Nancy Doherty, Editor and Writer

Offering help and resources for writers, agents, and publishers


What makes a good editor? A great education, decades of experience writing and editing, and–most important–a lifelong love affair with language and literature.

I graduated magna cum laude  from Mount Holyoke College with a major in English and a minor in Italian. In 2009 I earned an MFA from Bennington College in writing.

My professional experience includes jobs as an award-winning newspaper feature writer (Anchorage Daily NewsPhiladelphia Bulletin), magazine editor (New Jersey Monthly), book editor (Simon and Schuster, Atheneum, Grossett & Dunlap), and contributing editor to Book-of-the-Month Club.

My theory is that the creative, generative part of the brain we use when writing is different from the critical, analytical part needed to edit. When one is switched on, the other switches off. I know from my own ongoing writing that putting the best words in the best order is no simple task and we rarely succeed the first time through. Beyond going back and revising, revising, revising, an author often needs guidance from an editor who understands what he or she is trying to say in order to transform a promising but flawed text into a clean, clear, and possibly even beautiful piece of prose.

In recent years I’ve built a thriving freelance business helping writers and organizations prepare  for a successful publication.This work  has become something of a personal mission for me. Is it odd to admit that I love it?

Joe McGinniss, my husband and companion of more than four decades, was already a bestselling writer when we met, but over the years he became my most appreciative client. I edited everything he wrote until his death in March 2014.

Today I live and work in rural Massachusetts. When not reading, writing, or editing, I’m probably gardening or pursuing my passion for photography. I had ambitions to become a photojournalist as a young woman, and I managed to travel through parts of South Vietnam during the war. Photography remains an important part of my creative life. Which is why I may use my blog for photos, too. Words are wonderful but so are pictures. Why not both?

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