Consults & Courses

Manuscript Consultations

When I started writing picture books, over thirty years ago, I started an in-person Writers group.  Years later, an editor called us “the famous Sebastopol Writers group.” (We all loved that!) Currently, I’m in two Writers groups. We exchange our stories online and share what we like about each other’s stories and also how to make them better.

The editors and authors I’ve worked with during my years writing for children helped me navigate the publishing path, strengthen my manuscripts, and provided support and advice.

Now, after twenty-four published books, I’m happy to offer manuscript consultation services to other writers.

Why me?

I’m known for my character-driven stories; I have a course at the Children’s Book Academy on “Writing Character-Driven Picture Books.”

I’ve also been an instructor and manuscript consultant for the Institute of Children’s Literature and Media Bistro and been on the faculty of the week-long Oregon Coast Children’s Book Writers Workshop. David Greenberg, author and founder of the Workshop writes: “Marsha’s work has set the standard for excellence. She offers the most constructive feedback and encouragement I’ve seen from any instructor ever. All her interactions are supremely kind and affirmative. She has been an instructor at my week-long summer course. She has served as an associate editor for people who contact me seeking advice on their manuscripts. And she has written course material for an online writing course I run. I greatly respect her not only as an author, but as an editor and teacher. I highly recommend her.”

What’s the cost and what does the consultation involve?

I ask a flat fee of $250 for picture book manuscripts of 1,000 words or less. If you’d like my input on a manuscript you’re developing, I will read your story several times, then continue with editing, editorial suggestions on plot, character, pacing, and arc, ideas for revision, and finally a “Zoom” video chat of forty minutes to an hour. I enjoy working with aspiring writers, offering thoughts on marketability, today’s marketplace, other resources, comparable picture books, and discussion of page turns and “dummies.” I think a lot about each client’s work and the client’s ongoing writer’s journey, always being aware of the client’s goals and their story. If you’d like me to consult on your manuscript, please contact me for more information.

“Marsha’s thoughtful attention to my manuscript has been invaluable to me as I worked through revisions. She is smart, kind, and knowledgeable—a real treasure and a real help!” Sarah Mackenzie,  Founder of Read-Aloud Revival, author

“Wow, your feedback was exactly the kind I was looking for. I so appreciate your balance of big picture ideas and then specific line edits to help me see what revisions and edits could look like. I really appreciate you lending your expertise!” —Daniel McCauley

“Love your brilliance and work ethic!” —Kat Kronenberg

“I was lost before connecting with you, and now I feel like I have direction and sustained enthusiasm!” —Alice Knowlton

“You are a jewel, Marsha Diane Arnold. I gleaned so much from our time together. Thank you for your encouraging words!” —Deborah Stafford Tukua

“You made me see that I’m a good writer. Thank you for that gift.” —Nyambura Kinyori

“Thank you for your input, guidance and support. You have been incredibly helpful to me as I create my first manuscript. The experience working with you has been inspiring and uplifting!” —Christy Matthes

“If you are an aspiring picture book author with a manuscript draft, I highly recommend a consultation with Marsha Diane Arnold.  Her gentle critique helped me improve my work and take my story from ‘no way’ to ‘on the way’ to publication.” — Pat Forsyth


Writing Wonderful Character-Driven Picture Books

You can also learn from Marsha at Children’s Book Academy with her Writing Wonderful Character-Driven Picture Books course. She, along with Dr. Mira Reisberg, will guide you through a self-paced study course which includes Understanding the Characters Kids Love, Where To Find Your Great Character, How To Write Your Great Character, and Voice in Great Characters. Click here for more information or to register.

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