Mark O'Brien

Mark O'Brien - Editor

New York, NY, USA

YA and MG freelance editor who's edited multiple bestsellers with experience at publishers and literary agencies such as Writers House.

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Overview

I'm a freelance editor with three years of experience interning in trade publishing, most recently at Writers House. Before that, I spent time at Triada US, Stonesong, and Entangled Publishing. I'm also a sensitivity reader who has worked with several New York Times bestselling authors and a volunteer with the Twitter pitch event #DVpit, where I offer free pitch critiques for marginalized writers. Additionally, I perform developmental and line edits for a children's imprint at a Big Five publisher on a freelance basis.

Many of my clients have gone on to sign with agents, sell their books to publishers, and receive nominations for major industry awards like the RITAs. Authors I've edited during my internships such as Sayantani DasGupta and Julie Hammerle have landed on the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists, respectively.

I edit all genres of YA and MG fiction. That said, if your manuscript centers around a non-queer character's journey of coming to accept a queer character for their sexuality or gender, or if it prominently features gore and intense violence, I won't be a good fit.

I pride myself on my attention to detail and structure alike, as well as my accessibility and friendliness. I push my clients to make their materials the best they can be without encroaching on their vision, and I'm always more than happy to answer follow-up questions on my notes or brainstorm how to incorporate my suggestions.

A few of my testimonials:

“Mark is an expert. He’s not just encouraging; he’s clever, decisive, and wise in the ways of editing queries, pitches, and manuscripts. He’s helped me with all three, with incredible patience and insight. Through his guidance, I not only found an agent, but I also found a voice in my work that has since carried me through a book deal. I absolutely recommend working with him.”

—Ryan La Sala, YA author of REVERIE (Sourcebooks Fire, fall 2019)

“Mark is like a personal fitness trainer for words. He spots the dead weight words that need trimming, rearranges phrases for better flow, and gives great suggestions to make each sentence pop. Also, he’s incredibly positive and supportive, which is huge during the torture that is revision. He’s a total pro and I’m so thankful for his help whipping my query and first chapter into shape before querying. Two thumbs up!”

—Jessica Kim, MG author of STAND UP, YUMI CHUNG! (Kokila / Penguin Random House, spring 2020)
Languages
English (US)
Fiction
Middle Grade
Young Adult

Work experience

Intern

Writers House
June, 2018 – August, 2018 (2 months)

•Supported the desks of senior agent Daniel Lazar and junior agent Victoria Doherty-Munro.
•Evaluated queries and manuscripts, focusing on YA and MG.
•Generated reader’s reports.
•Generated editorial letters for clients.
•Assisted the accounting office with filing royalty statements, making copies, and performing other administrative tasks.
•Managed the agency front desk by directing phone calls to agents and assistants and greeting visitors.
•Assumed the role of agent’s assistant in Victoria Doherty-Munro's absence.
•Participated in seminars focused on writing rejections, reader’s reports, editorial letters, and pitch letters under the guidance of Michael Mejias and agency staff.

Intern

Stonesong
September, 2016 – December, 2016 (3 months)

•Supported the desks of agents Alison Fargis, Emmanuelle Morgen, Melissa Edwards, Alyssa Jennette, and Madelyn Burt.
•Evaluated manuscripts, focusing on YA and MG.
•Managed the agency query inbox.
•Liaised with potential clients on behalf of Stonesong agents.
•Managed social media content.
•Maintained office upkeep.

Freelance editor

Self-employed
April, 2016 – Present (over 4 years)

•Edit query letters and manuscripts for more than one hundred clients.
•Freelance edit for Inkyard Press, an imprint of HarperCollins.
•Sensitivity read for New York Times-bestselling and major award-winning authors.
•Critique pitches and queries for the Diverse Voices Twitter pitch event (#DVpit) as part of a team of volunteers.

Intern

Entangled Publishing
August, 2015 – July, 2017 (almost 2 years)

•Supported the desk of senior editor Kate Brauning.
•Evaluated manuscripts, focusing on YA.
•Drafted flap copy.
•Assisted with brainstorming titles and taglines.
•Generated editorial letters for clients, assisted with line editing, and proofread galleys.
•Served on editorial teams for titles including WHY I LOATHE STERLING LANE, THE UNCROSSING, THE NOVEMBER GIRL, ANY BOY BUT YOU, and ISLAND OF EXILES.

Portfolio (11 selected works)

The November Girl

Lydia Kang

LOCUS Magazine: A Best Book of 2017! I am Anda, and the lake is my mother. I am the November storms that terrify sailors and sink ships. With their deaths, I keep my little island on Lake Superior alive.Hector has come here to hide from his family until he turns eighteen. Isle Royale is shut down for the winter, and there's no one here but me. And now him.Hector is running from the violence in... read more

LOCUS Magazine: A Best Book of 2017! I am Anda, and the lake is my mother. I am the November storms that terrify sailors and sink ships. With their deaths, I keep my little island on Lake Superior alive.Hector has come here to hide from his family until he turns eighteen. Isle Royale is shut down for the winter, and there's no one here but me. And now him.Hector is running from the violence in... read more

Game of Stars (Kiranmala and the Kingdom Beyond #2)

Sayantani DasGupta

Saving the multiverse is no game in this New York Times bestseller!When the Demon Queen shows up in her bedroom, smelling of acid and surrounded by evil-looking bees, twelve-year-old Kiranmala is uninterested. After all, it's been weeks since she last heard from her friends in the Kingdom Beyond, the alternate dimension where she was born as an Indian princess. But after a call to action over ... read more

Saving the multiverse is no game in this New York Times bestseller!When the Demon Queen shows up in her bedroom, smelling of acid and surrounded by evil-looking bees, twelve-year-old Kiranmala is uninterested. After all, it's been weeks since she last heard from her friends in the Kingdom Beyond, the alternate dimension where she was born as an Indian princess. But after a call to action over ... read more

Any Boy but You (North Pole, Minnesota)

Julie Hammerle

Elena Chestnut has been chatting with an anonymous boy late into the night. It’s a very You’ve Got Mail situation, and she has no idea who he is. He can’t be Oliver Prince, hot-and-bashful son of the family running the rival sporting goods store. Their fancy sales strategies are driving Elena’s family out of business. Elena’s mystery boy has teamed up with her in their latest sales strategy, a... read more

Elena Chestnut has been chatting with an anonymous boy late into the night. It’s a very You’ve Got Mail situation, and she has no idea who he is. He can’t be Oliver Prince, hot-and-bashful son of the family running the rival sporting goods store. Their fancy sales strategies are driving Elena’s family out of business. Elena’s mystery boy has teamed up with her in their latest sales strategy, a... read more

Island of Exiles (The Ryogan Chronicles)

Erica Cameron

“A rare gem of a book....[and a] fresh, original series starter.” ―Kirkus Reviews, starred reviewIn Khya’s world, every breath is a battle.On the isolated desert island of Shiara, dying young is inevitable. The clan comes before self, and protecting her home means Khya is a warrior above all else.But when following the clan and obeying their leaders could cost her brother his life, Khya's home... read more

“A rare gem of a book....[and a] fresh, original series starter.” ―Kirkus Reviews, starred reviewIn Khya’s world, every breath is a battle.On the isolated desert island of Shiara, dying young is inevitable. The clan comes before self, and protecting her home means Khya is a warrior above all else.But when following the clan and obeying their leaders could cost her brother his life, Khya's home... read more

The Uncrossing

Melissa Eastlake

Luke can uncross almost any curse—they unravel themselves for him like no one else. So working for the Kovrovs, one of the families controlling all the magic in New York, is exciting and dangerous, especially when he encounters the first curse he can't break. And it involves Jeremy, the beloved, sheltered prince of the Kovrov family—the one boy he absolutely shouldn't be falling for. Jeremy's ... read more

Luke can uncross almost any curse—they unravel themselves for him like no one else. So working for the Kovrovs, one of the families controlling all the magic in New York, is exciting and dangerous, especially when he encounters the first curse he can't break. And it involves Jeremy, the beloved, sheltered prince of the Kovrov family—the one boy he absolutely shouldn't be falling for. Jeremy's ... read more

Why I Loathe Sterling Lane

Ingrid Paulson

Per her 537 rules, Harper Campbell keeps her life tidy—academically and socially. But the moment Sterling Lane transfers into her tiny boarding school, her twin brother gets swept up in Sterling’s pranks and schemes and nearly gets expelled. Harper knows it’s Sterling’s fault, and to protect her brother, she vows to take him down. As she exposes his endless school violations, he keeps striking... read more

Per her 537 rules, Harper Campbell keeps her life tidy—academically and socially. But the moment Sterling Lane transfers into her tiny boarding school, her twin brother gets swept up in Sterling’s pranks and schemes and nearly gets expelled. Harper knows it’s Sterling’s fault, and to protect her brother, she vows to take him down. As she exposes his endless school violations, he keeps striking... read more

The Sound of Us

Julie Hammerle

Kiki Nichols might not survive music camp.She’s put her TV-loving, nerdy self aside for one summer to prove she’s got what it takes: she can be cool enough to make friends, she can earn that music scholarship, and she can get into Krause University’s music program.Except camp has rigid conduct rules―which means her thrilling late-night jam session with the hot, equally geeky drummer can’t happ... read more

Kiki Nichols might not survive music camp.She’s put her TV-loving, nerdy self aside for one summer to prove she’s got what it takes: she can be cool enough to make friends, she can earn that music scholarship, and she can get into Krause University’s music program.Except camp has rigid conduct rules―which means her thrilling late-night jam session with the hot, equally geeky drummer can’t happ... read more

It Had to Be You

Lizzy Charles

James Parson has a problem. His military dad is going to yank him out of his expensive boarding school if James doesn’t prove he’s no longer hooking up, pulling pranks, and charming his way out of consequences. What better way to show he’s now responsible than becoming the committed boyfriend of a U.S. diplomat’s daughter? Level-headed, book-smart Edelweiss may have traveled the world thanks t... read more

James Parson has a problem. His military dad is going to yank him out of his expensive boarding school if James doesn’t prove he’s no longer hooking up, pulling pranks, and charming his way out of consequences. What better way to show he’s now responsible than becoming the committed boyfriend of a U.S. diplomat’s daughter? Level-headed, book-smart Edelweiss may have traveled the world thanks t... read more

Sea of Strangers (The Ryogan Chronicles)

Erica Cameron

The only way for Khya to get her brother back alive is to kill Varan―the immortal ruler who can’t be killed. But not even Varan knew what he was doing when he perverted magic and humanity to become immortal.Khya’s leading her group of friends and rebels into the mountains that hold Varan’s secrets, but if risking all their lives is going to be worth it, she has to give up everything else―break... read more

The only way for Khya to get her brother back alive is to kill Varan―the immortal ruler who can’t be killed. But not even Varan knew what he was doing when he perverted magic and humanity to become immortal.Khya’s leading her group of friends and rebels into the mountains that hold Varan’s secrets, but if risking all their lives is going to be worth it, she has to give up everything else―break... read more

The Importance of Being Scandalous (Tale of Two Sisters)

Kimberly Bell

A horse race in trousers on Rotten Row. Visiting a gaming hall in a dress that would make her mother faint. Sneaking an invitation to a masquerade ball attended by only the wickedest, most debauched members of society… None of these things are scaring off bookish but strong-willed Amelia Bishop’s stuffy, egotistical fiancé. The only thing left is to entice childhood friend Nicholas Wakefield i... read more

A horse race in trousers on Rotten Row. Visiting a gaming hall in a dress that would make her mother faint. Sneaking an invitation to a masquerade ball attended by only the wickedest, most debauched members of society… None of these things are scaring off bookish but strong-willed Amelia Bishop’s stuffy, egotistical fiancé. The only thing left is to entice childhood friend Nicholas Wakefield i... read more

Surrender to Sin (Fallen Book 1)

Nicola Davidson

To save her, he must ruin her.Lord Sebastian St. John, dedicated bachelor and a co-owner of Fallen, the most scandalous pleasure club in London, is known as Sin for good reason. Orphaned by a shocking accident, Sin long ago vowed a life of solitude and decadence. Yet when Lady Grace Carrington begs for his help destroying her reputation, Sin can't turn the ton's most proper lady away.Obedient ... read more

To save her, he must ruin her.Lord Sebastian St. John, dedicated bachelor and a co-owner of Fallen, the most scandalous pleasure club in London, is known as Sin for good reason. Orphaned by a shocking accident, Sin long ago vowed a life of solitude and decadence. Yet when Lady Grace Carrington begs for his help destroying her reputation, Sin can't turn the ton's most proper lady away.Obedient ... read more

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