscripts, and Don Evans is at the top of my list. I can always count on Don to provide me honest, practical, and beneficial comments based upon his extensive reading, critiquing, and editing experience. With my most recent novel, A Fine Line, Don was instrumental in helping me to structure my story for maximum effect and an impactful experience for my readers. To be honest, I didn’t react too well when he told me to cut the first two chapters and “start with the action,” but he was right. After a few weeks fretting over the possible loss of my “opening masterpiece," I accepted his suggestion, cut the chapters, re-used to cut content in other areas of the story, and incorporated his other suggestions throughout the manuscript. My story is better because of Don’s efforts and suggestions, and his is, in part, responsible for any success I’ve realized. I am indebted to him. I highly recommend Don’s skills and services and look forward to working with him again in the future.

—Dan Burns

Hannah Jennings Design