Jean Harkee Mansen

Writing Coach 
Developmental, Line & Copy Editor



Developmental Editing

Developmental editors focus on the structure and con­tent of your book. Focus, consistent tone, target audience appeal, tension, pacing, character development, dialogue, and story arc are among the primary elements a DE will address with an author.

Depending on the genre--memoir, fiction, historical fiction, nonfiction, a DE will challenge the author to dig deeper into character motivation, emotion, or ask for more or fewer details or facts. Therefore, the working relationship between the Author and DE must be open, honest, and collaborative. The goal of the DE is to make the manuscript the best that it can possibly be. Authors may feel challenged at times, but the focus is always to make the book the best for the target audience.

The best relationships and best books come when authors and DEs have open, constructive communication, the Author shares his or her vision of the book and its target audience, and the two come up with common goals and a plan of action.

With the big picture and your vision in focus, the DE will help to determine the best organization, point out areas where focus has been lost, or where more explanation would be helpful. For nonfiction, artwork, maps, photos may be suggested, as well as subheadings and sidebars.

It is thrilling to see a  love seeing a manuscript transform into the Author's vision, free from gaps and excesses, filled with deep meaning and rich characters. The manuscript retains the Author's voice, yet blossoms from delving into the heart of the issues and polishing the best of the voice and vision.

Book Coaching and Manuscript Review

Unlike Developmental Editing which entails an ongoing working relationship, Manuscript Review and Book Coaching provides the Author with a thorough read of the manuscript and a letter detailing the strengths and weaknesses of the manuscript, plus suggestions for improvement, resources, and ideas. This can often be helpful for an Author who wants to know whether a manuscript has potential and, if so, in which directions it should e developed in order to make it more marketable or desirable for a specific audience. 

Some Authors want a Manuscript Review after they have had several beta readers review their book as a means of helping to sort out the competing critiques they have received. 

Boak Coaching provides ongoing as-needed editing support for authors who aren't ready for a Developmental Editor but who want someone to hold them accountable to a schedule of writing, editing, and provide who will provide feedback and guidance as they work through their manuscript.

Line Editing

Line Editors address scene and paragraph level issues. Sometimes Copy Editor and Line Editor are used interchangeable, but copyediting includes grammar, punctuation, and the like. As a Line Editor, I will review the minute details of each scene and paragraph to make certain that the manuscript is as tightly written, as creative, fits the theme, audience, and market for which it is targeted, and that it is consistent. 


Jean Harkee Mansen

Writing Coach 
Developmental, Line Editor



After a successful career in banking, finance, and management consulting, Jean turned to her first love-words. A graduate of UC Berkeley's Post-Baccalaureate Certificate Program in Writing (with an emphasis in both fiction and non-fiction), Stanford's Continuing Education Writing Program, and UC Berkely's Editing series, she studies the works of the masters to improve her writing and critiques.


As a developmental and line editor, she has worked with non-fiction, business, historical writers, memoir, and personal essay authors, as well as writers publishing contemporary, young adult, and historical fiction.


Jean read her fiction at LitQuake (San Francisco's literary festival) and has contributed regular columns to Marin Independent Journal and JagGazette. Her non-fiction work has appeared in Leasing Monitor and San Francisco Business Times.


Jean is an active supporter and participant in the literary community. A former board member of the Marin branch of The California Writers Club and past editor of its newsletter, Marin Writes!, Jean is a member of the Bay Area Editors' Forum, the Editorial Freelancers Association, The Authors Guild, 





Wendy Menara, the author of Silence of Shame, A Child Caring For Her Bedridden Mother, writes, 

I knew I needed an editor to help me to navigate the book-writing world, since up to this point I wrote screen and stage plays. A writing friend introduced me to Jean Mansen. It was the best thing that ever happened for my writing.


Jean is a knowledgeable and excellent editor, but more importantly she is perceptive and compassionate – an essential blend needed to help a new author navigate the memoir universe.


She guided me through every chapter and nudged me to dig deeper with each rewrite. I am happy to say that my debut memoir Silence of Shame: A Child Caring for Her Bedridden Mother received a Kirkus Starred review and was selected by Kirkus Reviews as one of the Best Indie Books of 2020. The Kirkus Star marks books of exceptional merit and is awarded to only 2% to 3% of books reviewed each year. 


This acknowledgment couldn’t have been possible without Jean’s editorial expertise.




“Jean has edited my historical fiction for several years. As a reader, she is genuinely eager to experience a writer's latest work. As an editor, she is honest and to the point but without the 'tough love' lesser editors employ. She'll praise your carefully crafted metaphor for its melodious and unique wording before noting that it doesn't fit your character or time period. She's an accomplished line and copy editor who excels as a developmental editor ensuring your characters embrace and fulfill your story's theme. I encourage authors who are serious about improving their writing to take advantage of Jean's editing and coaching skills in fiction as well as memoir and personal essays.” Jo Haraf 


"Jean is a meticulous reader and a sharp-eyed editor. Her suggestions are astute. When she points out an awkward construction or a poor word choice, she often goes beyond correction and points to an alternative, but she never overrides the writer’s unique style. She is generous with her time and clearly cares about the work. I highly recommend her." Gail Seneca


"Jean has been absolutely amazing.  I am so grateful for her complete commitment to this project. She is professional, selfless, persistent, hardworking, pleasant, humorous, and dedicated.  She made herself available 24/7 to accomplish my goals.  Jean worked around my busy and inconsistent work schedule. I could not have finished this project this year without her. The books–all of them–are significantly better because of Jean's dedication. I have already highly recommended her to a friend with a book project, and I will continue to sing her praises. I have a feeling my four-volume non-fiction collection will have additional components to it that will require a dedicated editor in the future. Jean will be my first choice if the need arises.


When I was looking for an editor, I needed to find someone who would become personally and emotionally and spiritually invested in the project. Someone who would take it as seriously as I had for the past 7+ years. I knew it would be challenging to find someone who fit that bill. Jean was the person my family needed to find to complete this project. This project required her skills and personal commitment. " J. Dax Hansen




Contact me for a sample edit and a consultation (at no charge). Let's discuss how working with a writing coach or editor can elevate your writing to its highest potential and streamline your path to publication. 




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