Editors are vital to a book’s success. Whether you’re interested in pursuing the traditional route to publication or would like to self-publish, I will work closely with you to create the best project possible. While I edit across categories, I specialize in fiction and memoir. As a developmental editor, I provide writers with comprehensive, critical feedback in the form of extensive editorial letters and follow-up emails and teleconferences. I address style and voice, language, characterization, point of view, plot and structure, setting, theme, and dramatic tension. I ask questions throughout the editing and revision process with the hope of sparking lively discussions about the book’s possibilities, and offer writers ideas on how to constructively and creatively approach problems. My clients’ ambitions and aesthetics always guide the process and our feedback. I also offer line-edits, proofreading, copyediting, ghostwriting, and assistance with nonfiction book proposals.
“Since Robyn Russell started editing my novels, my understanding of writing in general and my own style in particular have reached completely new levels. Robyn understands what I’m trying to say, which is extremely validating, but she also sees precisely where my blind spots are. She has taught me so much about how to capitalize on my own use of language, how to deepen and push my characters to places I’m afraid to go, how to heighten my subplots, when to restructure, when to change point of view…and so much more. She not only gives me overall notes but also tells me specific places where development is needed, which is invaluable. Robyn has made revising easy, creative, and exciting. She is a very wise person and editor, and I trust her inherently. I honestly don’t know what I’d do without her.”
Betsy Franco, author of Metamorphosis: Ovid’s Notebook and Naked
“Robyn Russell is a completely modern young woman in every way except for the fact that she is a throwback to another era when there were a few skilled and insightful editors around who were gifted and tough but caring, thorough and utterly reliable in their judgement. She is really everything you could want in an editor — skillful, trenchant, able to see flaws and defects with an eagle eye and equipped to point them out with a grace and diplomacy that even the most behemoth and outsized ego can abide and benefit from. She is, I believe, an editor’s editor. I recommend her in the highest terms.”
Dr. Michael Krasny, the host and senior editor of KQED-FM radio’s award-winning Forum and author of Spiritual Envy: An Agnostic’s Quest and Off Mike: A Memoir of Talk Radio and Literary Life
“You can’t believe how good your book can be, if you’d just let Robyn help you.”
Alan Hruska, author of Wrong Man Running and the co-founder of Soho Press
“I have had a long career as a published writer and many editors for my seventeen published books. Robyn is the best I have worked with. She’s a fine and sophisticated reader, with a keen eye for detail, a solid sense of a work’s structure, and an infectious enthusiasm. She has the wonderful ability to know what a manuscript is aiming for, along with the skill and tact to get it there.”
Kim Chernin, author of Obsession: Reflections on the Tyranny of Slenderness, The Hungry Self: Women, Eating and Identity, Reinventing Eve: Modern Woman in Search of Herself, In My Mother’s House, and The Flame Bearers, which was a New York Times Notable Book
“Robyn is the best kind of editor: she sees where the story needs improving and can communicate that to the writer in a manner that makes the writer receptive to suggested changes. Her editing provided critical insight that allowed me to revise and sell my debut novel, The Lost Saints of Tennessee.”
Amy Franklin-Willis, author of The Lost Saints of Tennessee
“Robyn has given me something every author needs: thoughtful perspective. I’ve had the pleasure of her advice and insight on two of my novels, and her constructive criticism made them better. And her praise made me write on. The first novel was recently a Top 5 Drama and Top 10 Legal Thriller on Amazon, and the second novel landed me a wonderful literary agent. If you need an editor, she’s the bee’s knees.”
Michael Zarocostas, author of Plummet
“Robyn Russell is absolutely the best editor you will ever have. She has this amazing ability to see your whole book as you meant it to be, and wherever it falls short, her suggestions for large-scale revision—tightening the plot, perfecting pacing, developing characters—are always spot on, always clear, and always keenly insightful. She’s also got this meticulous eye for detail, noticing how many times you’ve used a single word, or whether or not your comma usage is breaking pattern. She’s also kind and encouraging, which is a rare and beautiful attribute combined with such rigorous editorial precision. With Robyn, your writing will be transformed and you will love every second of it.”
Lydia Cooper, author of My Second Death
“Robyn is that unusual–and truly valuable–person who can not only spot the problems in your manuscript but is able to communicate ways to fix them. She is smart, perceptive, and articulate, and she was enormously helpful in editing my memoir. I cannot recommend her highly enough. I promise, your book will improve with her input.”
Judy Goldman, author of Losing My Sister: A Memoir
“Robyn Russell has a knack for looking at the big picture and the small picture simultaneously, from the shape of the overall story down to the details of scenes and sentences. She found the missing pieces in my memoir and offered suggestions for how to fill them. I especially appreciated how well she understood what I was trying to do, what my book was wanting to become. It was delightful, and extremely helpful, to work with her.”
Frances Lefkowitz, Pushcart-prize winning author of To Have Not: A Memoir
“The novelist John Fowles said, ‘To write the text you have to live in the myth of it.’ This relates to why I love working with Robyn. As a fellow writer, she knows the creative process. From the written notes she provides and the discussions we have, it is clear to me that she immerses herself into the story you want to tell, into your vision. She keys into the writer’s voice and hears not only the music but detects where there is static. She has a unique ability to home in on sections of text in need of embellishing, expanding, or deleting. Which she graciously informs you are merely suggestions. Yet they prove to be good ideas. Which is why she is a great editor. Robyn’s insightful discerning mind and her love of literature always enriches the end result.”
Todd Crawshaw, author of Exploits of the Satyr, Light-Years in the Dark
“If you want detailed written feedback, character analysis, plot weaknesses, red marks on your cliches referenced by page number along with insight into what isn’t working in your novel, you want Robyn Russell. If you don’t, I recommend finding someone with less talent.”
Joe Klingler, author of Rats
“Robyn Russell is a top-notch editor: caring, sensitive, and keenly intelligent. Her depth of knowledge and amazing intuition enable her to see beyond an author’s initial ideas to get to the meat of a story. She’s diligent and committed, and very generous with her time and advice. I could never have gone this far in the process of writing my memoir without Robyn’s expertise, and I highly recommend her to anyone searching for an amazing editor or ghostwriter. She’s an angel.”
Lauretta Zucchetti, author of Painted Red
Robyn Russell got her start in publishing at The Amy Rennert Agency, Inc., a boutique literary agency in the San Francisco Bay Area that represents a select group of fiction and nonfiction writers. During her seven and a half years at the agency, Robyn had the honor of working with a number of luminaries, including Pulitzer Prize winner Herman Wouk, National Book Award finalist Beth Kephart, singer and songwriter Jimmy Buffett, Academy Award nominee Kris Kristofferson, two-time Tony Award winner Patti LuPone, The New York Times bestselling author of the Maisie Dobbs series Jacqueline Winspear, Amy Krouse Rosenthal, and the director of Pretty Woman Garry Marshall.
In 2012, Robyn relocated to her home state of Hawaii to be closer to her family and to pursue what she loves most: Working directly with authors. To date, she has edited, written, and/or co-written more than 150 manuscripts and nonfiction book proposals. Her clients have secured leading literary representation, gone on to receive critical and commercial acclaim, become national bestsellers, won awards, and scored ink in The New York Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, Newsweek, The Los Angeles Times, and The Washington Post. Her work as a ghostwriter, blogger, and author has appeared in Vogue, Health, Women’s Health, Seventeen, Well Being Journal, The Rumpus, Literary Mama, Livestrong, Tiny Buddha, Maria Shriver’s The Shriver Report, and Wander, among others. Her writing was also featured in Nothing But the Truth So Help Me God: 73 Women on Life’s Transitions, which Eve Ensler described as a “testament to what is possible when we show up for our sisters.” One of Robyn’s most recent projects, David A. Treleaven’s Trauma-Sensitive Mindfulness: Practices for Safe and Transformative Healing (Norton, 2018) was praised as a “rare combination of solid scholarship, clinically useful methods, and passionate advocacy for those who have suffered trauma” by the author of Hardwiring Happiness Dr. Rick Hanson.
Robyn continues to live in Hawaii, where she’s a member of the Wailea Women’s Literary Society and a staff writer for Maui’s premier art magazine, On Maui! An avid yoga practitioner, she serves on the Board of Directors of Na Wahine Ho’omana and holds an MFA in Writing from the University of San Francisco.