Alexandra Shelley has over 30 years of editing experience. She worked as an independent editor with author Kathryn Stockett on The Help, a novel which was on the bestseller list for more than 3 years, selling over 10 million copies. She also worked with Ms. Stockett on her upcoming novel. She worked with Martha Hall Kelly on both Lilac Girls (Ballantine Books, 2016), a New York Times bestseller, and her upcoming novel, Lost Roses; Elizabeth Cobbs on The Tubman Command (Arcade Publishing, 2019); Karen Abbott on Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War (HarperCollins, 2014); Emily Giffin on Where We Belong (St. Martin's, 2013).
Among other authors with whom she worked in recent years: Joshua Max Feldman, Start Without Me (William Morrow, 2017); Kitty Zeldis, Not Our Kind (HarperCollins, 2018); Loretta Ellsworth , Stars Over Clear Lake (Thomas Dunne/Macmillan, 2017); Maha Kahn Phillips, The Curse of Mohenjodaro (Pan Macmillan, 2017); Joy Rhoades, The Woolgrower's Companion (Penguin UK and Australia, 2017); Susie Steiner, Homecoming (Faber & Faber, 2013) and Missing, Presumed (Random House, 2016); Laura Hemphill on Buying In (Amazon Publishing, 2013); Erin Siegal , Finding Fernanda: Two Mothers, One Child, and a Cross-Border Search for Truth (Beacon Press, 2012).
Authors she is helping with works in progress include Richard Preston, author of The Hot Zone along with other best-selling nonfiction books and novels; Rachel Klein (whose prior novel was The Moth Diaries [Random House]); Laurie Fox (The Lost Girls [Simon and Schuster] and My Sister from the Black Lagoon [Simon and Schuster]).
Ms. Shelley is former Deputy Editorial Director of Bridge Works Publishing, where she was responsible for choosing and editing some of that house’s commercial and critical successes. Among these are the best-selling Patty Jane’s House of Curl by Lorna Landvik; Worthy’s Town by Sharon Rolens (B&N Discover Great New Writers Award Finalist); Aria by Susan Segal (Washington Post Best Books of the Year); Zip Six by Jack Gantos, who won the 2012 Newbery Award. She also brought in Tom Perrotta’s first book, Bad Haircut, Stories of the Seventies.
Illuminated Manuscripts, Ms. Shelley’s editorial agency, handles novels, short story collections, memoirs, biographies, and other narrative non-fiction, mainly by authors referred by agents or publishers. She seconds Thomas Mann's observation that “A writer is a person for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people." In addition to hands-on editing, she endeavors to help authors slogging through an umpteenth draft remember what is most worthwhile and vital in their book.
Ms. Shelley’s editing is informed by 25 years of teaching writing at Columbia, Yale, The New School University, and Hungary's graduate journalism program at Eotvos Lorand University. She also teaches an independent workshop of seasoned fiction writers. To both clients and students, she provides user-friendly feedback with the goal of helping the author become his or her own best editor.
It took Ms. Shelley several years to recover from the English Literature major at Yale and to recognize that words don't come down to us on stone tablets, nor is iambic pentameter always the way to go. She also holds an M.F.A. in fiction from the Columbia University Graduate School of the Arts, where she learned to use "workshop" as a verb. She's a former Fulbright Scholar and recipient of the Katherine Anne Porter Prize for short fiction as well as several other obscure but prestigious awards for fiction and journalism.