Gretel Hakanson

Gretel Hakanson – Editor

Developmental editor and copyeditor of mind-body-spirit nonfiction. Edited 125+ books published by trade publishers and NYT bestsellers.


I help authors write books that change lives. I'm a book collaborator, book coach, developmental/substantive editor, and copyeditor. I specialize in nonfiction: self-help, mind-body-spirit health, how-to, advice, endurance sports, fitness, psychology, health & wellness, and relationships. I have more than fifteen years of experience and have edited 125+ books published by trade publishers, including NYT bestsellers.

I offer the same copyediting process that the trade publishers use. I review your entire manuscript, correcting spelling, grammar, syntax, word usage, hyphenation, capitalization, and punctuation according to The Chicago Manual of Style. I also fact-check proper nouns and point out inconsistencies and repetition. I create a style sheet that lists the conventions specific to your manuscript.

Developmental/substantive editing is a collaborative process and takes a thirty-thousand-foot view of your manuscript. While you can think of the copyeditor as the janitor, who straightens the furniture, polishes the mirrors, and waxes the floor, the developmental editor looks at the foundation, siding, insulation, and wiring, and makes sure everything will operate as intended: the sinks have plumbing, all of the rooms have doors, and there are stairs to the second floor. During a developmental edit, I often help authors answer big-picture questions, such as: What is the reader's ultimate outcome or takeaway from this book? What's the best process/structure to get the reader to that outcome? Is the content clear, compelling, and presented in a way that will help the reader achieve the outcome? Are the tone and content appropriate for the intended audience? What is missing? What is not necessary? How can you use sidebars, text boxes, appendices, and other features to improve the organization and flow? What needs permission and/or cited with a reference? Developmental editing usually includes at least two back-and-forth rounds with the author where I supply in-depth (long-winded) comments in the manuscript with ideas, tips, and suggestions.

If you're not sure what you need, whether your manuscript/proposal is ready for pitching, or of the "condition" of your manuscript, a manuscript evaluation can be a (relatively) quicker (and cheaper) option. In this case, I'll often review the first fifty pages and write a two- to three-page editorial letter that summarizes my findings and suggestions.

For the past few decades, I have been immersed in personal development and natural healing--personally as well as professionally--including acquiring a yoga teaching certificate, a natural foods chef certificate, and a BS and MS in holistic nutrition, along with my BA in journalism. I am a long-time meditator, Ashtanga yogi, fitness enthusiast, avid mountain biker, whitewater kayaker, and dog rescuer. I absolutely love editing, seeing the manuscripts I work on turn into books, and collaborating with mind-body-spirit thought leaders.

Health & Wellbeing Inspirational New Age Psychology Religion & Spirituality Self-Help & Self-Improvement Sex & Relationships Sports & Outdoors
English (US)
  • Author Accelerator Nonfiction Book Coach
  • ACES Advanced Editing Certificate
  • Certified Yoga Teacher
  • BS and MS in Holistic Nutrition
  • BA in Journalism

Work experience


Jan, 2007 — Present

Book collaborator and editor of transformational nonfiction. Developmental editing and copyediting for trade publishers.

New Harbinger Publications

Jul, 2013 — Present

Copyediting and developmental editing of book manuscripts.

Sounds True

May, 2012 — Present

Copyediting and developmental editing.

Yudelson Associates

Jan, 2007 — Apr, 2018 (about 11 years)

Research, editing, marketing, writing for green building, LEED, sustainability author/speaker/consultant.


My World

Sagan, Peter

Gretel has 4 reviews





Donna M.

Donna M.

Mar, 2022

Gretel was great! She was very honest and extremely detailed and thorough. In fact, she gave me great insight and advice that I didn't really want to hear but definitely needed to improve my book proposal and increase the odds of getting an agent or publisher. In the end, she did a ton of edits for me and then informed (and convinced) me that I wasn't ready for the final edit and that I need...
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Dan B.

Dan B.

Aug, 2021

My experience working with Gretel was fantastic! She is extremely thorough and has a unique way of building you up as she is pointing out the areas of needed improvement. I will absolutely be working with Gretel again in the near future.
Laura S.

Laura S.

Jul, 2021

I highly recommend Gretel for developmental editing. She went above and beyond before I even hired her, having thoroughly read the 3,000 words I gave her for my estimate. In our initial conversation, I was amazed at how deeply she was thinking about my topic, my readers, and my writing. She returned my manuscript with comments that were spot on. There was not a single piece of feedback that ...
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Katie S.

Katie S.

Jun, 2021

Gretel was very professional and meticulous with my manuscript. She has given me excellent tips to help improve my book. Thank you, Gretel!

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