Experiencing the Work
“Deborah Brodie rocks!
I love her sense of story and the chances she is willing to take with authors.”
After 22 years at Viking and six as co-founder of Roaring Brook Press, Deborah Brodie is now a freelance editor, book doctor, and writing coach for publishers, literary agents and individuals. Visiting Faculty and Thesis Advisor in the MFA program at the New School in New York City, she is also an MFA Mentor for Simmons College in Boston.
The help of an experienced manuscript doctor can sometimes make enough difference to inspire a publisher to acquire the project. Or convince an agent to take on the writer as a client or, if the writer is already a client, agree that the manuscript is now ready to submit to publishers.
Deborah approaches manuscript doctoring as a one-on-one tutorial about writing and publishing. She edits the same genres, age groups, and subject matter as she did during the thirty years she worked on-staff in publishing houses. Her interests range from deceptively simple picture books and humorous middle grade novels to coming-of-age teen fiction. About one-third of her work is fiction and nonfiction for adults, with a specialty in proposals for nonfiction projects.
As the editor of The Eyes of the Dragon by Stephen King, Deborah experienced the joys of working with a mega-bestselling author who, despite his fame, was open to suggestions. Although her specialty is books for young readers, she has also edited bestselling fiction and nonfiction for adults. As a manuscript doctor, recent projects include a memoir by award-winning columnist Angela Himsel of growing up in a cult and converting to Judaism as an adult, a successful businesswoman's philosophy, and a behind-the-scenes look at the back-of-the-house staff of an upscale restaurant.
“Deborah Brodie knows the book business inside out. She also knows how to x-ray a manuscript, study its bones, and with her keen knowledge of structure she can help a struggling author get the book that’s hidden inside … out!”
Deborah works with the author to strengthen a manuscript by cutting didactic passages, refining language, and exploring characters. She believes it comes down to trusting the reader enough not to spell out every detail — and to be willing to revise, revise, revise.
Deborah sees her main responsibility as asking questions — the right questions — that lead the author to new insights and practical new approaches to plot, characterization, pace. She often suggests writing exercises to shake things up and help move the author in a more productive direction.
Deborah’s fees are commensurate with her more than thirty years’ experience as a working editor and creative writing teacher. The most extensive work involves detailed notes throughout the text, plus a multipage editorial letter highlighting the strong points and giving specific suggestions for revising parts that need strengthening. And she always provides an opportunity for back-and-forth about writing and publishing.
The goal is to build on the writer’s strengths, create tools to use on the next book, and help the writer reach for the next rung of the career ladder.
For more details, including fees, please see
Frequently Asked Questions.