Why me?

If you were to visit SCBWI’s Freelance Editors Directory, you would read this:

Marsha Diane Arnold is a multi-award winning picture book author with over one million books sold. The media has called her “a born storyteller.” Her 23 books include Lost. Found., illustrated by Caldecott Medalist Matthew Cordell, the bilingual Galápagos Girl/ Galapagueña, Badger’s Perfect Garden, Heart of a Tiger, and The Pumpkin Runner. A few of the many honors her books have garnered are Ridgway Award for Best First Book, Smithsonian Notable, Dolly Parton Imagination Library, Campoy-Ada honor book, Bank Street Best Books of the Year, and, for her latest book Lights Out, SCBWI Golden Kite finalist for picture book text.

Known for her character driven stories, Marsha has a course on Writing Character Driven Picture Books at the Children’s Book Academy. She has done manuscript consultations through the Institute of Children’s Literature, freelanced for over twenty years, and been an instructor at 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. I greatly respect her not only as an author, but as an editor and teacher. I highly recommend her.”

Marsha asks a flat fee of $250 for picture book manuscripts of 1,000 words or less. This includes line editing, editorial suggestions on plot, character, pacing, and arc, ideas for revision, and a “Zoom” video chat of an hour or more. She enjoys working with aspiring writers, offering thoughts on marketability, today’s marketplace, other resources, comparable picture books, and discussion of page turns and “dummies.” She thinks 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 Marsha to consult on your manuscript, you may contact her through her website or at

What’s the cost?


What will you do for my story and me?

If you’d like my input on a manuscript you’re developing, I will read your story several times, line edit, comment on the concept/theme/arc, and do an hour personal consultation with you by phone and/or through a Zoom virtual visit. What we focus on will depend upon your manuscript, but it might include enlivening your characters, enriching the theme, and ways to improve your writing craft.

The process will be something like this:

  1. Submit your picture book manuscript of 900 words or less as a Word document, along with your concerns and goals for the story. Payment is through PayPal (preferred) or check. I will share payment information with you when you first contact me.
  2. I will read your picture book manuscript, do line editing, and consider the concept/theme/arc.
  3. I will return the edited manuscript to you via email with line edits and comments. My comments usually include what is working well and what isn’t, how to improve the plot and narrative, thoughts about your characters, theme, and structure.
  4. We will schedule a phone call or Zoom virtual visit, which will be up to an hour, in which I will respond to your questions and we will further discuss your story. I can share my experiences with traditional publishers, agents, and editors as well.


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 though 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. For more information or to register, visit


“Marsha is an incredibly talented editor who goes above and beyond for her clients. Working with her was an amazing experience! She is talented, caring and generous with their time. Her attention to detail both in developmental editing and line editing/proofreading were outstanding, and all of her suggestions, from re-arranging sentences to word choices, were incredibly helpful in taking my manuscript to a whole new level.”

Rebecca Greene

“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

I can’t thank you enough for the support and guidance you provided. I was lost before connecting with you, and now I feel like I have direction and sustained enthusiasm!

Alice Knowlton

I have worked with Marsha Diane Arnold for years. She has been an instructor at my week-long summer course, the Oregon Coast Children’s Book Writers Workshop. 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. In all cases 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. I greatly respect her not only as an author, but as an editor and teacher. I highly recommend her.

David Greenberg
Founder of Oregon Coast Children’s Book Writers Workshop

Marsha Diane Arnold, you are a genius! I did everything you told me and it’s SO much better. All in all, a transformed story.

Mark McGrath

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

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. Marsha also gave me equally important guidance for navigating the business side of writing for children. More than worth every penny!

Pat Forsyth
Aspiring picture book author