Deborah works with authors of fiction and non-fiction to hone and deepen their work. She has worked with authors on diverse projects, ranging from self-help to comic fiction to literary short stories. As an editor, she prides herself on giving writers guidance as well as freedom, and on providing comments that are clear, detailed and thoughtful. She also uses her knowledge of the publishing industry to guide writers towards their publishing goals and to help them find the right home for their book. Deborah has an instinct for and a deep knowledge of story structure, and uses this to help other writers make their work as powerful as possible. Working with Deborah allows authors to create work that is well-paced, memorable, and meaningful.
Please contact Deborah through the contact form on this site for more information about availability and rates.
"I'm always afraid that an editor is going to ask me to do what I
don't want to do or simply can't. But Debbie was a joy to work with.
She understood what I was trying for and pushed me--gently but
firmly--to make the manuscript better. She's a sensitive, smart,
and--no less important--supportive editor. I certainly hope that I
get to work with her again."
-Cary Fagan, author of My Life Among the Apes and A Bird’s Eye
“As a publisher (for over forty years) and as a novelist (for the past decade or so) I’ve had ample opportunity to appreciate that a good editor can make a tremendous difference to a book. Now that Debbie Willis has edited my third novel, I appreciate it more fully and more deeply than I ever have before.
Willis has a superb sense of detail and nuance, and a superb sense as well of a work of fiction as a whole—of the plot,, the characters, the ideas—in short, of how all the pieces fit together. Even more importantly, she has a superb sense of how they can be made to fit together better. She has a great sense of pacing. She has an uncanny sense of what is or is not plausible for a particular character to do or say, and why. Her sense of where a work might be improved by adding a line or a paragraph or a chapter is as keen as is her sense of where it might be improved by cutting a line or a paragraph or a chapter. Where there are problems of structure, she points them out unerringly—and points out as well how they might be addressed by rearranging and re-ordering material. Where little things aren’t working as well as they might, she doesn’t just comment that the phrasing is awkward or the dialogue wooden—she makes wonderfully helpful suggestions as to how the problems might be addressed.
In short, I’ve found Willis to be an extraordinarily good developmental editor in every way; I can’t imagine any human being doing a better job than she has done. (Plus, she’s unfailingly pleasant to deal with!)”
-Don LePan, author of Animals and publisher of Broadview Press