Olivia Swenson
Meet Olivia
I've always loved reading, and I picked up an inherent sense of grammar and story line from a childhood spent with my nose in a book. I followed this early interest with a minor in editing from Brigham Young University, solidifying my knowledge of grammar rules and character, scene, and plot development. Since graduating in 2013, I've edited over 50 fiction novels and a handful of dissertations in a variety of fields. I'm still learning, but I love working and learning with authors.
"There are plenty of bad editors who try to impose their own vision on a book. . . . A good novel editor is invisible."
Terri Windling, author and editor

Download my Resume

Levels of Editing:

all edits and comments made using Track Changes, an editing feature of Microsoft Word

  • Developmental editing (character/plot/scene development)
  • Line editing (transitions, fact checking, sentence structure)
  • Copyediting (grammar, spelling consistency, diction)
  • Proofreading (final read-through to catch small errors)
  • Portfolio


    “She is extraordinarily thorough and accessible throughout the process.”

    Adam Phillips
    first-time author of Wolves of Nevadan

    “Olivia is outstanding. She worked on my book project editing each page as well the introduction, the preface and the conclusion. Olivia is professional, reliable and passionate about her editorial work. Last but not the least she is affordable. She was of great help to me. She was exactly what I wanted from an editor. I am very satisfied with her work. I highly recommend Olivia for any editorial work.”

    Enrico Nicolo, MD
    first-time author of Ecce Homo: Jesus, the Man

    “Whispers in the Attic was edited by Olivia and is receiving wonderful reviews. Working with her was a delight. She was professional, prompt with returns and always accessible. Olivia guided this first-time author painlessly through what could have been a difficult process.”

    Cheryl Alsippi
    author of Whispers in the Attic

    “Olivia has been with me for over a year now, and I can confidently say that she is one of the best Copy Editors we work with. She is always punctual, her work product is solid, and she is always eager to help move projects forward. Olivia is a real gem.”

    Travis Grundy
    Publisher at the Zharmae Publishing Press

    “I was very fortunate to have Olivia as a research assistant at BYU. She had the ability to work as fast as I wanted with great competency and had a cheerful attitude in all seasons. Olivia had a significant impact on my production as a professor during that period of time. Olivia is no doubt a great copy editor at her current job, but is also blessing the lives of those she worked with as she did mine.”

    Fred Woods
    author and professor at BYU


    80+ manuscripts edited!

    A quick “hip, hip, hooray!” for my authors and presses who have entrusted their books to me and let me live my dream life! Since starting as an editor in 2013, I have officially edited 83 books and 8 academic articles (including 2 proposals, 4 journal articles, 1 dissertation, and 1 book chapter). The breakdown of books is 17 nonfiction (one of which was a workbook for a self-help book) and 66 fiction (two were novellas). Further breakdown: 13 fantasy, 7 romance, 6 sci fi, and a sprinkling of action, thrillers, military, horror, and general fiction.

    All in all, I’m incredibly pleased with the spread and feel ready to tackle this year by reaching out to new authors and presses!

    Beijinhos, and back to editing.

    Manuscript Wishlist #MSWL

    I have been hired, despite expressly communicating my zero experience, to find an agent for an author I’ve worked with for the last few months. Though most of the search has been a frustrating reminder as to why I never want to write because it would mean finding an agent for myself, there have been two bright spots in the overwhelming deluge of agents, agencies, deals, and what-I’m-looking-for’s: Manuscript Wishlist and Publisher’s Marketplace.

    Publisher’s Marketplace I’ll just touch on briefly because I think everyone and their dog knew about it before me (though let’s be real, the $25/month was a big deterrent–and as soon as I find an agent for my author, I’m out). But if you’re goal is to find the agent that is right for your book, you need to a subscription. The site has not only what agents are looking for, but also what books they’ve actually made deals on. And these books are divided by genre (though kind of broad) and are searchable. Very useful.

    But what really got me grinning was the Manuscript Wishlist Twitter feed. MSWL is a site where agents can post what manuscripts they wish they were getting in their inboxes (very convenient if you have written something that matches their at-times bizarre criteria).  If you’re interested in substance, most of them are looking for women’s fiction and magic realism. But if you’re interested in some laughs, these were some of my favorites:






    Bears, courtiers, Nazi Seducers, Pocahontas–clearly our literature is missing in these key aspects.

    Back to editing (or, as the case may be, agent-finding)!



    While I started out predominantly editing fantasy and sci-fi (giant wolves, civil wars on new planets, and so on), since becoming full-time freelance, I’ve had the chance to work on more traditional fiction, children’s books, memoirs, nonfiction (a history of American witchcraft, the true story of a man’s adventure in the Amazon), and so on. And though the books with tips on how to invest in the stock market could be termed self-help, I just recently began copyediting my first real self-help book. And, well, it’s been quite…helpful.

    The one self-help book I have read prior to this one was The Seven Habit of Highly Effective Teenagers, given to me as, yes, a teenager. As a book devourer, I promptly read it and actually really enjoyed it, but the lessons didn’t stick, and now I can’t remember a single habit (perhaps because I wasn’t looking to actually change anything about my life). In fact, my attitude toward self-help books has been a lot like this:

    Authors of self-help books just want to sell their book (or the newest version of their book), and in so doing are taking advantage of insecure/sad/hopeful people.

    It’s a cynical view, I know, but I didn’t know how someone could claim to know how to completely turn someone else’s life around through a book–especially considering the varied backgrounds of readers. I was admittedly disdainful.

    But editing my current self-help book–and this is one thing I absolutely love about editing–has really taught me something. Anyone can benefit by taking a step back and evaluating their life, intentionally looking into the black box of how we make decisions and why and then making honest adjustments to become that person we want to become. And that, I think, is a common first step in self-helps: self-evaluation. Even though I’m very happy in my life of traveling, editing, running, churching, and Brian-ing, it’s still important for me to make sure I’m continually striving for better–and that can only happen if I know where I am now and intentionally choose how I move forward.

    So here’s to a new outlook on self-help books! I should know better than to judge a book by it’s genre, but I am happy to change my opinion on the matter.


    Back to editing!

    See reason!

    After 10 days of having my mother-in-law in town, it’s back to work for me! Good thing I’m excited to get back to the worlds of Book, Minecraft, Georgia, and third grade 🙂 I really love my job.

    On a recent edit of the same children’s book from the last post, the author left her comments at the bottom of mine, distinguishing them by putting them in all caps. Although she agreed with 95% of my comments and suggestions, I think the all caps made me feel like she was upset with me, so I was a little shocked when I read her response to this comment:


    How often, when we’re trying to work with someone who sees or does something differently than we would, do we just want to yell, “See reason!!” and give them a good shake. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned from editing (and marriage), it’s that there are multiple good, efficient ways to get the desired result. And usually cooperation creates a better outcome than what I was expecting or could have accomplished on my own! So three cheers for author-editor teams.

    Now, back to editing!


    The freelance journey

    A good portion of a recent conversation with my sister was to answer her questions about my freelance work. It was fun to tell someone who was genuinely interested about the authors I work with and the process of developing a manuscript until it’s ready to be published. The journey is simultaneously humbling, empowering, stressful, and rewarding, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    I hope to document what I learn from my freelance experiences in an effort to not take myself too seriously and to remember the lessons taught by each author, manuscript, and character.

    One short story before getting back to work: My newest project is editing a manuscript with the target audience of girls ages 7 to 10–a new genre for me. I spent about an hour researching and reading excerpts from what I thought were similar series. Feeling prepared, I emailed the author to introduce myself and let her know that I thought x, y, and z were important components of a children’s book.

    The author promptly emailed back detailing the preparation she had done before writing: conversations with teachers and librarians, online educational tests, reading the competition (none of which I had correctly identified), creating a glossary, and so much more.

    I read the email with my mouth gaping, feeling incredibly embarrassed at my “preparation.” Needless to say, I think this journey into the children’s genre will teach me a lot.

    Back to editing!



    I’m always excited to talk with authors about their work, and I always respond within 24 hours. Thank you!

    Email: olivia@oliviaedits.com
    Phone: 412.438.3889

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