Finishing Your Poetry Manuscript: Theme, Revision, & Marketing


Judith will assist authors with in-depth manuscript revision, creation of a manuscript that is more than the sum of its parts, and, if you like, marketing strategies. She has provided these services in the past to authors who subsequently had either individual poems, or their manuscripts published. To query about working with Judith, please email to her at judith.skillman@comcast.net with a sample of your work.

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, line by line edits on individual poems, and 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 copying and postage. Skillman sends back your original mss, her essay on your strengths, areas for improvement, and other requested feedback. She makes and keeps a copy of your revised collection for the private consultation.

 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


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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


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 judith.skillman@comcast.net. Include the kind of feedback you are looking for, and attach a word.doc containing ten pages of poetry from your current manuscript.

Potential clients: I have manuscript(s) to work on until February 1st, 2017. Please contact janeebaugher@gmail.com for information on her writing consultation service.