Skip to content

About Me

I'm Jim Newcomer.


I’m a freelance editor. I work with writers who create good books.


I work most often on memoirs, but I’ve also edited novels, non-fiction books on sustainability, history and other social sciences as well as language textbooks.


I love and respect the English language, whether reading it or speaking it. It is a powerful language with an enormous range of expression, from formal to gutter talk. I’m familiar with great literature at both of those extremes and in between. I hold writers who work with me to high standards, while we also laugh a lot..


My Story


My B.A. was in English Literature (Princeton), my M.A. in Asian Studies (Columbia), and my Ph.D. in Political Science/International Politics (Stanford).


We had the military draft back in my day, and so when I graduated from college, I enlisted so I could begin learning Chinese at the Defense Language School.  Over the next 50 years in and out of China, I’ve kept learning so that I can say now that I read and speak Chinese.


I went on to short careers as a diplomat, an anti-war protester (Vietnam) while I was  grad student, a professor in social sciences, and a consultant, first building international trade  connections (China, where else?) and later helping businesses adopt environmental values and practices. I have even taught Leadership for Sustainability in a Graduate School of Business.


I’ve lived in many places around the world from New York to Taipei, via California and Iowa. These days I live with my wife and our beagle in a suburb of Portland, Oregon, where I grew up, and I participate in our lively local literary world. My grandchildren are spread around the world. My pronouns are he/him. 


In my daily life when I’m not editing, my main concern now is with the future of humanity on this limited earth. Call it climate change, call it (as the Club of Rome authors did some 50 years ago, The Limits to Growth (Get that book and read it if you have not already.), the circumstances that support life are closing in on us and all the species of life here on this tiny blue marble we live on.

My Love for the Work


I have always loved the written word. In college I majored in English and American literature because I got to read lots of books. But writing requirements were sparse.


It was a few years after I had graduated that I discovered Strunk and White’s Elements of Style and its miraculous-seeming exploration of good writing, good sentences, and good sense. It seemed like magic.


For me it was like stepping into a whole new, enchanted world – I felt like the hero in Avatar.


After discovering that I could bring that magic to writers with books still in the works – the joy of editing – I dug further into generally good books and books about writing over several years, reading about what makes writing good – everything from John McPhee’s wise books and articles (How about The Magic of the Fourth Draft?) to Dryer’s English. I still devour books on writing and editing to learn everything I can to sharpen my abilities.


As a business consultant I used to teach my clients the Toyota principle of continuous improvement, and I believe that it applies to editing as well as to assembly lines. So I’m almost always engaged in a course about writing or editing.


Developmental and line editing are my calling, and while it took me 50 years to discover that, I’ve now been doing it full time for five years, enough to have gotten my feet wet.


My Promise


I can promise you that if I work with you, you will be nudged to write regularly; you will fill in the gaps, you will develop real-sounding dialog, and you will be justly proud of the book, essay, or report that you complete.



A Brief CV, in case you need credentials:


      • AB, English and American Literature, Princeton University, 1957
      • MA, Columbia University, Chinese History, Politics, and Economics, Certificate, East Asian Institute, 1966
      • Ph.D., Political Science (International Politics and Policy Studies), Stanford University, 1976
      • MA, Organizational Systems Research, Antioch Seattle, 1995
      • Foreign Service Officer, Class 5, US Department of State, 1962-1968
      • Officer in Various business startups, 1995 – 2018
      • Freelance Editor, 2018 – present