About Me

Editor, prize-winning author, and occasional journalist

I’m Michael J. Totten

I’ve been a writer since I was old enough to hold a pencil, and I learned to write and edit professionally more than two decades ago.

My wonderful mentors—Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Dean Wesley Smith, and the legendary Kate Wilhelm—spent years teaching me the craft, what acquisition editors are looking for, what triggers the dreaded rejection slip, and how to hold a reader’s attention without giving them the slightest excuse to abandon a story.

For more than twenty years now, I’ve been writing and editing full time as a novelist, journalist, and book editor in the media, traditional publishing, hybrid publishing, and various communications shops. So far I’ve written nine books. My first, The Road to Fatima Gate, won the Washington Institute Book Prize, and my novel Resurrection has been optioned for film.

My articles have appeared in The Atlantic, The New Republic, and numerous other publications, and my book reviews have appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and elsewhere.

I live in Oregon in a restored historic home with my wife and two cats. Even though I’m immersed in books when I’m working, I still like to read in my spare time, even when I’m at the beach or in the mountains. If there’s nothing else around, I’ll read a cereal box (and edit it in my head).

I specialize in genre fiction (crime fiction, science fiction, horror, and fantasy) and narrative nonfiction (memoir, history, travel writing, creative nonfiction, and so on). These are the kinds of books that I like to read and write myself, so if you’re one of my fellow authors, I’ll get you in ways that other editors might not.

In addition to editing books for individual clients, I also edit books for publishers.

  • Thomas and Mercer (crime fiction)
  • Lake Union Publishing (contemporary and historical fiction)
  • Lucky Bat Books (science fiction and fantasy)
  • Disruption Books / West Wing Writers (narrative nonfiction)
  • Encounter Books (narrative nonfiction)
  • Advantage Books (business books)

I’m a member of the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading and am bound by its code of practice. I’m also a member of the ACES Society for Editing, the Editorial Freelancer’s Association, and the Northwest Editors Guild.

Contact Me

Tell me what you’re working on, send me your questions, ask for a free sample edit, or just say hi. 


michaeltotten001 at gmail dot com