Carrie Cantor

how to find a literary agent

Developmental Editing, Manuscript Evaluations, Line Editing

200+ books edited for major publishers and independent authors

CARRIE CANTOR, a published author and industry veteran, worked as an acquisitions editor at a New York publisher where she acquired and edited titles on a variety of subjects. As a free-lance editor, she has extensive experience performing diagnostic editing (critique), development editing, and line editing. Her clients are writers in the areas of memoir, history, current events, health, Judaica, women’s issues, how-to, and pop-culture, as well as romance, women’s fiction, and literary fiction.

She also helps authors write query letters and proposals that appeal to the market. Because she is an adjunct to a successful New York literary agency, she has the commercial savvy to advise clients with an eye to current trends and industry standards.

Carrie will meet you wherever you are in your writing process. If you need an objective assessment of what’s working in your book and what needs improvement in terms of structure (narrative arc, characters, pacing, etc.), she can provide a thorough professional critique. Her “bedside” manner is sensitive and respectful but holds nothing back.

If you need a line-by-line edit to polish the writing, Carrie is an expert at smoothing over any awkward moments in the narrative, helping you to be the best writer you can be without imposing her own style or taste on your prose.

“I hired Carrie Cantor to edit each of my nine published books—eight novels and one how-to book—most of them calling for three separate stages of editing: critique, line-editing, and copy editing.

Not only did I get a well-edited, marketable novel each time, but I also improved as a writer due to her objective feedback and gracious challenge for me to go to the next level of writing.

I feel that each book I write is better than the previous one, and I owe much of this to Carrie’s expert advice.”

—Florence Osmund

how to find a literary agent

What distinguishes Carrie from the other fine editors in the network is her association with a successful literary agency in the New York City metro area (Joelle Delbourgo Associates). When she performs a manuscript assessment, it’s with an eye to what makes a book saleable.

As an associate agent, she receives numerous book proposals every week and knows what’s out there. She also knows what acquisitions editors at the big publishing firms are thinking about—what they’re buying and not buying.

By having Carrie edit your book, you are getting feedback from someone on the front lines of the publishing world who can assess whether your book has commercial potential. If it doesn’t, she can tell you why and advise you on how best to use your time—seeking an agent or publishing the book yourself.

Carrie Cantor

Carrie was interviewed by Write magazine.

Read it now to get a sense of how she thinks and how she works with editors.

Carrie wants to ask you…

What is your biggest concern about your manuscript? If you request me by name, please include the answer to that question.

If you’re not sure, here are some possibilities:

  • I don’t know if my story arc is compelling and engaging throughout.
  • I’m afraid my story is too wordy, too long, but I don’t know where to make cuts.
  • My story has some twists and turns and coincidences, maybe too many to feel realistic.
  • I’m not sure I’ve done enough character development.
  • I’m confused by how to use narrator point-of-view.
  • I’m not a native English speaker, and I’m concerned about my use of idiom.
  • I’m wondering if my book has commercial potential; and if not, is it worth pursuing?
  • My memoir includes details that are interesting and important to me, but I’m not confident they will be interesting to others.
  • I’m not sure my nonfiction book is organized in the most user-friendly way.
  • I suspect my manuscript could be better, and I need an objective eye to tell me what to do to bring it to the next level of excellence.
  • I want to hear your concerns so I can help you decide if you’re ready for editing and if I can help you. I’ll let you know if I can’t. (Usually, I can!)

Carrie wants to tell you…

Hiring an editor is a big step in your development as a writer. To many writers, the editing stage is exhilarating.

But to others, it’s a little scary. It means handing over their “baby,” putting their feelings on the line, risking that someone will make them feel as though they have no talent and have wasted their time writing a book. If that’s you, let me tell you something…

…it’s all going to be fine! An editor is not someone who will tear you down and make you feel bad. An editor is your friend and partner on this creative journey.

Your editor will focus on your strengths and make suggestions for improvement. Writing is a solitary process, and writers become immersed in their work, often finding it difficult to step back and assess it accurately. An editor is an objective, trained eye on your work, a tool that is better than any general writing book because an editor’s advice is tailor-made for you. And the great thing is, you can take the advice or not. It’s your book. The editor is there to serve you.

Most of my clients thrill to the editing process because it is so revelatory—it helps them see their work in a whole new light. They become aware of aspects of their book they’ve never even thought about before.

Don’t hesitate. Embrace the process. There is nothing that will advance your writing more than working with a thorough and conscientious editor.


Carrie edits fiction with an appreciation for how the brain works and for the fact that readers like to pick up clues while they read, as they do in real life, and figure things out rather than be constantly told how to interpret what characters are thinking and feeling.

She pays attention to pacing, descriptive detail (the Goldilocks rule: should be just right; not too much, not too little), narrative arc, character development, dialogue, and general writing issues.

She knows the New York publishing world (and has access to the current thinking about what is hot and what is not).

One novelist said of her, “I have been guided by a number of different editors throughout my career. Without any hesitation, I can say that [she] is the best editor I have ever worked with.”


Carrie often works with academics, psychologists, and medical doctors on high-caliber material in the social and life sciences, helping to make their writing more accessible to a trade audience. One happy client, a medical doctor, said of her, “She is a consummate wordsmith, with the facility of not only understanding and integrating scientific and technical material but also illuminating arcane and otherwise opaque descriptions.”

She has also worked closely with memoir writers and has a knack for preserving an author’s own special voice while helping him or her avoid narrative mistakes that come across as awkward or amateurish. Some of her memoirists have been people documenting struggles with mental illness, addiction, and/or abuse; an adoptee who found her birth mother; a man convicted of the mercy-killing of his wife; a Korean woman who grew up feeling oppressed by her culture’s sexism; a man prosecuted for federal crimes he did not commit; a son of a Holocaust survivor who learned his father’s story after 50 years of silence; just to name a few.

She has authored two history books. For several years, she was an acquisitions editor at Carol Publishing Group, New York, NY, where she acquired and edited numerous hardcover and trade paperback titles on a variety of nonfiction subjects, mostly in the areas of self-help, health, history/current events, how-to, memoir, and pop culture.

Books Edited/Published


Discovering Black New York (Travel)—by Linda Tarrant-Reid (Citadel Press)
Fifty Black Women Who Changed America—by Amy Alexander (Kensington)
Smart Parenting for African Americans—by Dr. Jeffrey Gardere (Kensington)
Soul in Management (Business)—by Richard F. America (Birch Lane Press)

Biography, Current Affairs, History

The Age of Extremism—by James Gardner (Carol Publishing)
Brother Against Brother: The Lost Civil War Diary of Lt. Edmund Halsey—by Bruce Chadwick (Citadel)
Christine Todd Whitman—by Art Weissman (Birch Lane Press)
Devil’s Pact (about the Teamsters)—by Duke Zeller (Birch Lane Press)
The End of Affirmative Action—by Darien McWhirter (Birch Lane Press)
For a Good Cause: How Charitable Institutions Become Powerful Economic Bullies—by John Hawks
(Birch Lane Press)
The Legal 100: A Ranking of the Individuals Who Have Most Influenced the Law—by Darien McWhirter
(Birch Lane Press)
The Moses Mystery: The African Origins of the Jewish People—by Gary Greenberg (Birch Lane Press)
The Prosecution Responds—by Hank Greenberg (an attorney in the O.J. Simpson trial) (Birch Lane Press)
Rating the Presidents—by Bill Ridings and Stuart McIver (Citadel Press)
Senseless Secrets: The Failures of U.S. Military Intelligence From George Washington to the Present—by Lt. Col. (Ret.) Michael Lee Lanning (Barnes & Noble Books)
Toxic Deception: How the Chemical Industry Manipulates Science, Bends the Law, and Endangers
Your Health—by Dan Fagin and Marianne Lavelle (Carol Publishing)


Income Double, Half the Trouble—by Jonathan Flaks (Dog Ear Publishing)
The Science of Sales Success—by Josh Costell (AMACOM)
Moneymaking Moms—by Caroline Hull and Tanya Wallace (Carol Publishing)
Soul in Management—by Richard F. America (Birch Lane Press)


Artist Biographies—8-book series (Enslow)
Internet Library—8-book series (Enslow)
Kids’ Book of Soccer—by Brooks Clark (Citadel Press)
Proud Heritage–Hispanic Library—8-book series (The Child’s World, 2003)
“Why Do We Have to Move?”—by Cynthia MacGregor (Lyle Stuart)
“Why Do We Need Another Baby?”—by Cynthia MacGregor (Lyle Stuart)

Domestic (Cooking, Entertaining)

The Cheapskate’s Guide to Entertaining—by Lori Perkins (Citadel Press)
The Cheapskate’s Guide to Home Decorating—by Jo Stewart Wray (Citadel Press)
The Feng Shui Cookbook—by Elizabeth Miles (Carol Publishing)
The Wicca Cookbook—by Jamie Wood and Tara Seefeldt (Citadel Press)


The Art of Sensual Female Dominance—by Claudia Varrin (Citadel Press)
Erotic Surrender—by Claudia Varrin (Citadel Press)
How to Seduce a Man and Keep Him Seduced—by Laurie Sue Brockway


The Coach House—by Florence Osmund (CreateSpace, 2012)
Daughters— by Florence Osmund (forthcoming in 2013)
Fireflies of the Empire—by Toshio Nishi (forthcoming)
Love Is Definitely Greek to Me—by Carolyn Giglio (iUniverse, 2007)
The Secret (of Happiness)—by Demosthenes Armeniades (Tinseltown Press)
Stingy Jack—by R. Scott Taylor ( Inc., 2007)

Health / Diet

The Five Reasons Why We Overeat: How to Develop a Long-Term Weight-Control Plan That’s Right for You—by Cynthia Last (Birch Lane Press)
Holistic Sleep—by Dr. Frank Buda (Citadel)
Mindstorms: The Complete Guide for Families Living with Traumatic Brain Injury—John Cassidy (Da Capo, 2009)


God-Optional Judaism—by Judith Seid (Citadel Press)
The Jewish Family Fun Book—by Danielle Dardashti and Roni Sarig (Jewish Lights Publishing, 2008)
The Jewish Woman’s Book of Wisdom—by Ellen Jaffe-Gill (Citadel)
The Moses Mystery: The African Origins of the Jewish People—by Gary Greenberg (Pereset Press, 2008)
Two Jews Can Still Be a Mixed Marriage—by Azriela Jaffe (Career Press)

Family Issues / Marriage

After He’s Gone: A Guide for Widowed & Divorced Women—by Barbara Jowell and Donnette Schwisow (Citadel Press)
The Caregiver’s Manual: A Guide to Helping the Elderly and Infirm—by Patie Kay and Gene B. Williams (Citadel Press)
The Exceptional Seven Percent: The Nine Secrets of the World’s Happiest Couples—by Greg Popcak (Citadel Press)
The 501 Best and Worst Things Ever Said About Marriage—by Ronald Shwartz (Citadel Press)
Mother, Me—by Zara Phillips (Gemma Media, 2010)
Smart Parenting for African Americans—by Dr. Jeffrey Gardere (Kensington)
Two Jews Can Still Be a Mixed Marriage—by Azriela Jaffe (Career Press)
“Why Do We Need Another Baby?”—by Cynthia MacGregor (Lyle Stuart)
“Why Do We Have to Move?”—by Cynthia MacGregor (Lyle Stuart)


But What If She Wants to Die?—by George Delury (convicted of the mercy-killing of his wife) (Birch Lane Press)
Chasing America: Notes from a Rock ‘n’ Soul Integrationist—by Dennis Watlington (Thomas Dunne Books / St. Martin’s Press, 2006)
Inside, Outside, and On the Ropes: Life Lessons from Q-School and The Majors—by Keith Gockenbach (South Nine Publishing, 2011)
Shakedown—by Steven E. Whiting (Franklin Press, 2012)
A Thriver’s Journey—by Dan Himmel (forthcoming from Argo Navis, 2013)
To Kill a Tiger—by Jid Lee (Overlook Hardcover, 2010)

Popular Culture

Beyond Mulder and Scully (The X Files)—by Andy Mangels (Citadel)
Chick Flicks: A Movie Lover’s Guide to the Movies Women Love—by Jami Bernard (Citadel)
Did He or Didn’t He?—Mart Martin (Citadel)
Here to Stay: Rock and Roll through the ’70s—G.W. Sandy Schaefer, with Donald Smith (Dorset Group-University of Arizona, 2007)
The Seinfeld Universe—by Greg Gattuso (Citadel)
Starring John Wayne As Genghis Khan—by Damien Bona (Citadel)
Who Is the Greatest, Elvis or the Beatles?—Mike Shellans & Bill Slater (Dorset Group, 2007)

Women’s Issues

“Did You Say Something, Susan?”: How Any Woman Can Gain Confidence With Assertive Communication—by Dr. Paulette Dale (Birch Lane Press)
Ninjitsu for Women—by Ashida Kim (Citadel)
The Single Woman’s Travel Guide—by Jackie Simenauer and Doris Walfield (Citadel)
A Woman’s Book of Yoga—by Dr. Machelle Seibel and Hari Kaur (Avery Trade)


Design: A Journey Through Time—by Jacques Giard (Dorset Group-University of Arizona, 2008)
The Invisible Fist (ninja)—by Ashida Kim (Citadel)
Italian Pride: 101 Reasons to Be Proud You’re Italian—by Federico and Stephen Moramarco (Birch Lane)
The Psychic Yellow Pages (occult)—by Dr. Hans Holzer (Citadel)
Pure Goldie (Goldie Hawn bio)—by Marc Shapiro (Citadel)
A Witch’s Runes (wicca)—by Susan Sheppard (Citadel)



“I have worked with Carrie Cantor on eight book projects so far and intend to keep sending her all my new manuscripts.  Carrie’s feedback is always prompt and thorough.  She has an excellent feel for what is and is not working in a manuscript–whether large-scale themes or characterization or word choice or consistency of point of view.  Her comments are direct and incisive, and I can readily apply them to improve and sharpen my writing.  Carrie is a pleasure to work with, and freely available to clarify any point in her feedback.  Working with her has made me a much stronger, more insightful writer.”

—Barak Bassman, author of

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how to find a literary agent“In addition to being a skillful editor, Carrie was an effectual teacher.  I made several first-time author mistakes writing my first novel, and she patiently worked with me to correct them.  Her critique of my manuscript was right on target, to the point and constructive.  The improvements I made to it, thanks to Carrie, made it a much better read. I thoroughly enjoyed working with her and plan to work with her again.”

—Wendy Tyson,
author of Killer Image (Henery Press 2013)

how to find a literary agent“I consider myself very lucky to have had the benefit of Carrie’s editorial expertise. She did an outstanding job of shaping my manuscript into a polished piece. I highly recommend her.”

—Azriela Jaffe,
author of Two Jews Can Still Be a Mixed Marriage, Reconciling Differences Over Judaism in Your Marriage (Career Press)

how to find a literary agent“As a first-time author, I valued Carrie’s skill as an editor and her knowledge of the publishing business. My book was so much better for her input. Her experienced eye, willingness to listen, and just plain good sense made her guidance invaluable.”

—Judith Seid,
author of God-Optional Judaism (Citadel Press)

how to find a literary agent“Carrie was indispensable for the birth of my memoir. She helped me to not only tighten my writing but also improve the structure of the narrative to make it more thrilling. I found a very effective, inspirational guide in her ability to culturally translate my experience in Korea for American audiences.”

—Jid Lee
Author of To Kill a Tiger (Overlook, 2009)

how to find a literary agent“My personal experience in working with Carrie has been very rewarding. She has the grit to drill down into the material so that nothing is taken for granted. She also demonstrates an intuitive skill to help add an overarching structure to the work that helps expand its scope, further increasing the book’s accessibility to those audiences we wish to reach.

Her persistence in getting the content to seamlessly flow from one technical subject to the next is a true gift.”

—John W. Cassidy, MD
Author of Mindstorms: The Complete Guide for Families Living with Traumatic Brain Injury (Da Capo Press, 2009)

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