Finishing Your Poetry Manuscript: Theme, Revision, & Marketing

Judith assists authors with in-depth revision to create a manuscript that is more than the sum of its parts. She has provided this service to authors who subsequently published their books. To query, please email Judith at with a ten page sample of your work (ten pages may include up to ten poems). Please include a brief bio, your goals and expectations, and a working title for your collection.


Manuscript Consulting Service

Before participating in a manuscript consultation with Judith, let her know what kind of feed back you’re interested in. Often a re-organization of poems in the manuscript is desirable, so that the theme of the collection becomes stronger and more accessible to potential readers. You may also want comments on individual poems, suggestions for part breaks and overall organization, and/or advice on how to winnow your manuscript down. The service is designed to meet your individual needs.

What distinguishes Judith’s manuscript service is her passion for writing and critiquing poetry, her knowledge of how to put together a successful book of poems, and twenty-five years of teaching experience in the field of humanities. In addition, Skillman knows the “poebiz,” and can give marketing advice and recommend specific markets for an extra fee. This service is optional. If you elect to receive it, a marketing plan will be tailored for your work. No guarantees for publication accompany this aspect of the manuscript service.

Payment is broken into one half when you send in your manuscript, and the other half when you are fully satisfied with overall comments and suggestions for revision, line by line edits on individual poems, and after have had a private consultation by phone or in-person. A full-length manuscript review is $600; a chapbook length mss review is $350. The fee includes an essay on the work’s strengths, areas for improvement, and other requested feedback. Logistics are negotiable—you may send a word.doc or a hard copy.

 Here are a couple endorsements:

 *Marjorie Power’s book Seven Parts Woman was published by WordTech Communications in 2016. Here is what she said after reading Judith’s overall comments:

“The mss. is here. I read the stuff you typed up and put at the beginning, and feel very excited. It’s as if a big wind has blown through the poems and the sky is showing through in new ways. I haven’t looked at anything more yet because that was enough to take in at one time. I am thankful and relieved you have such a positive take on this mss."

Bonny Sander’s manuscript October House was published by WordTech Communications, under their Cherry Grove imprint, in 2016:

“The proposed re-arrangement was done so skillfully and tactfully.  In critiquing individual poems, the suggestions to cut certain ones to avoid diluting the strength of the whole and to avoid unnecessary repetition was right on.  In addition, your suggestions to strengthen certain poems by compacting them (i.e. to delete introductory lines and place the reader in the middle of the action) helped many pieces. I am relieved you find my work to be strong, and I’m grateful for your kind, positive, and supportive manner.  I knew I needed an insightful editor and that’s what I got!  Many thanks for your help."

Manuscript clients whose books have been published include:

Bonny Barry Sanders: October House - Cherry Grove, 2015

Marjorie Power: Seven Parts Woman - Wordtech Communications, 2016

Joannie Stangeland: In Both Hands, Ravenna Press

Barbara's Thomas: Quiescence-- Inkwater Press, 2015

Larry Matsuda: A Cold Wind from Idaho, University of Washington Northwest Writer's Series


Carol White Kelly: Out of Deep, Unordered Water, Third Place Books, 2015

Christianne Balk: The Holding Hours - University of Washington Northwest Writers series, 2016

Sharon Scholl: Summer's Child -- Finishing Line Press, 2015

Kurt Olsson: Burning Down Disneyland--Winner of the Barry Spacks Poetry Prize; 2017

Lynn Knapp: Giving Ground - The Poetry Box, 2017

Susan Morse's book.png

Susan Morse's first chapbook, In the Hush, published by Finishing Line Press and is available. The author currently lives in the Willamette Valley, having recently moved from Maine.  The poems in this chapbook explore family relationships

Manuscript clients whose books are circulating include:

  • Lillo Way: Wingbone--finalist at Red Hen and other major presses

  • Barbara Molloy: Heaven with Others

Please contact with a word.doc containing ten pages from your current manuscript.