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Feb 4, 2021

Pro-Critiquer Interview Series with Jackie H.

Jackie H profile picture on CritiqueMatch

A warm welcome to Pro-Critiquer Jackie H.

CritiqueMatch: Tells us about your critiquing/ editing journey. 
Jackie: About a decade ago, while I was working on my dissertation, I took a part-time job as a writing tutor at a local community college, and over time, that morphed into a position as a tutoring coordinator and a tutor trainer.  When I’d first applied for the tutoring job, I mostly saw it as a resume-builder, but I learned (and relearned) so much about writing in those years.  Suddenly I had to explain aspects of grammar and syntax and organization that had become natural to me, which meant that I had to go back to the books myself!  I still work as a writing tutor for an online platform, and I’m still learning every day!

I took the big leap into editing by doing the thing every book about freelancing will tell you not to do—I volunteered to work for free.  A friend had finished a manuscript she wanted to publish independently, but she needed it edited first.  I told her that while I’d never edited fiction, I thought I knew enough from my tutoring gigs (and from being a lifelong compulsive reader) to be some help.  I offered to copyedit the book for free in exchange for her honest feedback about my work.  At the time, I thought it was a skill I could keep in my back pocket.  But about a week after I’d returned her manuscript, she sent me a text:  Hey, would you be interested in getting paid to edit something? I have a friend who needs an editor.  That gorgeous woman had recommended me to her whole crew of writer friends, and within a couple of months, I was editing two or three manuscripts a month.

The transition has been an absolute dream come true.  I love spending my days reading and talking to writers about their ideas and stories and goals, and I am honored that my authors are willing to share their stories, characters, ideas, and words with me.  I consider it a sacred trust, and I’ll never take it for granted.  

CM: Share a fun fact about you.
Jackie H profile on CritiqueMatch
Jackie: I have a minor obsession with chairs, which sounds truly absurd when I put it in writing.  I think chairs are works of art, and when I see a beautiful chair, I feel compelled to bring it home with me.  We have three people in our family and live in a little Craftsman bungalow, so our need for chairs is limited.  But between our house and our garden, we currently have 27 chairs.

CM: That's too funny! Thanks for sharing it. What is the best way clients can approach you on CritiqueMatch?
Jackie: I realize it sounds sort of trite to say, “Just send me a message!”  But really, just send me a message!  Don’t worry about how you phrase it and don’t worry about trying to pitch me your story.  The best part of my job is getting a peek into how writers’ minds work!  So just tell me about your project.  Brag about it or gripe about it!  Tell me why you love it or tell me where you’re feeling stuck or tell me about your goals for the finished piece.  I love knowing all the details! 
Reach out, even if you’re not sure you’re ready to work with an editor.  Reach out, even if you’re not sure that I’m the right editor for you.  I promise, you’re not under any obligation to work with me just because we’ve messaged about your project.  Even if we don’t end up working together, I’d love the chance to cheer you on!

CM: Describe your critiquing/ editing style. How do you differ from other editors?
Jackie: One of the first books I read, when I was starting my editing journey, was The Subversive Copy Editor by Carol Fisher Saller.  (Which I highly recommend to all writers—Saller gives wonderful advice for building a productive, collaborative relationship between authors and editors!) Saller argues that an editor’s job is to serve as an intermediary; they help ensure that the story the author wants to tell translates to readers. And that’s the way I approach every edit.  

My job is to help make sure that readers can connect to your voice and to the story you want to tell.  I always tell my clients that I believe their words are sacred, and that’s at the core of my editing style.  If I’m going to suggest a client make changes, I’m not only going to have a reason why, I’m going to give them my rationale.  So I leave my authors lots of comments and notes, not to justify the changes I’ve made, but to give them all the information they need to weigh whether those changes are right for them.  Because at the end of the day, the final choice always belongs to the author, and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

CM: Can you describe the typical profile of your clients?
Jackie: I’ve been lucky to work with authors with a variety of different backgrounds—from authors who are making the transition from traditional publishing to independent publishing to first-time authors with plans to query agents, and everything in between!  So while I don’t have a “typical” client with regards to experience, I’ve found that my clients all tend to have a few traits in common.  First, they are committed.  All of my writers want to see their writing at its best and are willing to put in the work to make that happen, even when it can start to feel tedious, and they want to learn how to hone their writing skills so that they continue to improve.  Second, my clients are passionate!  I love that I get to work with people who write because they have something they’re driven to share with the world, not just because they have dreams of being famous authors.  And last, that passion makes them courageous.  Not only have they overcome that terrifying moment of putting the first words down on the page, but they are also willing to let someone else read what they’ve written.  That’s a big, bold leap of faith, one that not every writer is ready to make.  I am inspired by that bravery, and I’m humbled by the fact that my authors trust me with their writing.  

CM: How has your critiquing availability changed during the pandemic? 
Jackie: Until March, I was balancing my editing work with two other jobs—my online tutoring job and a gig as an educator at a museum in San Diego, CA.  Once schools started to close, my job at the museum was furloughed, which was a bit of a heartbreak; working with kids who are out of their classrooms on a field trip is just about the most fun way you can spend your days.  But it also meant that I had more time and headspace to devote to editing!

Er, in theory, at least.  Because once schools closed, I also suddenly had a six-year-old virtual learner to support!  My daughter is now seven and doing first grade virtually, which means that I spend about half of my day shuttling between my desk and hers, so I’ve had to learn to work in smaller, but much more efficient, chunks of time.  We’re both counting down the days until she can be back in the classroom, but I’ve been so lucky to have a job I could schedule around the rhythm of her school days.
I’m also incredibly lucky to have found a job that is mobile.  Over the summer we moved for my husband’s job—from San Diego to Fort Worth, TX—so when life gets back to normal (or when we start to find a new normal), I’ll be dedicating my days to editing. 


Genre Specialization

Genres/sub-genres you’re accepting clients for:
  • All genres of fiction and nonfiction
What you’re not interested in:
  • Math textbooks.  Well, in all honesty, I’m happy to read those, too!  I just can’t promise that I’ll be much help.  My brain works in words, not numbers.


Client Testimonials

Client: M., CP Critique, May. 2020  
“Jackie's critique was heartfelt, insightful, very timely, and exactly what my story needed. I would highly recommend asking her to beta read (as I'm sure I will do again in the future!). Jackie did an excellent job of pointing out my story's strengths and weaknesses, explaining her interpretations of certain aspects of the story, and providing a plethora of ideas and suggestions for how it could be improved or changed. Her comments ranged from critique, to brainstorm, to a reader's honest reaction, and every one of them was helpful and encouraging.”

Client: L., Paid Critique, Jan. 2021  
“Jackie is an incredibly thorough Pro-Critiquer. She doesn't try to undermine your work with any smug industry talk or condescending grammatical corrections; she seeks to improve and hone your organic style and enhance your narrative by pointing out sections that might make readers stop to question things. She focused on areas I asked her to comment on and addressed those issues in-depth, not just with a few lines. Expect lots of writing in your critique, but all of it has something to say that you can take and apply to your work in a beneficial way. Absolutely recommended!”


Jackie H. is a historian by training, a writer and educator by trade, a reader at heart, and an experienced freelance copyeditor.  She loves helping authors of fiction and nonfiction feel confident in sharing their words, stories, and ideas with the world.

When she’s not reading, Jackie enjoys swimming, overwatering her houseplants, watching terrible reality television, volunteering for Postcards to Voters, and embroidering every piece of fabric she can find.  She’s mom to a seven-year-old spitfire daughter and two maniac terrier mutts. You’ll also regularly find her unpacking stacks of boxes; her husband’s career keeps their family on the move—she’s lived in 10 homes in the past 15 years.  She’s never met a margarita she didn’t love.

Jackie H profile on CritiqueMatch