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Alexandra Shelley has over 30 years of experience, including as deputy editorial director at Bridge Works Publishing.  Among the authors she's worked with as an independent editor:


  • Kathryn Stockett on The Help, a bestseller for over 3 years, selling over 11 million copies; made into a feature film. She is also currently working with Ms. Stockett.
  • Martha Hall Kelly, Lilac Girls (Ballantine Books, 2016) and Lost Roses (Ballantine Books, 2019), both bestsellers
  • Kathleen Grissom, Crow Mary (Simon & Schuster, upcoming 2023)
  • Elizabeth Cobbs, The Tubman Command (Arcade Publishing, 2019)
  • Karen Abbott, Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War (HarperCollins, 2014)
  • Emily Giffin, Where We Belong (St. Martin's, 2013)
  • Susie Steiner, Homecoming (Faber & Faber, 2013) and Missing, Presumed (Random House, 2016), bestseller 
  • Adele Myers, The Tobacco Wives (William Morrow, 2022)
  • Jennifer Coburn, Cradles of the Reich (Sourcebooks, 2022)
  • Gretchen Dykstra, Echoes from Wuhan (Atmosphere Press, 2022)
  • Eric Lindner, Tiger in the Sea: The Ditching of Tiger 923 and the Desperate Struggle for Survival (Lyons Press, 2021)
  • Nektaria Anastasiadou, A Recipe for Daphne (Hoopoe - American University of Cairo Press, 2021)
  • Suzzy Roche, The Town Crazy (Gibson House, 2020)
  • Jo Ivester, Once a girl, Always a boy - A Family Memoir of a Transgender Journey (She Writes Press, 2020) and The Outskirts of Hope (She Writes Press, 2015)
  • Emily Voigt, The Dragon Behind the Glass (Scribner, 2016)
  • Joshua Max Feldman, Start Without Me (William Morrow, 2017)
  • Kitty Zeldis, Not Our Kind (HarperCollins, 2018) 
  • Susannah Marren, A Palm Beach Wife (St. Martin's, 2019) and A Palm Beach Scandal (St. Martin's, 2020) 
  • 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)
  • Erin Siegal, Finding Fernanda: Two Mothers, One Child, and a Cross-Border Search for Truth (Beacon Press, 2012).

Writers she has helped 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 FoxThe Lost Girls  (Simon and Schuster) and My Sister from the Black Lagoon (Simon and Schuster); Bonnie Glover, The Middle Sister (Penguin Random House) and Going Down South (Penguin Random House). 

At Bridge Works Publishing, Ms. Shelley 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 Newbery Award-winner Jack Gantos. 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, popular history, biographies, and other narrative non-fiction, as well as the occasional epic poem. 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 many years of teaching writing at Columbia, Yale, The New School University, and Hungary's graduate journalism program at Eotvos Lorand University. She also leads 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 a long time to recover from the English Literature major at Yale and to recognize that iambic pentameter isn't always the way to go. She also holds an MFA 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.