John Knight

John Knight – Editor

Seasoned fiction and non-fiction editor specializing in literature, memoir, and biography with 10+ years experience at FSG and McSweeney's


I'm an editor with more than 10 years of experience in San Francisco and New York trade publishing. I've done everything from developing nonfiction to line editing novels to conceptualizing book proposals. I've worked with editors and agents across the industry, and know what makes a good story a book, and what makes a proposal appealing to publishers.

I began editing at McSweeney's where I assisted Dave Eggers, and then founded a long-form journalism magazine that I edited for two years. After that I moved to Farrar, Straus and Giroux where I worked for nearly five years, acquiring and editing bestselling and award-winning titles across a variety of categories. I now work as an independent editor, helping authors develop stories, create proposals, and line-edit novels. I have a PhD in Comparative Literature, and have worked on literary fiction, essay collections, memoirs, biographies, cultural histories, and narrative journalism.

I'm excited to work with authors on literary fiction and nonfiction works that include current affairs, technology, art, literature, culture, nature, memoir, science, politics, and history. I work closely with writers to develop the narrative structure for their story, and to write well about their subject. Whether you are looking to put together a proposal for agents, to polish a manuscript to self-publish, or find an editor to help develop a narrative structure or line-edit a complete manuscript, I will work closely with you to find what is most compelling about your book, and build on those strengths.
Art Biographies & Memoirs History Music Nature Political Science & Current Affairs
Literary Fiction Short Story
English (UK) English (US)

Work experience


Jun, 2017 — Present

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Mar, 2013 — Jun, 2017 (over 4 years)


May, 2010 — May, 2012 (about 2 years)



Fraia, Emilio

A master of what he called "the sculpturing of space," Isamu Noguchi was a vital figure for modern public art. Born to an American mother and a Japanese father, Noguchi never felt like he belonged anywhere and spent his life assembling identities in his statue... read more
In 1959, Richard Bellamy was a witty, poetry-loving beatnik on the fringe of the New York art world who was drawn to artists impatient for change. By 1965, he was representing Mark di Suvero, was the first to show Andy Warhol’s pop art, and pioneered the pract... read more
A post-9/11 novel about the love, self-destruction, absurdity, and ambition that define the millennialsSoulful, gritty, and hilarious, Cannibals in Love is the debut novel from a bold new voice in fiction, and a manifesto for the generation that came of age at... read more
Knots: Stories

Gunnhild Øyehaug

A mesmerizing collection of playfully surreal stories from one of Norway’s most celebrated writersFirst published in Norway in 2004, Knots is Gunnhild Øyehaug’s radical collection of short stories that range from the surreal to the oddly mundane, and prod the ... read more
A stunning and original interpretation of an ancient system of poetic, religious, and philosophical thoughtBuried in the Egyptian desert some four thousand years ago, the Pyramid Texts are among the world’s oldest poetry. Yet ever since the discovery of these ... read more
Void Star: A Novel

Zachary Mason

A riveting, beautifully written, fugue-like novel of AIs, memory, violence, and mortalityNot far in the future the seas have risen and the central latitudes are emptying, but it’s still a good time to be rich in San Francisco, where weapons drones patrol the s... read more
Longlisted for the National Book Award in Fiction • A Finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction • A Finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Fiction • A Finalist for the James Taite Black Prize for Fiction • A Finalist the Center for Fiction Fir... read more
Gamelife: A Memoir

Michael W. Clune

You have been awakened.Floppy disk inserted, computer turned on, a whirring, and then this sentence, followed by a blinking cursor. So begins Suspended, the first computer game to obsess seven-year-old Michael, to worm into his head and change his sense of rea... read more
The authorized and sweeping biography of one of America’s most complex, influential, and enduring poetsIn the extraordinary generation of American poets who came of age in the middle of the twentieth century, James Wright (1927–1980) was frequently placed at t... read more
The Kingdom: A Novel

Emmanuel Carrère

A sweeping fictional account of the early Christians, whose unlikely beliefs conquered the worldGripped by the tale of a Messiah whose blood we drink and body we eat, the genre-defying author Emmanuel Carrère revisits the story of the early Church in his lates... read more
One of Vol. 1 Brooklyn's Favorite Fiction Books of 2017, a Literary Hub Staff Favorite Book of 2017, and one of BOMB Magazine's "Looking Back on 2017: Literature" Selections."Wondrous . . . [A] sense of the erratic and tangential quality of everyday life―even ... read more
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER. SEMI-FINALIST FOR THE PEN/DIAMONSTEIN-SPIELVOGEL AWARD FOR ART OF THE ESSAY.One of Amazon, Buzzfeed, ELLE, Electric Literature and Pop Sugar's Best Books of 2018. Named one of the Best Books of October and Fall by Amazon, Buzzfeed, T... read more

John has 125 reviews





Stephen S.

Stephen S.

Jun, 2024

John is top notch. A total professional, with the sensitivity to nuance and language that makes an editor a trusted advisor rather than just a fact checker. I recommend him unreservedly.
Gregory K.

Gregory K.

Feb, 2024

As I scroll through John's page, I am confident you can see he has an outstanding track record of helping people like me. John has lived up to the positive reviews and has done an outstanding job. As a new writer attempting to publish my first book, I find that tackling this mountain alone can be a monumental task. Having someone as knowledgeable, friendly, and efficient as John makes the jour...
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Jennifer W.

Jennifer W.

Dec, 2023

John was very responsive and offered me timely and helpful feedback on my query letter. I incorporated his suggestions and my letter is stronger now. I would recommend John if you want support and honest feedback on your query letter. It is worth the investment of time and money.
Rohan M.

Rohan M.

Aug, 2023

This is the second time I've worked with John. I've found his insights to be thoughtful and nuanced. Besides his more specific suggestions to enhance the readability of my writing, he has also provided very considerate overviews of my manuscripts.
Arash S.

Arash S.

Feb, 2023

John was very helpful in bringing my book to the next stage. He proved to be a perfect sounding-board, helping me realize that my manuscript and my intention for it needed to be realigned. Great first reader of my book, courteous and prompt. I would definitely work with him again.

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