Editorial and Consulting Services

“A lot of this is letting go of what I want it to be so it can be what it needs to be.” — Karen Laz, picture book writer

“Michelle’s guidance was invaluable to me and to taking my manuscript to the next level. I had been floundering and then procrastinating.  I was stuck. Once Michelle reviewed my work and gave me feedback, tips and suggestions, I felt like I had something to move forward with. Her professional opinion and honest critique was exactly what I needed. It was the best money I’ve spent in some time. What I received in terms of editorial direction, guidance and help was beyond worth it.” — Barb Marshall  www.ritewhileucan.com

“If you are seeking editorial help for a picture book, middle-grade work of fiction or non-fiction, look no further. With the precision and expertise of a surgeon, professional editor Michelle Houts takes your book to the next level by helping you trim and tighten your manuscript until it is submission ready.  Michelle not only gives grammatical and literary suggestions; she asks the right questions to help you find the heart of your story to make your manuscript shine. I highly recommend Michelle Houts for your editorial needs.” — Nancy Roe Pimm, author of Fly, Girl, Fly: Shaesta Waiz Soars Around the World. Beaming Books, 2020.

“With an early draft of a manuscript in hand, I attended one of Michelle’s Picture Book Revision retreats. Through her guidance, Michelle helped me find my storyteller’s voice. She pointed out the reporting vs. storytelling parts of the text.  She suggested word choice that brought clarity and helped the text flow. Michelle helped me turn my sloppy copy into a story. And now that story, Opening the Road: Victor Hugo Green and His Green Book, illustrated by Alleanna Harris, (Beaming Books, January 2021) is a book.” — Keila V. Dawson, No Voice Too Small: Fourteen Young Americans Making History, co-edited along with Lindsay H. Metcalf and Jeanette Bradley, illustrated by Bradley. (Charlesbridge, 2020).

Has a project got you stuck?  Have you finished a manuscript and want to be sure it’s polished and shiny before sharing it with agents and/or publishing houses?  Or are you new to writing for children and just need to be sure your manuscript hits the mark before it hits the market? As the series editor for the Biographies for Young Readers series at Ohio University Press and a frequent workshop and revision retreat leader, I’ve been helping writers along the path to publication for several years now.

Here are some ways I can support you.


What to expect — A full review of your manuscript, including a detailed letter addressing what’s working and what might need more work, with attention to narrative arc, character development, language, voice, point of view, marketability, and next steps.  In addition to the letter, in-line edits and margin notes on the manuscript will be provided, but that will depend on how much “bigger picture” (plot, narrative, world building, etc) work needs to be done. Following your receipt of the letter and marked-up manuscript, you have the option of a 30-minute phone or video conference to discuss the critique at no extra charge.

Picture Book Critique — Fiction or nonfiction, up to 2000 words, $300

Picture Book Self-Publishing Prep — Includes multiple rounds of editing, plus copyediting/proofreading intended to get your picture book ready for self-publishing, up to 2000 words, $550 (or a $250 add-on if you start with a Picture Book Critique)

Chapter Book Fiction Critique — Up to 10,000 words, $850

Middle-Grade Novel Full Critique — Up to 50,000 words, $2000

Middle-Grade Nonfiction Full Critique — Up to 50,000 words, $2000


Query Letter Review — One page query letter, line-by-line suggestions, written critique only, $100

Project Consultation — 30-40 minute phone or video conference. Helpful if you are deciding where to go next with a project or are considering the pros/cons of traditional publishing vs. self-publishing or a hybrid publisher, wonder if editorial services are necessary for your project, or just have a list of questions for someone who has navigated the world of writing for children. $100 (Fee waived if further editorial services are provided by Michelle after consultation.)


At this time, I am not taking on YA projects.

To avoid a potential conflict of interest, I will work with you on your middle-grade biography, but if I do, you cannot submit it to me in my role as series editor of the Biographies for Young Readers series at Ohio University Press.

All services are subject to availability. Please Send me an email prior to sending any materials. We’ll discuss your project, my availability, and we’ll agree on pricing. Then, we’ll get to work!