Duncan Murrell

Duncan Murrell – Editor

Developmental editor of NYT bestsellers by Grand Central, Algonquin, Warner, Hachette. I am also a contributing editor at Harper's Magazine.

Overview


"I was fortunate to find an extraordinary freelance editor in Duncan, without whose creativity and vision this idea would not have gone very far, and without whose hard work and insight this book would never have been finished. What he does is an art, and as I and many other authors will attest, he is one of that art's finest practitioners. He gave me the confidence that I really could be a writer." -- Robert Hicks, New York Times bestselling author of THE WIDOW OF THE SOUTH, A SEPARATE COUNTRY, and THE ORPHAN MOTHER.

I love helping people tell their stories!

I began in editing as a newspaper journalist, but quickly moved to book publishing and work I had long dreamed of doing. For five years I was an acquisitions editor at Algonquin Books and edited some of the company's most successful, bestselling books in both fiction and nonfiction. I began freelance editing (and writing) in 2002, and during the ensuing decade I edited many books of fiction and nonfiction for trade publishers, academic publishers, agents, and individual authors. I edited New York Times bestselling novels published by Warner, Grand Central, and Thomas Nelson. In addition to fiction, I've worked with authors and publishers on books of journalism, history, science, art, and music. For five years I was the director of the writing program at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University, where I taught editing, publishing, and writing for undergraduates and graduate students. I've been a visiting professor in creative writing at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, and I continue to teach and host writing workshops.

I'm also a contributing writer and contributing editor at Harper's Magazine and The Oxford American magazine, and a writer for the Huffington Post Highline, the Virginia Quarterly Review, Men's Health, and other magazines. Writing has complemented my editing career by giving me an intimate experience of the writer's struggles. This experience has forced me to develop empathy and patience to go with clear-eyed, exacting editing.

I dive deep into manuscripts and ignore nothing. I don't take shortcuts, and every mark or comment I make on a manuscript has been carefully written for that book. I think the author's own intentions for a book are the most important criteria for an editor.

I think grammar and usage are exceedingly important, requiring a different kind of attention from the editor. I edit even the finest, smallest detail if I think working on it will help the writer to say what they want to say.

I work quickly. I respond to messages promptly. I do what I say I'm going to do and I'm always on time. I love to hear from my authors and will always make time to talk. I think that being an editor also means having a sympathetic ear and a willingness to help authors navigate the publishing world without losing their minds.


Services
Non-Fiction
Biographies & Memoirs Inspirational
Fiction
Contemporary Fiction Historical Fiction Historical Mysteries Historical Romance Literary Fiction
Languages
English (AUS) English (CAN) English (NZ) English (SA) English (UK) English (US)
Awards
  • Notable Selection, Best American Essays, "The Meat Horses of Siberia"
Certifications
  • Master of Science in Journalism, Northwestern University
  • Master of Fine Arts, fiction, Bennington College
  • Bachelor of Arts, history, Cornell University
  • Certificate in Copyediting, U.C. Berkeley

Work experience

CraftBook Editorial

Jul, 2002 — Present

• More than 1 million books in print. New York Times bestsellers: The Widow of the South, A Separate Country, The Orphan Mother
• I work with authors to develop their ideas into publishable books and manuscripts, often through many drafts.
• As a developmental editor, I edit manuscripts and proposals for structure, clarity, style, mechanics, and flow. I am also a line editor and copy editor. (Often all the kinds of editing come into play on the same project.)
• I help authors and would-be authors through the process of publication, from book/article proposal through publication and beyond, and into content marketing, book trailers, and networking. My editing specialities include fiction (literary, historical, crime), American history, 18th-20th century world literature, literary criticism, true crime, religions, political science, sports performance, biological sciences and natural history.

Harper's Magazine

Jul, 2005 — Present

• Reported and wrote longform works of narrative nonfiction on a variety of emerging regional and global issues, including the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, termites, and Latinx immigration into the American South.

Algonquin Books

Dec, 1997 — Jul, 2002 (over 4 years)

• Nearly 1 million books in print under the Algonquin imprint. Acquired, developed, and edited works of fiction, nonfiction, and photography, including national bestsellers (Last Child in the Woods, by Richard Louv; Gap Creek and Brave Enemies, by Robert Morgan; Godforsaken Sea by Derek Lundy).
• Built working relationships around the country with agencies, academic institutions, and publications in the search for new authors
• Developed expertise in developmental editing, long-term project development, line editing, copy editing, and book promotion

Portfolio

Carnton Plantation, 1894: Carrie McGavock is an old woman who tends the graves of the almost 1,500 soldiers buried there. As she walks among the dead, an elderly man appears--the same soldier ... read more
Developmental Editing
Gap Creek

Robert Morgan

The National Bestseller. A New York Times Notable Book. There is a most unusual woman living in Gap Creek. Julie Marmon works hard, "hard as a man" they say, so hard that at times she's not su... read more
Developmental Editing
Set in New Orleans in the years after the Civil War, A Separate Country is based on the incredible life of John Bell Hood, arguably one of the most controversial generals of the Confederate Ar... read more
Developmental Editing
"The best book ever written about the terrifying business of single-handed sailing--. Lundy tells a harrowing tale, as tight and gripping as The Perfect Storm or Into Thin Air."--San Francisco... read more
Developmental Editing
On the night of December 1,1900, Iowa farmer John Hossack was attacked and killed while he slept at home beside his wife, Margaret. On April 11, 1901, after five days of testimony before an al... read more
Developmental Editing Book Coaching
She was the first woman to address the U.S. Congress, the first to operate a brokerage firm on Wall Street, and the first to run for president. She's the woman Gloria Steinem called "the most ... read more
Developmental Editing
The Truest Pleasure

Robert Morgan

A “wondrous” novel of a marriage in the Appalachian Mountains, from the New York Times–bestselling author of Gap Creek (San Antonio Express-News). Ginny and Tom have a lot in common—a love of ... read more
Developmental Editing
Smartbomb

Heather Chaplin

"A history of video games, presented through sharp profiles of their creators." —The New York Times Book Review What started as a game of Pong, with little blips dancing across a computer scre... read more
Developmental Editing Book Coaching
You can hear it in the hottest clubs in New York, the hippest rooms in New Orleans, Chicago, and San Francisco, and in top concert halls around the world. It's a joyous sound that echoes the p... read more
Developmental Editing Book Coaching
The Last Saint of Lucrisi

Frederick, Brian

Independently published

Developmental Editing Book Coaching
Catbird Winter

Hill, Monté

Independently published

Developmental Editing
Developmental Editing
Made with Reedsy
River Hawks Run

Ferguson, Jim

Ridgecroft Media

Developmental Editing Copy Editing
Copy Editing
Developmental Editing
Developmental Editing Copy Editing
Made with Reedsy
Show Up, Stand Up, Speak Up

Bellucci, Janice

Bowker

Developmental Editing
Made with Reedsy
When Lightning Comes

KLAUS, DUANE

DUANE KLAUS

Developmental Editing
Made with Reedsy
Jingle Boys: A Novel

Williams-Dalgart, Herb

Fancy Raven Books

Developmental Editing Book Coaching
Made with Reedsy
The Leon Lewis Band

L M Levin

Book-Art Press Solutions LLC

Developmental Editing
Developmental Editing
Developmental Editing
Developmental Editing
Made with Reedsy
The New Prosperity Museum

Averett, Edward

Wellborn Books

Developmental Editing
Made with Reedsy
A Call to Chengdu

Reed, Richelle

Independently published

Developmental Editing
Made with Reedsy
The Santa Conspiracy

Berg, Erik J

Independently published

Developmental Editing
Made with Reedsy
The Bastard of Beverly Hills

Moscatel, Rafael

JIA Publishing

Developmental Editing
Made with Reedsy
Everyone Needs a Larry: Love with a Twist of Cancer

Greenhut Tollin, Jennifer

Zero Negative

Developmental Editing Copy Editing
Developmental Editing Book Coaching
Made with Reedsy
Lady of the Army: The Life of Mrs. George S. Patton

Van Steelandt, Stefanie

Minnegate Press

Developmental Editing
Made with Reedsy
Crowd Crush

Camblor, Carlos José

Rocinante Press

Developmental Editing
Made with Reedsy
Mending My Mind

Church, Sara

Pyrus Publishing

Developmental Editing
This Rock

Robert Morgan

From the author of Gap Creek-an international best-seller and winner of the Southern Book Critics Circle Award-comes the gripping story of two brothers struggling against each other and the co... read more
Developmental Editing
Brave Enemies

Robert Morgan

As the War for Independence wore on into the 1780s, unrest ruled the Carolinas. Settlers who had cleared the land after the Cherokees withdrew were being mustered for battle as British forces ... read more
Developmental Editing
An epic account of one remarkable woman's quest for justice for her son after the Civil War from the New York Times bestselling author and "master storyteller" of The Widow of the South (San F... read more
Developmental Editing
She has been called "the next great sports superstar." She's a world-champion sprinter and a national-champion basketball player. She has been considered the next great hope for American track... read more
Developmental Editing
A Golfer's Education

Darren Kilfara

Darren Kilfara's scheme to study abroad at St. Andrews University in Scotland-allegedly, to write a thesis on the history of golf-was foolproof. He would enroll at the school, go to a couple o... read more
Developmental Editing Book Coaching
Humans suffer from numerous parasitic foodborne zoonoses, many of which are caused by helminths. The helminth zoonoses of concern in this book were once limited to diseases of animals, but hav... read more
Book Coaching
Developmental Editing Book Coaching
The Jew Store

Stella Suberman

This debut memoir about a Jewish family pursuing the American Dream in the early twentieth century South is “vividly told and captivating in its humanity” (Kirkus Reviews).In small town Americ... read more
Developmental Editing
Though usually plain, sometimes humble, wooden churches are something special. With no fancy accoutrements - the flying buttresses, the mountains of organ pipe, the marble floors, the windows ... read more
Developmental Editing Book Coaching
There's nothing more cherished by Southerners than their dogs. Dogs, and their Southern keepers, know when it's time to eat and when it's time to be quiet. Both know when to move slow and when... read more
Book Coaching
In A Dark Place in the Jungle, writer Linda Spalding travels to Borneo's threatened jungles on the trail of orangutan researcher Birute galdikas. What she finds is an unholy mix of foreign sci... read more
Developmental Editing
Running North

Ann Mariah Cook

“This remarkable chronicle of the grueling Yukon Quest remains a vivid illustration of the soaring potential of both human and canine character” (Booklist).What happens when a woman and her hu... read more
Developmental Editing
At Sea in the City

William Kornblum

New York is a city of few boundaries, a city of well-known streets and blocks that ramble on and on, into our literature, dreams, and nightmares. We know the city by the byways that split it, ... read more
Developmental Editing Book Coaching
Spirits of Just Men

Charles D. Thompson Jr.

Spirits of Just Men tells the story of moonshine in 1930s America, as seen through the remarkable location of Franklin County, Virginia, a place that many still refer to as the "moonshine capi... read more
Editorial Assessment
Wrapped in Rain

Charles Martin

From the author of The Mountain Between Us and the New York Times bestseller Where the River Ends.“Martin spins an engaging story about healing and the triumph of love . . . Filled with deligh... read more
Developmental Editing

Duncan has 48 reviews

Professionalism

Quality

Value

Responsiveness

Samantha L.

Samantha L.

Oct, 2023

Pinned
I am so incredibly grateful to Duncan and I honestly feel lucky to have found him as an editor. Not only was he timely professional, responsive, and fair, he took the time to work with me to tailor the edits to where I am with a rewrite of my book. I feel like he took the time to truly understand what I am trying to achieve with my novel and how to get me across the finish line. I am having act...
Read more
Tim A.

Tim A.

Aug, 2023

Pinned
Duncan read an 85K-word historical novel and wrote a 2500-word assessment that went beyond anything I expected in thoroughness and depth. It was also accurate in agreeing with my own reservations about the text and observations by casual readers (friends and beta). His critique outlined the positive aspects of the novel and the major areas for revision, then drilled down into details about char...
Read more
Staley K.

Staley K.

Dec, 2021

Pinned
Working with Duncan was empowering, encouraging and made me a better, more thoughtful writer. His editing notes were clear, concise and insightful and his developmental revisions were comprehensive and made for more developed characters, more engaging settings, a more workable story line and ultimately, a far superior novel. His process for providing feedback is straightforward and well-organiz...
Read more
Jay K.

Jay K.

Jun, 2024

Duncan has a very very good eye when it comes to reading and evaluating written material both in regard to its literary components —what may or may not be working in a given work and how to further what does and modify what doesn’t—but also with regard to the work’s value for the marketplace, so as to help the writer sell what he has written.
Peter L.

Peter L.

Jun, 2024

Excellent experience with Duncan! Very communicative, responsive, and flexible with changes I made to the initial request. His work was top notch, and he is a person of integrity and sharp insight who calls it like he sees it. Highly recommended!

Sign up to read more reviews

Create a free Reedsy account to connect with Duncan and thousands of other publishing professionals on Reedsy.

Professionals similar to Duncan

Get a range of offers by requesting quotes from multiple professionals.

Leigh W.

Leigh W.

As a former English professor, I’m eager to share my expertise in writing ranging from the academic to the popular. No grades, I promise!

Bluffton, SC, USA

100% reply rate

View profile
Abigail Johnson

Abigail J.

Editor at a world-renowned University Press. Experienced working with agents and comfortable editing across a wide variety of genres.

Princeton, NJ, USA

95% reply rate

View profile
Ruoxi Chen

Ruoxi C.

Award-winning book editor and publishing consultant specializing in speculative fiction of all stripes: SFF, horror, anything crossover

New York City, NY, USA

100% reply rate

View profile