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.
I work directly for major publishers but also take on manuscripts for indie authors excited about polishing their work to professional quality.
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.
#1 New York Times bestselling author of A Banquet of Consequences 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 has... 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
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
The Art of Youth is a moving inquiry into the nature of artistic prodigies who did their major work at an early age. Renowned novelist Nicholas Delbanco gives us a triptych of indelible portraits: the American writer Stephen Crane (immortalized by The Red Badge of Courage); British artist Dora Carrington (called “the most neglected serious painter of her time”); and the legendary composer Geor... 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
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
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
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
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
"Eyeopening... Fascinating... may presage a paradigm shift in medicine.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)"Teeming with information and big ideas... Outstanding.”—Booklist (starred review)The origin of asthma, autism, Alzheimer's, allergies, cancer, heart disease, obesity, and even some kinds of depression is now clear. Award-winning researcher on the microbiome, professor Rodney Dietert presen... read more
In the tradition of Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, a critically acclaimed National Book Award finalist shares inspiration and practical advice for writing a memoir. Writing memoir is a deeply personal, and consequential, undertaking. As the acclaimed author of five memoirs spanning significant turning points in her life, Beth Kephart has been both blessed and bruised by the genre. In Handling the... 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
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