Cressida has worked in bookselling and publishing for over twenty years. She started at Waterstones in Hampstead, working in the children’s book department for a year before going to Sussex University to read English Literature. After graduation, she worked at Dillons Booksellers in a variety of Central London locations, mainly in charge of the fiction section and was one of the inaugural bookseller judges for their First Fiction Award.
Moving into publishing, she worked at Penguin Books and then Piatkus Books. As a freelance editorial consultant for the last fifteen years, she has worked with a variety of publishers and literary agents on both fiction and non-fiction titles, as well as directly with authors. She runs workshops and gives lectures on editing and submission, attending conferences such as the Felixstowe Book Festival, Eroticon 2014 and the Self Publishing Conference.
She reads a wide variety of books from crime to sci-fi to fantasy to chic-lit to literary fiction. In non-fiction, her tastes are broad, covering pretty much anything that would be interesting for the lay reader. As the mother of two children, she has rediscovered modern children and teen literature.
Her house is brimming with books, but she also loves her Kindle and embraces Twitter as a way of chatting to authors she admires.
'I thought [Cressida’s] reports exemplary in their insight and helpfulness. I found the sharpness and constructiveness of her formal or aesthetic sense remarkable, and particularly helpful.' Matt Jordan
'Cressida Downing – The Book Analyst – has line-edited two of my books so far and has great insight into what changes need to be made. The service she offers is quick, without being rushed, efficient and cost-effective, and I would gladly recommend her to any authors who need a critical eye cast over their work.’ Andrew Goodman – author of the forthcoming TIBERIUS FOUND
'Friends can only go so far. As a professional reader, Cressida Downing analyses the good and the bad in my writing. The relationship between editor and writer becomes a dynamic process. Her suggestions help my reflection and sense of purpose.’ Margo Gorman
‘Cressida Downing has assisted me for seven years assessing typescripts and proofs with a view to their publication. Her reports are concise, insightful and highly intelligent.’ Alan Samson – Publisher, Weidenfeld and Nicolson
Susan has over 30 years’ experience of working in publishing and bookselling, and has worked for many of the major houses and retailers, including Scholastic, HarperCollins, Dorling Kindersley, Puffin, Penguin Children’s Books, Hodder Children’s Books, Pandora Books and amazon.co.uk. As well as her background in publishing, Susan trained as a journalist, during which time her research, writing, editorial and analytical skills were carefully honed, and have proved invaluable in her current role.
As an editor and publisher, Susan aims to work closely with authors across a range of genres to help them develop their manuscripts. This can involve working with them from the initial concept, guiding them through the writing process, or working on an already prepared manuscript, helping them to progress their ideas and their writing. With some authors, this means providing a simple copy-editing service, checking grammar and spelling, checking for style and consistency, and polishing the final version. For other authors, the process involves a much closer and more personal approach, working through their manuscript line by line, helping them develop their writing, taking them further into their work, asking them the pertinent questions, highlighting the good, the bad and the downright ugly, encouraging them throughout the process, and sometimes being tough!
The editor/author relationship is a very special one: a good editor will support, advise, listen, critique, encourage and sometimes cajole with the aim of making the author’s work the very best it can be, helping them to find and develop their own voice. Susan holds this relationship very dear. As an editor she can be ruthless with a red pen, persistent with her questioning - but is always fair. Her goal is always the same: to make sure that an author’s work is the best it can possible be.
Susan works across a number of genres, ranging from children’s and young adult fiction, novels, family histories and memoirs, biographies and academic non-fiction. She enjoys the different challenges that each of them present, and loves the process of working with the bones of a manuscript to bring it to life, whether the author is looking to self-publish or whether the next step is presenting their work to agents and publishers.
'What a super person to talk to about my novel. Susan was informative and down to earth ... gave me the encouragement to submit to agents, which I have now done.' Margaret Swarts
'Susan edited my manuscript precisely and with love. I fully trusted her with my characters and their story because I knew she cared about them just as much as I did. Thank you Susan for pulling my manuscript towards promise.' Helen Hudson
'Susan has recently completed the copy editing and indexing of an academic literary biography of my authorship. This was done most effectively; without fuss, and to my entire satisfaction. I can therefore highly recommend Susan for any similar work.' David Boyd
'I was very fortunate when Susan took on the role of editor and 'critical friend' for 'Fens End'. She tightened up the story, corrected my awful punctuation, commented on the rewrites and generally got the story into a shape where I was confident enough to launch it onto a wider, unsuspecting public. We were then able to discuss ideas for a follow up and again she knocked 'The Ghosts of Fens End' into a publishable state. Without her professionalism those books would not have got into print.' Michael Rouse
'Susan did a good job editing my book, 'Follow the Master'. She reviewed each chapter as it was written, corrected grammar and punctuation, making the language flow and making the book readable. Many people who have read it say it is well written, and that is largely attributable to her. She was also enthusiastic and encouraging, giving me confidence and making my three year experience of writing the book enjoyable and rewarding.' Sir Samuel Roberts, Bt
'I worked with Sue to develop, publish and launch a celebrity cookbook to raise money for Viva Arts and Community Group. I found the whole experience thoroughly enjoyable and stress-free as Sue was always supportive, knowledgeable and creative. I found the service offered by Sue to be excellent, good value and very reliable. I have also always found her to be extremely positive and professional. I would never hesitate to recommend Sue to anyone or work with her again in the future.' Daniel Schumann (Trustee and Founder of Viva Arts and Community Group)
Sara has spent over twenty years working in UK trade book publishing. She has had experience as a commissioning editor, desk editor and development editor, and also as an author’s agent. She currently works as a freelance book editor, proofreader and writer, specialising in fiction, YA and children’s books. Sara is the author of eight published works so far, including the non-fiction memoir Breakfast Epiphanies (Atlantic Books, 2006); the children’s adventure novels, The Dread Pirate Fleur and the Ruby Heart (Random House, 2009) and its sequel, The Dread Pirate Fleur and The Hangman’s Noose (Random House, 2010); The Fairythorn Tales series under the pseudonym, Lara Faraway (Templar Publishing, 2013); and most recently two non-fiction books for children, Lions (Hachette Publishing Group /Born Free Foundation, 2015) and Leopards (Hachette Publishing Group /Born Free Foundation, 2016).
Sara is passionate about storytelling and working with writers. She has a keen eye for a good story and the ability to hone it.
‘I learned more from Sara's edit on my first draft than I did in two years on a Creative Writing MA. Incisive, intelligent and creative editing that absolutely lifts a piece of writing.’ Jane Brittan author of The Edge of Me
‘Sara has the most attuned editorial eye I’ve ever come across. She notices gems no matter how deeply hidden and can coax the very best out of people with her gentle and encouraging hand. Her talent as a writer herself has, I think, a lot to do with this.’ Jodie Hodges, Literary Agent, United Agents
‘I’ve worked with Sara as an author and as a proofreader, she has been a delight in every respect. Talented, reliable, responsive and extremely knowledgeable about all aspects of the publishing industry, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend her services.’ Felicity Johnston, Commissioning Editor, Orion Children’s Books
'Sara Starbuck commissioned my first novels at Hodder & Stougton and I couldn't have wished for a better editor. Hugely insightful, sensitive and warm, she cares passionately about her writers and their work. She helped me become a much better writer and - some thirteen years and eleven books later - she is still my go-to person for advice on all things writing and publishing and the first person I recommend to other writers seeking editorial guidance. Massively experienced, highly respected within the publishing industry AND a lovely person, what more could any writer ask for?' Siobhan Curham, author of Dear Dylan, the Shipwrecked Series, True Face and The Moonlight Dreamers
Kylie is a novelist and Creative Writing tutor and has worked as a freelance manuscript editor for over ten years. Prior to this she worked as a script editor in the U.K, the U.S, and Australia after training at the Australian Film, Television and Radio school. She has worked for the BBC and the Australian Broadcasting Commission. She is the author of four historical novels which have, between them, been published in eleven languages, and is a lecturer on the Creative Writing degree course at Bath Spa University.
As an author herself, Kylie understands the sensibility with which writers approach their work, and knows from experience that writing a novel can be a deeply personal undertaking. She believes that a good editor is not only fluent in the technical language and the mechanics of crafting a novel but can also identify its underlying themes and sensibilities and help an author to identify the story that they want to tell. She understands that allowing someone to read and critique one’s writing can sometimes feel a little like having one’s soul critiqued.
Because of her teaching experience, Kylie is as comfortable and competent working with a writer who needs guidance in the basic principles of narration, composition and character development as she is with more assured and experienced writers. She is passionate about supporting emerging novelists and helping them to refine all aspects of technique, from prose through to plot. She has edited both literary and mainstream fiction, including YA and historical, and also memoirs.
'Kylie was my mentor and editor when I wrote After Everything. She was patient, encouraging and nursed me through many early drafts, always offering the most constructive and creative advice in both plot and character development. She knew when something was not working, and more importantly, knew how to fix it. I couldn't have completed the book without her encouragement and I know I wouldn't have got a two book deal with Simon and Schuster in America without her help. In short, she was invaluable. And good fun as well.' Suellen Dainty, author of After Everything
'It’s a lucky writer who falls into the hands of Kylie Fitzpatrick. Astute, capable, experienced and with a fantastic intuition for drawing out the soul of a manuscript, Kylie is able - with great gentleness - to guide you in the right direction. I highly recommend her as an editor and mentor.' Jennifer McVerigh, author of The Fever Tree, a Richard & Judy Summer Read
Penny has a degree in English Language and Literature from Oxford, and a Masters in Business Studies. She has worked in book publishing for over 25 years: she was an editor at Century Hutchinson, Scholastic, Simon & Schuster and Reed Elsevier, and for 10 years was Publisher at Random House Children’s Books. She has had the pleasure of working with established, award-winning authors as well as discovering new, exciting talent during her time at Random House. She left that position in 2006 to move to France, from where she has been working in a freelance editorial capacity.
Penny’s speciality is children’s books (fiction and picture books). She recognises that this genre requires additional expertise, including knowledge of different formats, age group-related vocabulary and content, and the importance of illustration and design. She has teenage children, and has a particular interest in young adult fiction.
In addition to her experience in the children’s books world, Penny has interests and knowledge in a wide variety of literary genres, from literary fiction to romance and sci-fi. She has lived in France for 8 years so is happy to read French books, and she especially enjoys stories with a Gallic flavour!
Penny is an editor who is very happy giving ‘broad brush’ advice as well as more detailed editorial direction. She has a great respect for the writing process, and enjoys the collaborative process between author and editor. She is responsive to the needs of each individual author, giving expertise and support, whether that person is a first-timer or a more established writer.
'Penny’s feedback has taken my stories to a new level, which is precisely what I was looking for. She gently steered me to consider different options and gave me confidence to keep going. Not only are my stories much better now, but I have learned a lot from the experience and am more confident about approaching agents.' Mahrukh McDonald
‘I worked with Penny on a number of picture book projects when she was editor at what is now Random House Children’s Books, part of the Penguin Random Group. It was a very happy experience. She was an unfailingly fair judge of both words and pictures, no mean feat as the skills for judging both areas together require a very special ability. It was a great sadness to me when she left as working and building a relationship with a good editor is a vital part of all authorship. The author has to trust the judgement of the editor and that trust has to be won through experience. In short Penny was an ideal editor and I would recommend her to any other authors and or illustrators without hesitation.’ Ian Beck, illustrator and author
‘I worked with Penny on a much cherished project and found her to be insightful, sensitive and utterly professional. She guides very gently, bringing her wealth of experience to each project, but never dominates or interferes.’ Janey Jones, author of the Princess Poppy series of books for Random House.
‘Working with Penny on some of my most successful picture books over about 9 years was a joy. With the lightest touch and a clear eye she would help to resolve any problems - but more than that, she inspired. Before one book was finished, along came another. I owe her huge thanks for seeing the best in me and for steering my texts to a happy conclusion.’ Joyce Dunbar, author of This is the Star, Tell Me Something Happy, The Very Small and many other highly successful picture books for Random House.
Louise has almost a decade's worth of experience working in publishing. Currently a freelance editor and literary agent, she previously worked as an editor at Pan Macmillan publishers and Dorling Kindersley publishers, and as a bookseller. As an editor she commissioned, edited and published a list of fourteen adult commercial fiction authors. She edited genres ranging from crime and thrillers, historical fiction and women’s fiction through to science fiction, horror and fantasy. She published bestselling authors such as Jessica Knoll and Mary Wood and award-winning authors such as Ryan David Jahn.
As an agent and an editor she is able to combine her editorial expertise with knowledge of the publishing industry to offer advice and support on both the technical aspects of a novel as well as commercial viability. She has always enjoyed working directly with authors, which she finds an innately rewarding process, by helping authors to become more confident in their work and the book become the best it can be.
Charlotte has two decades’ experience as an editor, having most recently spent ten years as Publisher of Bloomsbury’s sport and non-fiction books and Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack. Prior to her time at Bloomsbury, Charlotte was an editor at Kogan Page, at Sweet & Maxwell law publishers, and at the small trade publisher Metro Books/Richard Cohen Books.
She has commissioned, edited and published all kinds of books across a broad sweep of subject areas – from sport, social history, memoir and autobiography, to gender studies, cookery, reference, and business and management – many of which have been prize-winners. She also reads widely across literary fiction, nature writing, travel writing, music, and general non-fiction with an engaging and original story to tell.
Charlotte has always put the editor–author relationship at the heart of what she does, and finds working closely with authors hugely rewarding. Whether it’s developing the initial book proposal, steering an author through the writing process, or fine-tuning the finished text, she takes great pleasure in ensuring each piece of her writers’ work shines as brightly as it possibly can.
'I was fortunate to work with Charlotte from inception to completion on my book The Title, covering 104 years' worth of football history. Plenty of scope for aimless meandering there, but Charlotte kept me on the straight and narrow, her keen eye for both the smallest detail and the bigger picture utterly invaluable. I'm proud of the finished book, which has a crisp focus I could never have achieved without her. It was a privilege to work with her, and I'm lucky to have benefited from her expertise, experience and advice.' – Scott Murray, author of The Title
'Charlotte is a brilliant editor who has a natural ability to ensure a story sings. She is sensitive to the foibles and nuances of the writer and project, always instinctively knowing when to add, cut or tweak. She edited my first two books and I will always be grateful for the steely encouragement, something I'm sure other authors will say gave them the confidence to just get on with 'doing their thing'. Her advice on structure, tone and pace was also invaluable.' – Ed Hawkins, author of Bookie Gambler Fixer Spy and The Lost Boys
'Charlotte Atyeo is a brilliant and dedicated editor. She has an unerring eye for detail but just as importantly she is able to work closely with the author in order to reveal the structure and order in their work, however complex and layered the subject may be. I have worked with her for the last seven years and have the highest regard for her close knowledge of the market, her enthusiasm for writing, and her diligence as an editor.' – Rebecca Winfield, literary agent, David Luxton Associates
'Some editors are strongest at seeing the bigger picture, others on getting down and dirty grappling with the text. Charlotte is the only editor I've known who is genuinely brilliant at both. Charlotte commissioned a book in a new genre for me and it was thanks to her encouragement, her faith and her innate gift for helping to shape a narrative from concept right down to subordinate clause that the book was shortlisted for a national award.' – Charlie Connelly, author of Gilbert and Elk Stopped Play
'Charlotte is an exceptional editor, able to improve a book immeasurably with just one structural suggestion. She is one of those editors who is able to understand the book as well as the writer.' – Charlie Campbell, literary agent, Kingsford Campbell
Wanda Whiteley has worked for over 25 years in the publishing industry. After starting out in children’s publishing at Penguin, she moved to adult book publishing. For 12 years she was a Publishing Director at HarperCollins where she selected and shaped hundreds of projects for the marketplace. As a writer, Wanda has collaborated on two memoirs: Streetkid, which spent 20 weeks in the top 10 of the Sunday Times’ non-fiction bestsellers list in 2005; and Marmalade and Machine Guns, published in August 2012. She has spent the past eight years editing and critiquing novels and memoirs for authors - both established names as well as those who are writing for the first time.
'Wanda’s report quickly got to the heart of the problem. She has an uncanny ability to hone in on what works and what doesn’t, what should stay and what should go. Wanda recommended me to a top London agent who secured a two-book deal with a major publishing house.' – Colette Dartford, author of Learning To Speak American and An Unsuitable Marriage
'She is not only very savvy about the publishing world, but also has a warm and encouraging way of getting the best out of you' – Steve Biddulph, author of Raising Boys and Raising Girls
'She’s brilliant and does that rare thing of coming up with a solution that no one else has thought of. I have launched two authors’ careers in the last two years, both of whom would not have found a publisher without her advice.' – Robert Kirby, Head of Literary Dept., United Agents
'Wanda's instructive understanding of how to make a manuscript watertight has been invaluable at a point where, several drafts in, I could no longer see the wood from the trees.' – Lucy Dawson, author of His Other Lover
'Wanda’s expert input has been insightful, helpful, and has vastly improved my books.' – Steve Davison, author of Kill & Cure and Dead Innocent
'From her very first glance at my decidedly wobbly manuscript, Wanda diagnosed the essential problems within it, prescribed the correct medication, then administered it with the utmost of care. She ultimately brought my manuscript to life..' – Tara Lal, author of Standing On My Brother’s Shoulders
Alex has worked in publishing for most of his professional life, and there's nothing he likes more than talking to an author about their book, diving into the pages, and helping them identify any issues that might be holding their story back.
Alex holds a BA (Hons) in American Literature with Creative Writing from UEA, an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Lancaster, and is currently studying for a PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Southampton. After completing his MA, Alex worked at Rogers, Coleridge & White literary agency, working with authors such as Zadie Smith, Philip Hensher, Nick Hornby, Sandi Toksvig and Joe Dunthorne.
Alex joined Cornerstones Literary Consultancy in 2014, managing editors, assessing new author enquiries, and scouting for agents. He maintains a close relationship with Cornerstones, and also works directly with authors at the Romantic Novelists’ Association Summer Conferences, and at A Chapter Away writers’ retreats.
'I asked Alex to give me feedback about my 32,000-word outline of my work-in-progress. Alex provided me with amazingly accurate and pertinent feedback. He clearly read my outline in close detail, and completely understood what I was trying to achieve. His 3,000-word written report to me was just great - full of really meaty plot, character, and tension advice. He also did a mark-up version of my 32,000 outline - which was thankfully blunt and to the point. My face-to-face meeting with him, where we talked about my novel, was even more helpful; he was able to respond in a very constructive way to my many questions and requests for advice. I could not recommend him highly enough.' – Tom Irvine, author of Amy's Proof
Lucy Courtenay has been writing children’s fiction for almost 20 years, working as a team writer on series such as Animal Ark, Dolphin Diaries, Beast Quest, The Pet Finders Club and Heartside Bay. She has several series under her own name, including Wild, Scarlet Silver and Space Penguins, and the romantic teen comedy The Kiss (Hodder 2015). She is a freelance editor of children’s fiction for Cornerstones Literary Consultancy and the author of Get Started in Writing an Illustrated Children’s Book for the Teach Yourself series (John Murray 2016). She is represented by Stephanie Thwaites at Curtis Brown Ltd. See www.lucycourtenay.com.
'Huge thanks to Lucy for my critique. A eye opener into POV. Grateful for this evaluation now at this stage. I have some work to do but remain confident my writing will improve to the betterment of my manuscript.'– Lucy P, W&A Your Children's Book delegate
'I just wanted to say how much I've enjoyed your classes and how much I've learned. I knew fiction writing would be hugely different from the feature writing I've done for years, but there really is more to consider than I had realised. Thank you for 'opening my eyes' and hopefully I can use all the info to get a little book out some day.' – Eileen, W&A Your Children's Book delegate
'I learned so much from the workshop and your book, and came away thoroughly inspired and excited about putting it all into practice.'– Alexandra Strick, Get Started In Writing An Illustrated Children's Book delegate