Polly Kummel
Polly Kummel LLC
(803) 641-6831

I am a freelance nonfiction editor who has been working for both university presses (Columbia, University of Georgia, University of California, and many others) and trade publishers (St. Martin’s/Palgrave Macmillan) for nearly thirty years. I work as a developmental/substantive editor, line editor, and copy editor.

  • Even when I am working as a substantive editor or line editor, I also copyedit. After I edit your work, the copy editor at your journal or publishing house will have little to do. Reviewing their changes will be less work for you, and you won’t have to respond to a question asked and answered a zillion times before.
  • My motto is “Don’t give a critic free lunch”—I’m thorough. I’ll spot any holes in the argument or logic, organizational problems, incomplete or missing explanations, overuse of jargon, missing source citations/attributions, redundancies, wordiness, clichés, and infelicitous phrasing. Critics may disagree with the ideas, but they’ll have to work hard to knife the logic, belittle the clarity, or complain about the depth of research.
  • I meet deadlines. In 2013, I fell off a horse and broke my hip on a Tuesday, had surgery on Wednesday, and was back to work by the following Wednesday. I never missed a deadline. That’s because I have a clock in my head from my days as a journalist (at Newsday and the San Jose Mercury News, among other stops) and work steadily on each project. I don’t procrastinate.
  • I don’t overbook my time.
  • I have edited everything from African American studies to business to memoirs to gender studies to international studies to social work (see my website, www.amazinphrasin.com), so I’m likely to have at least a nodding acquaintance with your field or genre.
  • I’m fun to work with. I like to crack jokes and make irreverent observations, which authors enjoy and find that it makes my professional nitpicking on their behalf a lot easier to digest.
  • I have worked effectively with authors whose first language is not English. I polish the prose and come to the rescue when American idioms and syntax—or simply the right words—escape these authors. However, they need to be able to convey their thinking well enough that they don’t first need a crash course in the language. I’m an editor, not an ESL teacher.

I would like to offer you a free sample edit of, say, five hundred words, so you can get some idea of how I work and better determine whether we would be a good fit.

Polly Kummel[’s] . . . editorial guidance was invaluable. It was a joy to work with someone as skilled as Polly because she really grasped the nuances of my ideas and knew exactly how to push and direct the book in progress. She made a difficult process a lot more fun.

—Robert A. Ibarra, Beyond Affirmative Action 

Polly Kummel, a talented copy editor with a light touch, spotted gaps that needed to be filled, paragraphs that deserved to die, and questions that remained to be answered.

—Loren Ghiglione, CBS’s Don Hollenbeck 

Polly Kummel is far more than a copy editor: she sharpened the prose and clarified the reasoning on literally every page of this book.

—Richard Martin, Superfuel

Editing Services
Copyediting, Developmental editing, Line editing, Proofreading, Series, Substantive
Writing Services
Business proposals, Rewriting
Other Services
Author coaching, Content review, Fact-checking, Manuscript critique, Research
Humanities and social sciences only, esp. American history, politics, government, journalism, international relations, and memoir
Nonfiction Genres
Academic, Autobiography and memoir, Biography, Business, Creative nonfiction, Essay, History, Reference, Self-help, True crime
Age Levels
End Products
Nonfiction books, articles, scholarly monographs, reports
Style Manuals
American Psychological Association (APA), Associated Press Stylebook (AP), Bluebook, Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS), Modern Language Association (MLA)
Adobe Acrobat Reader, Google Sheets, Microsoft Word
Other Memberships
Editorial Freelancers Association