The Independent Editor: Why Do I Need One?

Thursday October 17, 2013
07:00 pm

Tags: Event



The Independent Editor: Why Do I Need One? - Part 2



How does a writer know when their book is ready to be shown? What’s the difference between an in-house editor and an independent editor? What are the benefits of self-publishing versus traditional publishing? These are issues that the members of 5E can address, as well as broader questions about today’s literary marketplace. Their cumulative in-house experience gives them not only editorial expertise, but also insights into how books are evaluated for acquisition; how they are discussed in-house—by publicity, marketing and sales departments—before a bookseller ever sees them; and finally, how they are presented to the marketplace. 


5E: Five Editors, Five Perspectives is made up of veteran editors with decades of experience at prominent publishing houses. They have been brought into projects by writers, agents, editors and publishers to provide focused editorial support, whether it’s conceptual, developmental, or fine-tuning. They have an unusually wide range of experience in both traditional genres and newer categories, including digital publishing, graphic books, and collaborative writing. 


Judy Sternlight, a former editor at Random House, Ballantine, and Modern Library, has worked with acclaimed writers and translators including Marie-Helene Bertino, Rita Mae Brown, Edith Grossman, Bret Anthony Johnston, Mark Kurlansky, Peter Matthiessen, Kwei Quartey, and Helene Wecker. Specializing in literary fiction, her books have won various prizes including the National Book Award, the Sophie Brody Award for Excellence in Jewish Literature, and the PEN Beyond Margins Award. She also edits mysteries and thrillers.


After a successful 26-year career in publishing, Marjorie Braman is now a freelance editor, working with writers to get the best manuscript possible. She began her career as an editorial assistant and worked her way up through the ranks to V. P. & Editor in Chief at Henry Holt. Some of the authors she’s worked with include Michael Crichton, Elmore Leonard and Sena Jeter Naslund. She has worked on narrative non-fiction, memoir, and history, and has edited many New York Times and National bestsellers, award-winners and notable debuts.


Patricia Mulcahy formed the editorial consulting service Brooklyn Books in 1999 after over twenty years in book publishing. She started as a temp at Farrar, Straus and Giroux and left as Editor-in-Chief at Doubleday, where her authors included bestselling crime writer James Lee Burke. She is the co-author of the book It Is Well with My Soul: The Extraordinary Life of a 106-Year-Old Woman, by Ella Mae Cheeks Johnson (Penguin, 2010), and of Making Masterpiece: 25 Years Behind the Scenes at Masterpiece and Mystery on PBS by Rebecca Eaton (Viking, Fall 2013). See for more information.


Joan Hilty is an independent editor and packager specializing in graphic novels and illustrated books. During a 15-year career at DC Comics, she directed a children's comics line and acquired award-winning adult fiction and nonfiction for the Vertigo imprint. Her clients include Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Viacom Global Publishing, top-tier comics publishers Dark Horse, IDW and BOOM!, and authors published by Hachette, Tor and First Second. She teaches at the Maryland Institute College of Art. For more info, visit and


Jane Rosenman served as an Executive Editor at Houghton Mifflin, Scribner Publishing, and St. Martin’s Press. She was also Editorial Director of Washington Square Press. Since 2011, she has worked full-time as an independent editor. During her in-house career, she edited fiction writers such as Andrea Barrett, Elinor Lipman, Howard Norman, and Meg Wolitzer. Jane has also edited in the memoir category. At Scribner she published Alice Sebold’s Lucky and more recently worked on Mira Bartok’s National Book Critic Circle Award winning The Memory Palace before its sale to The Free Press.