Jen McDonald

Jen McDonald - Editor Tick

Chicago, IL, USA

An accomplished editor of books, essays, stories, and reported articles, formerly at the New York Times Book Review and other publications.

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Overview

I'm an independent editor, instructor, and writing coach with two decades of experience in the literary and journalism worlds. Before going freelance, I was an editor at the New York Times Book Review, where I chose books for review from among hundreds of galleys each year, and assigned and edited reviews and essays. I've also been an editor for the National desk of the Times and the Washington Post, and in 2012-13 was a Nieman fellow at Harvard University, studying literary and cultural criticism. My great passion is narrative writing—more specifically, helping writers of fiction and nonfiction hone and elevate their work. I offer manuscript critiques, developmental editing, line editing, and copy editing, and freelance clients have included previously published authors, experienced journalists, academics, bloggers, philanthropic organizations, and first-time authors. In addition to editing, I'm an adjunct faculty member for the Writer’s Studio at the University of Chicago’s Graham School.

Languages
English (US)
Non-Fiction
Biographies & Memoirs
History
Politics & Current Affairs
Technology
Fiction
Literature

Awards

  • Nieman Fellowship

Work experience

Freelance Editor

Self-employed
March, 2014 – Present (almost 5 years)

I offer developmental/substantive, line, and copy editing of books, essays, short stories, and reported articles, as well as writing coaching. Clients have included previously published authors, experienced journalists, academics, bloggers, philanthropic organizations, and first-time authors. Interests: long and short fiction, narrative journalism, biography, memoir, dance and music, race and identity, health and the body, gender and sexuality, politics and power, the environment, social justice issues, cultural histories, food and drink, travel, education, science, technology, family and parenthood, language and usage, and literary and media criticism.

Adjunct Faculty

Writer's Studio, the University of Chicago, Graham School of Continuing Liberal and Professional Studies
October, 2014 – Present (over 4 years)

Most recent course taught: Revising the Short Essay.

Nieman Fellow

Nieman Foundation, Harvard University
August, 2012 – May, 2013 (9 months)

Studied literary and cultural criticism, narrative writing, journalism innovation, and more. Spoke on panels sponsored by the American Repertory Theater and Harvard Writers at Work, and addressed Harvard students in classrooms and residency houses on the topics of literary criticism, editing and writing, and careers in journalism.

Preview Editor

The New York Times Book Review
March, 2010 – December, 2013 (almost 4 years)

Read galleys (fiction and nonfiction), chose books for review, and commissioned and edited reviews, essays, and columns, working closely with well-known authors, journalists, and academics.

Staff Editor

The New York Times
February, 2005 – March, 2010 (about 5 years)

From 2007 to 2010, was a copy editor for the Book Review; edited, fact-checked, proofread, and wrote headlines for reviews and essays. From 2005 to 2007, was a copy editor on the National desk; edited, proofread, and wrote headlines, communicating closely with reporters and assigning editors, and filled in as slot, late editor, wire editor, and backfield editor.

Assistant Editor, Copy Editor

The Washington Post
August, 2002 – January, 2005 (over 2 years)

As assistant editor, assigned and edited articles for a variety of weekly features in the Sunday Source. As copy editor, edited articles and served as Sunday Business slot on the Business desk.

Copy Chief

CNET News.com
January, 2000 – July, 2002 (over 2 years)

Managed a copy desk of half a dozen editors responsible for editing fifty to sixty breaking-news stories and updates daily. Recruited, hired, and evaluated editors. Wrote the CNET style manual.

Associate Editor

CNET News.com
February, 1999 – January, 2000 (11 months)

Acted as deputy editor of the Media section, assigning and editing articles, working closely with reporters, and pitching stories in home-page meetings.

Portfolio (4 selected works)

A Rope from the Sky: The Making and Unmaking of the World's Newest State

Zach Vertin

A remarkable chronicle of America’s audacious attempt to forge a nation from scratch, from euphoric birth to heart-wrenching collapse. The birth of South Sudan was celebrated the world round―a triumph for global justice and the end of one of the world’s most devastating wars. The Republic’s historic independence was acclaimed not only by its long-oppressed people, but by three U.S. presidents ... read more

A remarkable chronicle of America’s audacious attempt to forge a nation from scratch, from euphoric birth to heart-wrenching collapse. The birth of South Sudan was celebrated the world round―a triumph for global justice and the end of one of the world’s most devastating wars. The Republic’s historic independence was acclaimed not only by its long-oppressed people, but by three U.S. presidents ... read more

Shooting Ghosts: A U.S. Marine, a Combat Photographer, and Their Journey Back from War

Thomas J. Brennan USMC (Ret), Finbarr O'Reilly

"A majestic book." --Bessel van der Kolk, MD, author of The Body Keeps the ScoreA unique joint memoir by a U.S. Marine and a conflict photographer whose unlikely friendship helped both heal their war-wounded bodies and souls"The dueling-piano spirit of SHOOTING GHOSTS works because its authors are so committed to transparency, admitting readers into the dark crevices of their isolation." Wall ... read more

"A majestic book." --Bessel van der Kolk, MD, author of The Body Keeps the ScoreA unique joint memoir by a U.S. Marine and a conflict photographer whose unlikely friendship helped both heal their war-wounded bodies and souls"The dueling-piano spirit of SHOOTING GHOSTS works because its authors are so committed to transparency, admitting readers into the dark crevices of their isolation." Wall ... read more

The Suffragents: How Women Used Men to Get the Vote

Brooke Kroeger

The story of how and why a group of prominent and influential men in New York City and beyond came together to help women gain the right to vote.The Suffragents is the untold story of how some of New York's most powerful men formed the Men's League for Woman Suffrage, which grew between 1909 and 1917 from 150 founding members into a force of thousands across thirty-five states. Brooke Kroeger ... read more

The story of how and why a group of prominent and influential men in New York City and beyond came together to help women gain the right to vote.The Suffragents is the untold story of how some of New York's most powerful men formed the Men's League for Woman Suffrage, which grew between 1909 and 1917 from 150 founding members into a force of thousands across thirty-five states. Brooke Kroeger ... read more

The Fairytale Chicago of Francesca Finnegan

Steve Wiley

"One of the most captivating and magical books I've read" ~ Rick Kogan, Chicago Tribune"Intelligent, enchanting, playful" ~ Publishers Weekly "Often bringing to mind the adventures of Alice during her travels through Wonderland" ~ Chicago Literati In Chicago, a secret L train runs through a hidden side of the city, at the intersection of something here and something there, right where you stop... read more

"One of the most captivating and magical books I've read" ~ Rick Kogan, Chicago Tribune"Intelligent, enchanting, playful" ~ Publishers Weekly "Often bringing to mind the adventures of Alice during her travels through Wonderland" ~ Chicago Literati In Chicago, a secret L train runs through a hidden side of the city, at the intersection of something here and something there, right where you stop... read more

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