Bess McAllister

Bess McAllister - Editor

Michigan

Former Tor Books editor with 7+ years experience, and a special love for fantasy, historical and YA. Speaks writer because I am one.

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Overview

Wherever you are in the process, I'm here to work alongside you to make your book stronger. With seven years experience at a big-five publisher, working with debuts to internationally bestselling authors, and fifteen years as a writer myself, I bring knowledge of craft as well as the business of publishing to every project I work on.

I can help you:

Develop an idea into a story with a pace-y plot, standout characters and a world your readers want to get lost in, whether it's a contemporary high school or a galaxy far, far away
Pinpoint problem areas in your manuscript--from pacing to character development to world-building--and brainstorm how to fix them
Polish your prose so it's concise, clear, with voice for days
Craft a pitch that communicates what your book is, where it fits in your desired market, how it stands out, and why an agent needs to read it
right now
Have fun and laugh a little along the way
I understand writers because I am one, with experience on both sides of the submission process. I have pitched and been pitched. I’ve received and written editorial letters. I’ve received and written rejections. I signed with my literary agent after querying five manuscripts, so when I say I get it, I *get* it. With my extensive experience of New York publishing, I can speak to matters of craft as well as the industry, and help writers achieve their dreams.

Writing is a solitary endeavor, but it doesn't have to be a lonely one. Writers need a team, and I'd love to be part of yours.

Are we a match made in bookworm heaven? Get in touch!

“Bess is the perfect combination of psychiatrist, plumber, and cheerleader for your book. Rather than shoe-horn in her own ideas (as some fear an editor might), she’s a wizard at outlining the problem areas and asking the insightful questions that will lead you to your own natural corrections. She’ll get her elbows dirty with you to muck out the stalls, and squee with delight beside you when you nail it.” -- Nathan Makaryk, award-winning author of Nottingham and Lionhearts
Languages
English (US)
Fiction
Contemporary Fiction
Fantasy
Historical Fiction
Thriller & Suspense
Young Adult

Work experience

Editor

Tor/Forge Books
March, 2013 – March, 2020 (about 7 years)

Working my way up from assistant on major projects like A DOG'S PURPOSE to editing my own list of highly acclaimed commercial fiction, I worked with debuts, internationally bestselling authors, and everything in-between during my seven years with Tor/Forge Books.

Web Editor

DIY MFA
August, 2012 – July, 2020 (almost 8 years)

I worked with a team of fifteen brilliant columnists to provide advice and wisdom on all areas of writing, from self-care to genre specialties. I also produced the podcast, DIY MFA Radio, hosting authors from all corners of the industry to talk craft, publishing, and more.

Portfolio (11 selected works)

Nottingham

Nathan Makaryk

Nathan Makaryk's epic and daring debut rewrites the Robin Hood legend, giving voice to those history never mentioned and challenging who's really a hero and a villain. “The most pleasurable reading experience I've had since first discovering George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire.” — Bryan Cogman, Co-Executive Producer and Writer, Game of Thrones No king. No rules. England, 1191. King Ric... read more

Nathan Makaryk's epic and daring debut rewrites the Robin Hood legend, giving voice to those history never mentioned and challenging who's really a hero and a villain. “The most pleasurable reading experience I've had since first discovering George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire.” — Bryan Cogman, Co-Executive Producer and Writer, Game of Thrones No king. No rules. England, 1191. King Ric... read more

Dive Smack

Demetra Brodsky

"A tense psychological drama with a voice that pulls you in and a twist you won't see coming."―Gretchen McNeil, author of TenA 2018 Junior Library Guild Selection Theo Mackey only remembers one thing for certain about the fire that destroyed his home: he lit the match.Sure, it was an accident. But the blaze killed his mom and set his dad on a path to self-destruction. Everything else about tha... read more

"A tense psychological drama with a voice that pulls you in and a twist you won't see coming."―Gretchen McNeil, author of TenA 2018 Junior Library Guild Selection Theo Mackey only remembers one thing for certain about the fire that destroyed his home: he lit the match.Sure, it was an accident. But the blaze killed his mom and set his dad on a path to self-destruction. Everything else about tha... read more

Becoming Bonnie: A Novel

Jenni L. Walsh

Perfect for readers of Paula McClain, Lisa Wingate, and Hazel Gaynor, and fans of Bonnie and Clyde, Breaking Bad and Netflix's The Highwaymen, Jenni L. Walsh's sparkling debut tells the story of Bonnie Parker as it's never been told before―in her own words. It's the summer of 1927, and Bonnelyn Parker is more likely to belt out a church hymn than sling drinks at an illicit juice joint. She’s a... read more

Perfect for readers of Paula McClain, Lisa Wingate, and Hazel Gaynor, and fans of Bonnie and Clyde, Breaking Bad and Netflix's The Highwaymen, Jenni L. Walsh's sparkling debut tells the story of Bonnie Parker as it's never been told before―in her own words. It's the summer of 1927, and Bonnelyn Parker is more likely to belt out a church hymn than sling drinks at an illicit juice joint. She’s a... read more

Side by Side: A Novel of Bonnie and Clyde

Jenni L. Walsh

"Full of charm and sly humor, SIDE BY SIDE tells the story of Bonnie and Clyde’s slide from lovebirds to jailbirds—and what an action-packed story it is! Vivid storytelling and a few shots of humanity breathe new life into this notorious duo. This book should be on everyone's "most wanted" list this summer." -- Elise Hooper, author of The Other AlcottTexas: 1931. It’s the height of the Great D... read more

"Full of charm and sly humor, SIDE BY SIDE tells the story of Bonnie and Clyde’s slide from lovebirds to jailbirds—and what an action-packed story it is! Vivid storytelling and a few shots of humanity breathe new life into this notorious duo. This book should be on everyone's "most wanted" list this summer." -- Elise Hooper, author of The Other AlcottTexas: 1931. It’s the height of the Great D... read more

Last Girls

Demetra Brodsky

Demetra Brodsky's Last Girls is a twisting, suspenseful YA thriller about sisterhood, survival, and family secrets set in the world of doomsday prepping.No one knows how the world will end.On a secret compound in the Washington wilderness, Honey Juniper and her sisters are training to hunt, homestead, and protect their own. Prepare for every situation.But when danger strikes from within, putti... read more

Demetra Brodsky's Last Girls is a twisting, suspenseful YA thriller about sisterhood, survival, and family secrets set in the world of doomsday prepping.No one knows how the world will end.On a secret compound in the Washington wilderness, Honey Juniper and her sisters are training to hunt, homestead, and protect their own. Prepare for every situation.But when danger strikes from within, putti... read more

Empire of Lies

Raymond Khoury

Empire of Lies is a sweeping thriller in the tradition of The Man in the High Castle, Fatherland, and Underground Airlines from New York Times bestselling author Raymond Khoury.“The best what-if thriller for a long, long time—makes you think, makes you sweat, and makes you choose, between what is and what might have been.”—Lee Child Istanbul, 1683: Mehmed IV, sultan of the Ottoman Empire, is p... read more

Empire of Lies is a sweeping thriller in the tradition of The Man in the High Castle, Fatherland, and Underground Airlines from New York Times bestselling author Raymond Khoury.“The best what-if thriller for a long, long time—makes you think, makes you sweat, and makes you choose, between what is and what might have been.”—Lee Child Istanbul, 1683: Mehmed IV, sultan of the Ottoman Empire, is p... read more

The Wishing World

Todd Fahnestock

"Whimsical and imaginative, with just the right mix of humor, heart, and adventure. The Wishing World is everything you could wish for in a story--and so much more!"--Shannon Messenger, author of Keeper of the Lost CitiesIn the Wishing World, dreams are real. You can transform into your own hero, find wild and whimsical friends, and wield power as great as your imagination. But Lorelei doesn't... read more

"Whimsical and imaginative, with just the right mix of humor, heart, and adventure. The Wishing World is everything you could wish for in a story--and so much more!"--Shannon Messenger, author of Keeper of the Lost CitiesIn the Wishing World, dreams are real. You can transform into your own hero, find wild and whimsical friends, and wield power as great as your imagination. But Lorelei doesn't... read more

Prettyboy Must Die: A Novel

Kimberly Reid

A CIA prodigy's cover is blown when he accidentally becomes an internet sensation in #Prettyboy Must Die, Kimberly Reid's fun, fast thriller inspired by the #Alexfromtarget story and perfect for fans of Alex Rider.When Peter Smith’s classmate snaps a picture of him during a late night run at the track, Peter thinks he might be in trouble. When she posts that photo—along with the caption, “See ... read more

A CIA prodigy's cover is blown when he accidentally becomes an internet sensation in #Prettyboy Must Die, Kimberly Reid's fun, fast thriller inspired by the #Alexfromtarget story and perfect for fans of Alex Rider.When Peter Smith’s classmate snaps a picture of him during a late night run at the track, Peter thinks he might be in trouble. When she posts that photo—along with the caption, “See ... read more

Bess has 3 reviews

Professionalism
Professionalism
Quality
Quality
Value
Value
Communication & Punctuality
Communication & Punctuality

Savannah Snyder
I truly enjoy working with Ms. McAllister. She has a fun and supportive personality that really come through, even in the messages! She has helped me define the potential of my story, and I hope to work with her again.

Savannah Snyder, August 2020


Kathleen Wilson
Bess provided extremely thoughtful, thorough, and helpful feedback on the manuscript I sent to her. She truly went above and beyond my expectations, with a long editorial letter and a chapter-by-chapter book map, and I could not have asked for a better editorial experience. Her notes are clear, organized, and easy to follow. I would absolutely hire Bess again for her keen editorial eye and her ...
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Kathleen Wilson, June 2020


George Krajewski
Bess was a pleasure to work with. She outlined what she would do for me and then got to work meeting my expectations. She delivered on everything she said she would do - on time and at a great price. The quality of work she did was outstanding. I feel like I received exactly the kind of direction I was looking for from this collaboration. I would highly recommend Bess for any editing work you ...
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George Krajewski, May 2020

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