Mark Leggatt has been editing at Jericho for going on two years and works on across an eclectic mix of genres. He’ll give you the critique you need while really championing what you’ve got right in your manuscript. If you’re working on crime, thriller, sci fi, fantasy, comic, literary, or nonfiction, Mark could be your ideal editor! Here’s what he had to say:  

Q: So that we can learn a bit about you, tell us about one writing-related thing you’re proud of, and one non-writing related thing you’re proud of.  

Writing – Two of my mentees have gained an agent in the past few months. 

Non-Writing – Got back into early morning walks with an audiobook and a 40lb pack to lose some flab! 

Q: What brought you to the world of writing? What keeps you writing?  

I’ve always written, and I’m happily obsessed by it. I love the physical act of creation and writing with pens/pencils/paper. I own over one hundred fountain pens and two thousand pencils. If it’s not written down, it doesn’t exist, it’s just neurons flashing around in your head. Write it down, you can’t edit an empty page.  

Q: Tell me about what you’re currently working on.  

Just about to polish my psychological crime book for my agent, then finish off my fantasy novel, a dystopian thriller set in the 1920s with a celtic/mythological parallel world, and then I’m drafting another psychological thriller. I’ve also got a literary fiction story I keep tweaking, set just before the first World War in the arts world of Edinburgh and Paris.  

Q: You’ve just received a new manuscript to critique: what’s the first thing you do? Walk us through your editing process.  

  • Read the first page, then the first chapter. Does it work as an opener, and what level of skill/experience does it show? This helps to tailor the response in the report to the correct skill level. 
  • Spell/grammar check the doc to gauge the level of written English. Not all authors are native English speakers. 
  • Make numbered notes on every chapter. 
    1 – Intro 
    2 – Commercial Potential 
    3 – Opening chapters 
  • After the first three chapters, write up immediate impressions of the opening. 
  • At each quarter of the book, write up impressions of narrative drive and reader engagement, use of language and writing skill. Is the book pulling me in and keeping me there? Is it tight and engrossing, or needs trimmed? 
  • Read the book again, and edit notes as required. 
  • Research the genre to find out the latest news. 
  • Write the report from numbered notes. 
  • From the book, try to judge the character of the author, so you can tailor the report to their psyche and their specific requirements.  

Q: How do you manage being on the other side of the editorial process – when your own writing is being edited? What should an author who is receiving critique for the first-time be aware of? 

I had my ego surgically removed years ago with a welding torch, so when my own writing is being first being edited by trusted writer friends, and then my agent, and then the publisher, I just take it on the chin. It works or it doesn’t. If not, then find the issue and fix it. The book is not written for you to read, it’s for others to read, so listen to them. But choose your critics carefully, as worthwhile opinion is based on worthwhile experience.  

Q: What writing do you get most excited about working as an editor on? What really makes you intrigued by a submission?  

When I read a great first page that pulls you in, that’s very exciting. Even if it’s not perfect and you can see the skill, that‘s instantly thrilling, as you know the writer has to the ability to make the story sing, and you as the editor can make all difference with a great report. But a slow opening can be fixed, so if it has even the smallest spark, it can be nurtured into a flame. 

Q: What do you read for pleasure? Is this different to the writing you enjoy working on?  

Editing requires focus and concentration, so I like to have a switchoff/brainwipe at the end of the day so I can start fresh the next day, and going for a walk with an audiobook is very effective. I’m currently listening to The Stranger by Albert Camus. It’s so good. Also, my go-to reading pleasure is Spike Milligan’s war memoirs or the tales of Don Camillo. I never get fed up with them. But I’ll read anything, I’m not fussed. 

Q: Finally, if you could only give one piece of advice to all aspiring authors, what would it be?  

I use a quote by Ernest Hemingway in my reports to show the whole thing is a learning curve and you have to start somewhere – and asking for a report is the best thing to have done. Often the writer, who is working alone, won’t know what they are doing well, or not so well unless we tell them. 

“It’s none of their business that you have to learn how to write. Let them think you were born that way.” 


Is your manuscript ready for a professional critique? Mark is one of 70+ Jericho Writers editors, so we’ll always find your perfect match.

Head over to our editing hub to see the services that we have on offer. Not sure which service to opt for? Drop an email to info@jerichowriters.com and we’ll be happy to discuss which service would be right for you and your manuscript.

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