Chris Barton

Chris Barton – Editor

I specialize in books for kids — fiction and nonfiction alike. You don't have to be Willie Nelson to get me involved, but it worked for him.


My years of experience as an editor led me into writing my own acclaimed books for young readers, and the lessons I've learned as an author of both bestselling fiction and award-winning nonfiction over the past two decades have fed directly back into the services and support that I provide to other writers. I know from both sides of the relationship that, above all, an editor should help a writer do the best job that that particular writer can do of telling their story in their own way.

When you work with me, regardless of how far along you already are or if you've even gotten started, we'll begin by making sure that we both know your objectives for your project, because for each writer — and even for different projects by the same writer — the objectives may be unique and may well shape the approach and steps we take. Throughout the editing process, I believe in asking the writer questions about the choices they have faced or made (and paying attention to their answers!) so that I understand where the writer is coming from; I don't believe that a good editor heavy-handedly prescribes solutions to a problem that the writer doesn't even agree exists. And at the end of your edit, you're going to have a piece of work that sounds like you at your best, and which is ready for whatever next readers you have in mind, be they editors, agents, family and friends, or audiences far and wide.

"Chris’s expertise covers every aspect of nonfiction and fiction picture books — finding inspired ideas, archival and personal research, story structure, voice, even titles and dedications! His probing questions and supportive, insightful critiques have boosted my writing immeasurably."

— Cynthia Levinson, Sibert Medal winner for The People’s Painter: How Ben Shahn Fought for Justice with Art

"As a skilled writer, editor, and analyzer of children’s nonfiction, Chris has helped me to put better books out into the world. He dug into my manuscripts thoroughly and studied the content beyond my expectations. Many times, Chris conducted his own research, and then offered additional resources I could use to learn more about my subject. He has a way of seeing a story from varying vantage points, and has helped me to discover blind spots that need to be addressed when rewriting. My two most award-winning books have Chris’s fingerprints all over them."

— Don Tate, author of Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton and It Jes' Happened: When Bill Traylor Started to Draw

"Writing can be a very solitary endeavor, and after a while, you stop being a good judge of what you've written. Is it working? Who knows? Chris is a great, objective resource. He's looked at many of my manuscripts with fresh eyes and provided thoughtful feedback that's helped me keep going down the path I started or move seamlessly to a better one."

— Pat Zietlow Miller, bestselling author of Be Kind and Sophie's Squash

Children’s Non-Fiction
Middle Grade Picture Books
English (US)
  • Texas Center for the Book at the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, 2019 Texas Great Read
  • Texas Institute of Letters, 2019 Best Children’s Picture Book
  • National Council of Teachers of English, 2018 Orbis Pictus Honor Book for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children
  • Honor Title for the 2017 Bank Street College of Education Cook Prize (Best Science, Technology, Engineering and Math [STEM] picture book)
  • PEN Center USA, 2016 Literary Award (Children’s/Young Adult) – Finalist
  • American Library Association, Association for Library Service to Children, 2010 Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Honor

Work experience


Jan, 2017 — Present

In addition to writing my own fiction and nonfiction books for young readers — dating back to The Day-Glo Brothers: The True Stories of Bob and Joe Switzer's Bright Ideas and Brand-New Colors (2009) and including New York Times bestseller Shark vs. Train (2010) — I provide editorial services to other writers of books for young readers and speak to professional audiences of fellow writers, librarians, English Language Arts teachers, and other educators.

The Reference Press/Hoover's, Inc./Dun & Bradstreet

Jun, 1995 — Jun, 2016 (about 21 years)

I wrote and edited engaging, informative, and accessible overviews, histories, and short profiles of companies (especially, but not exclusively, in the retail and consumer products sectors) for the acclaimed Hoover's Handbook series of reference books and related online content. I eventually oversaw a team of a dozen researchers, writers, editors, and copyeditors.

Chris has 1 review





Neil O.

Neil O.

Sep, 2023

Very responsive, provided great feedback and ideas for direction. Gave examples and had clearly done a lot of homework. Much appreciated.

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