Get that book written!


Writing is a hard, lonely task. All writers need encouragement and support, someone who understands what you're trying to do. Sometimes all you want is a little push getting started, a little help in refining the concept for your novel or nonfiction work. Sometimes you could use some intelligent, objective feedback as you work. Often, once immersed in the writing, you get so deep into the forest, you can't see the trees: which ones to nurture, which ones to cut? That goes for thoughts as well as words. This is when you can use the specific, step-by-step suggestions and astute advice only a professional can provide. 

Having worked as an editor on both books and magazines--most recently as features and arts editor of San Francisco magazine--I can give you the encouragement, coaching, and clear-eyed critique that every writer needs. I can give you the substantive, line, or copy editing that every writer deserves (and that so few publishing houses offer these days). I write, too, so I know what it feels like to have your work criticized. I know what kind of advice is helpful, and what kind is not!


Books I've worked on lately

Published books I've worked on lately include The Song of Orpheus, by Tracy Barrett, in which some lesser known Greek myths get an "energetic," "accessible," and "entertaining" retelling (Kirkus); The Reckoning, the final novel in Chris Howard's Rootless trilogy (I edited the last two), "a nonstop adventure" with "complex characters, shifting loyalties, and layers of mystery" (Publishers Weekly starred review); Watching Their Dance: Three Sisters, a Genetic Disease and Marrying Into a Family at Risk for Huntington's, by Therese Crutcher-Marin, a self-published memoir that Kirkus called "a rare treat—a true story that is as uplifting as it is heartbreaking"; and Kevin McLean's Crossing the River Kabul, from Potomac Press, an imprint of the University of Nebraska Press, which Kirkus calls "a fascinating story [that] delineates a sense of what it means to hail from a proud Afghan family in the throes of violence." One reviewer said, "If I had highlighted every sentence that struck a cord with me, the pages would glow yellow. This book definitely makes you think."

Older books include Adventures Among Ants, by Mark W. Moffett, "the Indiana Jones of entomology"; The Hormone Cure, by Dr. Sara Gottfried; and Always Chloe and Other Stories and Where We Belong, by Catherine Ryan Hyde (author of Pay It Forward). Two novels, Venetian Blood, by Christine Volker, and When It's Over, by Barbara Ridley, were selected for publication by She Writes Press. Other novels include Body of Knowledge, by A.M. Matthews, and Waiting in the Wings, by Geene Rees, both self-published to strong reviews; and MIGGI Matters: How to Train Your Brain to Manage Stress and Trim Your Body, by Selena Bartlett, PhD, a lively, interactive book that one reviewer called "a game changer for me."

I'm working with more and more first-time, self-publishing authors. That could include you!

What others say about me

First-time writer

Pamela Feinsilber is the queen of questions. I appreciated her gentle manner in explaining the "why" behind  the suggestions that guided me to write a more compelling story. Her skill, enthusiasm, and encouragement have fueled my desire to become a better writer and to forge ahead with my second book.

--Therese Crutcher-Marin / Watching Their Dance: Three Sisters, a Genetic Disease and Marrying Into a Family at Risk for Huntington's

Longtime novelists

Pamela has a sharp eye and the insight necessary to allow a writer to tell the story that he or she needs to tell. In other words, she doesn't get in the way, which is the greatest gift an editor can have. 
--Barry Gifford | WIld at Heart, Memories from a Sinking Ship 

Pamela Feinsilber’s astute eye gave my novel Kingdom of Simplicity just what it needed to go to press. Her touch is like applying every grade of steel wool, from scouring down unnecessary subplots to burnishing the finest thematic strands. Her editorial skills cover the gamut, from structural changes to line editing. Getting great editorial help like this is a necessary investment for any professional author. 

--Holly Payne | Kingdom of Simplicity, The Virgin's Knot, The Sound of Blue

Family memoirist

When I finally decided to publish a family memoir, a friend in the publishing world recommended Pam. She was the perfect match. She took a rough text through meticulous editing involving language issues, historical references, and multiple voices, shepherding my entry into the literary world with patience, wisdom, encouragement, and enthusiasm. Her attention to detail and precision led to a book of which I am truly proud.
--Joshua Rassen | From the Shtetl to America: Jacob Rassen's Lifetime Journey 

Here's what I can do for you


...while you're writing

* Read your proposal, story, or manuscript, or whatever portion you choose to send me.

* Write you a lengthy note regarding all aspects of form and content. This can include suggestions for developing certain areas, themes, or specific points; cutting or rearranging text; adding material; and clarifying your intentions. I'm great at asking questions! I might note writerly distractions such as stylistic excesses or passages that call attention to themselves. My job: to make your ideas clear and your prose sing.

* Meet face to face if you live in the area, or by phone if you do not, to discuss all of the above and more. Technology is a wonderful thing: I've worked just as well with writers who live 3,000 miles away as with those who live in the next town.


...before you send something to an editor or publisher

* Do a substantive line edit, including thorough copy editing, to polish your writing and make sure you're submitting the best work you can. Even if you (or a very helpful friend) have gone over everything a dozen times, it's easy to overlook a mistake. I won't miss anything.

Some things I've written myself

I write, too, mostly features, essays and reviews, and long Q&A interviews; when I was a senior editor at San Francisco magazine, I had my own book review column for awhile. I also used to blog for Huffington Post. Here are a few samples of my work.

The Long and Short of Lit
I don’t recall anyone telling Poe, Kafka, Paley, or Carver to write longer. So why are we insisting that all of today’s short-story writers become novelists?

Tut, Tut
Already criticized for presenting too many “froufrou” shows, Fine Arts Museums director John Buchanan opens a controversial King Tut exhibition with the museums’ artistic reputation hanging in the balance

The San Francisco Interview: Delroy Lindo
If you don't know him by name, it's because he tends to vanish into his roles—but in real life, this East Bay resident has definite presence. He's made his career choosing craft over celebrity, and his latest venture is par for the course: he's directing a play at Berkeley Rep.

TheEye_July[1] (pdf)


Tut-forPam[1] (pdf)


Lindo-forPam__2_[1] (pdf)


How to reach me

I'm happy to have a brief consult with you by phone or email; no charge for that. You can reach me at

Even a few hours with a professional editor can help your manuscript, magazine piece, or book proposal immeasurably. I can help you with...

Plot: story and structure
Dialogue and description
Internal consistency
Narrative voice and style

Overall concept
Structure and organization
Research and development of material