Lesley McDowell – Jericho Writers
Jericho Writers
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Lesley McDowell

Lesley McDowell - Editor

Lesley is the author of fiction and non-fiction as well as short stories and was a literary critic for major newspapers.


Lesley is the author of two novels, The Picnic (Black & White Publishing), and Unfashioned Creatures (Saraband), with a third novel forthcoming 2023-24. She has also published non-fiction, Between the Sheets: The Literary Liaisons of Nine 20th Century Women Writers (Overlook Press), and for many years was a literary critic, reviewing regularly for The Independent on Sunday, The Sunday Herald, the Scotsman, The Times Literary Supplement, and others, before turning to full-time editorial consultancy. She is the recipient of three Creative Scotland awards, a Society of Authors grant, and was Writer in Residence at Gladstone’s Library in 2014. She has been a judge for several literary awards, and chairs regularly at book festivals. Her agent is Ian Drury at Sheil Land Associates.


You can find her on Twitter @LesleyMcDowell1, or on Instagram at lesleywrites.


“Lesley McDowell gave me a brilliant in-depth editorial report. I fully appreciate the amount of time and thought she put into reading the manuscript, and the conciseness of her criticisms and suggested ways forward. Well worth the money! thank you for providing this service.”

- Susan M.

“That sort of constructive criticism was exactly what I wanted (and is what can’t be obtained from well-meaning friends, who inevitably say how much they’ve enjoyed the read but don’t ick out any weaknesses).”

- R. Webster

"Thanks again for this very useful and constructive feedback. I will definitely incorporate it into my next round of revisions."

- C. Bentley

“Your appraisal is very positive and has provided me with much food for thought as to how best to proceed.”

- Christopher E.

"I’m pretty much floored by your analysis. You’ve done me a great service. The report is clear, well organized, and brimming with insight. As I worked on the draft, I worried about some of the issues you raise. Just didn’t know how to fix them. You’ve given me a path toward a new draft."

- Paul H.

"Thank you for your honesty. Your critique was more than I expected. I have taken serious time rereading and analyzing each word. I felt there may still be issues with the first four chapters of my manuscript and you pinpointed exactly what I needed to understand and concentrate on in correcting those issues. I was also blown away with your encouragement and thoughtfulness. Again, thank you so much. You have given me excellent advice on how to focus on not only the query and synopsis, but also the plot. I encourage other writers to use your service. It is well worth the money and the quick turnaround time. Again, WOW!"

- Carolyn T.

"Lesley is brilliant! I have read her report many times and acted on her every recommendation. She has been a marvellous source of support and although her recommendations involved a major re-write, her judgements were both accurate and fair. She has been a true ‘Critical Friend.’"

- Chris S.

"I just want to say a huge thank you for the report - it's just what I was hoping for in terms of its focus on marketability, pitch and covering letter improvements."

- David S.


Lesley is our go-to editor for anything historical or women’s fiction. She enjoys working across historical periods, – whether your novel is set in BC or AD she might be the editor for you! Her knowledge of the market and publishing as a business shines in every report she does, as does her enthusiasm for the art of storytelling.


Having worked for twenty years as a literary critic and been solely concerned with the published, finished product, it’s a real delight to focus on the other end of novel writing – the stage where writers are finding out who they are and what kind of stories they want to tell, and helping them realise their goals. There are few things more exciting than reading a manuscript with real potential, and seeing through to recommendation to an agent publisher.

Because I did spend so much time professionally at the finished ‘end’, I have a good idea of what the market wants, and is prepared to feature in newspapers and magazines. I’d like to think I can see that finished product, which is important when you’re starting out – you want to be able to fix the small things, but you need an accurate vision of the final product, too.

My favourite topics are women-centred stories, preferably from the past. I like experimental work, too, but am equally happy with traditional novel forms. My favourite writers are Joyce Carol Oates, Shirley Jackson, and Marina Warner, but I also like crossover genres like literary crime, like Megan Abbott.

Genres Lesley specialises in

Literary (Including ‘bookclub’)
Crime / Thriller / Action
Other Narrative Non-fiction

Lesley's published books

Unfashioned Creatures

Unfashioned Creatures

The Picnic

The Picnic

Between the Sheets

Between the Sheets

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