CraftBook: One sentence at a time.
Who We Are
Durham, North Carolina
New York, New York
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
How We Work With You
Developmental EditingWe work closely with you, step by step, to shape your work into the book you dreamed of publishing. We read your manuscript closely, examine aspects that might benefit from revision -- from the tiny intricacies of its language to the broad sweep of its structure -- and then we help you make those revisions. This is intensive editing; we're committed collaborators and will stick with you throughout the revision process.
Editorial EvaluationSometimes you just need a fresh eye on your work, and we're happy to do that for you. We read your manuscript closely and later tell you -- in a letter, by a phone call, or both -- what we see as its strengths and what we think you might want to revise. Sometimes that's all you need to put the final touches on your masterpiece.
GhostwritingWe are New York Times bestselling ghostwriters with the experience and savvy to listen to your story and tell it your way, in your voice. Sometimes you've got a fantastic story and you need help getting it onto the page. We'll do that for you, and we also work closely with agents and publishers on such projects.
Book CoachingYou want to write your book, but you're not sure how. We can help you with that, leading you through each step in the process: we'll help you think through all the possibilities for your book and its story, we'll help you plan out the writing of it, we'll read it as you write it and give you feedback, and in the end we'll help you to edit it. We are teachers as much as we are editors.
Our Clients Say It Best
“He’s a true Southern gentleman. So, so kind, warm and comforting when I found myself panicking. Always having exactly the words I needed to hear when I needed to hear them. Willing to discuss absolutely anything with grace and insight and humor, and always, always with a rare kind of respect and attention to what he felt I was trying to do in my work. In fact, in With or Without You, Chuck solved my backstory problem which had been plaguing me for years! Every time reviewers pointed out something they loved in the novel, I thought: Oh, that was because of Chuck’s advice.”
-- Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author of With or Without You and Pictures of You
"I was fortunate to find an extraordinary freelance editor in Duncan Murrell, without whose creativity and vision this idea would not have gone very far, and without whose hard work and insight this book would never have been finished. What he does is an art, and as I and many other authors will attest, he is one of that art's finest practitioners. He gave me the confidence that I really could be a writer."
-- Robert Hicks, New York Times bestselling author of The Widow of the South, A Separate Country, and The Orphan Mother
“We worked hard together, scrutinizing the intricacies of plot and point of view. The timeline drove us insane, but we finally figured out which characters did what in which year. You helped me maintain my voice—keeping it southern, keeping it black—while making sure it was accessible to every reader. When we finished the edits on An American Marriage, you said, “I think this is going to be a bestseller.” I didn’t for a second believe you, but I was flattered that you connected with my characters so completely that you predicted the world would as well….Thank you, Chuck, for your eyes, for your thoughtful attention to my stack of pages, for your red-pen edits, for your many years of experience with books and the companies that produce them. My most enduring appreciation is for the care you showed me as a person. They call it the “book business” because it is just that—a business. As an editor, you recognize that yes, a novel is something to be sold; but more importantly you know that it is a tangible expression of emotion and imagination, not a widget. Your spirit understands that novels are written by novelists, sensitive human beings who create art.”
--Tayari Jones, New York Times bestselling author of An American Marriage
"It is a pleasure to recommend Duncan Murrell as an editor. He edited my bestselling Gap Creek and was invaluable for his insights about narrative pacing, consistence of voice, and characterization. One advantage of working with Duncan is his promptness of response to new chapters or revisions. I have great respect for his commitment to the craft of writing. A writer himself, he understands the process and challenges of writing. Anyone lucky enough to have him as editor is in good hands."
-- Robert Morgan, New York Times bestselling author of Gap Creek, an Oprah Book Club pick, and of the critically acclaimed The Truest Pleasure and Brave Enemies
“When Chuck was attempting to buy our first book together—An Arsonist’s Guide to Writers’ Homes in New England—he wrote this to me: ‘I love this book. But that doesn’t mean I won’t piss all over it, editorially speaking.’"
“Thus began a beautiful working relationship, and friendship, during which Chuck often used urethral metaphors, and also uterine ones, as he did when he sent me this note with the copies of our third book together, The Happiest People in the World: ‘Well, it was a difficult birth, but I think it’s a beautiful baby, and I hope you do too.’
“Urination. Childbirth. Messy things. But then, I’m a messy writer, and I am so lucky to have had Chuck in my life, and in my books, to help clean things up. Actually, no, Chuck never cleaned things up: he just helped me see how the messes might be more entertaining, more meaningful, more purposeful. In other words, he got it, and he just wanted to give other people a chance to get it too. I’ll never stop being grateful for that, and for his friendship.”
-- Brock Clarke, bestselling author of An Arsonist’s Guide to Writers’ Homes in New England and Who Are You, Calvin Bledsoe?
"Duncan showed this academic how to write for a general readership. His editing advice kept me focused and convinced me to eliminate passages where the reader would bog down in extraneous material. It's never easy to "kill your darlings," but Duncan taught me why it had to be done to enhance some key sections of the book. His line editing was a course in how to keep the style active without sacrificing the author's personal voice. Duncan found my manuscript on the unsolicited pile, convinced his company to invest in it, and together we brought it to life. Is there any more one could ask of a book editor?"
-- William Kornblum, author of At Sea in The City, a memoir of sailing the inner waterways of New York City
“I am so grateful for Chuck’s faith in me and the other debut authors on his list…Over the years, the titles he has edited are some of my favorite reads, and they have been inspirations for my own writing. I feel so lucky to have worked with Chuck on A People’s History of Heaven, and to have his continued support as my career unfolds.”
--Mathangi Subramanian, author of A People’s History of Heaven
"I could not have asked for a more understanding, supportive, and sympathetic editor than Duncan Murrell. Duncan’s working method perfectly balanced encouragement with firm direction, both of which I needed -- especially as a first-time author. The attention he gave to my manuscript, all marked up in red with corrections, suggestions, and occasional funny comments, was the equivalent of a graduate-level course in writing. I consider myself blessed to have worked with Duncan, and to this day I know that my writing is better for having done so."
-- Seth Rogovoy, author of the groundbreaking work of music criticism, history, and discography, The Essential Klezmer, as well as Bob Dylan: Prophet Mystic Poet
“When we started working together on my manuscript, our process went something like this: I would email him a chapter, he would print it out and mark it up. He’d then scan those pages to email back to me, wherein I would print them out and, after digesting the notes he’d written, would amend the document and volley back another attachment. In this way we wrangled Down Along with That Devil’s Bones into shape, a shape much improved by his edits."
"And yet, for all this print-and-digital back-and-forth, the real work, the work I remember most vividly from the editing process, was done over the telephone. Often, on delivering a set of pages, he’d offer to chat if need be. And more often than not, I’d take him up on it. This was my first book—I was timid, sensitive, desperate to get it right or even just to figure out what ‘getting it right’ looked like. And Chuck was there, on the other line—in his office, usually, I think, but sounding as serene as if I’d reached him while he sat in the sun, in a meadow, chewing straw and regarding the clouds."
“He’d talk me through a note or hear out a proposed addition or, in the final stages, talk me out of one last rewrite of the ending. In his imperturbable way, he’d reorient me to the stars guiding the book. Stars he’d seen way back when he’d read the proposal and advocated for its acquisition. He took his time, kept a steady hand on the tiller….In this way he provided, along with the insight and line reads, the guidance I needed to finish this book. And for that, I’m so very grateful.”
-- Connor Towne O’Neill, author of Down Along with That Devil’s Bones
“As we worked on His Only Wife, I was so very happy that you shared my vision for Afi and her story. Thank you for being a conscientious editor and for bringing your brilliance and passion to your editing of this novel. … Thank you for being an excellent editor. I am honored to be working with you and for my first novel to be a small part of your distinguished career.”
-- Peace Adzo Medie, author of His Only Wife, a Reese Witherspoon Book Club selection
“On the head-spinner that was the Descent Book Tour, in the midst of a doozy of a launch by Workman Publishing, I was often asked about the editing process—specifically if I’d ever disagreed with my editor. I would answer that there had indeed been times when I had resisted something Chuck had gently, reasonably asked me to think about, but that, given time to let his thoughts sink in, I would either take his suggestion wholesale, or arrive at some hybrid or third solution that ended up pleasing us both. Both Descent and The Current benefited greatly from just this process of Chuck gently suggesting, giving me the time and space to consider, and finally revise. That it’s a process I’ve never fully grasped, nor fully appreciated, until after the fact, and probably never will, says something essential about Chuck’s great decency as an editor, and his human intuition.”
-- Tim Johnston, New York Times bestselling author of Descent and The Current
“As much as anyone, you are responsible for making my dreams come true. That day in New York back in 2010, when you took the stage at BEA in front of those booksellers and shared your enthusiasm for West of Here represented a turning point in my career as an artist….You have had such a HUGE influence on me, particularly in teaching me how to think like a reader, the single most important skill any storyteller can develop. You have such an amazing sense of what is missing the mark. I will ALWAYS hear your voice going forward when I’m writing, because at this point it is an indelible part of my voice; you are an indelible part of me. I guess that’s just about the highest compliment I could pay any friend or colleague. It has been a pleasure and honor to work with you.”
-- Jonathan Evison, New York Times bestselling author of West of Here and Legends of the North Cascades