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Cassandra Brown

Cassandra is a freelance editor, lit agency staff, YA writer, and loves to play with her dog Mollie. She dreams of one day owning a small house near the water, preferably in England, with a shelf full of books she has written and has helped others to write. She can be found in Emmett, MI, for writing, for editing.

MOST IMPORTANTLY What kind of entries are you looking for in your Pitch to Publication query box?
  • Dystopian
  • Sci-fi
  • Contemporary
  • Romance
  • Fantasy (both high and low)
  • Mystery
  • Horror
  • Steampunk
  • Historical 
  • Paranormal 
  • I especially like stories about witches 
  • YA, NA, or crossover Adult
What is your writing and editing background?

I majored in English for my undergrad degree and then got my MA at Newcastle University on the novel writing track. From there I interned at a top NYC literary agency for quite some time before transitioning into a rights reversion/self publishing guru position. During that time I also started and am now in my seventh year as a freelance editor. I do my own writing from time to time too. I've completed a half dozen YA novels of my own (I've only ever published one) and for fun I've written a series of picture books about a pair of royal corgis in England. 

What are your major editing accomplishments?

I've had projects make the NYT and USAToday bestseller lists and that's great and all and I'm totally thankful to have had those opportunities, but my favorite moments are those emails I get out of the blue from clients who are seeing successes, either in publishing their work or in improving their writing. When a client comes back to me for a second edit and I get to see how they've grown and developed their stories, I'm super proud.

Do you have a general philosophy for how you approach your editing work?

I firmly believe in the teaching method. I don't want to just fix errors and move on, I want to show you what you're doing and then find ways that you can use that knowledge in the future whether it be crutch words, common spelling or phrasing issues, reliance on cliches and tropes, etc. 

What types of books do you enjoy working with?

YA is where my heart lives. I'm game for just about any genre except angels/demons and vamps/weres. I love the newness, the adventure, all of that stuff that makes life exciting at that age. I take NA and sometimes even adult if there is crossover potential. 

What are the most common mistakes you see in new writer's ​work?

Not using the internet to learn as much about the business as you can. It's easy to get swept up in social media and the immediacy of real-time chatting, but most of those agents and editors have spent years blogging about craft and the business side of things and most of those blogs are still out there just waiting to be read. Go! Read! 

What’s the one thing most novelists don’t understand about the art of revision?

That it's more than just running spell check. Sure, looking at the micro side of things is important, but so it's the macro. Characterization, flow, style; those sorts of things can't be ticked off a check list with a single thought. There's a wide band of grey area and working through that is a skill a computer just can't do.

What’s one easy thing every writer can do right now to make themselves a better writer?

Read. Read books in your genre. Read books outside your genre. Read non-fiction. Read screenplays. See what you like and what you don't like and apply that to your own work.

What is the most important consideration in selecting a book editor?

I think it's most important to look for compatible personalities. Stalk editors on twitter, read their blogs, get to know who they are as people. We like making friends. You'll want to find someone who is in it because they want to see you and your books succeed, not just collect a paycheck.

Why would a writer need a book editor?

Why would a writer NOT need a book editor? An editor is an advocate, a sounding board, a whip, a soft shoulder, so many more things than just a brain and a red pen. 

What do you do for fun that does not deal with the literary scene?

It's sorta literary so I don't know if it counts, but I'm a HUGE Harry Potter nerd. I make grim teacups and wands and howlers, and other HP crafts for sale on Etsy. I reread the series every December when publishing shuts down and usually again in the summer or between projects. I'll watch the movies marathon-style if I've got a day or two to spare before my next project. I love to paint too. Watercolors mostly, but acrylics as well. If it's crafty, I probably like it. 

Seriously, we need to know your favorite meal and why?

I've got a serious love affair going on with toast and a nice cup of tea, but I think my favorite would be thanksgiving leftovers. That mashup of yams, turkey, corn, cranberries, and gravy… yum!

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