I'm an English language and literature graduate with a voracious reading habit that led me to a successful and fulfilling career in fiction editing. I spent eight years at The Toby Press, an independent publishing house, moving from freelance proofreader to senior editor to editorial director. During my tenure at the Toby Press, I edited a wide range of books. I edited literary fiction set in locales ranging from Arkansas to New York, from Europe to the Middle East. I edited historical mysteries set in fifth-century Italy and medieval Germany, and modern crime fiction set in New Orleans and California. I edited a novel whose protagonist was a fourteen-year-old girl from the Deep South, living in the fifties, and a novel whose protagonists included a preacher, voodoo practitioners, and the great city of New Orleans (itself practically a living, breathing character). I edited works translated from French, Spanish, Italian and Hebrew. Many of the works I edited were critically acclaimed; some won awards. I feel most privileged to have been the last editor of the late Donald Harington, once described as "America's greatest unknown novelist." Since becoming a freelancer, in 2010, the range of my editing experience has only expanded: I've edited science-fiction short stories, a fictionalized memoir of a young girl hiding from the Nazis in the Netherlands, a contemporary fantasy involving a werewolf, historical fiction set in biblical Israel, and more.
With a manuscript assessment, I can tell you, honestly, if your novel is good enough, and give you tips as to where it needs improvements and rewrites. I will read it closely, making notes as I go, on all aspects: language, structure, plot, characterization, etc. I will not edit the book. When I have finished my close read, I will write a report for you on the novel's strengths and weaknesses, on what I think has to be improved or changed, and being brutally honest, on whether it is 'good enough' at all. I might suggest rewrites of entire sections, or elimination of sections; I might question a character's motivations, etc. I would tell you whether I thought you needed to do significant rewrites before a developmental edit, or whether I could do a developmental edit straight away.
With a developmental line-edit, I will help you with plot, character, and language on both a macro and micro level. Along with my assessment of and guidance on the overarching themes, plot development and character integrity of the novel, I will address specific instances line by line: "Why would this character say this here? It doesn't fit with what's just happened/what they've shown of themselves so far" etc. I will polish language and point out awkward or confusing sentences; make sure that you have used the word you wanted to use.
"Not knowing what to expect as the writer of a first novel, I found Deborah's insight amazingly thoughtful, straightforward and, when needed by me as a first timer, gentle enough to handle. But don't think she held anything back. From her critique and line editing that questioned the selection of individual words for precise meaning to pointing out inconsistencies and weaknesses in my writing; she has challenged me not only to be better...she's challenged me to become my best! If you're looking for something less, go elsewhere; otherwise, you've found the right editor." John Blakely
"Deborah Meghnagi Bailey is very good at line editing. She'll catch small awkward moments and deftly smooth them out. She's wonderful at catching inconsistencies. You may not remember what you wrote back on page 14, but she does - and she'll hold it against you if you contradict yourself. But where she really excels is in inspiring a writer to do better. Behind all of her very specific exhortations ('Some inner dialogue needed here.' 'But why didn't he?') lies a strongly held principle: 'Good enough isn't good enough.' So it didn't really matter to Deborah that -even according to her - my novel was well written. Was it as good as it could be? If not, then it had to be improved. My book is much better because I hired Deborah as an editor. Did I sometimes grumble when I read her comments? Sure. But now I've got a far better book on my hands. It's clearer, more vivid, more engaging. I look at some of the sections inspired by Deborah's comments and I say, 'Did I really write that? That's so much better than what I'd written before.' So if you want someone to pat you on the back and tweak a few sentences for you, hire someone else as your editor. If you want to excel, hire Deborah Meghnagi Bailey." Ira T Berkowitz, author of A Wolf in the Soul
"After years of not touching my novel, I'm getting underway with it again having received your extraordinarily helpful critique and feedback. I hope that during this summer, I'll start to make some serious progress. As I do so, I just want you to know how helpful your critical feedback was. Your ability to cut straight to the chase of what worked about the novel, but more importantly, what didn't, has proven central to my rethinking the project. You've helped me ask important questions about what I'm trying to say, rethink who the characters need to be and how the story has to be structured. Now, of course, the hard work is up to me, but I wouldn't have had any idea how to tackle it without your input and keen editing abilities. Can't thank you enough." Daniel Gordis, vice-president of the Shalem Foundation and author of If A Place Can Make You Cry
"Deborah Meghnagi Bailey was my talented editor and she was everything a writer could ask for. With amazing patience, thoughtful critique and insight, she guided me through many difficult moments. Her suggestions for improvements transformed my work into a readable book. At all times supportive but honest, she gave me her unending encouragement. The dialogue with Deborah was inspiring and professional. She remained continuously involved in the process of editing my writing, which she did with skill and tenacity. It was her intelligent and sensitive advice that kept the book on track and gave it form. English is my second language; my mother tongue is Dutch and Deborah's keen professional eye picked up immediately on all my grammatical inconsistencies. She returned her suggestions for improvement, always within the agreed-upon period which, for a working relationship, is very important. We had some wonderful exchanges. I can only thank her for her commitment and expertise. It was a perfect creative experience. Any writer to get Deborah as the editor of their literary endeavours can consider themselves fortunate. " - Siska Topaz-Melkman, author of Where Once My Cradle Stood, a memoir of the author's experiences in the Netherlands during the Holocaust.
"How can I put this? Deborah's editorial skills are way beyond what any writer deserves. Whether she was addressing syntax, vocabulary or story logic, she provided extremely constructive (but direct!) feedback that had me slapping my forehead, wondering what I had been thinking. I had worked with Deborah professionally in the past, and she's a relative, so I thought I knew what to expect. Instead, she exceeded expectations and had me extremely grateful that I had chosen to hire her. Whether for a quick review or a deep edit/analysis, you can't go wrong; this final investment in your work is a no-brainer." Jay Bailey
"A literary agent whom I trust recommended that I considerably shorten my novel. She warned that readers wouldn't have patience with the amount of time the main character had to himself. When I presented the manuscript to Deborah for critique, she pointed out that, while tightening would be helpful, an expansion was also needed, one in which I more fully rendered other characters in the narrative. When I did this, the narrative became richer and balanced, and the main character's experience became more compelling. Then came the line editing. I enjoyed the edits so much! I came to think of Deborah as both an eagle, and a spider. She focused on both wide and narrow perspectives, seeing how the strands of the larger story worked together, and how the sentences and paragraphs needed to be re-worked to become a beautiful web of words. Deborah's keen insight and precision enhanced my own vision of the work while maintaining my own voice. I feel as though I received quality attention from a senior editor of a large press. Now my manuscript is ready to publish." Andrew Tertes, author of Jacob's Return
"Deborah was extremely helpful in pointing out flaws in my story as well as some possible solutions. She also helped me with clarity of action and motivation in the characters. Moreover, she did this in a way that let me know that she understood my genre [science-fiction], and what I was trying to accomplish. It was, in my opinion, just what was needed to bring out the best in my story. Oh, and she fixed my grammar and spelling too." Jeff Butler
"Working together with Deborah Meghnagi Bailey on my manuscript was a gratifying experience. Deborah professionally evaluated my composition and made helpful suggestions. Besides grammar and punctuation she also edited for consistency and story-line. I know my work is greatly improved through her dedication to perfection." Karen Goldman, author of Jordan and the Dreadful Golem
"I've never had the pleasure of working formally with Deborah Meghnagi Bailey as an editor, although on an informal basis she's been one of my own 'first readers' for a decade and her acuity and perception have aided me immeasurably. More formally, I've reaped the (considerable) benefit of her (considerable) talents, since she's the founder, designer, and ongoing website owner for brightweavings.com, the authorized site based on my work. The level of literary sensitivity, web-smarts and people skills required in shaping and guiding an award-winning website for over a decade now is extraordinary, and Deborah has handled it with aplomb, tact, and creativity. I have no hesitation whatsoever in suggesting that any author or publishing house shrewd enough to retain her will be rewarded greatly, and on many levels." - Guy Gavriel Kay, bestselling, award-winning author of Tigana, Under Heaven and more.
Toby Press Authors
"Deborah was everything I could have asked for in an editor. She immediately understood my vision for A Cabinet of Wonders, and with a keen eye and a deft hand, went through the novel and made it better than before, while still allowing it to feel entirely my own--and she did it all while being warm, funny, and a pleasure to work with." - Renee Dodd
"I had the very, very good fortune to have The King of Colored Town edited by Ms Deborah Meghnagi, then a stalwart at The Toby Press. Deborah's remarks were text-centered, clear, and incisive. I never had the feeling that I was being 'pushed', nor did I feel any need to push back in dialogue with my editor. The King of Colored Town went on to win 'The Willie Morris Award for Fiction', and one of the first persons I notified was Deborah. Deborah is a great editor. Any author lucky enough to have her help will find his work strengthened and his 'voice' clear and consistent. I hope I can have Ms Meghnagi reading my next literary work." Darryl Wimberley
"I count myself very fortunate to have had Deborah Meghnagi Bailey as my editor for my work with the Toby Press. Deborah's creative insight and keen editorial eye was never overbearing and always right on the money, and her suggestions for improvement were always delivered with the greatest of tact and sensitivity. She was not only able to skillfully and creatively address issues within the larger themes of the novel, but also provided line-by-line copy editing with laser-like precision. Without her intelligent and passionate input, my novel, The Sound of Building Coffins, would not have come across nearly as well, and I am forever indebted to her for that. The Sound of Building Coffins went into its 3rd printing in its second month, received an SIBA Award nomination, garnered rave reviews in many newspapers and periodicals, and was given heartfelt praise by such literary luminaries as New York Times bestselling author Peter Straub and famed New Orleans author Poppy Z. Brite. For a novel from a virtually unknown author published by a small literary press, these accomplishments are significant, and I am absolutely convinced that none of it would have been possible without the editorial contributions of Deborah." Louis Maistros
"Deborah Meghnagi picked my first novel out of the slush pile and it went on to win several awards. She was a pleasure to work with as editor and her eye for detail and enthusiasm for the work made this a fruitful and positive experience." Tamar Yellin, author of The Genizah at the House of Shepher, winner of the Rohr award 2007
"Deborah Meghnagi edited my novel, The Misremembered Man. Deborah was everything a writer could hope for: a thorough professional, truly dedicated to her craft, and with a keen and insightful eye. As well as her policy of respecting a writer's creativity - by highlighting what needed fixing without trying to fix it - I found her to be a very lovely person with great generosity of spirit." Christina McKenna
"I'm writing to strongly recommend Deborah Meghnagi Bailey's editorial work. I worked with Deborah during her time at the Toby Press; having already published one historical novel at Toby, I submitted a companion volume, which Deborah returned with a detailed, thoughtful, and on-point critique. Her comments and direction were crucial during my subsequent rewrite, and resulted in a tighter, more-focused, and in my view much stronger novel. I later had the pleasure of working with Deborah during the editorial process, when, page by page and line by line, she continued to help hone and focus the book (afterwards published as The Sin Eaters). From her first critique to the final edit, Deborah was a painstaking, supportive, critical, and flexible voice, and I feel fortunate to have had the experience of working with her." Andrew Beahrs
"Before my debut novel, The Year the Music Changed, was brought out in 2005, I was privileged to have Deborah Meghnagi Bailey, then at The Toby Press, edit the manuscript. Being edited is an experience most writers dread, and I was not much different. However, I quickly learned that not only did she like my book, she had helped persuade Toby Press founder and president Matthew Miller to publish it. Toby is an international publishing company and for this reason I anticipated some issues during the editing process: The story in my novel, set in the southern U.S. in 1955, is told as a year-long correspondence between a fourteen-year-old girl and an exceedingly colloquial and ungrammatical country singer on the way up, whose name is Elvis Presley. Deborah, in contrast, is British and highly educated. To my delight and amazement, however, she "got" everything I was doing, including all the nuances of life in a part of the U.S. that at that time still practiced racial segregation. She recommended few changes, but each one improved the book. When I finally met her, three months after my novel was published, it was like meeting a cherished friend. Based on the experience I had working with her, I recommend her without reservation to anyone seeking a knowledgeable, caring and versatile editor." Diane Thomas
Since becoming a freelancer I have worked with many clients on both fiction and non-fiction titles. I have done manuscript assessments and full developmental edits across a range of genres, including literary fiction, historical fiction, fantasy, science-fiction, memoir, and more. I was also retained to write a book of creative non-fiction, which has not yet been published.
In addition to the work I did as senior editor at Toby Press, after my promotion I also helped choose the books for our list, supervised junior editors, managed a team of freelancers, and traveled to sales conferences in New York, London and Toronto twice a year. A fuller description of my work and a recommendation from my boss can be found on my website in the 'About Me' section.
Toby Press published a wide range of fiction and a few select non-fiction titles. I was one of two editors on staff. I edited half the books on our list (doing both developmental and line editing), and proofread the other half. I also read manuscripts for assessment, and where necessary, wrote critiques for authors suggesting improvements and changes. I wrote cover copy and marketing copy for our books.
From the black jazz clubs on Central Avenue in Watts, to the tidy homes of the war widows he cons, Louis Greenberg lives life on the outside. No matter how charming and passionate he is, an outsider he will always be. He is white, a Jew, and that never goes away.
SOMETIMES YOU HAVE TO BECOME A WOLF BEFORE YOU CAN BE A MAN Meet 18 year-old Greg Samstag. With his high cheekbones, slanted green eyes, and all-too-graceful gestures, he seems more like a cat than a wolf. Yet a shadowy, nameless force has been haunting Greg, tempting him to lead the simple, brutal life of a wolf. And Greg is sorely tempted. As a wolf, he can return to a long-lost innocence. H... read more
Throughout history, numerous famous and infamous men and women have contributed in their sometimes perverted but almost always intriguing ways to the world of gastronomy. The stories of those people, their culinary habits and the dishes either created by them, named after them or cherished by them, are the subject of this book. Kings and queens, dukes and duchesses, chefs and restaurateurs, no... read more
With is the sensual, suspenseful and irresistible tale of Robin Kerr, a young girl abducted from her family and brought to a remote Ozark mountaintop, where she is left to fend for herself. Over the course of a decade, Robin grows up without human relationship, but with the company of animals and an inhabit, the half-living ghost of a young boy. In this magical novel in the Stay More series, H... read more
Forty years ago, Donald Harington created the little town of Stay More, hidden away in the hills of the Ozarks. He populated it with generations of families in search of open space, green pastures, freedom from convention, sweet air and water, or, simply, a world where time and history didn't matter. In Enduring, Harington continues the themes of the Stay More series and reveals, for the first... read more
"One has to write with considerable authenticity to pull off a story steeped in magic and swamp water that examines race and class, death and rebirth, Haitian voodoo, and the beginnings of jazz in 1891 New Orleans. Maistros's gritty debut novel follows the interconnected lives of the Morningstar siblings--all lovingly named by their father after disease-- as they wrestle with a powerful demon,... read more
It is 1955. Achsa is a lonely, passionate and precocious fourteen-year-old. Isolated at school by her intelligence and disfigurement, troubled at home by the undercurrents in her parents' relationship, she finds comfort and inspiration in the tunes and rhythms she hears on her radio. Hearing a recording by an unknown 20-year-old country singer named Elvis Presley, she fires off a fan letter, t... read more
When the curtains are drawn back on the cabinet of wonders, every individual you meet is an original, the indelible mark of their uniqueness shaped in their flesh. Molly and Faye are spirited teenagers - and conjoined twins. Saffron is the Wolf Girl, her female form covered head to toe in fur. Alex/Alexandra is a seductive hermaphrophodite, her male/female parts irresistible to many. To the ru... read more
Every time Hoppy enters a town in his truck, he is greeted with delight and anticipation, showered with warmth, offered meals, and more often than not, pretty girls trying to catch more than just his eye. It's not that Hoppy is so special; it's the pitcher shows that he brings with him, the shoot-'em-ups and giddyappers that all the Ozark folk adore that have them lining up to welcome him. Hop... read more
A scholar, returning to her family home in Jerusalem becomes embroiled in a family dispute over a discovered Codex, brought home originally her great-great grandfather. Set against the backdrop pf a hundred and thirty years of change, this is a novel of exile and belonging, displacement and the quest for both love and a true promised land.
There are good people and bad on both sides of the tracks that divide Laureate from 'Colored Town'. Our instruction in that hard truth comes as we follow two African-American teens, Cilla Handsom and Joe Billy King, as they endure the backlash resulting from the integration of their segregated school with the all-white school run by Lafayette County's all-white school board. The issue of the e... read more
The Misremembered Man is a beautifully rendered portrait of life in rural Ireland which charms and delights with its authentic characters and gentle humor. This vivid portrayal of the universal search for love brings with it a darker tale, heartbreaking in its poignancy.
He wants to get away from it all. Despite a satisfying career as chief curator of a museum devoted to the vanished American past, he finds he himself wants to vanish. So with the help of a book on the life and culture of a vanished tribe of Indians known as Bluff-dwellers, he takes up residence in the wilderness of the Ozark mountains, with only a dog for company and only an atlatl - a primiti... read more
What would it be like to have a God who doesn't care about rules and is purely interested in one thing; the love and preservation of his own creation? Jim Gudsen is just a regular guy, newly returned from the killing fields of Vietnam - cynical about life in general and religion in particular. His older brother Herkimer is different - always has been. Jim is about to find out just how differen... read more
The journey begins when Sarah, a strong, aging, haunted woman, defies Sam Ridley, lord of her small English village. After a cruel punishment prompts Sarah's swift, unforgettable revenge, Ridley takes his own brutal oath of vengeance. Forced to flee the village, Sarah meets Bill, a sin eater, who believes himself infected by the crimes of the unforgiven dead. Sarah's compelling need to heal Bi... read more
The Prime Ministers is the first and only insider account of Israeli politics from the founding of the Jewish State to the near-present day. It reveals stunning details of life-and-death decision-making, top-secret military operations and high level peace negotiations. The Prime Ministers brings readers into the orbits of world figures, including Menachem Begin, Yitzhak Rabin, Ronald Reagan, J... read more
Jacob's Return invites readers into the hearts and minds of one family, the Strongblood Goldmans, while on vacation in Hawaii. There they face tragedy and the Navy's sonar program, technology which threatens the survival of marine mammals. This is a heroic journey in which the family must surrender fiercely held beliefs in order to reconcile nature and tradition, and that which threatens them.... read more
In this hard boiled detective novel, Patrick Grimes, a WWII veteran and reporter, investigates the murder of a young woman in a seedy area of NYC. He uncovers truths that jeopardize not his only his life but his sanity.
Blackmail, a secret organization hiding within the elite society of New Orleans, a white supremacist running for governor of Louisiana; these are the key ingredients in this fine Southern crawfish boil of a novel about guilt, privilege and racism in one of America's most exotic cities.
Andrew Carpenter was a celebrity doctor, a star in his field. Now he's dead, killed in a hit-and-run on the streets of Manhattan. The police think it was an accident, but his devastated wife is sure it was murder.Private detective Nathaniel Singer agrees to take the case. Singer had once dreamed of being a poet, but he's discovered that his true calling is the art of saving lives. He soon disc... read more
A long overdue retelling of New Grub Street—George Gissing’s classic satire of the Victorian literary marketplace—Grub chronicles the triumphs and humiliations of a group of young novelists living in and around New York City.
J.J. Spencer is one of the many hungry young lawyers eager to climb the corporate ladder to the great future awaiting him. With his first annual review approaching, J.J. is confident his keen work for the top Manhattan law firm he is employed by will be praised all the way to the bank. Until, that is, he gives in to a sudden surge of compassion during a chance encounter at a diner. J.J. discov... read more
The children of the Israeli town of Keshet are born with the ability to bend nature to their will and 13-year-old Jordan has just discovered his gift of the power to transform into water. All of Jordan’s friends have unique powers: Noam can alter cloud formations, Ellah can spin webs, and little Eden can create the strange animals she sees in her dreams. No one knows the source of these powers... read more
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