Cristen Iris outside cropped headshot
Welcome. I'm Cristen (she/her/hers).

I am a developmental editor, book collaborator, and an author talent developer and career strategist.

My clients include

  • Etaf Rum, a New York Times, Publishers Weekly, and IndieBound bestseller and Today Show Read with Jenna book of the month pick (over 70,000 copies sold in its first year and 150,000+ to date)
  • Steve Adelman, international entertainment entrepreneur and co-founder of the Avalon nightlife brand
  • Billy Kilson, a two-time GRAMMY Award® winning drummer and musical educator
  • Linda K. Olson, MD, a triple amputee (retired) physician and disability advocate whose memoir Parade Magazine listed as one of the best 24 memoirs to read in 2020
  • Clayton Moore, whose memoir offers a nuanced look at social justice through the lens of a retired black police officer
  • competitive athletes and sportscasting trailblazer Andrea Kirby
  • human and animal rights activists
  • pharmacists and whole-food, plant-based climate and nutrition experts
  • attorneys and finance professionals

When we work together, we identify your publishing goals, ideal audience and readers (not the same thing), current network and market niche, and platform pros and cons. We use this information to develop strategies and tactics that bridge the gap between where you are and where you need to be to attract a literary agent or publisher and the people most eager to read what you have to say--all this to position you for long-term success and to educate, entertain, and empower as many people as possible.

My clients especially love my detailed analysis of their work and where it fits in the market and my focus on easy-to-understand, step-by-step solutions that fit their vision, time constraints, and goals. We prioritize excellence and proactive positioning for the best chance of success in an ever-changing landscape and work together as long-term strategic partners.

I'm particularly drawn to high-impact nonfiction and high-stakes fiction that's grounded in place, explores the complexity of human relationships, and taps into deep human needs.

I specialize in working with authors who aspire to be published by publishers that exercise editorial discretion (the Big 5 and high-quality indie presses).

My favorite clients are the ones I can work hard and laugh often with.

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Nonfiction Topics & Genres: I specialize in memoir, entertainment/pop culture, social justice, evidence-based medicine and human behavioral ecology with an emphasis on plant-based diets and environmentalism, personal and professional development, social justice, advocacy, and activism.

When it comes to nonfiction, I read both deep and wide. When a subject sparks my interest, I read about it in as many genres and from as many perspectives as I can. Above all, I value authors who acknowledge and embrace the nuances of challenging topics and practice intellectual honesty. I am and always will be a sucker for well-crafted, high-impact memoir because memoirists serve as trail-tested guides and memoirs as manuals of best practices for our perilous journeys from immaturity and ineffectiveness to maturity and a life well lived.

Fiction Topics & Genres: I specialize in literary leaning fiction, suspense/thriller, coming of age, social fiction, and biographical fiction (memoir to fiction conversions).

When it comes to fiction, I reach for the gritty, experimental, and unabashedly human: Cormac McCarthy's The Road and Child of God, Wiley Cash's A Land More Kind than Home, Karen Russell's Swamplandia!, and anything by Colson Whitehead, George Saunders, or James McBride.

my personal, educational, and professional background

I grew up in a home without a television but with hundreds of books. Our evenings were spent listening to my father or mother read to us--Louisa May Alcott, J.R.R. Tolkien, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Johann David Wyss, and many more. We were encouraged to read aloud, and I learned early on the pleasure of capturing an audience's attention and shaping their experience with a text through the combination of written and spoken word.

As I grew older, I devoured books and book series. Pippi Longstocking. Nancy Drew. Hardy Boys. Every choose-your-own adventure book I could get my hands on. At the same time and while living in Europe, my parents introduced us to as many people and cultures as they could and didn't shrink from exposing us to the dark side of history and the humans that make it.

Not long after reading a trilogy about a group of young freedom fighters set during WWII, I began to write my own novel. Approximately three chapters in, I realized it was derivative at best and plagiarized at worst. Perhaps that was the day this editor was born.

My first job was working for a small newspaper where I started as a survey taker and worked my way into ad layout. (This was back in the day when we built a newspaper by hand before it was printed.) Many years later while studying anthropology, I worked in a university bookstore where I learned the ins and outs of textbook returns and met my first publishing industry insiders. The entire experience was interesting, but the job was seasonal and my attention was on my studies.

I graduated magna cum laude from Boise State University with a degree in Anthropology. Of its four subfields (archaeology, biological anthropology, socio-cultural anthropology, and linguistics), I'm particularly interested in the latter two.

On the professional side, prior to going back to school and after graduating, my background includes investment sales and personal and institutional (university) risk management and insurance.

While at university, I discovered and fell in love with public health and medical anthropology but found the academic and government agency opportunities--as interesting and important as they are--too constraining.

I've always been entrepreneurial and with the encouragement I'd received from professors chose professional writer.  Shortly after my first piece was published, I stumbled into developmental editing and saw its potential to satisfy my need for autonomy and community, personal and professional growth, and to do work that impacts people's lives in the short and long term.

What I love most about my work in the book publishing industry is that I have the opportunity to use every drop of knowledge and every lesson learned in school and work and can exercise creativity and strategic thinking to help my clients and their publishers and readers.

As a freelancer in the book publishing industry, I've found my niche and a career that will keep me intellectually and emotionally engaged for a lifetime! (The fact that my book purchases are business expenses doesn't hurt either.)

my published work

I am a writer who respects the craft and wants to be someone you can trust. To me, that means being able to demonstrate that my writing is commercially viable and that the work I do with clients gets results.

My creative nonfiction essays, business columns, and writing advice have been published in publications that exercise editorial discretion, including IDAHO magazine, Idaho Business Review, and Unbound Northwest. This gives me a deeper understanding of my client's needs, fears, and experiences that I apply to help my clients stand out in a crowded marketplace.

my values & interests

I believe that writing and editing are a way of life, the constant creation and refinement of thought and action that leads to our highest level of contribution.

I value independence, objectivity, and meaningful relationships and am an inclusive business person.

I make a living one hundred percent from project and speaking income. None of my content is sponsored, and I do not accept referral or affiliate fees. I work in my clients' and site visitors' best interest.

My interests are reflected in the types of books I work on: health and fitness, social justice and equality, disability advocacy, self and professional improvement, and well-crafted works of fiction.

Official Statement of Values

I am an inclusive businessperson. I do not discriminate based on race, ethnicity, country of origin, age, marital status, disability, religious or political affiliation, gender identity, or sexual orientation in any of my activities or operations and will not contract with any author or vendor who demonstrates a disregard for the dignity, safety, and overall well-being of any other person or group.

When working with clients, we agree that without intellectual integrity and respect for human dignity, our work has little value. Therefore, we place the wellbeing and education of readers in the forefront of our minds and agree to focus our efforts on providing maximum value to them.

My Pronouns

she/her/hers

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