Mentoring & Development Editing

I work with authors to develop, revise and complete their manuscript. I have thirty years’ experience mentoring emerging and established authors. As a developmental editor I offer conversations and written feedback that enable authors to hone and develop their craft and discover new techniques. I’m particularly focused on structure, narrative pacing, and language techniques. As a mentor I support writers to realise their vision for the manuscript, to stay on track, keep to deadlines, and to finish the work, and realise opportunities for publication: to prepare their work for submission to agents and publishers, and to bring the manuscript to a publishable standard.

Click here for a summary of my industry experience.


‘Your Own Personal Yoda?

Q&A with writing mentor Dr Jane Messer’

jacqui brown, Women’s Ink, Winter 2021


Working with Jane made the experience of writing The Best Witch in Paris one of the happiest in my life. Jane wholeheartedly supported my vision, gave me the space I needed to find my story, and offered endless encouragement and brilliant advice along the way. My mentorship was more than a masterclass in writing – Jane’s support throughout the creative writing process helped me to make my novel the best it could be, and to achieve my dream of becoming a published writer. 

lauren crozier, mentoree and winner of the Text prize 2023

I have the good fortune to be working with Jane Messer as an editor and mentor on my new novel Compassion. It is a sequel to my historical novel Benevolence published by Magabala and HarperVia. Jane has outstanding culturally appropriate skills and is a brilliant editor of creative writing. She is able to serve the author’s vision while pointing out problems and offering solutions. Her knowledge of horses is also very useful. 

Julie Janson, author and ASA mentor award recipient. Compassion will be published by magabala books later in 2023.

Thank you so much for getting me to this point, Jane. I really don’t think I could have done this without your insights and feedback. It’s been daunting and gruelling, but you’ve taught / are teaching me great stuff about writing! I’m so pleased that Lee recommended I contact you.

Julie t, emerging writer and health PRACTITIONER

Jane is without doubt one of the best editors and mentors I have ever worked with. Having Jane discuss your ideas and read your words is like running crystal clear water over a murky stream. Jane can help you see things buried deep in your work..It is a unique gift and I feel very privileged to be the beneficiary of it. … her firm but encouraging guidance was also vital to me navigating the total collapse of a manuscript earlier this year. It can be easy being a mentor when things are going great, it requires great skill, patience, and experience to help guide an emerging writer through what is quite a devastating time! Jane helped me see my manuscript objectively, beyond the years of blood, sweat and tears that were screaming ‘but it must be good, I’ve spent so much time on it!’ With her help and encouragement, I … brushed myself off and am well into a rewrite – that is flowing in the crystal clear ‘Jane has been here’ waters!’ 


Jane understands how a story works on almost a visceral level. Her sensitive insights come from a place of sound professional experience and her own authentic responses as a prolific reader and writer. She’s supportive, encouraging and realistic too. From big-picture structural issues to small but significant details my manuscript has advanced leaps and bounds under her guidance. Jane cheered me on from the sidelines and held my hand when ti came time to ‘kill my darlings’ – exactly what I needed a mentor to be.

Jennifer castle, author, submissions editor and ASA Mentor award recipient

It was wonderful to work again with Jane, and her mentoring has been significant in helping me identify and clarify the themes, characters and narrative of my first novel. Her feedback and insights are concise and detailed and she puts an incredible amount of effort into each step of the mentoring and review process. I value her input tremendously and can’t wait to enlist her services again! 

Nathalie Sutherland, emerging writer, editor, seattle/sydney

Can I just say, I loved working with Jane. Her non-nonsense, honest and encouraging approach freed me to give everything a go with results I couldn’t have dreamed up. I mean, who would have thought I’d have had short nonfiction shortlisted for publication and long fiction in progress by the time we finished our work together? Thank you Jane! A thousand times over, thank you.

Kylie hough, emerging writer and ASA Mentor award recipient

It was only through Jane’s vision and patient inspired teaching that saw me develop from a very green young aspiring writer, to an author with stories published in both Australian and international journals, such as IslandAntipodes and Wasafiri.

Michelle Hamadache, author, editor, lecturer in creative writing

Jane recognised my vision immediately and was ambitious for me, and incredibly supportive. She’s helped me work through the kinds of technical inconsistencies I wasn’t able to see clearly, being in the thick of the story. She taught me much about structure, and the importance of killing off darlings, and of being a disciplined and decisive editor of my work. Her advice and expertise in putting together pitch and proposal documents and creating a tight synopsis were also fundamental I believe, in getting my novel seen by agents and publishers.

Cassy Cochrane, emerging author, voice coach and actor

Jane has a deep understanding of craft, in particular, focalisation, plot and character development; all skills gained from years of teaching and reading many kinds of manuscripts. She is an astute and highly intelligent reader. She is concise and constructive in her feedback. She is an extremely ethical and generous person, a creative problem-solver, an empath. All wonderful qualities in a writer and mentor. I would strongly recommend Jane as a mentor to other writers. I feel extremely privileged to have had Jane’s caring and unwavering support for my writing over many years.

Mary-Ellen Mullane, author and children’s TV commissioning producer, ABC

Jane Messer’s clarity, generosity and immense knowledge are the best combination of skills in a mentor. Her openness to students and colleagues from minority communities and genuine care for the emotional well-being of her students and mentees has had a direct and positive impact on my productivity as a writer, teacher and researcher. I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to learn from her wise counsel and to develop my own skills with her guidance.

Roanna Gonsalves, author and academic