PJ Dempsey

PJ Dempsey – Editor

I specialize in informational nonfiction(ex: self-help, bio, business, medicine) and worked at of 5 of the top 6 publishing houses.


I retired from a full and satisfying career at many major NY publishing houses as an acquiring and developmental nonfiction editor, but that lasted only a few months. Since then I have had a second career as a freelance editor. I specialize in all areas of nonfiction, including cooking, health, parenting, reference, biography, memoir, humor, writing/publishing guides, history, business, careers, antiques and collectibles, and pets. I've worked with many celebrities, but my specialty is working with first time authors. My goal is not just to edit, but to educate writers in this business of editing and publishing. I am proud that many authors have been returning to me over the years and have been a great source of referrals.

Over the years I have worked with authors ranging from celebrities such as Steve Allen, Lindsay Wagner, Soupy Sales, Henry Hill (of Goodfellas fame), and astronaut Mike Mullane, to bestselling authors Marlene Koch, The Atkins Foundation, Steven Carter, Anthony Summers, The Physicans Desk Reference, Suzette Hayden Elgin, and the Kovel's Antique Guides, to name a few. I will be pleased to send a more detailed list of published titles and author references on request.

During my career in publishing I was a member of the board of Creative Nonfiction (other board members included Tracy Kidder and Annie Dillard), and the New York Center for Independent Publishing. I have presented in workshops on editing nonfiction for The Learning Annex and writing nonfiction book proposals for the American Society of Journalists and Authors, and am a member of the Authors Guild.

I am also a published author: THE COMPLETE IDIOT'S GUIDE TO HORSES and ghostwriter: HEART HEALTH FOR BLACK WOMEN AND LATINAS (St. Martin's).

Overall, what I am most proud of is the fact that many of my authors moved with me when I changed publishers. Many have become life-long friends and those who haven't have sought me out years later and hired me to edit their new projects. I have also experienced the greatest compliment of all and that is to be recommended to their colleages and friends. Being an editor means more than just having a job--it is a lifestyle. I am privileged to be a part of this amazing community of writers.

“I recommend PJ to nonfiction writers without qualification and also count myself among her fortunate authors. She’s certainly among the top ten freelance editors in the country.” --Elizabeth Lyon, Author
Nonfiction Book Proposals Anybody Can Write and Manuscript Makeover
“I owe my entire career to PJ because she gave me that chance that every writer needs (and so few get).” –Steven Carter, Seven national bestsellers, including NYTimes
Men Who Can’t Love
“PJ was my editor on three published books. She is always conscientious and attentive. She is good humored with high professional standards. “–Henry Ehrlich, Speechwriting
“PJ is the best. She goes above and beyond the typical editor’s role with feedback and concern.” -–DB Gilles,
The Screenwriter Within
“Direct, fast, and doesn’t mince words. PJ was my editor of choice on three published books at three different publishers (Crown, Wiley, Evans).” –Norine Dresser
“An author’s editor who knows exactly what publishers want. Three of my best book publishing experiences have been with her.” –Walter J. Podrazik,
Watching TV
“An expert editor. Hire her without hesitation.” –Jeremey Donovan,
How to Deliver a TED Talk
“I am delighted to recommend her to anyone who is fortunate enough to be able to benefit from her exceptional editing skills.” –Judy Piatkus, Founder Piatkus Books
“PJ helped me chisel my (boring) book down to size while putting my fun speaking style back into it. She was direct and cared about my success.” Dr. Jo Lichten
“Because of PJ’s guidance on my first book, I found my second one easier to write. I trust her to help me clarify points and improve my books while being responsive, supportive, and thorough.” –Colleen M. Story, Author
Overwhelmed Writer Rescue
(more complete list with full endorsements available on request)

Business & Management Cooking, Food, Wine, & Spirits Health & Wellbeing Self-Help & Self-Improvement Writing & Publishing
English (US)

Work experience


Jun, 2009 — Present

I am hired by publishers, agents, and authors to edit book proposals and manuscripts, some of which are already under contract or will be self published.

John Wiley & Sons

Sep, 1993 — Dec, 1996 (about 3 years)

Acquired, edited, and published 15 books per year in all areas of nonfiction, but specialized in self-help, parenting, medicine, diet and nutrition, business, reference, and a series of books for writers. I also had the opportunity to edit books acquired by publishing giant Bob Bernstein who had left his job as head of Random House to become editor-at-large at Wiley.

M. Evans & Co.

Oct, 1999 — Jun, 2006 (over 6 years)

M. Evans was a small, respected, independent publisher with an impressive list. I worked alongside the editor/owner, George deKay, on a number of bestselling books, including the Atkins' Diet and revision of their cookbook. I also discovered, acquired, and edited the bestselling Splenda cookbooks by Marlene Koch and have gone to edit every one of her bestselling (NYTimes and QVC) cookbooks, including her most recent series Eat What You Love, published by Running Press. After Mr. deKay passed away, I was the sole editor for two years and continued to acquire and edit cookbooks, memoirs, medical, psychological and self-help titles.

Random House/Crown

Jan, 1997 — Sep, 1999 (over 2 years)

Antiques and Collectibles (Kovel's series), parenting, pets, culture, cooking, reference, quotation books, pop culture, and humor.

Paragon House Publishers

Jan, 1989 — Aug, 1993 (over 4 years)

Acquired, edited, and published nonfiction titles in the areas of biography, history, popular culture, and reference.

Simon & Schuster

Sep, 1985 — Dec, 1988 (about 3 years)

Acquired, edited, and published titles in all areas of nonfiction, specializing in health, medicine, business, parenting, popular culture, reference, and cooking.

McGraw-Hill Book Company

May, 1977 — Jun, 1985 (about 8 years)

Acquired, edited, and published titles in the areas of popular culture, parenting, self-help, health and medicine, reference books for writers.

Penguin Books, Inc.

Nov, 1973 — May, 1977 (over 3 years)

I could not have asked for a better job to introduce me to the world of publishing. As an editorial assistant to the only editor (back then Penguin was a 12-person office in Greenwich Village)I had the opportunity to meet and personally work with authors such as, Philip Roth, V.S. Naipul, Ben Lucien Burman, P.G. Wodehouse, and many other major writers on the Penguin list.


Developmental Editing
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Heart Smart for Women

Jennifer H. Mieres MD FACC

Developmental Editing
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Developmental Editing
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PJ has 6 reviews





Cindy S.

Cindy S.

Jun, 2023

I loved working with PJ, and as a new author I learned a ton along the way. She communicated so well throughout the process and her developmental edits and guidance helped to transform my book. I highly recommend working with PJ, she's a gem. I will definitely work with her again on my next book and am already looking forward to the process. Thanks PJ!
Cindy, Thank you. The feeling is mutual. I so appreciated your interest in this entire process and your professionalism in keeping in touch and keeping me updated on your schedule. You have no i...
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Harris H.

Harris H.

Nov, 2022

PJ is an amazing editor! She's unbelievably accommodating, which made me as a first-time author feel significant and heard. PJ went above and beyond to ensure my ideas were always a part of the editing process as we collaborated in a few different ways. There was always the reassurance that the manuscript she edited was mine. My voice was never washed out or lost. PJ is my go-to editor for all ...
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Harris, Thank you, but I cannot take all the credit because you were so easy to work with and were able to communicate clearly to me exactly what you wanted to do in this book. I wish you every suc...
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Ciela H.

Ciela H.

Feb, 2022

Excellent collaboration. PJ is not only a skilled editor, she also takes the time to educate her authors on the book writing process. Highly recommend!
Thank you. It has been a pleasure working with you.
Ciela H.

Ciela H.

Jan, 2021

PJ was great to work with. She was able to take my in progress work and help me flesh it into something compelling and engaging. She is clearly an expert in guiding authors and has a keen understanding of the publishing industry. She is collaborative and generous with her time.
Ashleigh W.

Ashleigh W.

Dec, 2020

PJ was the best editor I could have asked for as a first time author. She was patient, teaching and guiding me through the process. As for editing, it was if she could read my mind and turned my thoughts into a story the reader would enjoy.
Ashleigh, Thank you. It was a pleasure working with you and I hope this experience will lead you to write more books in the future.

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