Home Page  

In truth, I not only coach children's book writers, helping them to discover and tell their good stories well. I also cheer them on 'til they cross the finish line.

What qualifies me to coach children's book writers?

Simply put, I am well acquainted with both writing children's books and today's world of children's book publishing. My award-winning children's titles include pictures books and middle grade fiction.

I also teach “Writing for Children” classes at the University of Chicago's Writer's Studio, the Newberry Library and Ragdale, an artist's residency program in Lake Forest, Illinois. I began my career teaching fifth grade. As the saying goes, “Once a teacher, always a teacher.”

I also work with members of the children's book community to advocate children's books and their creators. I recently concluded my ten-year service on the Board of Advisors of The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, an international organization that numbers 27,000 members. My seventeen-year service as the 900-member Illinois Chapter's Regional Advisor earned me the title Regional Advisor Emeritus.

What exactly do I do when I coach children's book writers?

I work with writers — wherever they are in the writing and publishing process — to help them discover, craft and market their stories. My careful manuscript readings and thoughtfully-worded comments reflect my teaching experience, my publishing experience and my talents and skills. The writer learns not only which story parts work and which parts could work better, but which parts should always work to tell any story well. In a successful picture book, the writer offers up concrete details from which the reader draws Life's Universal Truths. I work hard so my comments do the same, so that from my specific criticisms of a specific manuscript, the writer learns the tenets of writing for children in today's markets. I also work with writers who are eager to respond to editorial requests for revision as well as with writers eager to independently publish their stories and projects.

What are the fees for my Writing Coach services?

My manuscript rates reflect the hours necessary to thoughtfully read and consider a manuscript, then prepare and present in person, once our world returns to pre-Covid-19 conditions, at a convenient Chicago location, or via a SKYPE visit, ZOOM meet-up or phone consultation, a thoughtful, instructive analysis that enables the writer to successfully move forward. These one-on-one meetings offer invaluable insights to a writer’s story spark, motivation and years on task in his writer’s journey, allowing me the necessary information to best accommodate the writer’s story and the story he’s telling.

For a description of fees, email me at: esthersh@aol.com

I also now offer Office Hours, personal consultations in person or via the telephone, to discuss specific manuscript problems, writing issues, marketing possibilities and career issues.

I often work with Writer's Groups, too, facilitating sessions and/or teaching from the members' manuscripts. Fees for such services are negotiated separately.

How should you submit your work?

     All manuscripts are to be submitted electronically, as a file attached to an email. Please attach a summary/pitch/description of the plot and a list of manuscript concerns. Forward payment via ZELLE or snail mail at the time of submission.

     Turn-around time is usually 4 to 6 weeks. |
     A deductible $150 fee holds placement in my queue.
     For the mailing address, query: esthersh@aol.com



Wondering if you should hire me?

"Other 'coaches' may have followed her lead, but on the writing field, Esther Hershenhorn is the Phil Jackson of Writing Coaches. Time spent with her is truly transformative, both for the author and for the work."
—Esme Raji Codell
Chicago, IL

"When I gave up my own editorial service, I searched for someone who could take it over for me who had the same dedication to the care and nurturing of writers that I had put into the job. I found that person in Esther Hershenhorn."
—Barbara Seuling, author
How to Write a Children's Book and Get It Published
John Wiley, 2004

Book Covers

“Esther is a GEM of a mentor. She was my constant cheerleader and the very best editor and content creator. She encouraged me to keep at it, time and time again. She knows how to navigate the children's publishing world brilliantly and literally is a human library when it comes to knowledge within the field. She sent me resource after resource, knew which conferences I should attend, and, taught me exactly what I needed to do with my manuscript to make it successful. She is a complete and utter treasure, and I am so lucky that I have found her!”
Dr. Amy Neeren, PhD
Haverford, PA
 Nellie in Knots, Bushel & Peck Books 

“I'm a lifelong journalist and educator who thought he could just go write a children's book. I could not. But Esther was encouraging, and took me through the process, step by step, building my confidence up through clues and hints and positive energy. Esther taught me how to use my passions and express them so young readers could understand my message. She has laid the groundwork for future projects. I could not imagine where I would be in the process without her.”
Chris Goldberg, PhD
Blue Bell, PA
STEMsational Problem-Solvers LLC
 Aliyah and the STEMsational Problem Solvers: What's Cooking?

“Esther was just the person I needed to meet at the start of my journey in the Kidlit World. Yes, she pointed me toward books to read and conferences to attend, she taught me how to look for character motivation and she explained pacing in a way I could understand. But most importantly, I needed a cheerleader, especially in the early stages, when Doubt and Imposter Syndrome sat like gargoyles on my shoulders. Esther's natural enthusiasm and bright energy helped shine a light on the things I could do and learn. She not only helped me to see my own strengths but also encouraged me to take steps that I would NOT have otherwise been brave enough to take. A journey through the world of publication can be filled with rejection and waiting. While you wait, it sure does help to have the World's Best Cheerleader beside you. :)”
Lynn Leitch
Burlington, Ontario, Canada
 Dinos Driving, Pajama Press, August, 2022 

“Looking for someone to coach you through your writing journey? I highly recommend Esther Hershenhorn! As a beginning writer, I took Esther's terrific writing-for-children class, which set me on a path to success. As an example, while in that class she saw promise in a poem I had written. With her guidance, encouragement, and editorial vision, that poem was developed into a picture book. You'd be hard-pressed to find a more knowledgeable and skilled coach.”
Patricia Toht
Aventura, CA
 Together With You, Scholastic, February, 2023 

“During the SCBWI Europolitan Conference in Amsterdam, I signed up for a “Career Coaching Session” with Esther Hershenhorn. I'd had manuscript reviews before, but this promised to be a step beyond that, and I knew I needed something. I didn't realize at the time that something could be Esther. She offered more than just a review of my manuscript. We talked and talked, and she gave me the best piece of writing advice ever. And, of course, being me, I proceeded to ignore it for years.
During our one-on-one, Esther asked me why I was writing this book. “WHAT'S THE TAKEAWAY?” she asked. I remember my answer very clearly. “I just want to write something fun and escapist for kids. That's it–no big message. No lesson. Just escapist fun.” Esther nodded and smiled, and my writer self? Well, I became quite pigeon–chested, convinced I'd made my point successfully. Then Esther pointed out that books – the successful and interesting books, even the fun books – all have a message at heart.
Did I believe her? Not right away. It took me a while to recognize the truth and brilliance of that one piece of advice. There were many other gems that day also but asking myself – What's the takeaway? – remains the heart of what I still ask myself when writing. And now, until I discover the answer to that question (and until my beta readers can also recognize it), I know my manuscript is not ready to send to my agent. Esther's question remains the best piece of writing advice I've ever received.”
Jane Baird Warren
Quebec, CA
 How to Be a Goldfish, Scholastic Canada, October, 2022 

“God is so good to bring amazing people into our personal world to help us mount on wings and soar! Just when I was ready to close my story files, tuck my writing tablet between the other authors' books on my bookshelf, and put the cap on my pen, I found Esther's name through SCBWI. I am very familiar with the Esther story in the Bible. And I love her heroic intervention in God's plan to save her people. So, I thought, I'll try one more time. So, I sent my email, after several revisions, of course! I had to make that hook statement spark her interest. To my much-needed surprise, I received the most pleasant email back with a welcoming invitation to send her my story! Hallelujah! From that day on, what a joy Esther has been to renew my ambition to WRITE! Her beautiful talent as a coach, teacher, and person is indeed like 'the wind beneath my wings!'”
Brenda Sue Bynum
Granite Falls, North Carolina
 Theo's Gift, Ambassador International, November, 2022 
 Bright Yellow Sun, Why Do You Shine?, Living Parables of Central Florida, 2017 
 Is Love in the Rain?, Living Parables of Central Florida, 2018 

Book Covers

“Although I've published many children's books, I knew I needed help when I reached the fourth draft of my first YA novel and felt that something was missing. Something not-major, I felt . . . but . . . something. So, fourth draft in hand, I consulted the best Writing Coach I know of: Esther Hershenhorn. And she - incredibly knowledgeable, talented, helpful, and highly skilled in diagnoses, sat down with me to discuss the small but critical threads that required repetition throughout my story. Six threads, to be exact. They were there in my fourth draft, but they weren't there enough. They were woven part way through my story, but not all the way. Once Esther pointed this out to me, I saw it immediately — but I hadn't seen it on my own. It took Esther to understand what minor (but oh, so important!) changes my story needed. I went home, created a rewrite chart, and wrote the fifth draft. Which sold. Thanks to Esther Hershenhorn.”
Barbara Gregorich
Chicago, IL
 The F Words, City of Light Publishing, 2021 

“Esther Hershenhorn is an extraordinary writing coach. She is organized, professional, and knowledgeable. I met Esther when I took a course for middle-grade and young adult authors at The University of Chicago Graham School. After this class I was hooked on her high-spirited teaching. We began working together in December of 2015 on my historical novel in verse. Each time we met she focused on direct questions about the manuscript and brought in relevant mentor texts. When I strayed, she brought me back to the work. Esther let me know that my life and words mattered and that my story was worth pursuing and getting out into the world. She is always responsive, extremely available, respectful, and has a good sense of humor. She never makes you feel “less than” and can deliver constructive criticism in the most positive way to help you analyze your work. She is an insightful guide who leads you to the path and accompanies you on your journey. She has an intuitive sense about your story and takes it on whole-heartedly. Once you work with Esther, she never forgets to check up on your progress and will send resources your way that are relevant to your writer’s journey. She is a treasure to the children’s writing community.”
—Lisa Sukenic
 Lincolnwood, IL
 Miles from Motown, Regal House Publishing, August, 2021

“Esther is the most energetic and positive mentor. She helped me rewrite and rewrite every meeting. We completed the manuscript by my birthday which was my goal. All along the way Esther gave me encouragement and faith in my story, as it is my first book. She is been beyond helpful putting me in touch with a publisher and book designer. She always made me feel like I could....and I did! Esther is a treasure and ever one out there who needs guidance and support in writing a book, short story or a poem, she is your go-to. I will be forever grateful for her guidance.” 
— Gwen Neiman
Chicago, IL
What the Cluck?, SimonSawyer Publishers, August, 2021

"I can't give enough thanks and kudos to my friend, teacher, and mentor, Esther Hershenhorn. In her class, Skiddly Diddly Skat went from being a half-formed limerick to having the makings of a full-fledged book, and she's continued to guide me along throughout the pre-publication process. She's a Jewish Mother in the very best sense: never losing faith, never giving up. I love her! And I will be forever grateful to her for all her help and guidance.
—Bindy Bitterman
Chicago, IL
Skiddly Diddly Skat, Fall 2021

"All This and More" . . . my middle-grade novel Wei To Go! wouldn't have happened without Esther Hershenhorn. I met her at her Manuscript Workshop in Vermont, a place I selected largely for its driving distance from my home. Knowledgeable, encouraging, and pleasant—Esther had all the qualifications for teaching the craft of writing children’s books.
Except that I received much, much more. From my first discussion, I sensed Esther’s genius in grasping the theme and the heart of my story. Yes, I had a draft but without an inkling of the big picture. She patiently guided me through the details and pacing that had eluded me. What an extraordinary coach and cheerleader! I'm an expert at promptly throwing away unneeded items and deleting files—no packrat in my genes. I would never discard Esther's notes."
—Lee Y. Miao
Setauk, New York
Wei To Go!, Clear Fork Publishing, Spring, 2022

"I met Esther at the Chicago Cultural Center in 2015. I felt stuck in my writing journey and turned to Esther for advice. I shared much of my works-in-progress with her and received a lot of valuable insight. During our conversation, I spoke about my family history. Esther looked straight at me and said, "That's the story you must write!" It really resonated with me. I know Esther felt something deep there, and so I took her advice.
I'm thrilled to say that The Moon From Dehradun will be published in fall 2022, by Atheneum. It is also this story that connected me to my wonderful agent. Esther's insight and wisdom is spot on. She will pinpoint exactly what you need if you're stuck, or you need a guiding hand on your writing journey. I'm forever grateful."
—Shirin Shamsi
Darien, IL
Laila and the Sands of Time, Clear Fork Publishing, 2019
Planting Friendship. Peace, Salaam, Shalom, Clear Fork Publishing, 2021
Zahra’s Blessing, Barefoot Books, Spring, 2022
The Moon from Dehradun, Atheneum, Fall, 2022

Book Covers

“I worked with Esther through SCBWI-Illinois' Laura Crawford Memorial Mentorship program. From the very first meeting I was blown away by Esther's zeal, her commitment to the mentorship process, and her human warmth. She read my previous work, got to know me as a person, and very quickly discerned the heart of my story. She is an expert editor, able to see both what a story is missing and what is already working. She guides gently, inspiring rather than proscribing, but at the same time, she presses for real effort, hoping to bring the story into its very best form. This mentorship inspired me, taught me more than I ever could have learned from books or lectures, and resulted in my signing with Rosemary Stimola (of Stimola Literary Studios) and getting a contract with Candlewick Press. I cannot imagine a better literary guide, editor and friend than Esther Hershenhorn.” 
—Amy Alznauer
Chicago, IL
The Boy Who Dreamed of Infinity, A Tale of the Genius Ramanujan, Candlewick, 2020
 The Strange Birds of Flannery O'Connor: A Life, Enchanted Lion, 2020
Flying Paintings, The Zhou Brothers: A Story of Revolution and Art, Candlewick, 2020

“Esther Hershenhorn has been a significant force in my life from the time I began my journey as a children's writer. Her coaching skills do not rest solely on her perceptive and straightforward critiques of manuscripts, but on her comprehensive view of coaching as an all-encompassing process. I've benefitted from so many aspects of Esther's intellect, spirit, and character. I've experienced her ability to see the seed of a picture book and guide me toward helping it sprout as well as having her read a ten-page section of my novel in verse and zero in on which poem belonged on the first page (a change that ultimately helped sell the manuscript). I've consulted when I was working at a day job as well as writing from 4-6 am and trying to sort out a limited, but focused writing life, and I've worked with her as I transitioned to writing full time. She is endlessly energetic, creative, committed, optimistic and persistent, and enters each writer's journey exactly where the help and support is needed from first dream to first draft, to multiple revisions, to final draft, to queries and submissions, to marketing the sold manuscript. Every moment, for Esther, is an opportunity to grow and move forward, and of course, to celebrate the joy as well as support the difficulties, along the way.”
—Carol Coven Grannick
Skokie, IL
Reeni’s Turn, Fitzroy Books, 2020

"I was ready to give up on writing and illustrating for children, even though it had been my lifelong dream. Esther pulled me up from the gutter (no pun intended, or maybe there was) and showed me that I do have a voice, and a point-of-view that the world needs to hear. With her guidance I have emerged into a serious author/illustrator. My work is out on submission to agents and every day is filled with creative possibilities. I cannot thank Esther enough for her insightful coaching."
—Diane Sammet,
Fort Lauderdale, FL

“Esther Hershenhorn has a gift. After reading only forty pages of the middle grade manuscript I'd been writing and rewriting for years, she not only mined its flaws but also offered impeccable advice for correcting them. Her ability to find the heart of a story is astonishing. On top of all that, Esther is kind, generous, and thoughtful in every sense of the word. So let me rephrase myself. Esther Hershenhorn not only has a gift, she is a gift to any writer who has the good fortune to work with her and know her. ”
—Helen Kemp Zax
Washington, DC
MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults, Vermont College of Fine Arts
Represented by Steven Chudney of The Chudney Agency
2018 Katherine Paterson Prize Middle Grade winner; 2019 Katherine Paterson Prize Middle Grade finalist
Author of middle grade novels, picture books, poetry
“Basant Panchami The Hindu Festival of Kites,”Cricket, April 2020
"Who's Who,High Five", March 2020

Book Covers

"When I first contacted Esther these were my words: ‘Teach me and I will be grateful.’ How far she has taken me, teaching me craft and turning my heart toward a deep love for writing: first magazine stories, next picture books and finally my recently published debut middle grade historical novel. As a writing coach, Esther brings her extraordinary teaching skills, her wealth of knowledge, and her forever commitment to each and every project. She embraces each manuscript as if it were her own. Esther teaches. Esther coaches. Esther cares. Esther always, always goes for beyond expectations. When she says she has her clients in both her HARD DRIVE and her HEART DRIVE she means it, both literally and figuratively. Esther, with her unsurpassed power to inspire, will continue to be my guiding light as I journey forward wherever my writing life takes me. I am grateful.”
—Deanie Yasner
New Hope, PA
Essie Rose’s Revelation Summer, Golden Alley Press, August, 2019
“Finding Room for Teddy,” Highlights High Five Magazine
“It’s Bubble Time,” Highlights Hello Magazine
“Fish Stew for Two,” Ladybug Magazine

“In my book (pun intended!), Esther is worth her weight in gold. She took my manuscript from dream to reality. Esther grasped my vision, provided her wonderful expertise and cheered me on every step of the way! She is a teacher, mentor and friend who helped me find what was deep in my heart and tell my story.”
—Maureen Valvassori
Glencoe, IL
A IS FOR AMBROSE: The A to Z of an Amazing Saint, Watering Can Productions, 2019

“Getting from great idea to published author is a hard slog. For me, the journey would never have happened if it weren’t for Esther. She read my first draft and told me I was a rock star…right before she told me how to redo it all, correctly! And she was so right. Indeed, every bit of advice she’s given me—and there’s been a lot—has been golden. She’s been a genuine and enthusiastic cheerleader, supporter, coach, and advisor. Not only is she a truly lovely person, she knows her stuff. If you’re struggling with next steps, you couldn’t be in better hands than Esther’s.” 
—Malayna Evans
Oak Park, IL
Aria Jones and the Guardian's Wedja, Month9Books, 2020
Jagger Jones & The Mummy’s Ankh, Month9 Books, 2019

—Justin Benton
MOONSHINE, Calkins Creek/Boyds Mills Press, Fall, 2019
Testimonial to come

“Esther is the kind of coach who cares about people. She is very knowledgeable about the children's book industry. I had a session with her to understand the form of picture books. That single session gave me a deep appreciation of the picture book genre. I recommend Esther’s services to any writer who needs guidance on the long road to becoming a published author.”
—Samuel Narh
Columbus, OH
Maisie’s Scrapbook, Lantana Publishing, 2019, UK. and U.S.

Coach Book Covers

“It isn't an exaggeration to say that Esther has changed the course of my entire writing career! I stumbled across Esther's name in a SCBWI catalogue and reached out to pitch some story concepts and rough drafts. In the kindest way possible, she asked if I had anything else up my sleeve, so I sent her an outline for a nonfiction book about heroic cats throughout history. She pounced on that and assured me that nonfiction was definitely the genre I should focus on, and her encouragement inspired me to completely switch gears.
With Esther's constructive criticism and enthusiastic hand-holding via email and phone calls, we worked together to craft a nonfiction proposal that was accepted by an agent in Scotland (where I now live). My agent immediately sold it to Scholastic UK, and REBEL CATS! is scheduled to publish in the UK and Australia this fall and winter and in the US in September 2019. I've already signed a contract for a follow-up book called REBEL DOGS! and have a third nonfiction book deal with a publisher based here in Scotland. Three nonfiction book deals in the course of about six months, all because of Esther's savvy insights into my true strengths as a writer. Needless to say, I can't recommend her enough as a writing coach!”
—Kimberlie Hamilton
Aberdeen, Scotland
Rebel Cats! Brave Tales of Feisty Felines, Scholastic UK, Australia, US, 2018 - 2019
Rebel Dogs! Heroic Tales of Trusty Hounds!, Scholastic UK, Australia, US – 2019
Scotland’s Animal Superstars, Cranachan Publishing, UK

“Is Esther Hershenhorn immensely knowledgeable about the children's book industry?  Absolutely.  Is she knowledgeable about plot and character and theme and all that is literary?  Absolutely.  Can she spot problem areas in your manuscript and give you cogent suggestions on how to improve your story?  Absolutely.  Does she send you an array of impressive hand-outs you can refer to when she's not around to answer your questions? Absolutely! But you get something more than all that with Esther: you get someone who cares.  She cares about your story and she cares about you, the writer. Esther gives you encouragement when you doubt yourself and your story, empathy when things don't turn out like you had hoped, and she celebrates with you when things finally turn out right. Should you consider contacting Esther if you need help with your current writing project?  Absolutely!!”
—Karen Kulinski
Griffith, IN
The Medal with a Heart, M.T. Publishing, 2018
Rescuing Ivy, High Hill Press, 2015

“I met Esther over twenty years ago. We used to meet at Lincoln Park Zoo and talk about my manuscripts. Thanks to her advice, I was able to get Midnight and the Night Watchman published in Ladybug Magazine. Esther had wanted me to write it as a picture book, but I was so eager to get something into print, that I only took half her advice and wrote it as a short story. Many years later, I rewrote the story as a picture book, Kitten and the Night Watchman, and it's my debut book. It took me nearly two decades to catch up to Esther. I just finished one of her writing courses at the Newberry Library, the second time I took the course, and she is as boundlessly enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and positive as ever. Esther will encourage you until you succeed.”
—John Sullivan
Chicago, IL
Kitten and the Night Watchman, Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster, 2018
2019 Ezra Jack Keats Award

"I have a tendency to write in a vacuum because I travel a lot, and no  writing group wants a member who rarely shows up.  I'm up to twenty books now, and the only other writer I have ever gone to for feedback is Esther. . . and I've gone to her more than once.  Why?  She's smart, she's honest, and she's sincere.  I honestly believe it is not possible for me to want to make my stories better than Esther wants them to be.  She cares that much.  I give her name to people several times a month.  Those who are serious, call her."
—Steve Layne
St. Charles, IL
Play With Puppy, Pelican Press, 2018
Stay With Sister, Pelican Press, 2012
Share with Brother, Pelican Press, 2010
Love The Baby, Pelican Press, 2007

“It's important to believe in your work as a writer, and it's also important to have someone understand how personal writing is. Esther and I met once, but our meeting felt like catching up with someone, rather than meeting someone for the first time. I think the reason for this is that Esther came to our review session having digested my manuscript with the goal of helping me understand where my work fit into the larger spectrum of children's books. She wasn't trying to change my story. When I reached out with news of my first contract, Esther was genuinely thrilled for me, and gave me good advice on how to navigate the next steps. Esther is someone who encourages, reinforces, and is generous with her knowledge. It was a pleasure working with her."
—Zekieh Mohammed
Chicago, IL
A Girl Named October, Ripple Grove Press, 2019

Coach Book Covers

"Oh! My gosh! Where do I begin when it comes to Esther? Let me start by saying she is priceless when it comes to editing and brainstorming. I recall the many times I asked her question after question via email or on the phone regarding writing issues I had encountered. She never tired of answering them. Instead, she embraced me and helped me to work through them. Working with Esther has been an absolute pleasure. Her ability to transport you into her world of knowledge and expertise is beyond words. The world of editing is a better place with Esther Hershenhorn leading the way."
—Antionette Melendez
Patterson, California
Too Much MacTiggle
Splashing Cow Books, April, 2017

“Esther was undoubtedly the Prime Mover on my writing journey. She literally read three short sample paragraphs of mine and instinctively believed (way before I did) that I was a writer. She spent the next ten years encouraging, inspiring, instructing, motivating, and coaching me to cross the finish line. There were so many times she just refused to let me give up. And now my first Middle Grade Fiction chapter book is getting published. I think she's happier for me than I am. Now, after all this time, I realize what Esther really did for me. She simply gave me permission to be a hero - to write like a hero - to tell my tale of a hero. Thank you, Esther.”
—Joe Lawson
Imperial, MO
Tackling Tires
Splashing Cow Books, September, 2016

“Esther is an exceptionally talented coach for children's book writers. Known from the Oprah Winfrey Show as 'the girl who buried her dreams,' I knew my fans would want my picture book autobiography to inspire and motivate their children. Except, I had no idea how to write such a story! Not only was Esther reflective and insightful, she helped me bring my grandmother's traditional story-telling style to the book in a way that would resonate. As a first time writer, I stumbled and felt overwhelmed. Esther was generous with her time, she stood strong, cheered me to find my voice and tap into the depth of a story that would entertain and inspire readers to believe in themselves. In a million years I would never have found the courage to write a children's book in a manner my grandmother would have told it!!! Esther truly showed me Tinogona, 'it is achievable!'”
—Dr. Tererai Trent
Salinas, California
The Girl Who Buried Her Dreams in a Can, Viking Books for Young Readers, October, 2015

“Upon hiring Esther to edit Jack's Tales, I immediately gained an incredible editor, a writing coach, a mentor, an ally, and a publicist wrapped in one awesome package! Not to mention she is fun to work with, a genuinely inspiring person. I feel incredibly lucky to have found her! Esther is my game changer, and I told her that as long as I pursue a career in writing children's books, I'm not letting her go.”
—Jim Westcott
Rochester, NY
Jack's Tales, Splashing Cow Books, 2015

“Esther Hershenhorn is truly an awe-inspiring teacher, coach, and mentor. Esther believes in her students and energizes them to believe in themselves. She has transformed me from a fledgling children's writer to a published author. Esther encouraged me to continue my journey with endless help and guidance, as she does for all her students. Esther took me through the steps necessary to create a highly-recognized award-winning children's picture book. Her infinite amount of knowledge in the world of children's book writing and publishing is unsurmountable. She prepares information for her students that will be used for a lifetime. Esther's warmth, dedication, and unique energy are qualities that make her a consummate professional. She has a naturally addictive personality that makes her students wanting to come back for more. I would never be in the place I am today if it wasn't for Esther's genius in her field.”
—Maureen Stolar Kanefield
Chicago, IL
The Magic of Maxwell and His Tail, Magic Tale Press Inc., 2014

“Esther Hershenhorn is an absolute treasure and I can't thank her enough for all her help and advice with writing, publishing and marketing Let's Hear It For Almigal! Esther's knowledge and experience about every aspect of children's books is incredible. I originally reached out to Esther for writing guidance and editing, but not only did she help me create an adorable and engaging story, she also helped me tremendously in all the steps that followed, including marketing, school visits and web design. Esther's encouragement and enthusiasm were invaluable as I tackled something completely new and overwhelming. I couldn't have done any of this without her and I look forward to working with Esther on my next Almigal book.”
—Wendy Kupfer
Delray Beach, FL
Let's Hear It For Almigal, Handfinger Press, 2012
2014 SCBWI Spark Honor Award

Coach book covers

“Esther has been an amazing book coach.  She was full of ideas, suggestions and guidance when it came to my picture book manuscript.  Everyone needs a team when writing a book and I felt lucky to have Esther on my team.  She kept coming up with new ideas and has generously given of her time and expertise to Jake's Kindergarten Checkup."
—Dr. De Freitas
San Diego, CA
Jake's Kindergarten Checkup, Dr. Dee's Publishing, 2016

"I had the great opportunity to work with Esther for a couple sessions. As my coach she was very encouraging with the project overall. She asked great questions and shared very helpful, time-proven information. But most importantly she gentle nudged me to move from just sharing memories to telling a story that would grip the hearts of children and their parents.  On December 1st, 2015 my decade old dream came true. I REMEMBER FISHING WITH DAD was released. Since then sales have been great (it is currently being sold at 6 Coscto locations in the Seattle area). More importantly parents have told me that it is a story that grips the heart of their kids And theirs too! I included Esther in the dedication of my book to communicate how thankful I was for her coaching."
—Jason Dorsey
Redmond, WA
I Remember Fishing with Dad, Just Dust Publishers, 2016

“Esther is a writer's dream! I took Esther's picture book class at the Newberry Library and enjoyed her so much that I paid for a coaching session. Esther LOVES picture books and embraced my flawed manuscript with open arms. She gave my manuscript a lengthy review and helped make the story better, literally! I took a suggestion she made and wrote it into the manuscript---in my own words of course! Esther gave me confidence in telling "my" story and challenged me (with a huge smile on her face) to make the story more. "Can the stakes be higher? Can you raise the ante?" But she also gave solid publishing advice which, as a novice in all things writing, I gobbled up. She is an expert in the children's market and I feel very blessed to have her on my team!”
—Lisa Maggiore
Chicago, IL
Ava the Monster Slayer: A Warrior Who Wears Glasses, Sky Pony Publishing, Fall, 2015

“Esther's critique was pivotal in helping my story THREE LITTLE SHRIMP become a publishable children's picture book. After Hurricane Katrina I began to write the stories that had been stored away in my mind for years. Before getting THREE LITTLE SHRIMP published, I decided to have it professionally proofread just in case I had missed something grammatically. I found Esther and made arrangements to have my manuscript edited. I just knew she would think the same thing about my story as everyone else did ” that it was awesome! When she returned it a few weeks later, I was dumbfounded! My 'perfect' story needed work! As I read through the thoughts and suggestions Esther had made, I realized that I had done the right thing by sending it to her. In our conversations, I felt Esther was on my side and that she was truly interested in the success of my story. I never once felt pressure to make changes or additions to any part of the manuscript. I listened to her comments and suggestions, then made the changes I felt necessary.”
—J. Steven Spires
Graetna, Louisana

Three Little Shrimp, Inspired Books, 2013
The Oak Tree, Inspired Books, 2015

“Esther served as my mentor in the 2009 SCBWI Nevada Mentorship Program and worked with me over a period of six months as I revised a YA novel-in-verse. Esther deftly helped me navigate my own novel. Her keen ability to zero in on the heart of a story is a true gift. Her guidance enabled me to tackle revision in a systematic and effective way. She helped me track the emotional development of my main character, heighten themes, and strengthen my verse writing to better speak to my YA audience. Esther helped me polish my work so that it was agent ready, and I shall always be grateful”.
—Holly Thompson
Kanagawa, Japan
Orchards, Delacorte, 2011
The Wakame Gatherers, Shen 's Books
Ash, Stone Bridge Press

“Esther is one of a kind! She is a professional, knowledgeable, and incredibly supportive writing coach, as well as an enthusiastic and ever-encouraging mentor. She provided me with such a thorough critique, it was obvious that she had spent a good deal of time with my story, detailing what was working, and making spot-on suggestions for those parts that still needed work. Esther's critique was pivotal in helping my manuscript become a publishable picture book! When she says that she is in the Hope business, I would definitely agree. But I would also like to add, that my first picture book from Penguin/Putnam is proof that she is in the Success business as well.”.
—Laura Murray
N. Virginia, Washington D.C., Maryland
The Gingerbread Man Loose in the School, G.P. Putnam's Sons, 2011
The Ginger Bread Man Loose on the Fire Truck, G.P. Putnam's Sons, 2013

Coach Book Covers

"If it wasn't for the coaching I received from Esther, I would have never been able to finish my book. She offered me tremendous insight and valuable feedback. Esther helped me shape my vision and I say, 'Thank you, Esther!' "
—Fatima Ruiz, M.S.
Sacramento, CA
Zafu's Quest, Lotus Child, December, 2014

“Esther Hershenhorn, as a coach, instructor and mentor, is an invaluable resource for writers. From story conception and development to marketing and publishing, her deep knowledge, sage advice and ongoing encouragement help bring a wide range of books to life. As I worked to bring my own middle grade literary fiction to the digital market and highlight the wonder of the new WeJIT technology, Esther was and is a constant source for ideas to get my story into the hands of educators, librarians and readers. Her insight sparks the imagination and effectively bridges the gap between actual writing and the business of selling your book.
—Cindy H. Garbutt
Chicago, IL
Black Pool: A Jack Flynn Adventure, Vook, 2013

“The first time I spoke with Esther, I knew I was in good hands. She is not only a scholar of children's literature and a successful children's book author, but an extraordinary teacher. Esther was genuinely excited to discuss my manuscript and provided thorough and thoughtful feedback that dramatically improved the quality of my work. I am extremely grateful to have Esther as my writing coach and I recommend her services without reservation.”
—Larry Phifer
El Paso, Texas
The World On A String, 2013

“I first experienced Esther's magic at a writers' retreat. I can't imagine a better ambassador for the world of children's literature. She is an expert teacher who has a genuine passion for helping writers develop their craft. As a writing coach, Esther has been an invaluable guide, editor, and advocate whose advice and encouragement set me on the right path to getting my first book published. Esther's contagious enthusiasm and professional wisdom inspires a writing journey as rewarding as the destination.”
—Claudia Friddell
Baltimore, MD
Goliath: Hero of the Great Baltimore Fire, Sleeping Bear Press, 2010

“Allow me to follow the theme of Esther's website welcome letter — 'Lucky ME' to have worked with Esther many times over the course of my writing career. She has so many gifts to share with both new and experienced writers. Her extensive knowledge about the marketplace will help you understand how your story might find a home. She'll provide a professional manuscript critique, including a thorough assessment of what works well in your story. Importantly, she provides insight as to how you might re-VISION your manuscript, to help you see new possibilities that will improve and enhance your final version. Esther will encourage you and support you with practical advice which will help you reach your goals. If you are on the fence about whether to work with Esther, let me strongly recommend that you don't miss this opportunity to feel 'lucky, too' and work with this amazing writer and coach. '
—Eileen Meyer
Clarendon Hills, IL
Who's Faster? Animals on the Move, Mountain Press Publishing, 2012
Ballpark, Two Lions, 2014

Book Covers

“Esther Hershenhorn is a master teacher — that rare individual who inspires students to work harder than they believe they can, and still leaves them begging for more. She gave me the confidence to believe in my potential as both writer and illustrator. She encouraged me to slow down and revel in learning my new craft, rather than rushing to premature publication attempts; to take the time to be the best that I could be, not just adequate. And she still provides me with reading material and additional resources so I can continue learning on my own. Without Esther Hershenhorn's coaching, my journey to this point would have taken years rather than months. Her coaching — always professional, competent, thorough, and exceptionally caring — has been worth every penny I've spent investing in my beloved second career! I will continue to use her excellent services because Esther's knowledge, like good wine, should be sipped, not guzzled.”
—Nancy Ellen Walker, PhD, MLS
Traverse City, MI

“Esther is 100% in the moment with me and demands the same from me. I have found her to be generous with her time, suggestions about time management and the writing life, and the nuts and bolts of the process of getting a book published. Her coaching encourages excellence, and her support shows me ways to be flexible and to deal with the inevitable obstacles a writer encounters.”
'Susan Youdovin
Chicago, IL

Book Covers

"If we are lucky enough, most of us are taught early in life to recognize and appreciate our own natural 'gifts' and talents and see them in others. I am forever grateful to have witnessed and directly benefited from Esther Hershenhorn's gifts as a teacher, coach and mentor. Her energy and enthusiasm for the craft of writing and storytelling are authentic, tangible and, most importantly, inspiring. She may never know the full impact and impression she has made on the lives of the writers she has influenced. I only hope that these words offer her a glimpse. Thank you, Esther."
—PJ Gray
Chicago, IL
Coming Home, Saddleback Educational Publishing, 2013
Apartment 4A, Saddleback Educational Publishing 2014

"Esther is a gifted writer and teacher. We went looking for a Manuscript Doctor and found a friend to guide us on our journey. She never gave up hope and cheered us on around every bend. We cannot thank her enough for all the wisdom and continued support not only in getting the words right, but in the business end of it too."
—April Runge and Kim Diersen
Gordy and the Magic Diet, Special Kids Enterprises, 2012

“Esther Hershenhorn is what you would want in any editor - the perfect mix between Fairy Godmother and Drill Sergeant. She is nurturing and kind, and was quick to praise the strong points of my manuscript. However, she's also tough and honest with her comments. She pushed me not to be a lazy writer, and demanded that I dig deeper to fully develop every character and scene of my manuscript. She knows what she's doing; anyone looking for editorial assistance would be hard-pressed to find a better writing coach.”
—Varian Johnson
Austin, TX
Red Polka Dot in a World Full of Plaid, Genesis Press, 2005
My Life as a Rhombus, Flux, 2007

“From our very first meeting in a Starbucks in Chicago, Esther began to fuel me. She pushed me and worked with me giving me guidance, homework and space all at the same time for me to think it all through and soak it all in. She taught me tactics and strategies building layer upon layer of revision.  I could feel the story improving each step under her direction.  Esther believes that children deserve the very best story and that is exactly what she made me work for in Nico and Lola.  Esther believed in me all while bringing my writing to a whole new level.”
—Meggan Hill-McQueeney
Barrington, IL
Nico and Lola, HarperCollins, Spring, 2010

“I sought out Esther's coaching and editorial services because I wanted to really learn how to write a picture book. I have worked with her on two manuscripts now, and I am amazed at how she manages to live inside my stories so that she can really discern what works and what does not work. A lot of "tough love" goes into her detailed critiques that always begin with "know thy main character." All else flows from that premise. I am so grateful that I found her. She is a gift to any writer looking to turn a manuscript into the very best it can be. Ultimately, that is what will get it published.”
—Anne C. Bromley
Encinitas, CA
The Lunch Thief , Tilbury House Publishers, 2010

Book Covers

“Esther Hershenhorn is a qualified, caring, nurturer of the written word. She shed new light on my manuscript that led to rewrites that eventually led to a publishing contract. I appreciated her attention to detail as well as her ability to see the Big Picture. She will take your 'baby' and help it grow and develop into something even more beautiful.”
—Marcy Blesy
Bridgman, MI
Am I Like My Daddy?, Bronze Man Books, 2012

"Esther Hershenhorn came strongly recommended to me by children's author Bonnie Becker. I found Bonnie's high praise borne out IN SPADES. I came to children's book writing from years of making my living as a writer for film and television. I knew nothing about the contemporary children's market. Esther opened a whole new world for me. She is the rarest of gems: someone who can see into the story you are attempting to bring forth, and intuit what you need to do to enhance its telling. She has the gift to lift your spirits and focus on your accomplishments, while also zeroing in on exactly where you need to hone or re-conceptualize your work. I always come away from our consultation sessions feeling inspired, supported, understood, seen, appreciated, and most importantly, with a clear direction for my next draft. Esther does this with consummate confidence, and a great sense of humor. I am filled with gratitude, and continue to rely on Esther's judgment, inspiration, and support as I go forward with new projects and navigate the process of marketing my first two books. She is a true writer's angel!”
—Elizabeth Clark-Stern, M.A., L.M.H.C
Seattle, WA
"Out of the Shadows: A Story of Toni Wolff and Emma Jung", Genoa House, 2010
Soul Stories Safari to Mara, Genoa House, 2011
Aria of the Horned Toad

"Esther provided patience, clarity, encouragement and experience - all of which I was needing as I tried to fine-tune my first manuscript. Her objective eye gave fresh perspective to my book's message and helped me to gain some of that fresh perspective myself, thus trimming a bit of the fat and staying on point. Esther's energy and zeal is contagious, and after speaking with her I immediately dove straight into some of my revisions. I will definitely be working with her again when the manuscript for the second book in my I Want You to Know series is ready for her wise eyes"
—Kirk Jackson
I Want You to Know: The Wonder of God, 2012

"Esther Hershenhorn is a marvelously inspired and experienced published author, Her keen sense of story and knowledge of young readers have luminously guided my ownwriting and instilled the confidence that I will find a publisher formy series of Brother Linus books. She is encouraging and genuinely positive throughout the writing process. A wise choice!!"
—Reverand Dr. James W. Kelly, OFM
Springfield, IL

"Esther has become my Fairy Wordmother. She has sprinkled my words and me with her wonderful 'manuscript magic' by sharing her knowledge, support and encouragement. And though I have always been a writer, I am now a confident writer. Since working with Esther I have applied for and have been accepted into a writing mentorship and had a very favorable critique at the recent LA SCBWI conference."
—Lisa Hallett
Boulder City, NV

"Esther Hershenhorn understands writers because she is a writer herself. As an editor, she has a keen awareness of all the moving parts of a story from the big picture to small details. Boot Camp Babysitter is the first of a series and Esther gave me critical input about laying the groundwork for going forward with the next books. She gently challenged me to refine my story for clarity and continuity. Esther passionately roots for her writers and just as passionately roots for the children who will be reading our work."
—Carol Casey
Atlanta, GA
Bootcamp Babysitter, Dear Baby Books, 2013

Book Covers

“Esther believed in my efforts and connected me to the two people who would change the course of my pursuit to write a children's book. Her coaching led me to tell the story of my family's 107-year history with food and the great city of Chicago. Esther played a pivotal role in coaching me to write The Berghoff Family Cookbook and for that I am grateful. What a gift she has been in my life!”
—Carlyn Berghoff
Chicago, IL
The Berghoff Family Cookbook: From Our Table to Yours,
Celebrating a Century of Entertainment
, Andrews McMeel, 2007

“Esther is a writer, a teacher, and a friend. She embodies the spirit of the consummate writer for children: she is creative, generous, caring, entertaining, talented, and sincere. Esther makes herself available until those who seek her counsel learn how to walk on through. She is a rare commodity; a writer who can teach and a teacher who can write. Anyone who reads her books or attends her presentations will consider her a friend.”
—Liz Hockinson
Novato, CA
Marcello the Movie Mouse, KO Kids Books, 2006

“Esther recognized my vulnerability as a new writer. She was terrifically gentle as she taught me two fundamental now laughablepoints. She said, 'You need to have a story to tell (i.e. a plot) and you need to have active (i.e. speaking) characters.' Of course! To this day, I appreciate that Esther was able to clearly and kindly point me in the right direction.”
—Charlotte Cowan, M.D.
Cambridge, MA
The Little Elephant with the Big Earache, Hippocratic Press 2004

“Upon reading your critique, you will immediately realize that Esther digs deep into your story - each word. With this understanding in hand, she then offers a clear list of options for the writer to begin the editing process. Her suggestions/ideas for telling the story always lead back to the original purpose/meaning of the story itself. With Esther Hershenhorn's help, I am more able to shape my final 'art' to the best form it can be. The value-added coaching service comes in the form of her deeply, sincere encouragement - for the story and the writer. This quality is evident throughout her critiquing process and one reason I continue to seek out/rely on her help. She is a professional - timely and reliable. Her service has proved to provide a significant return on my overall writing investment.”
—Christopher Perry
Fayetteville, NY
The Voice of the Climbing Rose: A Tribute to Caregivers, Centerpeace Press, 2003

“Working with Esther Hershenhorn is one of the best ways a writer can improve his or her craft. Esther has the unique gift of respecting your voice without imposing her own point of view. Her insightful questions jump start your creative process and her sensitive comments are the catalyst for change. Drawing on her background as teacher, writer, editor, she thoughtfully compiles an adjunct reading list with your specific writing needs in mind. Engaging in a dialogue of ideas with Esther is a truly empowering experience. With unflagging enthusiasm, she encourages one to forge ahead with confidence and focused intention. I strongly believe that hiring Esther Hershenhorn as your Writing Coach could make the difference between getting another 'good rejection letter' or your finally nailing it with a contract!”
—Mimi Chapra
Philadelphia, PA
Amelia's Show-and-Tell Fiesta, HarperCollins 2003
Sparky's Bark, HarperCollins, 2006

“Esther is a great editor (or critiquer.) Her comments and valuable insight led me to re-write my story, Whistler's Stump. Without her advice I'm sure I wouldn't have been one of only two U.S. authors on Bloomsbury's first U.S. list.”
'Debbie Dadey
Whistler's Hollow, Bloomsbury, 2004


Return to the Top