Amber Smith

Amber Smith - Editor

Charlotte, North Carolina, USA

Editor + bestselling YA and MG author / 15 years experience in publishing / I love to edit both fiction + nonfiction for readers of all ages

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As an award-winning and NYT bestselling author with fifteen years of experience in the writing world, both on the fiction and nonfiction side—with ten published books under my belt—I know how to spot problem areas in manuscripts. Just as important, though, I also know how to draw out the elements in a manuscript that are working. How to help a writer create the very best version of the story they want (and need) to tell.

I do this by brainstorming with you, providing multi-leveled critiques, and asking questions that will deepen even your own understanding of various elements of your work—like characters, plot, setting, pacing, and voice, to name a few. I will provide thoughtful, constructive feedback (because, really, who has energy for anything less?). I may also point you toward other resources for further study on the art and craft of writing, ones that are geared specifically to your individual needs and strengths.

My manuscript and editing services are perfect for the writer who:

- is ready to dig in and take their work to a new level
- is in need of a fresh perspective
- requires assistance in navigating next steps
- has hit a metaphorical wall: conceptually, logistically, linguistically (or any combination thereof)

I will work with both fiction and nonfiction manuscripts for readers of all ages, though my areas of specialty include: contemporary realism, young adult, middle grade, memoir, art, culture, biography, and narrative nonfiction.


My love of story has taken me down many different paths in life, not only as a writer but first, as an artist. I received a BFA in Painting and then went on to earn a master’s degree in Art History. With a passion for uncovering the work, lives, and stories of visual artists, I entered into a decade-long career in the art and museum world.

It was here that I began to find my voice in the written word, and eventually, was inspired to tell my own stories. Since 2008, when my first art book was published, I have continuously worked with numerous publishers, including “big four” houses like Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster, as well as small, independent, and university presses.


My young adult novels deal with topics and issues near and dear to my heart, such as mental health, gendered violence and abuse, and LGBTQ+ equality. On the middle-grade side, I love to create worlds that are full of imagination, centering around family, friendship, and the challenges of growing up. These titles include The Way I Used to Be, The Last to Let Go, Something Like Gravity, and Code Name: Serendipity. I also contributed to the nonfiction young adult anthology, Our Stories, Our Voices. Each of these books received accolades in the form of awards, honors, critical acclaim…and some have even been NYT bestsellers!

Prior to turning my attention to fiction full-time in 2015, I authored or co-authored numerous nonfiction books on the topics of art, history, culture, and biography, including Bearing Witness, Sophisticated Surfaces, Southern Recollections, Ode to Michael Goldberg, and Upping the Anti. Additionally, in my previous art world career, I managed, edited, and copyedited numerous books, essays, and educational materials on these nonfiction topics.


Writing across genres and demographics has afforded me the invaluable opportunity to work with writers (and readers) of all different backgrounds and experience levels.

Over the past five years, I have led dozens of writing workshops and presentations across the country, speaking to students, classes, and writing groups of various ages and levels. During this time I also began offering freelance editing services, and I have grown to cherish these interactions and relationships. There’s nothing that compares to helping a writer make a breakthrough in their work or seeing them not give up on their dream.


I have extensive experience working with industry professionals in a broad range of publishing scenarios and I’m passionate about helping others to find their voice and tell their stories. If I sound like the kind of person you want in your writing corner, I’d love to hear from you!

English (US)
Biographies & Memoirs
LGBTQ Fiction
Middle Grade
Young Adult


  • BFA (State University of New York at Buffalo, 2004)
  • MA (State University of New York at Buffalo, 2008)


  • Kansas NEA Reading Circle List (Something Like Gravity, 2020)
  • Maryland Black-Eyed Susan Award Nominee (The Last to Let Go, 2020)
  • Eliot Rosewater Award Honor Book (The Way I Used to Be, 2018-19)
  • Connecticut Nutmeg Book Award Nominee (The Way I Used to Be, 2018)
  • Texas Library Association TAYSHAS List (The Last to Let Go, 2018)
  • American Library Association Amelia Bloomer List (The Way I Used to Be, 2017)
  • Texas Library Association TAYSHAS List (The Way I Used to Be, 2017)
  • New York Times Bestseller (The Way I Used to Be, 2016)
  • Goodreads Choice Award Nominee - Best YA Fiction (The Way I Used to Be, 2016)
  • Bank Street Best Books (The Way I Used to Be, 2016)
  • Whippoorwill Book Award Winner (Something Like Gravity, 2021)

Work experience

Freelance Writer and Editor

January, 2015 – Present (over 7 years)

In 2015, upon the sale of my debut novel, I left the nonprofit world to start my own company, under which I have worked with Simon and Schuster's McElderry and SimonPulse imprints, as well as Penguin Random House's Razorbill Books. With these publishing houses, I have written 4 young adult and middle grade novels, and contributed to a nonfiction young adult anthology. During this time, I have also freelanced as an editorial consultant, where I continue to provide developmental editing of fiction and nonfiction book-length projects, and manuscript services such as query letter reviews, editorial assessments, and copyediting. My books include: CODE NAME: SERENDIPITY (PRH/Razorbill, 2022), SOMETHING LIKE GRAVITY (S+S/McElderry, 2019), THE LAST TO LET GO (S+S/McElderry, 2018), OUR STORIES, OUR VOICES (S+S/SimonPulse, 2018), THE WAY I USED TO BE (S+S/McElderry, 2016).


The Mint Museum
April, 2009 – April, 2015 (about 6 years)

In my curatorial role at this nonprofit arts organization, I learned to hone both my project management and writing and editing skills. At any given time, I was managing multiple art exhibitions and their corresponding publications, which ranged from short 15-page booklets, to full-scale book-length exhibition catalogues with multiple contributors, published by major international art presses. In this position, I wrote five publications on the subjects of art, history, culture and biography, while assisting in the organization, development, and editing of dozens more. These publications include: BEARING WITNESS (2014), VIK MUNIZ: GARBAGE MATTERS (2013), SOPHISTICATED SURFACES (2012), ROMARE BEARDEN: SOUTHERN RECOLLECTIONS, GALLERY GUIDE and FAMILY GUIDE (2011). Selected editing/contributions include: CONNECTING THE WORLD: PANAMA CANAL AT 100 (2014), SEEING THE WORLD WITHIN (2012), ROMARE BEARDEN: SOUTHERN RECOLLECTIONS (2011), CONTEMPORARY MASTERWORKS (2010).

Project Manager

University at Buffalo Art Galleries
February, 2007 – January, 2009 (almost 2 years)

In this temporary position I spent nearly two years managing and organizing a retrospective exhibition, as well as its accompanying exhibition catalogue, which would become my first published book, ODE TO MICHAEL GOLDBERG: SELECTIVE THIEVERY. This book included essays that delved into postwar art and poetry, biography, and history.

Portfolio (12 selected works)

The Way I Used to Be

Smith, Amber

The Last to Let Go

Smith, Amber

Our Stories, Our Voices: 21 YA Authors Get Real About Injustice, Empowerment, and Growing Up Female in America

Reed, Amy, Murphy, Julie, Menon, Sandhya, Hopkins, Ellen, Smith, Amber, LaCour, Nina, Kuehnert, Stephanie, Charaipotra, Sona, McLemore, Anna-Marie, Colbert, Brandy, Brockenbrough, Martha, Brown, Jaye Robin, Goo, Maurene, Saeed, Aisha, Sanchez, Jenny Torres, Moskowitz, Hannah, Gregorio, Ilene (I.W.), Deonn, Tracy, Daud, Somaiya, Day, Christine, Duncan, Alexandra, Reed, Amy

A Tiny Spark

Kreighbaum, Brittney

Juni's Island: A Novel

Kast, Laura , K, Laura

British Ceramics, 1675-1825: The Mint Museum

Gallagher, Brian, Halfpenny, Pat, Stone Perry, Barbara, Roberts, Leticia, Ferris Zimmerman, Margaret

Amber has 13 reviews

Communication & Punctuality
Communication & Punctuality

Laura Thompson
Amber is amazing! This is my second time working with Amber and I'm once again so very grateful for her expertise and direction. Thank you!! Hopefully we'll work together again soon!

Laura Thompson, May 2022

Storm Erickson
I'm pretty much obsessed with Amber because she's the best editor ever and has been SO helpful both times I've worked with her! She even put together and sent me a playlist that included songs that were mentioned in my book. She's about the little things (and the BIG things) and that's what makes her so great at her job.

Storm Erickson, May 2022

Michelle Calderon
Amber was great to work with! She gave me ETAs that she stuck to and kept me updated on her progress week to week. When the edit came in, it was encouraging, well thought-out, and immensely helpful. It spurred ideas and made me excited to dive into the revision, which I think is exactly how you should feel after a good edit! Overall, would definitely request an edit from Amber again and would r...
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Michelle Calderon, March 2022

Arista Alexander
Amber keeps up with timelines and give really detailed criticism to help improve my novel. It also nice that I continue running questions by her to give advice. I would recommend Amber.

Arista Alexander, March 2022

Laura Thompson
Amber is incredible. The amount of detail and thought that went into her editing process was beyond anything I could have hoped for. She is so thorough and thoughtful with every idea and change that it's amazing she's able to stick to such speedy timelines! I'm so grateful to have had this opportunity to work with her and hope to do so again soon. If you can get her, you're in good hands!

Laura Thompson, February 2022

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