Nancy Cortelyou

Nancy Cortelyou - Editor

Seattle, WA, USA

With the listening skills of a therapist, I use my natural storytelling radar via coaching or editing to get your best work onto the page.

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Fear not, I get you! I am an editor, yes, but I am also a writer—so I know what it’s like on both sides of the red pencil.

Writing can feel like a solitary business, but you are not alone. Whether you need a partner to get your manuscript out of your head (or out of its drawer!), a coach to guide you chapter by chapter, or an editor to smooth out a fully formed offering, let me meet you where you are.

I love words. Details. The story. And I know what makes a good book.

I was born in sunny, surfy Southern California with a librarian’s knack for organization that was soon married up to an artist’s eye. My formative years were spent dressing windows and performers in the fashion world and the arts, respectively—but the publishing industry has been my home since 2003. This collective experience makes me highly skilled at storytelling no matter if I’m focused on a black and white manuscript or a concept that will ultimately be juxtaposed with visuals.

My process... Whether as a coach or an editor, I mastermind a process full of time to brainstorm and test out ideas with clear manageable jobs between us—and an end goal in mind. I help you see what’s not on the page (and should be) and instill a method of only keeping the good stuff. My focus is on getting your project ready for prime time as well as helping you breath into and through the process. Together, we get your manuscript—and your confidence—to its apex.

My skills and interests span fiction—especially female-led novels—and non-fiction, including cookbooks, home and garden, crafts/how-to, and children's books as well as memoir/biography. After working for several publishers in the Seattle area over the course of two decades, I now dedicate myself to my longtime freelance business which allows me to take on a variety of projects.

Past clients refer to me as a calm in the storm. I'm patient and passionate, blending equal parts creativity and project management, flexibility and fun.

A little applause aka people like me (and I think you will too):

"Nancy is an excellent shepherd for writing at any stage in the process. Having worked with her on three cookbooks, I know she can write and rewrite, edit and advise, collaborate and counsel…and that she'll help battle the inevitable ups and downs of the editing process with a smile.
—Jess Thomson

"Nancy is an excellent and astute reader. She gives large-scale revisions that have been invaluable to the content, structure, style, and character developing of my books. Her overall critique has always provided me with challenges and ideas that have improved the plotting of my stories."
—Sylvia Aguilar Zéleny

English (US)
Biographies & Memoirs
Children’s Non-Fiction
Cooking, Food, Wine, & Spirits
DIY & Crafts
Home & Garden
Contemporary Fiction
Women's Fiction


  • University of Washington Writing for Children Certificate

Work experience

Editorial and Writing Consultant

December, 2010 – Present (over 11 years)

Lit and Fig is my current full-time gig where I combine my spectrum of interests and experience to help authors establish the best version of their work. As a writing and editorial contractor, I collaborate with publishers as well as independent business owners and authors. My projects run the gamut of developmental editing, coaching, manuscript review, and the writing of books, web content, and social media.

Editorial Manager

September, 2017 – July, 2020 (almost 3 years)

For three years, I managed a team of editors and writers at inspirational publisher Compendium in creating illustrated children's books, gift books, journals, and greeting cards all focused on connecting people with others and themselves via the written word and gorgeous visuals.

Editorial Manager

Becker & Mayer
November, 2016 – April, 2017 (5 months)

Returning to my original publishing house for a short stint, I managed a team of editors through the process of brainstorming, proposal curation, and project creation of illustrated and interactive books for children as well as the company's specialty: removable document titles for adults.

Senior Project Editor

University of Washington Press
November, 2015 – November, 2016 (about 1 year)

I took a year off from traditional publishing to experience the very specific needs of a university press working with subject matter experts on, in some cases, their life's work. Formats spanned academic non-fiction and trade titles in memoir/biography.

Managing Editor

Sasquatch Books
January, 2012 – January, 2015 (about 3 years)

The list of beautiful books from this Pacific Northwest publisher had me managing a team of editors who, along with myself, helped authors put into the world cookbooks, gardening guides, and illustrated children’s books.

Senior Editor

SmartLab Toys (division of Becker & Mayer)
January, 2008 – January, 2012 (about 4 years)

As an Act 2 at Becker and Mayer, I became the sole editor on a creative team for toy-plus-book imprint SmartLab Toys, responsible for the editorial direction of educational, empowering children’s books on the topic of art and of science.


Becker & Mayer
April, 2003 – January, 2008 (almost 5 years)

Becker and Mayer is where my publishing career began. I was on a team responsible for the editorial direction of the collective children's book-plus products for clients such as Disney Press, Scholastic, and Silver Dolphin Books, as both editor and writer.

Portfolio (12 selected works)

A Boat, a Whale & a Walrus: Menus and Stories

Erickson, Renee, Thomson, Jess, Henkens, Jim


Yamada, Kobi, Hurst, Elise

Lex Files

Castro, Celeste

Dirty Gourmet: Food for Your Outdoor Adventures

Gourmet, Dirty, Nielson, Emily, Trudeau, Aimee, Kwan, Mai-Yan

Eat the Cake

Clark, M.H., Glatt, Jana

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