Mary Beth Constant

Mary Beth Constant - Editor

Orlando, United States

Sensitive, seasoned copy editor dedicated to strengthening each author's particular voice

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Overview

Reviews (3)
Copy editing is a subtle balancing act between the “rules” of grammar and style (which I’ve studied extensively) and the nuances of each author’s voice. I work hard to refine and clarify text while strengthening what makes it unique: each manuscript requires its own rules, its own exceptions. I strive for transparency when I suggest changes so that authors understand why I've made them and can make their own judgments about whether to accept or dismiss them.

When I work for major publishers, I rarely have direct contact with authors, but many of them have been so pleased with my work that they've requested me for their next manuscripts or asked my name so they could include me in their acknowledgments. Among these unsolicited tributes:

“I also want to thank Mary Beth Constant for her witty, instructional care with my words.”
—Roxane Gay, BAD FEMINIST

“I would also like to sincerely thank Mary Beth Constant for her truly wonderful copyediting expertise. In addition to making it appear as if I actually know how to write proper English (hint: I don’t), I learned so many awesome things from her comments that I’m ninety-nine percent sure I will never lose in bar trivia ever again.”
—Colin Gigl, THE FERRYMAN INSTITUTE

“Mary Beth Constant performed miracles with my mountains of errors.”
—Randy Susan Meyers, ACCIDENTS OF MARRIAGE

“Mary Beth Constant is, as a copyeditor, diligence itself.”
—Nicholas Delbanco, THE ART OF YOUTH

“Thank you to Mary Beth Constant, copy editor supreme, who took such deep interest, who read so closely, who saved me from my fast-typing self, who opined, and who made me laugh; your contribution to these pages is priceless.”
—Beth Kephart, HANDLING THE TRUTH

The selected books in my portfolio below give a glimpse of the wide variety of manuscripts I copy edit. I enjoy the variety and approach each manuscript with fresh eyes, eager to explore the new world within its pages.
Services
Languages
English (US)
Non-Fiction
Biographies & Memoirs
History
Fiction
Crime & Mystery
Fantasy
Historical Fiction
Literature
Science Fiction
Women's Fiction

Work experience

Freelance copy editor

Self-employed
July, 2009 – Present (almost 10 years)

I work directly for major publishers but also take on manuscripts for indie authors excited about polishing their work to professional quality.

Senior production editor

HarperCollins Publishers
June, 2006 – October, 2012 (over 6 years)

At HarperCollins, I hired and managed freelance copy editors, evaluated and emended their work, prepared it for review by authors, and incorporated authors' changes into the copy editing. This experience gave me considerable insight into how authors respond to copy editing—what is helpful and what is overstepping—and I strive to use that insight in my own work as a freelance copy editor.

Portfolio (25 selected works)

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing: A Novel

Hank Green

THE INSTANT #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER“Sparkling with mystery, humor and the uncanny, this is a fun read. But beneath its effervescent tone, more complex themes are at play.” —San Francisco ChronicleIn his wildly entertaining debut novel, Hank Green—cocreator of Crash Course, Vlogbrothers, and SciShow—spins a sweeping, cinematic tale about a young woman who becomes an overnight celebrity bef... read more

THE INSTANT #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER“Sparkling with mystery, humor and the uncanny, this is a fun read. But beneath its effervescent tone, more complex themes are at play.” —San Francisco ChronicleIn his wildly entertaining debut novel, Hank Green—cocreator of Crash Course, Vlogbrothers, and SciShow—spins a sweeping, cinematic tale about a young woman who becomes an overnight celebrity bef... read more

Bad Feminist: Essays

Roxane Gay

New York Times BestsellerA collection of essays spanning politics, criticism, and feminism from one of the most-watched young cultural observers of her generation, Roxane Gay.“Pink is my favorite color. I used to say my favorite color was black to be cool, but it is pink—all shades of pink. If I have an accessory, it is probably pink. I read Vogue, and I’m not doing it ironically, though it mi... read more

New York Times BestsellerA collection of essays spanning politics, criticism, and feminism from one of the most-watched young cultural observers of her generation, Roxane Gay.“Pink is my favorite color. I used to say my favorite color was black to be cool, but it is pink—all shades of pink. If I have an accessory, it is probably pink. I read Vogue, and I’m not doing it ironically, though it mi... read more

Look for Me (A D.D. Warren and Flora Dane Novel)

Lisa Gardner

THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER“An utterly absorbing story about troubled families and twisted fates. You won’t be able to put it down—and it will haunt you long after you turn the final page.”—Shari Lapena“A complex crime scene, a missing girl, a ticking clock: no one writes a more page-turning, gut-wrenching thriller.”—Tess GerritsenIn #1 New York Times bestselling author Lisa Gardner's latest... read more

THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER“An utterly absorbing story about troubled families and twisted fates. You won’t be able to put it down—and it will haunt you long after you turn the final page.”—Shari Lapena“A complex crime scene, a missing girl, a ticking clock: no one writes a more page-turning, gut-wrenching thriller.”—Tess GerritsenIn #1 New York Times bestselling author Lisa Gardner's latest... read more

Consumed

J.R. Ward

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the popular Black Dagger Brotherhood series comes a brand-new novel about arson investigator, Ann Ashburn, who is consumed by her troubled past, her family’s scorched legacy, and her current case: chasing a deadly killer.Anne Ashburn is a woman consumed... By her bitter family legacy, by her scorched career as a firefighter, by her obsession wit... read more

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the popular Black Dagger Brotherhood series comes a brand-new novel about arson investigator, Ann Ashburn, who is consumed by her troubled past, her family’s scorched legacy, and her current case: chasing a deadly killer.Anne Ashburn is a woman consumed... By her bitter family legacy, by her scorched career as a firefighter, by her obsession wit... read more

The Home for Unwanted Girls: The heart-wrenching, gripping story of a mother-daughter bond that could not be broken – inspired by true events

Joanna Goodman

Philomena meets Orphan Train in this suspenseful, provocative novel filled with love, secrets, and deceit—the story of a young unwed mother who is forcibly separated from her daughter at birth and the lengths to which they go to find each other.In 1950s Quebec, French and English tolerate each other with precarious civility—much like Maggie Hughes’ parents. Maggie’s English-speaking father has... read more

Philomena meets Orphan Train in this suspenseful, provocative novel filled with love, secrets, and deceit—the story of a young unwed mother who is forcibly separated from her daughter at birth and the lengths to which they go to find each other.In 1950s Quebec, French and English tolerate each other with precarious civility—much like Maggie Hughes’ parents. Maggie’s English-speaking father has... read more

Fool Me Once

Harlan Coben

A widowed veteran gets the shock of her life in this impossible-to-put-down thriller from #1 New York Times bestseller Harlan Coben.In the course of eight consecutive #1 New York Times bestsellers, millions of readers have discovered Harlan Coben’s page-turning thrillers, filled with his trademark edge-of-your-seat suspense and gut-wrenching emotion. In Fool Me Once, Coben once again outdoes h... read more

A widowed veteran gets the shock of her life in this impossible-to-put-down thriller from #1 New York Times bestseller Harlan Coben.In the course of eight consecutive #1 New York Times bestsellers, millions of readers have discovered Harlan Coben’s page-turning thrillers, filled with his trademark edge-of-your-seat suspense and gut-wrenching emotion. In Fool Me Once, Coben once again outdoes h... read more

Famous Father Girl: A Memoir of Growing Up Bernstein

Jamie Bernstein

The oldest daughter of revered composer Leonard Bernstein offers a rare look at her father on the centenary of his birth—illuminating a man, a city, and an era that defined modern culture—in a deeply intimate and broadly evocative memoir reminiscent of Alexandra Styron’s Reading My Father and Richard Ford’s Between Them.The composer of On the Town and West Side Story, chief conductor of the Ne... read more

The oldest daughter of revered composer Leonard Bernstein offers a rare look at her father on the centenary of his birth—illuminating a man, a city, and an era that defined modern culture—in a deeply intimate and broadly evocative memoir reminiscent of Alexandra Styron’s Reading My Father and Richard Ford’s Between Them.The composer of On the Town and West Side Story, chief conductor of the Ne... read more

Defying Hitler: The Germans Who Resisted Nazi Rule

Gordon Thomas, Greg Lewis

"A terrifying and timely account of resistance in the face of the greatest of evils.”—Alex Kershaw, New York Times bestselling author of The First WaveAn enthralling story that vividly resurrects the web of everyday Germans who resisted Nazi ruleNazi Germany is remembered as a nation of willing fanatics. But beneath the surface, countless ordinary, everyday Germans actively resisted Hitler. So... read more

"A terrifying and timely account of resistance in the face of the greatest of evils.”—Alex Kershaw, New York Times bestselling author of The First WaveAn enthralling story that vividly resurrects the web of everyday Germans who resisted Nazi ruleNazi Germany is remembered as a nation of willing fanatics. But beneath the surface, countless ordinary, everyday Germans actively resisted Hitler. So... read more

Song of the Lion: A Leaphorn, Chee & Manuelito Novel

Anne Hillerman

New York Times BestsellerA deadly bombing takes Navajo Tribal cops Bernadette Manuelito, Jim Chee, and their mentor, the legendary Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn, back into the past to find a vengeful killer in this riveting Southwestern mystery from the bestselling author of Spider Woman’s Daughter and Rock with Wings.When a car bomb kills a young man in the Shiprock High School parking lot, Officer... read more

New York Times BestsellerA deadly bombing takes Navajo Tribal cops Bernadette Manuelito, Jim Chee, and their mentor, the legendary Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn, back into the past to find a vengeful killer in this riveting Southwestern mystery from the bestselling author of Spider Woman’s Daughter and Rock with Wings.When a car bomb kills a young man in the Shiprock High School parking lot, Officer... read more

90s Bitch: Media, Culture, and the Failed Promise of Gender Equality

Allison Yarrow

To understand how we got here, we have to rewind the VHS tape. 90s Bitch tells the real story of women and girls in the 1990s, exploring how they were maligned by the media, vilified by popular culture, and objectified in the marketplace. Trailblazing women like Hillary Clinton, Anita Hill, Marcia Clark, and Roseanne Barr were undermined. Newsmakers like Monica Lewinsky, Tonya Harding, and Lor... read more

To understand how we got here, we have to rewind the VHS tape. 90s Bitch tells the real story of women and girls in the 1990s, exploring how they were maligned by the media, vilified by popular culture, and objectified in the marketplace. Trailblazing women like Hillary Clinton, Anita Hill, Marcia Clark, and Roseanne Barr were undermined. Newsmakers like Monica Lewinsky, Tonya Harding, and Lor... read more

The Sea Beast Takes a Lover: Stories

Michael Andreasen

An astonishing fiction debut from a UC Irvine MFA graduate and recent contributor to The New Yorker.Bewitching and playful, with its feet only slightly tethered to the world we know, The Sea Beast Takes a Lover explores hope, love, and loss across a series of surreal landscapes and wild metamorphoses. Just because Jenny was born without a head doesn't mean she isn't still annoying to her older... read more

An astonishing fiction debut from a UC Irvine MFA graduate and recent contributor to The New Yorker.Bewitching and playful, with its feet only slightly tethered to the world we know, The Sea Beast Takes a Lover explores hope, love, and loss across a series of surreal landscapes and wild metamorphoses. Just because Jenny was born without a head doesn't mean she isn't still annoying to her older... read more

By the Book: A Book Club Recommendation!

Julia Sonneborn

An English professor struggling for tenure discovers that her ex-fiancé has just become the president of her college—and her new boss—in this whip-smart modern retelling of Jane Austen’s classic Persuasion.Anne Corey is about to get schooled. An English professor in California, she’s determined to score a position on the coveted tenure track at her college. All she’s got to do is get a book de... read more

An English professor struggling for tenure discovers that her ex-fiancé has just become the president of her college—and her new boss—in this whip-smart modern retelling of Jane Austen’s classic Persuasion.Anne Corey is about to get schooled. An English professor in California, she’s determined to score a position on the coveted tenure track at her college. All she’s got to do is get a book de... read more

Change Agent

Daniel Suarez

New York Times bestselling author Daniel Suarez delivers an exhilarating sci-fi thriller exploring a potential future where CRISPR genetic editing allows the human species to control evolution itself.On a crowded train platform, Interpol agent Kenneth Durand feels the sting of a needle—and his transformation begins... In 2045 Kenneth Durand leads Interpol’s most effective team against genetic ... read more

New York Times bestselling author Daniel Suarez delivers an exhilarating sci-fi thriller exploring a potential future where CRISPR genetic editing allows the human species to control evolution itself.On a crowded train platform, Interpol agent Kenneth Durand feels the sting of a needle—and his transformation begins... In 2045 Kenneth Durand leads Interpol’s most effective team against genetic ... read more

The Idea of You: A Novel

Robinne Lee

"Captures what fame looks like, and how it affects us all...a fun, juicy love story!"--Elizabeth BanksSolène Marchand, the thirty-nine-year-old owner of an art gallery in Los Angeles, is reluctant to take her daughter, Isabelle, to meet her favorite boy band. But since her divorce, she’s more eager than ever to be close to Isabelle. The last thing Solène expects is to make a connection with on... read more

"Captures what fame looks like, and how it affects us all...a fun, juicy love story!"--Elizabeth BanksSolène Marchand, the thirty-nine-year-old owner of an art gallery in Los Angeles, is reluctant to take her daughter, Isabelle, to meet her favorite boy band. But since her divorce, she’s more eager than ever to be close to Isabelle. The last thing Solène expects is to make a connection with on... read more

The Midnight Cool: A Novel

Lydia Peelle

The Whiting Award—winning author of the story collection Reasons for and Advantages of Breathing delivers her enchanting debut novel, set in 1916 Tennessee: a rich and rewarding tale of two flawed yet endearing grifters who pursue women, wealth, and a surprisingly valuable commodity for the troops in Europe—mules.A middle-aged Irish immigrant, Billy has a gift for illusion—making damaged objec... read more

The Whiting Award—winning author of the story collection Reasons for and Advantages of Breathing delivers her enchanting debut novel, set in 1916 Tennessee: a rich and rewarding tale of two flawed yet endearing grifters who pursue women, wealth, and a surprisingly valuable commodity for the troops in Europe—mules.A middle-aged Irish immigrant, Billy has a gift for illusion—making damaged objec... read more

I Call Upon Thee: A Novella (Kindle Single)

Ania Ahlborn

A terrifying e-novella from the bestselling author of The Devil Crept In, Brother, and Within These Walls.Maggie Olsen had a pretty ordinary childhood—swimming and sleepovers, movie nights and dad jokes. And then there were the other things…the darker things…the shadow that followed her home from the cemetery and settled into the corners of her home, refusing to let her grow up in peace. Now, ... read more

A terrifying e-novella from the bestselling author of The Devil Crept In, Brother, and Within These Walls.Maggie Olsen had a pretty ordinary childhood—swimming and sleepovers, movie nights and dad jokes. And then there were the other things…the darker things…the shadow that followed her home from the cemetery and settled into the corners of her home, refusing to let her grow up in peace. Now, ... read more

If We Were Villains: A Novel

M. L. Rio

“Much like Donna Tartt’s The Secret History, M. L. Rio’s sparkling debut is a richly layered story of love, friendship, and obsession...will keep you riveted through its final, electrifying moments.”—Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, New York Times bestselling author of The Nest"Nerdily (and winningly) in love with Shakespeare…Readable, smart.”—New York Times Book ReviewOn the day Oliver Marks is relea... read more

“Much like Donna Tartt’s The Secret History, M. L. Rio’s sparkling debut is a richly layered story of love, friendship, and obsession...will keep you riveted through its final, electrifying moments.”—Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, New York Times bestselling author of The Nest"Nerdily (and winningly) in love with Shakespeare…Readable, smart.”—New York Times Book ReviewOn the day Oliver Marks is relea... read more

Marrow: A Love Story

Elizabeth Lesser

The author of the New York Times bestseller Broken Open returns with a visceral and profound memoir of two sisters who, in the face of a bone marrow transplant—one the donor and one the recipient—begin a quest for acceptance, authenticity, and most of all, love.A mesmerizing and courageous memoir: the story of two sisters uncovering the depth of their love through the life-and-death experience... read more

The author of the New York Times bestseller Broken Open returns with a visceral and profound memoir of two sisters who, in the face of a bone marrow transplant—one the donor and one the recipient—begin a quest for acceptance, authenticity, and most of all, love.A mesmerizing and courageous memoir: the story of two sisters uncovering the depth of their love through the life-and-death experience... read more

Brilliance and Fire: A Biography of Diamonds

Rachelle Bergstein

From the author of Women from the Ankle Down comes a lively cultural biography of diamonds, which explores our society’s obsession with the world’s most brilliant gemstone and the real-world characters who make them shine.“A diamond is forever.” Who among us doesn’t recognize this phrase and, with it, the fascination that these shiny gemstones hold in our collective imagination as symbols of r... read more

From the author of Women from the Ankle Down comes a lively cultural biography of diamonds, which explores our society’s obsession with the world’s most brilliant gemstone and the real-world characters who make them shine.“A diamond is forever.” Who among us doesn’t recognize this phrase and, with it, the fascination that these shiny gemstones hold in our collective imagination as symbols of r... read more

A Grave Celebration (Lady Of Ashes Mysteries)

Christine Trent

Undertaker Violet Harper and her husband are attending the long-anticipated opening of Egypt’s new Suez Canal, which has been masterminded by the brilliant French engineer, Ferdinand de Lesseps. Fireworks, galas, and canal cruises are all part of the planned festivities at stops along the way. Tensions abound across the various European delegations in attendance. The Prussians, Dutch, French, ... read more

Undertaker Violet Harper and her husband are attending the long-anticipated opening of Egypt’s new Suez Canal, which has been masterminded by the brilliant French engineer, Ferdinand de Lesseps. Fireworks, galas, and canal cruises are all part of the planned festivities at stops along the way. Tensions abound across the various European delegations in attendance. The Prussians, Dutch, French, ... read more

Girls on Fire: A Novel

Robin Wasserman

An NPR Best Book of the Year • A Buzzfeed Best Book of the YearOn Halloween, 1991, a popular high school basketball star ventures into the woods near Battle Creek, Pennsylvania, and disappears. Three days later, he’s found with a bullet in his head and a gun in his hand—a discovery that sends tremors through this conservative community, already unnerved by growing rumors of Satanic worship in ... read more

An NPR Best Book of the Year • A Buzzfeed Best Book of the YearOn Halloween, 1991, a popular high school basketball star ventures into the woods near Battle Creek, Pennsylvania, and disappears. Three days later, he’s found with a bullet in his head and a gun in his hand—a discovery that sends tremors through this conservative community, already unnerved by growing rumors of Satanic worship in ... read more

The Binding: A Novel

Nicholas Wolff

When a rare mental disorder begins to consume his small-town neighbors, a young psychiatrist digs up the past for clues to the epidemic’s bone-chilling source in this brilliant supernatural horror debut, written in the bestselling tradition of Peter Straub.Convinced that evil spirits have overtaken his daughter, a desperate father introduces her to Nat Thayer, a young psychiatrist in their sle... read more

When a rare mental disorder begins to consume his small-town neighbors, a young psychiatrist digs up the past for clues to the epidemic’s bone-chilling source in this brilliant supernatural horror debut, written in the bestselling tradition of Peter Straub.Convinced that evil spirits have overtaken his daughter, a desperate father introduces her to Nat Thayer, a young psychiatrist in their sle... read more

The Secret Language of Stones: A Novel

M. J. Rose

As World War I rages and the Romanov dynasty reaches its sudden, brutal end, a young jewelry maker discovers love, passion, and her own healing powers in this “dazzling” (Library Journal, starred review) and romantic ghost story, the perfect follow-up to M. J. Rose’s “brilliantly crafted” (Providence Journal) novel The Witch of Painted Sorrows.Nestled within Paris’s historic Palais Royal is a ... read more

As World War I rages and the Romanov dynasty reaches its sudden, brutal end, a young jewelry maker discovers love, passion, and her own healing powers in this “dazzling” (Library Journal, starred review) and romantic ghost story, the perfect follow-up to M. J. Rose’s “brilliantly crafted” (Providence Journal) novel The Witch of Painted Sorrows.Nestled within Paris’s historic Palais Royal is a ... read more

The Ferryman Institute: A Novel

Colin Gigl

In this stunning, fantastical debut novel from a bold new voice in the bestselling traditions of Christopher Moore and Jasper Fforde, a ferryman for the dead finds his existence unraveling after making either the best decision or the biggest mistake of his immortal life.Ferryman Charlie Dawson saves dead people—somebody has to convince them to move on to the afterlife, after all. Having never ... read more

In this stunning, fantastical debut novel from a bold new voice in the bestselling traditions of Christopher Moore and Jasper Fforde, a ferryman for the dead finds his existence unraveling after making either the best decision or the biggest mistake of his immortal life.Ferryman Charlie Dawson saves dead people—somebody has to convince them to move on to the afterlife, after all. Having never ... read more

Just One Evil Act: A Lynley Novel (Inspector Lynley Book 18)

Elizabeth George

#1 New York Times bestselling author of The Punishment She Deserves Elizabeth George delivers another masterpiece of suspense in her Inspector Lynley series: a gripping child-in-danger story that tests Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers as never before.Barbara is at a loss: Hadiyyah, the daughter of her friend Taymullah Azhar, has been taken by her mother, and Barbara can’t really help. Azhar h... read more

#1 New York Times bestselling author of The Punishment She Deserves Elizabeth George delivers another masterpiece of suspense in her Inspector Lynley series: a gripping child-in-danger story that tests Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers as never before.Barbara is at a loss: Hadiyyah, the daughter of her friend Taymullah Azhar, has been taken by her mother, and Barbara can’t really help. Azhar h... read more

Mary Beth has 3 reviews

Professionalism
Quality
Value
Communication

Dave Cenker
When I began tackling personal revisions for my second novel, a giant pink elephant sat in the middle of my authorial room. I needed an editor. Someone who understood what I was trying to accomplish through my intense portrayal of emotion. After searching internationally on Reedsy for that perfect someone, serendipity intervened after I found Mary Beth Constant less than an hour’s drive from my...
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Dave Cenker, December 2018


Zack Klika
I can't begin to express how pleased I am with the overall experience I had with Mary Beth. I'll start with the quote. She had my sample edit back to me within a day, detailing specific things she would be looking for in my manuscript since it had military jargon in it. Perfect. Just what I wanted to hear. I really needed someone that would tackle the military side of this edit and she did just...
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Zack Klika, April 2018


Emily Sanborn
I really enjoyed working with Mary Beth on the copyedit of my novel. She was always very prompt in responding to any communication and delivered on time. She also provided invaluable insight throughout the manuscript both from a consistency and technical writing perspective. I would definitely work with her again and highly recommend her to others.

Emily Sanborn, June 2017

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Jennifer Cappello

First and foremost, I am a bibliophile. My professional and personal goals are the same: To live my life surrounded by good books.

Harrisburg, PA, USA

Fran Lebowitz

Former Agent, Writers House, now Expat; two Newbery & NBA authors. I take a holistic, highly customized approach with a plan

New York, United States

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