Background

 

CARLY CANTOR, a former acquisitions editor at a New York publisher as well as a published author herself, is a meticulous, hands-on editor who “becomes one” with every project, paying close attention to both the big picture and the small details. She offers critiquing, development editing, and line-editing for fiction and nonfiction book projects. She also helps aspiring authors polish proposals in preparation for finding an agent.

Besides having edited 300+ books for major publishers and independent authors, she also represents writers as an agent with a well-established NYC agency, which provides her with a foot in the mainstream publishing world. This means direct access to those in the know about what is hot and what is not!

Nonfiction

 

Carly 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 unique voice while helping him or her avoid narrative mistakes that come across as awkward or amateurish. Her memoirists include: writers who have documented 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; and a son of a Holocaust survivor who learned his father’s story after 50 years of silence; just to name a few.

Fiction

 

Carly 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 told how to interpret what characters are thinking and feeling. She pays attention to pacing, descriptive detail (applying the Goldilocks rule at all times: not too much, not too little, just right), narrative arc, character development, dialogue, and general writing issues. 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.”

Carly is an associate agent at a New York literary agency. She has authored two historical fiction books. For several years, she was an acquisitions editor at Carol Publishing Group, in New York, 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. She has a master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University.

Why have a real-life agent read your manuscript?

 

Carly says: Because unless you have a “name”; or have been previously published and sold lots of books; or have won impressive literary awards for your writing; or have written an amazingly original book that taps into current trends, you will have a very hard time getting an agent to even glance at your novel. Most likely, it will end up in a slush pile. I know because I’m staring at a very tall one right now. (Okay, truth be told, it’s a “virtual” slush pile nowadays-so what I really mean is that I have a very full Inbox.)

Agents receive many submissions every day and tend to make snap judgments. The first few sentences of a manuscript will often tell her much of what she needs to know. In most instances, she will see a “fatal flaw” and click on to the next message. Most likely, you’ll get a canned response, if you get any response at all, and won’t know how much of your manuscript was read or why it was rejected.

Engaging a working agent like myself to read your work means you will have the eyes of an industry professional on your novel, an opportunity you may not ever get on your own. As a result, you will be able to head off any problems with the story or the writing before you waste a lot of time (and emotional investment) sending the proposal around.

Lastly, hiring a professional agent to read your book is one way to be sure it gets read in its entirely by someone who can actually offer representation for it, if the quality of the book warrants that. Occasionally that does happen!

Testimonials

 

“It was a pleasure working with Carly Cantor! Carly provided great insight and clear comments when she critiqued my latest manuscript. She was professional and completed all work before the contracted date. She was easily accessible and quick to respond. I am very happy with her service.” – Darlene Batrowny

“Carly Cantor was the perfect fit for my project. She did a fantastic job. She was thorough and insightful in her comments on my manuscript. Carly was always easy to reach, helpful, and delivered her critique in advance of the deadline. Working with Carly and the network was a great experience and I would highly recommend both.” – Barak Bassman

“I love your editing. I would like to work my way through this. You’re right. I do enjoy improving my manuscript. You see so much that nobody else sees. I wish I had met you sooner.” – Charles Anderson

“I want you to know that I deeply appreciate your insightful critique on the structure of the book but more importantly directing me concisely on much better technique of my storytelling skills. It is a challenge to have a whole story in one’s head and tell it one word at a time. I am beginning work on a re-structure of the basic storyline and then employing the POV suggestions you have made. You were absolutely correct in the observation that the story is written more like a screenplay. I have studied screenwriting and want to make this and other stories easily adaptable to the medium but I have come up short on “˜character’ development and engaging storytelling in the novel form. I will make a much better writer with your continued assistance. I am determined to complete this story into a bestselling novel with movie potential. Thank you again for your excellent help, I will make the most of it and will be submitting a short revision to you in the near future for more coaching.” – Bill Powers

“Carly has provided comprehensive editing services for my last four novels, and I couldn’t be more pleased with the end result. She’s professional, thorough, timely, and a wonderful teacher. Unfortunately, I had hired someone else for copy and line editing for my first two novels. I recently decided to give these two books a re-read before I launched a special promotion for them. In the process, thanks to what I have learned from Carly, I caught numerous things that needed fixing and improving. I may have had a professional editor for those two books, but not one at Carly’s level. She is someone you can trust will provide excellent quality work.” – Florence Osmund, author of four self-published and well-reviewed novels, including Red Clover and Regarding Anna (2015)

“Carly’s content editing improved my novel immensely and prodded me to rewrite many passages and strengthen my characters.” – Jon Foyt, author of The Mind of an American Revolutionary (2015)

“Carly 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 Press, 2009)

“My personal experience in working with Carly 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)

“As Carly demonstrated in working on my book, 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 expertly shapes the structure of a presentation for better narrative flow, simplifying complex material to make it reader-friendly. Beyond these talents, she is simply a delight to work with.” – Morton A. Meyers, M.D., author of Happy Accidents: The Role of Serendipity in Major Medical Breakthroughs (Arcade Publishing, 2007)

“Just from my sample pages, Carly grasped what needed to be done and made sense of what had become mush in my head. Instantly, I felt relieved, challenged, and eager for the work ahead with her. I consider her contribution to my growth as what I imagine a personal trainer in writing would be. She is an editor, a mentor, and my best ally in the most appropriate and professional of ways. In my case, much effort and internal dialogue has been exerted throughout this ongoing process, but never has a single one of her editorial comments not improved the quality of the book and my writing.” – Ann Lamendola, author of Grandfather, Are You With Me?

“In addition to being a skillful editor, I found Carly to be 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 Carly, 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)

“Working with Carly Cantor is like spending an overnight with your best girlfriend–lots of giggling, real talk about real subjects, a good deal of give and take, and very little sleep. My book is better for her input. Her experienced eye, willingness to listen, and just plain good sense made her input invaluable. As a first-time author, I value Carly’s skill as an editor and her knowledge of the publishing business.” – Judith Seid, author of God-Optional Judaism (Citadel Press)

“Carly’s feedback was a great help to me. I appreciated the precision in her guidance, how constructive it was, and the gracious tone of her suggestions, which were always on target. She also kept to the schedule we agreed on. It was a pleasure to work with her.” – Charles Cosgrove