Michael Lowenthal

Editing & Coaching

I've been editing and coaching writers for more than thirty years, helping them to generate and hone their ideas, to reimagine and restructure their manuscripts, to overcome their inhibitions and blocks, and to push their projects across the finish line.

Although I have most often consulted on novels, short stories, and literary memoirs, I have also edited books on such topics as the native reindeer herders of Northern Eurasia, the Old Order Amish, women in the Caribbean oil-and-gas industry, Holocaust biography, and arts education.

Helping other writers to bring their best selves onto the page requires promiscuous curiosity as well as an invigorating combination of conviction and humility. I find myself acting by turns as a literary analyst, a puzzle-solver, a therapist, a tough-loving coach, and a cheerleader.

Most fundamentally, I try to provide writers with what I myself, when I share a draft of my own work, hope to receive from my critical readers: complete attention. And in what can be a dauntingly competitive arena, I aim to be the person in your corner (every writer deserves at least one) who wants nothing more than for your project to succeed.

If you would like to discuss working with me on a specific manuscript or on your writing practice more generally, please contact me so we can discuss timing, rates, and whether we'd be a good fit.

Testimonials

"I consider Mike Lowenthal one of the few indispensable editors I have ever worked with closely. He has transformed my own books, taken them to fresh levels, pushed me in just the right ways. He’s a brilliant, sensitive reader. I recommend him with great enthusiasm. He’s the best." Jay Parini, author of The Last Station and Borges and Me

"Mike's editorial advice was instrumental to the shaping and success of my novel. I found his 'big picture' insights to be shrewd and practical, prompting me to deepen my characters, heighten tensions, and rearrange my chapters to build a more satisfying story arc. When I questioned whether I could pull off certain plot/craft elements—'Can I skip ten years in one paragraph?!' 'Can I write two deaths in a row?!'—he pointed me to works I could learn from, urged me to take risks, and helped expand my scope as a writer, bringing my manuscript to an entirely new level." Mira T. Lee, author of Everything Here is Beautiful

"I never stopped being awed by the privilege of having Mike's mind at work on my manuscript. He's a man of intelligent sympathy, brilliant with language, structure, tone and nuance, and attuned to emotional rhythm and power. He helped me understand my own process, and I always felt that he was rooting for me in his generous, appreciative, and frank feedback. Somehow, he kept a fresh eye through multiple drafts. And he is so much fun! His comments in the margin made me laugh." Devon Jersild, author of Happy Hours: Alcohol in a Woman's Life

"No one should write a book without Michael Lowenthal's editorial input. His feedback on my debut novel, Graceland, was absolutely integral to its success. Mike's detailed comments were warm and encouraging, and his suggestions for further development invariably spot on. Even those suggestions I resisted at first, I ended up taking. He's that good." Nancy Crochiere, author of Graceland

"Working with Michael Lowenthal was one of the most important steps on my path to a book deal. Michael knows how to untangle the problems in a manuscript with precision and wisdom so you can find your way to your best work. Seven years after working with Michael, I still often think about specific things I learned from him." Cindy House, author of Mother Noise

"Having worked with him on a recent book project, I can assure you that as an editor, Michael asked all the right questions, and missed nothing on the page. Somehow his suggestions managed to be both rigorous and gentle, validating and practical. He was against laziness and in favor of freshness, the perfect guide, worrying over details as much as I did. Michael always found my best words and made them better." Michael Stein, author of Accidental Kindness

"The shortest route from a rough draft to a polished one is through Michael. His feedback is intelligent, honest, thought-provoking, yet graciously rendered. He works quickly, efficiently and wields his editorial pen with the trustworthy hands of an accomplished surgeon. Your manuscript will thank you." Celeste Mohammed, author of Pleasantview: A Novel in Stories