The First Way: Fee-Based developmental editing & book collaboration

I work with authors on a standard fee basis as a freelance editor, book collaborator, and even author coach. 

the Second Way: Spec work

For select agent-represented authors, I work "on spec" for a percentage of any advance and royalties their book generates.

The third way: author management

For a select group of authors who aspire to be traditionally published but who do not yet have a literary agent, I now offer an entirely new (to the literary world) option: author management. For more on that, keep reading.

the system is broken

Literary agents are inundated with queries and proposals. The amount of time, energy, and financial resources required to sort and answer emails, identify and sign new talent, nurture existing and develop new relationships, advise and support clients, and negotiate deals can leave the most enthusiastic agents exhausted, limiting their effectiveness. This leaves authors frustrated, disempowered, and underpaid.

Promising authors often need more coaching and editorial help than their agents can and should give. After all, it’s an agent’s job to sell manuscripts, so the more time they spend prepping clients the less time they’re spending doing paying work.

To solve that problem, agents often recommend that authors work with a developmental editor, professional writer, or coach. But hiring one with a track record of success is expensive and, therefore, out of reach of many authors.

This leaves everyone in a bind and limits reader access to high-value books. This should and must change.

A better way

In the film and television industry they’ve largely solved this problem by adopting a tiered system for talent development and recruitment.

Talent managers identify and develop promising actors and writers and facilitate connections between talent and agents.

Agents focus on getting their clients paying work.

how we all get paid

The talent pays a percentage of their earnings to their manager and agent.

In this system, all parties have an incentive to strive for excellence and to leverage the power of a strengths-based approach.

This is my author manager approach, a results-oriented approach: When one of us wins, we all win.

my commitment to my managed authors

I will never pitch you to a literary agent who does not have a track record of manuscript sales or whose values and portfolio do not appear to match yours.

I will not jeopardize your long-term interests for the sake of short-term gains.

I will:

  • help you develop a strategic mindset, a strong work ethic, and efficient systems;
  • help you develop a strong brand that attracts your ideal audience and appeals to agents and publishers;
  • identify and vet publications, contests, speaking opportunities, and agents on your behalf;
  • help you craft your manuscript or sample chapters, query letter or book proposal;
  • and save you time and stress by pitching to event coordinators and literary agents on your behalf.

my commitment to literary agents

I will never pitch you an author who is not actively building their platform, nurturing high-value relationships, and demonstrating a find a way or make a way mentality.

I will not jeopardize your income or relationships with other clients by distracting you with talent that does not fit your goals and preferences.

Talent I pitch you will be doing a combination of the following:

  • pitching to speak at local and national events,
  • contributing written content to online platforms other than their own blogs,
  • pitching literary magazines and entering writing contest,
  • and actively refining their brand and engaging with their ideal audience.

What People Are Saying

“After 15+ years in publishing, I can say that Cristen sets the gold standard for freelance editing. She recently worked with us on a client's memoir proposal, including an extensive amount of co-writing of sample chapters. From the start of the process, I was highly impressed with her writing, her ideas, and just how much organization and inspiration she brought to the project. Her writing was beautiful, clear, and very true to the author's unique voice. Collaborating with her has been a joy for both author and agent. She had tremendous impact on this project, and we will look forward to working with her on many more, given our experience.” —Lilly Ghahremani, JD MBA, co-founder of Full Circle Literary


Cristen is the most BRILLIANT editor I have ever worked with. Her editorial comments on my novel helped me recognize several patterns in my writing style, both good and bad. She has a eye for what good writing should read like, and every single comment she made was 100% accurate. That kind of editing is a gift that few people possess. She will always be my go-to editor.” —Etaf Rum, debut novelist A Woman Is No Man, New York Times Bestseller


"I was extremely fortunate to be referred by my literary agent to Developmental Editor, Cristen Iris, last year. She took the first draft of my memoir and turned the stories I’d written into a manuscript with an actual story arc. She created intriguing chapter titles and improved my dialogue when needed. In addition to manuscript work, she sent videos via email explaining things to me as if we were sitting together. Probably most importantly, she understood the message of my book and made sure that it stayed uppermost as the story unfolded. Her upbeat, but realistic, attitude made her a real pleasure to work with. She is outstanding." -Linda Olson, MD, motivational speaker, and triple amputee with a Get Out and Go! message


All this time I’ve been sending to agents and editors and hearing, “I like it but I’m not connecting,” with no thoughts on what they’re not connecting with or how to fix it. Yours was the first real advice I’ve been given and I’m just beside myself.” —C.H. Armstrong, secured a traditional publishing contract with Central Avenue Publishing

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