Mary Beth Constant

Mary Beth Constant – Editor

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

Overview

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.

I also believe strongly that good copy editing involves more than just tweaking punctuation and style. I read closely and carefully, taking notes along the way, and have a strong history of catching discrepancies, timeline problems, and other such issues—some minor, some more significant—that may need to be corrected or clarified. In my experience, authors tend to care far more about these matters than comma esoterica, so I take care to truly consider the substance of the text, not just the style.

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 C. for her witty, instructional care with my words.”
—Roxane Gay, BAD FEMINIST

“I would also like to sincerely thank Mary Beth C. 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

“I genuflect to my copy editor, Mary Beth C., whose name I didn’t even learn until long after she’d swung her scythe. I thought I was good at catching grammatical errors and maintaining consistency of style; Mary Beth taught me how unreliable I actually was. I’m humbled, but grateful.”
—Jamie Bernstein, FAMOUS FATHER GIRL

“I’ve benefitted from the impressive observation skills of my copy editor (also a trained musician), Mary Beth C., who saved me from more than a few embarrassing blunders.”
—Nolan Gasser, WHY YOU LIKE IT

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

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

“Thank you to Mary Beth C., 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
Non-Fiction
Biographies & Memoirs History
Fiction
Fantasy Historical Fiction Literary Fiction Mystery & Crime Science Fiction Women's Fiction
Languages
English (US)

Work experience

Self-employed

Jul, 2009 — Present

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

HarperCollins Publishers

Jun, 2006 — Oct, 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

#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 ... 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 imm... 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.... 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.Con... 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 i... 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 f... 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 d... 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, lov... 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 o... 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…t... 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 surprisi... 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. ... 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 f... 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 profes... 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 ... 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 li... 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 ... 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 i... 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 Alexand... 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-turnin... 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... 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 dead... 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:... 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... 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—cocreato... read more

Mary Beth has 6 reviews

Professionalism

Quality

Value

Responsiveness

Amy F.

Amy F.

Jul, 2020

This is the second time I have used Mary Beth and I won't hesitate to use her again. She is extremely thorough and has a fantastic editing eye. Both my manuscripts were turned in on time and she is able to find even the tiniest discrepancies in work I've read over and over again and didn't see. She's very professional and really does a great job. Thanks again, Mary Beth!
Amy F.

Amy F.

Nov, 2019

Mary Beth is amazing! Based on her sample copy edit alone, I knew I wanted to hire her, and she didn't disappoint. In fact, she exceeded my expectations. There were times I thought she knew my novel better than I did as she's aware of the most minor detail. Some suggestions she made I was floored I had missed in the first place. Other suggestions made complete sense but weren't something I woul...
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Dave C.

Dave C.

Jul, 2019

After working with Mary Beth on the first novel in my Pigeon Grove series, there was never a doubt that I would return when my next book was ready for a professional editor's eyes. After my latest collaboration with her, I have only strengthened my belief that I need not search for another editor so long as Mary Beth is performing her magic on my words. She notices the tiniest details and enhan...
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Dave C.

Dave C.

Dec, 2018

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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Zack K.

Zack K.

Apr, 2018

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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