Writing Consultations

photo of author and writing teacher Melissa Cistaro
Individual consultations with Pamela Feinsilber

Get That Book Started, Polished, or Finished

30 min consultation • Hosted via Zoom, or phone and email • $75


Do you have an idea for a novel or work of nonfiction but aren't sure how to continue? Do you have a finished draft and need big-picture comments on theme, structure, pacing, plotting, characterization, description, etc.? Are you ready for line and copy editing? Not sure? Set up a half-hour consultation to discuss how to proceed. The $75 fee will apply to whatever level of editing you need, from getting started to getting to the finish line. That can include advice on self-publishing.

Pamela Feinsilber has been with our Path to Publishing program from the beginning. After years as a senior editor at San Francisco magazine, she became a freelance book editor, working with both longtime and first-time authors. For more information, see pamelafeinsilber.com.

What Students Are Saying About Pamela Feinsilber

"When I finally decided to publish a family memoir, a friend in the publishing world recommended Pam. She was the perfect match. She took a rough text through meticulous editing involving language issues, historical references, and multiple voices, shepherding my entry into the literary world with patience, wisdom, encouragement, and enthusiasm. Her attention to detail and precision led to a book of which I am truly proud."
—Joshua Rassen, author of From the Shtetl to America: Jacob Rassen's Lifetime Journey

"Pamela Feinsilber’s astute eye gave my novel Kingdom of Simplicity just what it needed to go to press. Her touch is like applying every grade of steel wool, from scouring down unnecessary subplots to burnishing the finest thematic strands. Her editorial skills cover the gamut, from structural changes to line editing. Getting great editorial help like this is a necessary investment for any professional author."
Holly Payne, author of The Virgin's Knot and The Sound of Blue

"Pamela Feinsilber is the queen of questions. I appreciated her gentle manner in explaining the "why" behind the suggestions that guided me to write a more compelling story. Her skill, enthusiasm, and encouragement have fueled my desire to become a better writer and to forge ahead with my second book.
—Therese Crutcher-Marin, author of Watching Their Dance: Three Sisters, a Genetic Disease and Marrying Into a Family at Risk for Huntington's



photo of author and writing teacher Melissa Cistaro
Individual consultations with Melissa Cistaro

The First Ten Pages of Your Memoir — Make Them Shine!

Hosted via Zoom • $140

Submissions can be emailed 5 days prior to the scheduled Zoom meeting (10 pages max, double-spaced, 12 pt. font)

If the first pages of your memoir don’t grab an editor or agent’s attention, your manuscript might not get read. How can you make your story stand out in the current memoir marketplace? Bestselling memoirist and industry insider, Melissa Cistaro will read the opening 10 pages of your memoir or memoir-in-progress and give you specific guidance and feedback. We’ll look for the strengths, the takeaway, and underlying emotions in those vital pages. The consult will include editorial suggestions and a 40-minute Zoom call to discuss your opening pages and ideas. Let’s get those opening pages polished!

Melissa Cistaro has worked on multiple sides of the literary industry including helping authors complete and publish their manuscripts, collaborating with publishers, editors, and working in the bookselling trade. She is the author of the award-winning memoir Pieces of My Mother (US edition) and the Canadian bestseller Without My Mother (HarperCollins Canada). Her stories, essays and interviews have appeared in The New Ohio Review, Brevity, The Huffington Post, PBS: To the Contrary, Good Housekeeping, and the anthologies Cherished, and Love and Profanity. Melissa’s taught on faculty at The San Miguel Writers’Conference, Writing Pad SF, Book Passage, San Francisco Writers’ Conference, and Word Wave Literary Festival in Tahoe.

What Students Are Saying about Melissa Cistaro

"Melissa’s compassionate feedback as a writing coach along with her generosity in sharing her years of experience, greatly enhanced my journey from manuscript to book signing. Her passion for mentoring writers is an absolute blessing."  —Nisha Zenhoff, author of The Unspeakable Loss

"Melissa is more than an inspiring teacher; she is a wise human being who combines a macro passion for books, with a micro ability to connect with the ink words of her students. Melissa creates a very safe space for writers to share their work, and encourages the finding of one's own voice. I can say emphatically that I am a better writer and more reflective person having taken not one, but two classes with her."  —Daniel Polk

"As a published memoir writer, Melissa knows the genre and the publishing business first-hand. She encouraged me through the tough parts of writing my memoir and celebrated the little victories with me along the way. Her positive attitude, good humor and honest feedback made the writing process a joy for me. I wanted to get up every morning and get to my computer."  —Julie Hines



photo of author and writing teacher Melissa Cistaro
Individual consultations with Don George

Polish Your Prose: A Personal Consultation to Take Your Story to the Next Level

Hosted via Zoom • $250


In this one-on-one consultation, Don will read your manuscript of up to 3,000 words and offer specific guidance and feedback, including comments on structure, evocation and development of theme, and strengths and infelicities of style. Manuscripts can be non-fiction stories, essays, works of fiction, or chapters of a book. The consultation will include written editorial suggestions and a 50-minute story discussion by Zoom.
Don George is the author of The Way of Wanderlust: The Best Travel Writing of Don George and of How to Become a Travel Writer, the best-selling travel writing guide in the world. Don has also edited 12 acclaimed literary travel anthologies, including The Kindness of Strangers and Tales from Nowhere. He has been Travel Editor at the San Francisco Chronicle and Salon.com, and Global Travel Editor at Lonely Planet. He is currently Editor at Large for National Geographic Travel.  Don has taught travel writing in the MFA programs at UC Berkeley and San Jose State University. He is the co-founder and chairman of the annual Book Passage Travel Writers & Photographers Conference.