I am currently a member of the Editorial Freelancers Association.
I have been a professional American English language editor (freelance and staff) since 1987. I am open to all relevant work, big and small, and my rates are affordable.
Over the last 30-plus years, I have offered services in editorial coaching, copyediting, copywriting, substantive editing, developmental editing, content editing, proofreading, fact checking, researching, speechwriting (or speech writing), editing for diversity, equity, and inclusion, cultural sensitivity reviews, and ghostwriting for many different arenas.
Here's some information for prospective clients about my editorial services.
First Book or Mid-Career Fiction Editing
Since the late 1980s, I have specialized in editorial coaching, developmental editing, copyediting, and proofreading for authors who are producing their first books or reestablishing themselves in the middle of their careers. I have edited several different genres of fiction for American and British writers like Eleanor Taylor Bland, Vince Flynn, Babette Cole, Janet McDonald, Peter Mayle, Thomas Disch, and Colleen McCullough.
The short stories and novels that I have edited have appeared in major literary journals, in big 5 trade book publications, and in independent publications. The 10 fiction genres that I have edited are literary, young adult, coming-of-age, romance, psychological realism, fantasy, mystery, thriller, horror, and SF. Thus, I understand how to edit most kinds of fictional short stories and novels.
My work for Eleanor Taylor Bland (and other authors) involved editorial coaching across several years. This editorial coaching combined examinations of texts with rich person-to-person discussions. I provide assistance with executing query letters to gain representation by agents or editors.
I also have edited for novelists who are not native English speakers and I was the Thai author Suwat Woradilok's primary editor for his short stories and novels.
Editing About Trauma and Wellness
I have also specialized in editing nonfiction and fiction about people who experience trauma, who are challenged by physical disabilities, who face mental health obstacles, or who come into contact with the criminal justice system.
The Ways That Police Deal With People is one of the nonfiction books that I edited within this specialization. I have additional expertise in editing reports, articles, white papers, and editorials about criminal justice. This area of my work also continues to involve editing self help nonfiction books in the fields of business management, psychology, and health-and-wellness.
For fiction, I have offered intensive developmental editing and editorial coaching for manuscripts within the genres of psychological realism and young adult literature. I work with authors to create "restorative narratives" that depict real-life trauma without sentimentality, sensationalism, or sententiousness.
Editing for Researchers and Scholars
I have edited nonfiction for researchers and scholars in the humanities, social sciences, and health studies. My editorial support for health studies draws from my work as a holistic health practitioner and a former certified nurse practitioner. Much of this work has involved helping scholars and students to shape and polish their research into articles and books.
Editing for Education
I have edited and ghostwritten for education. I have written, edited, researched, and/or fact checked the following documents or materials for educators, schools, nonprofits, and school districts:
For this work I rely on my experiences as a former public school teacher (grades 6-12) in Baltimore, MD and Columbus, OH, and as a former adjunct professor at 10 different colleges and universities.
Editing On Staff
I have served as an on-staff editor and writer for organizations like the Institute for Survey Research. While on staff, I have written and edited collateral materials like newsletters, op-eds, editorials, news releases, press kits, brochures, reports, white papers, strategic plans, business plans, profiles, commemorations, fact sheets, campaign guides, protocols, and website copy.
As a longtime fundraising writer or grant writer and editor, I have written, edited, and researched grant proposals, acknowledgements, letters-of-inquiry, requests, and other development materials.
I have edited, written grants, composed marketing copy, or produced publicity materials for performing arts organizations and arts education projects like the Sybil Company, This Women's Work, and the Shakespeare Theatre Company.
For organizations like BUILD: Baltimoreans United for Leadership Development, I wrote and edited action plans and other strategic communications for justice-oriented political campaigns.
Currently, I offer part-time editorial support for American Editions.
Editing for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Be it offering reviews of book manuscripts to ascertain their cultural responsiveness or cultural sensitivity, or editing research reports and articles about people, institutions, and communities impacted by marginalization or inequalities, I have a long track record of offering editorial services that advance diversity, equity, and inclusion.
I have been humbled to provide services to people of diverse nationalities, abilities/disabilities, cultures, ethnicities, races, ethnicities, genders, faiths, incomes, and sexualities.
As an experienced copywriter, I have worked for companies like York Graphic, Mail-Well, Pendulum Press, and Berg Publishers to produce marketing copy for a range of businesses. My copywriting aims to incisively tell the story of brands, connect customers to services, and build profitable interest in products. I contributed copywriting to food retailers, dining companies, cruise lines, hoteliers, technology companies, word games, crossword puzzles, and greeting cards.
I am humbled to have written and edited speeches, policy talks, commemoratives, and other public addresses for Richard Failla, Nell Carter, Bernard Taylor, Gregg Burge, Guy C. McElroy, Eldon W. Ward, and several other dignitaries. As a speechwriter, I relish the opportunity to collaborate with leaders to effectuate the style, tone, approach, narrative voice, and content that reflects their unique public voice.
Public Policy Editing and Research
As a sub-contractor on freelance teams for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Department of Health and Human services, I edited, researched, and wrote public policy materials, research documents, and other collateral materials.
I served as a freelance marketing specialist and publicist for independent book publishers, record labels, and small independent performing arts companies. This work involved developing and executing comprehensive marketing plans to amplify and sell books, music shows, albums, and performances across multiple platforms (including social media engagement).
I love fact checking and research editing. I tell clients how and where I checked or researched details so that they know that my work is competitive and thorough. I support my checking and researching with facts and objective information from primary sources and/or high quality secondary sources (not tertiary or encyclopedic sources like Wikipedia). Depending on the complexity of the investigation, my work may involve the Internet or fieldwork (like library visits, interviews, or firsthand travel to source locations within reason). I am also very proficient in checking a wide array of bibliographic references in nonfiction.
While I am based in Baltimore, Maryland in the USA, my editorial work has a global reach. I love working with internationally based authors (like the Thai author Suwat Woradilok) and evening or morning phone consultations are well with me. I ask that the client call me (instead of I call the client) at scheduled times so that the client bears the cost of the call outside of North America. (Within North America, I am happy to call clients).
A Service-Oriented Approach
I engage plain language principles to create clearly worded texts and media. My chief aim is to serve the needs of my colleagues, clients, and audiences with an effective, upfront, easy-going, and clear demeanor. When copyediting and/or proofreading work that has already been developed, I try to honor the author's words and structure by enhancing, rather than rewriting, their work. When providing editorial support at the beginning of a project, I try to offer substantive editorial support to the author that helps the person produce texts and media that capture their best intentions.
Breadth and Depth
I have edited copy for print, multimedia, and digital environments as well as nonprofit, for-profit, and governmental sources. I served as an on-staff copy editor for a news magazine and an on-staff editor for several nonprofit organizations. I possess a keen, fresh editorial judgement. I understand the ways that great editing and design serve multiple functions within an organization—be it engagement, communications, development, or operations.
I am interested in editing for justice-minded concerns. In the past, I have edited for many disciplines like public policy studies, urban studies, criminal justice, social science, business, politics, performing arts, literature, religion, natural science, and holistic health. I understand what a range of publishers, journals, and other venues wish for manuscripts or media to be effective.
I am familiar with most major American English language journalistic, academic, or governmental style guidelines (including AP, MLA, CMS, CSE, GPO, APA, and more). Along with editing for literary and popular markets, I have edited for scientific, medical, and public policy research. When editing for digital audiences, I engage SEM concerns like SEO and SMO and I am familiar with 508 compliance for relevant digital media.
Editorial ethics are very important to me. Fostering clear, upfront communication and advocating for fair remuneration epitomize our best practices. I am willing to sign confidentiality agreements and/or non-disclosure agreements. However, I will never participate in editing or ghostwriting that involves plagiarism.
I am also scrupulous about ethics for nonfiction. When we use novelistic techniques within our nonfiction, our creativity must not sacrifice ethics. For me, nonfiction means nonfiction: however rich our phrasing and style, our writing must stick to the facts to the very best of our abilities. Five matters most exemplify ethically mindful nonfiction (and I learned these matters from Joe Beam at the very beginning of my editorial practice):
I adhere to the fact-checking standards at Poynter's International Fact-Checking Network.
Name and Pronouns
Feel free to call me Cleis. Cleis rhymes with dice.
Here's the phonetic pronunciation for Cleis Abeni: KLYS uh-BE-nee.
My pronouns are she/her/hers.
I hold a MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts and Education from the Ohio State University and a MA in Science Writing and Poetry from Johns Hopkins University.
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