My clients include—

In addition, books by author clients have been published (or are forthcoming) by the following—

Short pieces I’ve edited have appeared in—


“Kirsten is my queen. She’s a magnificent writing partner who really helped me distill and clarify my manuscript.”

—Katie Anthony re: work in progress

“Thank you for your sensitive and wise revisions.”

“Once again, I’m in tears. Thanks so much for helping me to get this right.

—Judy Bebelaar, comments within edit of And Then They Were Gone: Children of Peoples Temple, San Francisco to Jonestown (Sugartown)

Kirsten is the whole package: knowledgeable, competent, pleasant to work with, and responsive. There is no question that she made my book a much better product. I cannot recommend her enthusiastically enough.

—Eric Berkowitz re: Dangerous Ideas: A Brief History of Censorship from Socrates to Fake News (Beacon Press)

“You did a beautiful job – exactly what I needed. Can’t thank you enough.”

—Eric Berkowitz, personal email re: Dangerous Ideas

“Thank you for your exceptional work. You did a fantastic job.”

—Dalene Bickel, founder, Lasting Legacies, personal correspondence re: Driving Force: The X-Plus Factor to My Success by Charles Emerson Johnston

“Thank you again, profusely, for taking on this project. You’re a marvelous editor and, what is more, a collaborator.”

“A masterful job.”

“You’re a jewel.”

—John Briscoe, personal emails re: Crush: The Triumph of California Wine (University of Nevada Press)

“Thank you so much for all your amazing work on my manuscript over the last few months. Your changes helped make it a stronger, clearer, more potent piece of writing. I really can’t thank you enough for that.”

—Allie Cashel, personal email re: Suffering the Silence: Chronic Lyme Disease in an Age of Denial (North Atlantic Books)

I am left with a new appreciation for editing. Your work has been incredibly helpful … not just for this paper, but also in thinking about my writing in the future. Thank you so much!”

—S. P. F. Dale, re: “Same-Sex Marriage and the Question of Queerness” for Asian Anthropology

“You have an ear. In one spot you said ‘this seems to have been stuck in …’ It was. I felt like I’d been caught. I moved it. It told me you know tone, and your sense of when something feels out of sync is perfecto!
     Thanks for everything. It’s very nice to have someone as tastefully literate as you as the chief building inspector for Fiction County. You are an editor par excellence!

—Philip Daughtry re: Night Ride with Dahlia (Mercury House)

“Your work is really terrific. Most importantly, none of your comments or edits required any alteration to my voice, and that’s important to me. Your edits make substantial improvements … making this a far stronger book.

—Hillary Eklund, Assistant Professor, Department of English, Loyola University New Orleans, personal email re: Literature & Moral Economy in the Early Modern Atlantic: Elegant Sufficiencies (Ashgate Press)

“You’re amazing, and fast, and so on your stuff. Thank you for doing this so quickly – you went above and beyond and I can’t wait to recommend you to others.

—Meredith Fineman, personal email re: her book Brag Better: Master the Art of Fearless Self-Promotion (Portfolio/Penguin Random House)

“I wanted to take this moment to thank you for your great work.… One author on your website claims that s/he couldn’t have done it without you or something to that effect. I recall thinking something like ‘what a typical Californian slabbering-all-over kind of comment’ when I read that a while back. Now I feel exactly like that author.… I couldn’t have done this without your thorough edits and thoughtful comments and suggestions and your willingness to read and discipline so much of it at far too messy a stage. Your excellent sense of humor did wonders many times, and so did your assurances.”

“You have such a deep and sophisticated understanding of language. Very impressive. And scary.”

—Sabine Frühstück, Professor, Modern Japanese Cultural Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara, personal email re: Playing War: Children and the Paradoxes of Modern Militarism in Japan (University of California Press)

“Thank you so much for the thorough and thoughtful copyedit. The editing/copyediting process can either be great or excruciating, and both you and Stephanie [Knapp] have made it so enjoyable. I had a lot of fun going through all the notes and thinking of more interesting/clear ways to say things, so thank you for pushing me. And thanks for this addition – it’s great: ‘… your tolerance for hostels and backpacks will plummet as precipitously as your fertility.’ …
     PS: I really hope there aren’t any typos in this memo.”

—Dina Gachman, personal email re: Brokenomics: 50 Ways to Live the Dream on a Dime (Seal Press)

“I am so pleased, amused, and appreciative of your edits.… Your work inspires.

—Jane Gennaro, personal email re: burgeoning essay collection

“I am just about to turn in my version of the wonderful work you’ve done on my book. Your lovely comments, fun stories & appreciation of my jokes all meant the world to me. Writing this book has been a good but sometimes lonely process, and I really like picturing you reading and responding to it and sometimes removing my commas. (I like, love commas.)
     So I thought I’d just reach out to you and thank you for your hard work and for ‘getting’ the book, because it’s clear to me from your edits that you did.”

—Emily V. Gordon, personal email re: Super You: Unleash Your Inner Superhero (Seal Press)

“Thank you for the amazing job you did on this last project – especially given how uneven the manuscript was in parts. I admire the deft and seamless fixes you did on the most awkward passages. Wonderful work.

—Laura Harger, Senior Editor, UC Press

“Three indispensable tools any successful writer must have on his/her workbench: talent, perseverance, and the copyediting skills of Kirsten Janene-Nelson. Working always with the utmost respect for the text, she deftly sifts the chaff from the true grain any author hopes to reap. Her keen eye greatly enhanced Jubilee Hitchhiker, my recent biography of Richard Brautigan.”

—William “Gatz” Hjortsberg

“Just to let you know that I had lunch with Jack Shoemaker yesterday – sang your praises to the sky.

—Gatz Hjortsberg, personal email

“Kudos to Kirsten Janene-Nelson for a superlative job of freelance copyediting.”

—William Hjortsberg, Acknowledgments page, Jubilee Hitchhiker: The Life and Times of Richard Brautigan (Counterpoint)

“My editor at NYU wrote to tell me my book got a starred review in Publishers Weekly; … she was pretty excited about it. I thought you’d want to know. You did a great deal to help the book reach its potential.”

—Jennifer Scheper Hughes, personal email re: The Church of the Dead: The Epidemic of 1576 and the Birth of Christianity in the Americas (New York University Press)

“I really appreciate the depth and clarity of your engagement with my draft. I am so happy to have found you!”

—Matthew King, personal email re: In the Forest of the Blind: The Eurasianist Journey of Faxian’s Record of Buddhist Kingdoms (Columbia University Press, forthcoming)

“For the final heavy lifting I worked with editor Kirsten Janene-Nelson, who improved the flow on every page and helped me through countless details and decisions. If you find the narrative easy to read, you can credit her.”

—David Kroodsma, Acknowledgments page, The Bicycle Diaries: My 21,000-Mile Ride for the Climate (RFC Press)

“Thank you for everything: for your deep expertise, your attention to detail, and for pushing me to produce the best book I could. It has been a joy to work with you.

—David Kroodsma, inscription inside personal copy of The Bicycle Diaries

“I’m still so proud of the book we made together.”

—David Kroodsma, personal email re: The Bicycle Diaries

“To … Kirsten Janene-Nelson, thanks for your Charlie Brown Christmas tree edits that helped make this book shine.”

—Elizabeth Lombardo, Acknowledgments page, Better Than Perfect: 7 Strategies to Crush Your Inner Critic and Create a Life You Love (Seal Press)

You are definitely one of my favorite humans these days. I am so grateful to you for jumping on this project at the last minute and then doing such an amazing job. You are really the best – thank you!”

—Amanda J. Lucia, re: White Utopias: The Religious Exoticism of Transformational Festivals

“Kirsten has a magnificent eye. I came to her at the last minute on an academic book for what I thought would be a safety-net, once-over proofreading job. She immediately set to work and made edits, tweaks, and finishing touches that made my book so much more legible and clear. It was like fairy dust and magic – just that little bit extra that made it all so so much better. Not only that, but she was quick and approachable, witty and kind. I can’t recommend her highly enough. Truly a gem, not to be missed. You need her. Even if you don’t think you do, trust me – you do!

—Amanda Lucia, LinkedIn recommendation

“I’m at the starting gate again, writing more slowly and thinking more deeply. Thanks to you, I’m reshaping with a new-found joy. Even my writing issues are prying open my mind to the craft as never before.”

I think you’re golden. I’ve learned from others who tell well, but you show me what I need to see.

—Gail Maree, personal emails re: manuscript “Playing Our Parts: My Family, Myself”

“Courtney [Martin] asked me to pass along her ‘undying gratitude’ to you. She was so impressed by how thorough you are.”

“Your work on our books was … the very best in the business.

—Stephanie Knapp, Acquisitions Editor, Seal Press, personal emails re: The New Better Off: Reinventing the American Dream

Thank you thank you thank you thank you! I expressed as much to Stephanie [Knapp] when I returned the copyedit, but I felt totally, ineffably grateful to have such meticulous editing. I love the way your mind works. I marvel at it. I can’t believe my work got to benefit from it. Did I mention THANK YOU!?”

—Courtney E. Martin, personal email re: The New Better Off: Reinventing the American Dream (Seal Press)

“Your edit is lovely – you’re really bringing out the rhythm of the author’s voice. There aren’t many editors who explicitly do this, so thank you.”

—Hisae Matsuda, Senior Editor, North Atlantic Books, personal email re: The Curious History of Vegetables: Aphrodisiacal and Healing Properties, Folk Tales, Garden Tips, and Recipes

“Kirsten is a superb copyeditor – one of the best I’ve ever worked with, and I’ve worked with many. She is thorough, organized, and always gracious in her queries. She knows when to retain author’s voice over strict grammar rules and house style. She has a gentle hand and an eagle eye, and is enormously professional. She’s also a joy to work with – smart, fun, friendly, and helpful. She understands the publishing process from every angle, and her value-add to each project is enormous because of it. If you’re looking for a freelance editor, my advice is: snap her up.”

—Laura Mazer, Executive Editor, Seal Press, LinkedIn recommendation

“Kirsten is a stellar editor, and her pass here is excellent. With meticulous attention, she has made suggestions and posed queries that polish the manuscript to a fine degree. I think you’ll be pleased with her thoughtful guidance.”

—Laura Mazer, Executive Editor, Seal Press, to the author of Better Than Perfect: 7 Strategies to Crush Your Inner Critic and Create a Life You Love

“I’m so happy to be sending this [new project] over to you for a magical Kirsten polish! … If you have questions, ideas, concerns, anything – I’m happy to help. I’m also happy to be entirely in your hands. Your judgment never steers me wrong, so do what you feel is best.

“I told her you are the gold standard.”

—Personal emails from Laura Mazer, Executive Editor, Seal Press

“You are right and brilliant. Do what you do. I owe you a cake.
     PS: All the writers LOVE you.”

—Henriette Mantel, editor, No Kidding: Women Writers on Bypassing Parenthood (Seal Press)

“I just want to say thank you for a truly thoughtful and excellent edit. It means the world to have someone improving on my writing so skillfully. It’s not easy (for me at least) cutting anything, but if things had to be cut, I think you did an amazing job. I’m learning so much from your edits, and also from your explanations. I really appreciate that.”

“Thanks again for the great experience working together. Everything looks terrific, and I’m really happy with it. You are awesome.”

—Pamela Olson, personal emails re: Fast Times in Palestine: A Love Affair with a Homeless Homeland (Seal Press)

Kirsten is like a personal literary trainer. She’ll not only make your book a better book – she’ll make you a better writer. She has a wonderful balance of an eye for detail with an ability to see the big picture. An excellent wordsmith with the skills and diplomacy to manage a project (and people!) well. I’ve enjoyed working with her both as a colleague and as a freelancer.”

—David Peattie, BookMatters, LinkedIn recommendation

“Kirsten was invaluable in making my book all that it could be. She was able to take what was implicit and challenge me kindly to expand, explain, and embellish the intriguing details that I sometimes neglected to lead the reader through. She is thoroughly professional, and a delight to work with – I am looking forward to working with her again. She edited my book Duchamp’s Pipe: A Chess Romance for North Atlantic Books/Penguin Random House – a rewarding working relationship.”

—Celia Rabinovitch, Artist and Writer, LinkedIn recommendation

I am grateful beyond measure to Kirsten Janene-Nelson, the copyeditor whose literary expertise, professionalism, and good humor in editing the book made it exceed my expectations.”

—Celia Rabinovitch, Acknowledgments page, Duchamp’s Pipe: A Chess Romance – Marcel Duchamp and George Koltanowski (North Atlantic Books)

Thank you so much for your extremely intelligent reading. It meant a great deal to me that you were able to enter into the complex world of this novel and find your way around so well, which is why I took very seriously virtually every point where you noted something unclear or confusing, trusting you completely. Much gratitude for your focus and insights, and, not least, for the good will and wit of your communications.”

—Tova Reich, personal email re: One Hundred Philistine Foreskins (Counterpoint)

“So wonderful to collaborate with you. I processed the chapter 2 edits yesterday and kept shaking my fist at you for making me say what I actually mean!

—Amy Sample Ward, re: The Tech That Comes Next (Wiley)

“Ms. Kirsten Janene-Nelson, the copy editor, did an excellent job. Since neither I nor [the translator] Ms. Calderón is a native speaker of English, it was a great help that she improved our diction and brought it … closer to American English. I very much enjoyed working with her and am grateful to her for her hard work.”

—Saral Sarkar, from the Preface to the English Edition, The Crises of Capitalism: A Different Study of Political Economy (Counterpoint)

“I’m so grateful for your work on my book. Thank you so so much for such an amazing and thorough review, done with such heart and understanding. I shudder to think that these edits may have slipped under my nose.”

—Charles Shaw, personal email re: Exile Nation: Prisons, Politics, Drugs, and Spirituality in America (Soft Skull Press)

“I can’t call any work of mine finished without using Kirsten. It’s not easy to edit a comedian’s words; the risk of destroying a punchline is high. What I discovered instead was an editor who enhanced the punchlines by carefully curating the rest of the piece. I also discovered I have a very troubled relationship with commas!”

—Suzy Soro, LinkedIn recommendation

“I enjoyed working with you because you saw both sides, had great input, and helped me not look like a moron. And that is often not an easy task.”

—Suzy Soro, personal email re: her essay “You’ll Never Babysit in This Town (Again)” in No Kidding: Women Writers on Bypassing Parenthood (Seal Press)

“I’m going to recommend you as an editor to anyone who will listen to me. I think you’re terrific.”

“Great. I will never be able to publish anything again without your input. I HOPE YOU’RE HAPPY.

—Suzy Soro, personal emails re: Celebrity sTalker (HumorOutcasts)

“By page six I was shouting to Florian, ‘She’s a genius!’ … I love your vision. You’re spot-on. Let the adventure begin!”

—Lisette Sutherland, personal email re: developmental assessment of Work Together Anywhere: A Handbook on How to Work Remotely – Successfully – for Individuals, Teams, and Managers (Wiley)

“These are fabulous edits and insights.”

“Thank you for your super helpful feedback.… You’ve got terrific eyes.”

—Susan Tive & Cami Ostman, coeditors, personal emails re: Beyond Belief: The Secret Lives of Women in Extreme Religions (Seal Press)

“I’m absolutely delighted with your editing. You’ve managed to keep my voice intact while giving the manuscript a professionalism and a flow that I believe really works. I’m very grateful.”

You are becoming my rebbe of writing. As for your most recent edit on my inclusivity essay, I found your changes reasoned and incisive, presenting an approach from which I hope I can learn and grow.”

“Your work is outstanding and deeply appreciated.”

You have the uncanny ability to keep the style of the author and yet add great elegance to the writing. You are truly gifted.”

—Rabbi Avi Weiss, personal emails re: Open Up the Iron Door: Memoirs of a Soviet Jewry Activist (Toby Press), as well as for various essays and articles

“Your brilliant edits turned this memoir into a ‘song of freedom.’ I am deeply indebted.”

—Rabbi Avi Weiss, inscription inside personal copy of Open Up the Iron Door

“Even though we don’t know each other, your edits align so well with my voice + tone. I’m in awe of how much your suggested revisions sound ‘like me.’ Also, the moments you’ve identified as opportunities for me to add more personal/emotional responses are a big help – reworking them should help create more intimacy between my readers and me.”

“Working with you has recharged my writing.”

—Chelsea Yates, personal emails re: personal essays

Michelle Tea Article

Michelle Tea wrote an ARTICLE about my work with Mercury House for her House Hunter column in the San Francisco Bay Guardian Lit Section.