Sam Cooney

Sam Cooney - Editor

Sydney NSW, Australia

Expert manuscript developer and editor. I specialise in literary fiction and nonfiction, and general / popular fiction and nonfiction.

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Overview

“I was looking for an editor and mentor with compassion for the author as well as a deep interest in and commitment to the story. I got all of this in Sam. His close reading of my work in progress empowered me to change or strengthen sections while maintaining areas that were already humming. Our discussions have been engaging and robust. I’m now only a few weeks from sending a draft to an agent.”
—Ann Bolch, Fourth Drop


“When it was suggested to me that I should engage a professional editor, I was faced with the most daunting task. I read the profiles of dozens of editors, and the more I read, the more anxious I felt. I worried that they would just read my work and edit it for me, and not going to care two hoots about what I had actually written. But when I read Sam’s profile, I felt a sense of being at home and I knew that he was going to be the right person for my work. As a first-time writer of a non-English-speaking background, it was incredibly nerve-wracking to present my work to a professional editor of Sam’s calibre, but his humble and down-to-earth approach gave me back the confidence and self-belief that I had buried deep into a dark closet. With his fine brush of care and genuine interest, he unearthed aspects of my work that were covered by layers of doubt and dust, like an archeologist piecing together a lost world. Sam delicately guided me every step of the way by sharing his insights and thoughts, never hesitating to have in-depth discussions with me and always seeking my input. And Sam invested a considerable amount of time and passion to help me fulfil my dream of taking the manuscript to the next level when he linked me with a seasoned and respected literary agent. I was not just another piece of writing for Sam to edit – I was a human with feelings and an immense passion to tell a story. He has been a guiding light along this path, and he has become a friend for life, for which I am forever grateful.”
—Pirooz Jafari, Forty Nights


“It was easy to feel at ease in Sam’s editorial hands. He is confident and enthusiastic about the editorial process, but he’s not coddling. His advice is frank and straightforward. I never had to ‘interpret’ Sam’s suggestions. He won’t bite if you want to fight him. But you probably won’t fight him much, because in my experience Sam is brilliant at seizing on the spirit and mood of a text. He will learn what you want to do and help you further towards that. I knew my manuscript had problems and Sam found those problems, articulated them, provided clarity, and eventually we had a book.”
—Shaun Prescott, The Town


“We simply had to choose Sam to copy edit our book. He bent over backwards to make it professional. His editing style was elegant – we accepted all changes. He also made suggestions – for example, our manuscript included some foreign words and he showed us how to incorporate them without interrupting the flow of the story. His work was timely despite his attention to detail. As mega-ambitious first-time co-authors, we are writing about Ethiopian. Sam gets us. He is familiar with the publishing industry, so that helps enormously. Ethiopians would call him yerada lij, which means that he is a smart and self-sufficient supporter of the helpless. Publishing is a rich experience for us, thanks to Sam.”
—Mesfin Tadesse & Ianet Bastyan, Lucy’s People: An Ethiopian Memoir


“Sam was incredibly supportive during the process of publishing my book One Good Turn. To lay out a collection of about 100 individual drawings is difficult. ‘You’re gonna have to find a shit-hot designer’ I told him. And he did. When Sam visited my place in the bush, he saw Lois, my chihuahua, approaching an echidna, and worried she would get ‘porcupined’, (a face full of quills). He was very concerned and ran to save her. I thought that was nice... for a publisher.”
—Mary Leunig, One Good Turn (2018), and There's No Place like Home (1982), A Piece of Cake (1986), One Big Happy Family (1992), and Black and White and Grey (1993)


“Sam’s enthusiasm and strong support for When One Person Dies The Whole World Is Over was rock solid from the start. I had all but given up hope of the book becoming a reality until the seemingly impossible moment when Sam expressed his clear and unwavering intention to publish it. His willingness to openly communicate how the work made him feel complimented his conduct as an experienced and respectful publisher. It was this combination of professionalism and warmth that made me feel like my work was in safe hands. I felt like I could just be myself. He inspired in me the confidence to remember that the stories I had to tell were important and worthy of serious consideration. Sam championed the book and gave it a platform that is rare for autobiographical cartoonists. His passion for publishing was evident from the start and I felt reassured and happy knowing I had his experience, respectful guidance and transparent communication at every stage of the book design, editing and publishing process. I honestly believed that this book would never be published and have the exposure and support that it has had and I’m so happy I was able to have the experience of working with Sam. His dedication to championing vital yet often underrepresented literary voices is evident in the incredible and daring books he has published. The good experience I had working with Sam on When One Person Dies The Whole World Is Over has inspired me to more confidently pursue future publishing opportunities.”
—Mandy Ord


"I'd like to thank Sam for bringing my novel to a new level. He identifies the needs of a literary work, including identifying the appropriate genre, building on its strengths and reveals its flaws. His feedback inspires."
—James Whitington, Shifting Skies


"Sam's appraisal of my manuscript for a novel was, by far, the most insightful feedback I've had on any piece of writing. He articulated his thoughts and concerns in great detail - covering plot, pace, POV, dialogue, style and tone. He nailed some critical issues with the ms that I'd been unsure of, and, more importantly, unsure where to even begin to fix. The appraisal, and subsequent lengthy discussions, gave me exactly what I needed to polish and tighten the manuscript."
—Alex Fenton


“I’ve used a number of editors and proofreaders who were good, but Sam tops them all. He takes it to another level with his thoroughness and suggestions to improve your writing. His comments to improve my story and characters helped me immensely. Since my novel mainly takes place in Australia, his knowledge of the country and people was what I needed. I hope I get another chance to work with him again. You not only get an excellent product from Sam, but you learn from his work. I will continue to use him for my future books.”
—Dr. Keith K. Millheim

Languages
English (AUS)
English (UK)
English (US)
Non-Fiction
Biographies & Memoirs
History
Political Science & Current Affairs
True Crime
Fiction
Contemporary Fiction
Historical Fiction
Short Story
Thriller & Suspense

Certifications

  • Master of Cultural and Creative Practice
  • Bachelor of Creative and Professional Writing

Awards

  • • ‘Rising Star’ category finalist, Australian Book Industry Awards, 2019
  • • AMP Foundation ‘Tomorrow Maker’, 2019
  • • Australia Council ‘Future Leader’ 2017–18

Work experience

Publisher, Editorial Director, Book Editor

Brow Books
June, 2015 – Present (over 6 years)

I founded and ran this small independent book publishing house which focuses on unearthing and championing provocative and innovative fiction and nonfiction. I oversaw all operations, including acquiring titles and negotiating contracts, all editorial (including developmental, structural, and line editing), plus the design, production, distribution, sales, marketing and publicity of titles. I also administered all accounting and processed all royalties, and was in charge of rights sales of which we had terrific success.

I edited all fiction and nonfiction titles, which saw me project managing books, copy-editing, proofreading and management of page proofs, and providing final files to production. Several Brow Books titles won and were shortlisted for major literary awards both in Australia and overseas, and many found success in overseas territories.

Some of the books I’ve worked on and published include: Axiomatic by Maria Tumarkin, The Town by Shaun Prescott, Pink Mountain on Locust Island by Jamie Marina Lau, The Island Will Sink by Briohny Doyle, Apple and Knife by Intan Paramaditha, One Good Turn by Mary Leunig, and When One Person Dies The Whole World Is Over by Mandy Ord.

Freelance Manuscript Editor

Self-employed
March, 2020 – Present (over 1 year)

Am currently working as a freelance editor, specialising in manuscript assessments, as well as manuscript edits including developmental editing, structural editing, copy/line editing, and proofreading.

I have completed jobs for Penguin Random House, Pan Macmillan, Allen & Unwin, Text Publishing, and more.

Literary Critic

The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Australia, The Saturday Paper
January, 2013 – Present (almost 9 years)

I’ve had dozens of book reviews published in Australia’s major newspapers, including in The Age/The Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian, The Saturday Paper, and Australian Book Review. Each time this involves pitching to an editor or being commissioned directly, and then reading a title and making a longform critique of its artistic merit for a public audience.

Lecturer and Tutor

University of Melbourne, Deakin University, RMIT University, Victoria University
March, 2012 – June, 2020 (over 8 years)

RMIT University (2015–2020)
I lectured and tutored publishing and editing subjects in the Masters of Writing & Publishing, and also Creative Writing subjects in the School of Media and Communication.

University of Melbourne (2013–2019)
Taught Digital Media subjects in the School of Culture & Communication

Deakin University (2014–2015)
Taught Writing/Editing in the School of Communication & Creative Arts

Victoria University (2014–2015)
Taught Digital Media subjects in the College of Arts & Education

Writer

Self-employed
January, 2008 – Present (almost 14 years)

Have had journalism, nonfiction, fiction and poetry published in a variety of publications, including The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian, The Saturday Paper, The Rumpus, McSweeney’s Silent History geofiction project, Meanjin, Island, Seizure, Going Down Swinging, Junkee, Sleepers Almanac, and Crikey.

Portfolio (16 selected works)

Axiomatic

Tumarkin, Maria

The Town: A Novel

Prescott, Shaun

Apple And Knife

Paramaditha, Intan

Bright

Pimwana, Duanwad, Poopoksakul, Mui

This Young Monster

Fox, Charlie

One Good Turn

Mary Leunig

The Relationship is the Project: Working with Communities

Lillie, Jade, Larsen, Kate, Kirkwood, Cara, Jacki Brown, Jax

Small Beauty

wilson-yang, jia qing

Should Meat be on the Menu?

Mason-Jones, David

Cooee: A Novel

Kelly, Vivienne

Sam has 3 reviews

Professionalism
Professionalism
Quality
Quality
Value
Value
Communication & Punctuality
Communication & Punctuality

Ryan H
Sam really helped to clean up my manuscript and get it ready for publishing, all the while offering constructive criticism and technical advice for the work he edited and all of my other work to come. Very pleased with the quality of Sam's work and would definitely collaborate with him again.

Ryan H, April 2021

Sam Cooney
Thanks Ryan – much appreciate you trusting me with your manuscript, and for taking seriously my feedback. All the best!

Reply from Sam Cooney


Keith Millheim
I've used other professions with Reedsy to edit and proofread, but I must say Sam tops them all. His level of thoroughness exceeded my expectations. His comments to improve the story and characters helped me immensely. Since my story mainly takes place in Australia, his knowledge of the country and people was what I needed. I hope I get another chance to work with him again.

Keith Millheim, April 2021

Sam Cooney
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to work on your manuscript, Keith – it was a pleasure!

Reply from Sam Cooney


Jayke Luland
Sam was fuss free and effective! He did a great job putting the last few finishing touches on my novella with his proofreading.

Jayke Luland, November 2020

Sam Cooney
Thanks Jayke! It was a real pleasure to collaborate with you on your novella – I'm so glad I was able to work on it to hone it into its final best shape. Best of luck with the next steps!

Reply from Sam Cooney

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