Manuscript Critique
Ellen Akins—Fiction (Fantasy, Humor, or Literary) and Memoir

Open to: Fiction (Fantasy, Humor, or Literary) and Memoir

Word Limit: 15,000 in four submissions of 3,500 each. Full manuscripts by arrangement only.

What You’ll Submit: 3,500 words of prose every 3-4 weeks for 12-15 weeks. Submissions can be new chapters for an ongoing work or new drafts of work that has already been reviewed.  Full manuscripts by arrangement only.

What You’ll Get

One-on-one intensive work concentrating on your work-in-progress. Whether you're an aspiring, apprentice, or accomplished writer, my goal as a teacher, coach, and editor is to help you get to the best possible version of what you're trying to do. Fantasy, comedy, personal history, or literary fiction with a capital L: if there's a novel, stories, or memoir that you want to work on, or can't quite figure out, we'll take that on. If you're just getting started and want to improve, that's what we'll work on. If you're all over the place, we'll try to find a focus. This will be, in short, whatever you want to make of it—a sort of one-on-one MFA program.

We'll start with your preliminary submission—a sample to give me an idea of what you're doing—and an exchange to determine what you want to accomplish. Then, over the course of 12 weeks, you'll submit work of up to 3500 words (give or take a few hundred) every 3 weeks, and within a week I'll get back to you with a reading, critique, and advice. You might submit sections of a novel, one after another, or the same chapter again and again, or one story over and over (& it'll be better each time, really), or a series of stories, or a full memoir or novel or novella to be considered over time. What you want to work on is what I want to work on—and make the most of.

It's up to you to get as much as you can or want to out of our 12 weeks. And then, if you want to continue, we'll talk about that. If you're stuck and can't make the deadlines for your submissions, we'll discuss an extension—but if this goes beyond 3 weeks, you'll have to sign up for a new round. 

I can also provide an in-depth critique of a full-length manuscript, by arrangement only as my time is limited.

Price: $2100 for up to 15,000 words with one-on-one coaching over 3 months; $3500 for full manuscript critique by arrangement only. Email [email protected] with a summary of you work and a few sample pages to inquire.

Turnaround: 12–15 weeks. 

Testimonials of Working with Ellen

"An acclaimed author, Ellen Akins is the prefect synthesis of serious scholar, first-rate editor and inspiring writing coach. Simply stated, I am a published author now, largely because of Ellen’s efforts on my behalf."—Brian Bradford, author of Greetings from Gravipause 

“Ellen Akins displays the same deep strengths as a teacher and editor that she does as an author; a bottomless mental data bank of literary craft and artistry, a quick and keen understanding of where a story needs to go and the tactics required to get it there. She is a gently direct, specific, and supportive guide on that journey, and some may even find the experience of working with her – as I did -- transformative.”—Bill Mesce, author of Inside the Rise of HBO and the Harry Voss Trilogy (The Advocate, Officer of the Court, & A Cold and Distant Place)

"A widely published and award-winning writer, Ellen Akins cares as much about the work of those she coaches as she does her own novels, stories, essays, and reviews. Her judgment is keen and her insights about strategies for improvement very perceptive. She digs in on matters from overall structure to line editing. The results are shown in the literary success of many she has advised."—Walter Cummins, publisher, Serving House Books; editor, Serving House Journal; and author of Habitat: Stories of Bent Realism

"Working with Ellen meant so much more than finding a keen eye to critically examine my novel. Her skill with the mechanics of language and her breadth of literary knowledge provided me with suggestions that resonated, and her remarkable talent as an artist was evident as I incorporated her critiques into my manuscript. The final result was not just an edited manuscript, but rather an authentic story that had stayed true to my vision, even through the process of reconstruction.—Cara Luecht, author of Gathered Waters & Soul Painter

 "Ellen Akins is an extraordinary, award-winning fiction writer and critic, as well as a writing coach and editor for the lucky few. She has also taught in the MFA Program of Fairleigh Dickinson University for ten years and is a writing mentor of choice for many students, graduates, and for a number of her colleagues, myself included. I frequently run a manuscript past Ellen, and her advice, both in general and the particulars, is always right on. As a writing coach, mentor, editor, or for a hands-on critique, Ellen Akins is prime."—Thomas E. Kennedy, author of the Copenhagen Quartet (In the Company of Angels, Falling Sideways, Beneath the Neon Egg, & Kerrigan in Copenhagen)