Cleis Abeni

Warm greetings to you.

Cleis, my first name, rhymes with “dice.”

Feel free to call me Cleis or Miss Abeni.

I have been a professional American English language editor (freelance and staff) since 1987.

I am open to all relevant work, big and small, and my rates are affordable.

Over the last 30-plus years, I have offered services in editorial coaching, copyediting, copywriting, substantive editing, developmental editing, content editing, proofreading, fact checking, researching, speechwriting (or speech writing), editing for diversity, equity, and inclusion, cultural sensitivity reviews, and ghostwriting for many different arenas.

I often work as a team with a remarkable senior nonfiction book editor, poet, and painter named Laura Orem.

Here’s some information for prospective clients about my editorial services.

First Book or Mid-Career Fiction Editing

I have specialized in editorial coaching, developmental editing, copyediting, and proofreading for authors who are producing their first books or reestablishing themselves in the middle of their careers. I have edited several different genres of fiction for American and British writers like Eleanor Taylor Bland, Vince Flynn, Babette Cole, Janet McDonald, Peter Mayle, Thomas Disch, and Colleen McCullough.

The short stories and novels that I have edited have appeared in major literary journals, in big 5 trade book publications, and in independent publications. The 10 fiction genres that I have edited are literary, young adult, coming-of-age, romance, psychological realism, fantasy, mystery, thriller, horror, and sci-fi. Thus, I understand how to edit most kinds of fictional short stories and novels.

My work for Eleanor Taylor Bland (and other authors) involved editorial coaching across several years. This editorial coaching combined examinations of texts with rich person-to-person discussions. I provide assistance with executing query letters to gain representation by agents or editors.

I also have edited for novelists who are not native English speakers and I was the Thai author Suwat Woradilok‘s primary editor for his short stories and novels.

Editing About Trauma and Wellness

I am a former nurse and a behavioral health specialist. Subsequently, I have also specialized in editing nonfiction and fiction about people who experience trauma, who are challenged by physical disabilities, who face mental health obstacles, or who come into contact with the criminal justice system.

The Ways That Police Deal With People is one of the nonfiction books that I edited within this specialization. I have additional expertise in editing reports, articles, white papers, and editorials about criminal justice. This area of my work also continues to involve editing self help nonfiction books in the fields of business management, psychology, and health-and-wellness.

For fiction, I have offered intensive developmental editing and editorial coaching for manuscripts within the genres of psychological realism and storytelling that engages trauma. I work with authors to create “restorative narratives” that depict real-life trauma without sentimentality, sensationalism, or sententiousness.

Editing for Researchers and Scholars

I have edited nonfiction (books, articles, and professional materials like cover letters and curricula vitae) for researchers and scholars in the humanities, business/management, social sciences, and health studies. My editorial support for health studies draws from my work as a holistic health practitioner and a former license nurse practitioner. Much of this work has involved helping scholars and students to shape and polish their research into articles and books with an exacting understanding of bibliographic controls.

Editing for Education

I have edited and ghostwritten for education. I have written, edited, researched, and/or fact checked the following documents or materials for educators, schools, nonprofits, and school districts:

  • Curricula;
  • Learning guides (print, digital, and online);
  • Departmental or program self studies;
  • Program implementation plans;
  • Nonfiction books;
  • Workbooks; and
  • Textbooks.

For this work I rely on my experiences as a former certified public school teacher (grades 6-12) in Baltimore, MD and Columbus, OH; as an educator with a MA in Writing and a MFA in Interdisciplinary arts education with specializations in early, middle, and high child development; as a former nurse and health practitioner; as a program implementation specialist who taught and designed whole child educational courses for schools and after school programs; and as a former adjunct professor at 10 different colleges and universities.

Full Service Editorial and Design Support for Self-Published Authors

Self-publication has increasingly become elevated as a viable avenue to share work with audiences. I offer specialized, end-to-end services (in collaboration with a designer named Shelly Turner) for authors who wish to self-publish their nonfiction or fiction books. These services include all forms of editing, cover design, set-up and formatting for internal pages for e-book and print publication, ISBN set-up, imprint development, tutorials for easy website creation and development, and marketing (both social media and print). These services include the full gamut of consultation for self-publishing at very affordable rates.

Editing On Staff

I have served as an on-staff copyeditor and copywriter for organizations like the Institute for Survey Research and the Baltimore Alternative. While on staff, I have written and edited collateral materials like news articles, newsletters, op-eds, editorials, news releases (or press releases), press kits, brochures, reports, white papers, strategic plans, business plans, profiles, commemorations, fact sheets, campaign guides, protocols, and website copy.

As a longtime fundraising writer or grant writer and editor, I have written, edited, and researched grant proposals, acknowledgements, letters-of-inquiry, requests, and other development materials.

I have edited, written grants, composed marketing copy, or produced publicity materials for performing arts organizations and arts education projects like the Sybil Company, This Women’s Work, and the Shakespeare Theatre Company.

For organizations like BUILD: Baltimoreans United for Leadership Development, I wrote and edited action plans and other strategic communications for justice-oriented political campaigns.

Currently, I offer part-time editorial support for American Editions.

Editing for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Be it offering reviews of book manuscripts to ascertain their cultural responsiveness or cultural sensitivity, or editing research reports and articles about people, institutions, and communities impacted by marginalization or inequalities, I have a long track record of offering editorial services that advance diversity, equity, and inclusion.


As an experienced copywriter, I have worked for companies like York Graphic, Mail-Well, Pendulum Press, and Berg Publishers to produce marketing copy for a range of businesses. My copywriting aims to incisively tell the story of brands, connect customers to services, and build profitable interest in products. I contributed copywriting to food retailers, dining companies, cruise lines, hoteliers, technology companies, word games, crossword puzzles, and greeting cards.


I am humbled to have written and edited speeches, policy talks, commemoratives, and other public addresses for Richard Failla, Nell Carter, Bernard Taylor, Gregg Burge, Guy C. McElroy, Eldon W. Ward, and several other dignitaries. As a speechwriter, I relish the opportunity to collaborate with leaders to effectuate the style, tone, approach, narrative voice, and content that reflects their unique public voice.

Public Policy Editing and Research

As a sub-contractor on freelance teams for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Department of Health and Human services, I edited, researched, and wrote public policy materials, research documents, and other collateral materials.


I served as a freelance marketing specialist and publicist for independent book publishers, record labels, and small independent performing arts companies. This work involved developing and executing comprehensive marketing plans to amplify and sell books, music shows, albums, and performances across multiple platforms (including social media engagement).

Fact Checking and Researching

I love fact checking, research editing, and private investigation. From 1990 until the late 2010s, I held a private investigator’s license in the states of Ohio, Maryland, New York, Philadelphia, and California. I tell clients how and where I checked or researched details so that they know that my work is competitive and thorough. I support my checking, researching, and investigating with facts and objective information from primary sources and/or high quality secondary sources (not tertiary or encyclopedic sources like Wikipedia). I have found individuals, hunted documents, and gathered vital background information for individuals and businesses doing work for attorneys and law enforcement. Depending on the complexity of the investigation, my work may involve the Internet or fieldwork (like library visits, interviews, or firsthand travel to source locations within reason). I am also very proficient in checking a wide array of bibliographic references in nonfiction.

Global Reach

While I am based in Baltimore, Maryland in the USA, my editorial work has a global reach. I love working with internationally based authors (like the Thai author Suwat Woradilokand evening or morning phone consultations are well with me. I ask that the client call me (instead of I call the client) at scheduled times so that the client bears the cost of the call outside of North America. (Within North America, I am happy to call clients).

Inclusive Services

I have been humbled to provide services to people of diverse nationalities, abilities/disabilities, cultures, ethnicities, races, genders, faiths, incomes, and sexualities.

Remote Services

I only work by remote through email, online, and phone consultation. I no longer travel for main work assignments.

Name and Pronouns

Cleis rhymes with dice.

Here’s the phonetic pronunciation for Cleis Abeni: KLYS uh-BE-nee.

My pronouns are “she/her/ma’am.”


I hold a MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts (with a focus on education) from the Ohio State University and a MA in Writing from Johns Hopkins University.

I was a licensed practical nurse, and I hold certifications in trauma-informed care, community counseling, and conflict resolution.

Email me anytime. I am very responsive.

Baltimore, MD


Years in the field: 33
Years freelancing: 33


Cleis Abeni