Susan Maia Grossman
Developmental editing, line editing, copy editing, manuscript critiques, coaching, synopses, query letters, cover copy
SUSAN MAIA GROSSMAN has worked with major New York publishing houses for 25 years. Recognitions for her writers include a Lambda Literary Award nomination and Eric Hoffer Book Awards/Montaigne Medals Book Awards in SF/Fantasy.
She works on character-driven science fiction and fantasy, world-building, psychological horror, women’s fiction, and plots involving character growth and transformation.
Susan Maia Grossman has been evaluating and editing manuscripts since the mid-80s when she talked Jo Sherman at Baen Books into letting her read the slush pile, where she discovered many promising writers and a few award-winning ones. She went on to work in-house for science fiction imprint Ace Books and for Macmillan Children’s Books. After falling in love with Seattle while attending the acclaimed Clarion West Workshop for writers of science fiction and fantasy, she left NYC and continued working as an independent editor.
Susan has proofread and copy edited hundreds of books for Baen, Ace-Charter, Bantam Spectra, Tor, Macmillan, and other publishers and packagers. She has helped bring more than a hundred books to life as an independent editor, with her clients claiming distinctions including the Moonbeam Children’s Book Award, New Mexico – Arizona Book Award, the Montaigne Medal and Eric Hoffer Award, and Lambda Literary Award. Many of her writers have gone on to solid careers and outstanding reviews.
As a longtime editor, Susan provides highly personalized editing across the stages in creating a publishable manuscript – from critiquing early drafts and developmental editing, through copyediting and helping with submission packages and cover copy. She works with writers at all levels of experience but has a particular love for working with first-time writers and helping them shape their vision. One of her goals in working with writers early in their career is to make the editing process an educational experience where writers will be able to evaluate their manuscripts critically and do their own editing pass effectively on future manuscripts. The fact that she is herself a writer gives her additional insight into the writers’ process.
“Your editing on my children’s book was exactly what editing should be–thorough without being painful, responsive without being suggestible, and creative without being intrusive. While I did find myself murmuring a frustrating number of “Oh damn, she’s right”s while reading your comments, I never felt ravaged. You responded to my questions thoroughly and sensibly, without making the all-too-common mistake of assuming all change is good. And perhaps most importantly, while you made a number of constructive suggestions, I never felt like you were wresting my work from me. I feel as if you magnified my work instead of altering it.”
Susan specializes in science fiction/fantasy, and YA and middle readers’ fiction and nonfiction. She has also worked on award-winning memoirs, spiritual fiction, LGBTQ topics (one book of which was a Lambda finalist), Jewish-themed fiction, and humor (in her spare time she’s a sketch comedy writer and actor). She enjoys working on themes of personal growth and transformation, journeys literal and metaphorical, and appreciates good world-building (and will make sure your world-building is internally consistent). She also works on educational topics in health, science, nature as well as children’s reference and books on writing, and has a personal interest in adoption and families of choice. She is a professional technical and copy writer and editor as well and has worked on many software products, games, and travel sites.
My editing philosophy
I’ve run across very few writers in my career who find it fun to have an editor point out what they’ve done wrong and mess with their words – but I see myself as your partner and I try to make the experience as painless as possible. While an in-house editor needs to keep the publisher’s bottom line in mind, one of the great luxuries of having an independent editor is that your indie editor is 100% in your court. As your editor, I’m your greatest fan and it’s my job to help you tell the story you want to tell, in the best way that you can. While always honest, I also try to be tactful.
I’m also an advocate of, “Don’t fix what ain’t broke.” Great editing is as much about recognizing what not to change, as recognizing what to change. After 30 years as an editor, I have a sure sense for what to change and what not to touch. I typically don’t make changes if I can’t articulate what I’m doing and why.
That one small change…
Says one of my writers, “I love to have Susan Maia Grossman edit my work because of the elegant, no-nonsense way she goes about it, marking errors in copy with economy and accuracy, identifying flaws, recommending changes, and leaving strictly alone those things that work as they are. After all, fine editing is as much about knowing what to leave alone as what to mend. Every time she edits something for me, I find myself startled again at her insight into my intent as a writer. I’ve come to rely on her for that gift the very best fiction editors have for recommending that one small change that dramatically improves the whole work.”
When a writer queries me, I provide a short sample edit and a fee estimate. I typically edit using MS Word’s tracking and revision features. When I am working with a writer, I discuss with him or her the level of commenting and editing that would be desirable in the manuscript (ranging from justifying every change but straight copyedits, to commenting only on major substantive changes). I typically make changes within the manuscript and embed comments, and I provide a stylesheet and cleaned manuscript with the final.
Services I provide
• Developmental editing
• Copy editing
• Line editing
• Substantive editing
• Final polish
• Cover copy
• Query letters
• Technical writing and editing
• Copy writing and editing
A representative smattering of projects
“Susan Maia Grossman is simply the best editor I know. I think this is significant because as a professional writer in business and technology for the past twenty years I have worked with perhaps sixty or seventy editors. Because I am called in on jobs on a project basis, I’ve learned how to spot the best editor in a group, and I had to do some hasty dancing behind the scenes to keep her assigned to my work. It was worth it, as she was head and shoulders above her colleagues both in knowing what should be fixed and (this being the key to brilliant editing in my humble opinion) in knowing what should be left alone.
“But her place is in the world of fiction, where her uncanny ability to spot those very points where motivation goes awry, where tension fades, and where momentum slumps is startling and transformative. Better yet, when I hired her to work on my YA science-fiction novel, she was certainly able to give me suggestions for fixes that were dramatically effective. In short, her genius lies in putting her finger squarely on those things that have been irking the writer (in my case for years) and in saying just how they ought to be fixed.
“Hiring an editor for your work is a big investment in money and in yourself because you must implement her suggestions. I can only say that you will not find a better editor than Susan Maia Grossman. Not only will your work be squeaky clean when she goes through it, but if you have any issues that are standing in the way of publication, she will find them and help you move them out of your way. I never spent money on my work more wisely than in hiring her for my novel.”
“Choosing an editor for your manuscript is one of the most important decisions you will make. In my own case, when I first considered having my first children’s book manuscript edited I had no idea what to expect. I thought that an editor would go over grammatical mistakes, punctuation, and perhaps obvious faults in the plot. But Susan Maia Grossman exceeded all my expectations.
“Not only did she make the expected corrections, but she tirelessly encouraged me to work on my manuscript with valuable additional information and amazingly insightful comments. I also found her to be sensitive and inspiring with her critique, and as an extra bonus, she brightened my days with her precious humor. Like a true mentor, she went out of her way to be supportive and encouraging. She never let me get away with taking the easy way out of a “sticky spot” and untiringly provided me new suggestions until I found a workable solution. I am very impressed with her knowledge and impeccable professionalism.
“On a more personal note, I will never be able to thank her enough for broadening my vision, increasing my critical thinking and changing my work ethics from a naïve amateur to a serious researcher into my own work.
“I would recommend Susan Maia Grossman as an editor to any aspiring or professional writer who wishes to improve his or her manuscripts to the highest standard possible. I think, you will also find that she encourages your self-expression and respects your own vision.
“I hope you will embark on this exciting journey with her and that you will find it as rewarding as I have.”
“Working with Susan Maia Grossman was a pleasure and an education. Not only did she line edit my work with infinite care and insight, she also helped me to understand when I was undermining my own goals with grandiloquence, inconsistency or coarseness. She was gentle with me and hard on my shortcomings, making sure neither us of confused the two. My characters had formal military and governmental titles, and she pointed out even minor inconsistencies. My horrendous spelling and occasional dropped words never daunted her, while her notes were so clear that I rarely, if ever, had to ask for elaboration: I knew what she meant the first time she said it. I found her extensive publishing experience, particularly with science fiction, helpful to ground me in this new area of endeavor. I think it my great good fortune that Susan Maia Grossman edited my first science fiction novel.”
“You did a wonderful job. I’m very glad I had you edit my manuscript. You found things that no one else had noticed–even the tiny mistakes that most people don’t even realize are wrong because their brain subconsciously fills in the missing gaps.”
Author, ParaWorld Zero
FlamingoNet Top Choice Award
Moonbeam Children’s Book Award
“You provided many suggestions that lifted this manuscript enormously.”
Co-author, The Sword of Darrow
“Wow, what an improvement. Your cleaned-up version is much cleaner, and much smoother. It was greatly needed. Thanks again!”
Author, The House on Blister Hill