Peng Shepherd

Peng Shepherd – Editor

Nationally bestselling HarperCollins author of multiple novels, with 9+ years of publishing and developmental editing experience.


I’m a nationally bestselling author, and former university creative writing instructor and editorial assistant, who’s spent over nine years in the publishing and creative writing fields. My novels have hit multiple regional and national bestseller lists, won national awards, been featured on multiple “best of” lists, and are translated into several languages, as well as have been optioned for film and television.

As an editor, I love helping other writers reach their own goals, whether that’s to improve their craft or to seek publication. I believe every story can have compelling characters, rich worldbuilding, and gripping plots, regardless of genre. I live for the moments in a novel when something happens I didn’t see coming, no matter how big or small. My passion is the strange, eerie, magical, poignant, bittersweet, or adventurous—if there’s something new to discover within the pages, I’m hooked.

In my critiques, I read every draft with sensitivity, nuance, and vision. My aim is to help writers find the heart of their stories and improve their manuscripts to be the best they can be, not merely what I think they should be. I focus especially on characterization and plot, because I believe those are the keys to a truly incredible, unforgettable book readers won’t be able to put down. In particular, one of my strengths is working with writers who worry their projects seem to have no direction or theme, and helping them find the electric, central third rail that will ignite every aspect of their work and drive them onward to a finished piece of art.


“Peng S. has given me comments on everything I’ve written for the past five years. She’s a wise and generous reader, who is unmatched at intuiting the aims of the work and working within that framework to make it as interesting and marketable as can be. You won’t find an editor with a better mix of literary and commercial instincts.”
—Naomi Kanakia, author of Enter Title Here and We Are Totally Normal

“Peng lives and breathes story. She can take even the most convoluted manuscript and get right to the soul of a character to help you find their true motivation, or flesh out a world so it feels authentic. She’s fast, thorough, brilliant, and genuinely loves working with other writers. I would trust her with all of my drafts.”
—Mike Chen, critically acclaimed author of Here and Now and Then, Light Years From Home, and Star Wars: Brotherhood

“[Peng] is brilliant... This is someone who you’re eventually going to have on this couch. She’s that good.”
—Brad Thor, #1 New York Times bestselling author, on the Today Show
Action & Adventure Contemporary Fiction Fantasy Literary Fiction Mystery & Crime Science Fiction Thriller & Suspense Women's Fiction
English (UK) English (US)
  • National Endowment for the Arts Fellow (2020)
  • Neukom Institute for Literary Arts Award, Debut Speculative Fiction (2019)
  • Elizabeth George Emerging Writers Grant (2016)
  • IGNYTE Award (2022)
  • LA Times Book Award (finalist) (2023)
  • MFA in Creative Writing, New York University
  • Published author (HarperCollins)

Work experience


Jun, 2018 — Present

I specialize in developmental editing and editorial assessments for writers looking to elevate their craft and/or seek publication. I give detailed, targeted feedback based on my years of experience as an award-winning author of several novels published with HarperCollins, as well as as an undergraduate Creative Writing Instructor at New York University.

HarperCollins Publishers

Jul, 2016 — Present

Nationally bestselling author of the novels:

-THE CARTOGRAPHERS, which was a USA Today Bestseller, and named a best book of the month by Good Morning America, Amazon, Apple, Real Simple Magazine, Bustle, Buzzfeed, The Millions, and Goodreads, featured on NPR Weekend Edition, and has been translated into several languages.

-THE BOOK OF M, which has won several awards and was chosen as a best book of the year by Amazon, Elle, Refinery29, and The Verge, a best book of the summer by the Today Show and NPR On Point, and has been optioned for television.

-and the novelette THE FUTURE LIBRARY, which won the IGNYTE Award and was selected for the 2022 "Best of American Science Fiction and Fantasy" anthology.

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

May, 2013 — May, 2015 (about 2 years)

An editorial assistant is often an editor's right hand, reading every manuscript alongside them and offering critical feedback, sometimes including writing the first draft the actual editorial letter to the author. As the Editor-in-Chief's editorial assistant at Farrar, Straus and Giroux, I evaluated some of the biggest manuscripts to cross any desk in the publishing house, and provided valuable opinions on acquisitions, gave editorial advice, and helped usher manuscripts from first draft to publication.

New York University

Jan, 2013 — May, 2014 (over 1 year)

As an undergraduate creative writing instructor, it was an honor and a pleasure to introduce curious students to the great joy of fiction. I designed my own syllabus, gave weekly craft lectures, and led weekly workshops to help students improve their writing. My proudest achievement came at the end of my first semester, when several of my first-years discovered a love for writing so strong that they all continued on from my class to intermediate creative writing.

Peng has 20 reviews





Alex E.

Alex E.

Dec, 2022

Peng was an absolute joy to work with. She immediately got what I was trying to achieve, and the manner in which I was trying to achieve it. Her thorough and detailed breakdown on everything from style, characterisation and plot was invaluable to me going forward. This is truly a lover of books and stories and it shines through in her comments. Her enthusiasm and drive is highly infectious an...
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Suzanne B.

Suzanne B.

Oct, 2023

Peng has been so helpful getting my manuscript query-ready. She has been generous with her time and feedback, from her thorough final report to her ongoing willingness to answer questions. She has an astute eye, quickly picking up on both my intentions and the places where my intentions became muddied. Her feedback gave direction without smothering my creative vision with her own. I recommend ...
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Patrick R.

Patrick R.

May, 2023

Peng was a brilliant editor: insightful about my characters from the very first message, before I'd even hired her. She offered ideas without ever being prescriptive, and suggested multiple ways to approach the mechanical issues in my draft. I also shared some specific problems I'd been facing, and she responded thoughtfully to those questions. I'd hire Peng again in a heartbeat—and probably wi...
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Mark Y.

Mark Y.

Apr, 2023

Peng is a fabulous editor. Besides being a brilliant author, she was extremely professional and supportive, patiently guiding me through my first novel. I made great progress with my book, and plan to collaborate with her again.
Olivia R.

Olivia R.

Dec, 2022

Peng has been amazing! She's super communicative, thorough with her notes, and super supportive of my vision. She has such an eye for world-building and novel structure and I 10/10 recommend her!!

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