Editorial Services

Karen E. Bender’s Personalized Editorial Services

I love teaching—it’s the natural outgrowth of my own writing process, and I enjoy helping students and clients realize their visions in their own writing. I work with students on individual stories, on novels in progress, and can offer detailed feedback on projects in any stage of development. 


I’ve taught creative writing to undergraduate and MFA students around the US and internationally, teaching at MFA programs including Hollins University, the University of Iowa, Chatham University, Warren Wilson College, Antioch University Los Angeles, and Tunghai University in Taiwan. I’m core Faculty at the low residency MFA program at Alma College, and am a mentor in SUNY Stonybrook’s Bookend program; I’ve also taught in the Iowa Summer Writers’ Festival, the Southhampton Writers’ Conference, for Catapult in New York and via Zoom for 1455 Literary Arts. I’ve also run private writing workshops, both in New York City and Sacramento. 

My editorial service is, first, a belief in the power of story and narrative, and the ways close reading and editorial feedback can help a student sharpen and improve a story. I believe deeply in the process of revision, and in the way a work deepens and grows and changes over drafts. I can work with clients on macro level issues—plot and architectural concerns in a story, finding ways to focus a narrative and make it more urgent. I also look at micro level issues–examining a work line by line, looking at sentences to evaluate whether they are clearly conveying your meaning to the reader. Writing is a conversation with other books, and I’ll connect you with other novels, memoirs, stories or essays that will inspire you and give you ideas for your own work. Working on a manuscript with a client is a collaborative process, and I’m happy to brainstorm possible ideas with you, helping you find the path you want to take for your manuscript.  I also help clients applying to MFA programs in creative writing, in either fiction or nonfiction. I am familiar with the MFA admissions process and can help sharpen your manuscript and personal statement and consult on programs that would be right for you. 

I’ve worked with students new to the writing process, as well published, award-winning writers. My editorial services can be tailored to whatever you are looking for as a writer–we can work on a single short story, or several stories, or chapters of a novel, or an entire novel. I’ve worked with high school students, retirees, students sharpening work for graduate work, MFA graduates who want to further improve their projects. I help students identify their vision for a story, understand what is working in their stories and novels, and steps to take to improve the work. As a writing instructor who has taught widely in the MFA world, I can offer MFA-level feedback, and can help students identify what is working in their manuscripts, work with them over drafts of a story or novel, and show them help the techniques that will improve their work.

Editorial Services:

Short story consult: A consult for writers working on a short story or essay. I’ll critique one short story or essay, up to 25 double-spaced pages, which includes line edits, an editorial letter and 1-hour talk via phone or Skype. The fee for this is $600.

MFA consult: A consult for writers applying to MFA programs in creative writing. I’ll critique a manuscript, up to 25 double-spaced pages, which includes line edits, an editorial letter and 1-hour talk via phone or Zoom. I’ll also read and edit your 500 word personal statement and offer suggestions for MFA programs that would best fit your needs. The fee for this is $600.

Novel/story collection consult: A consult for writers working on a longer project. I’ll critique your novel or story collection customized to what you need. If you need a macro, more plot-oriented read and critique, we can work on that, or I can do a more in-depth critique that involves a line edit, or both. All critiques involve an editorial letter and a Skype discussion to discuss your particular concerns in writing your novel or story collection. Check in with me for rates for a read for a longer manuscript.

All editorial services include handouts and materials that I use in my MFA courses.

Writing Coach: Need a guide to help you with your writing process or project on an ongoing basis? Regular coaching sessions can help you focus or outline a project or come up with a plan to write it. Coaching can be organized in many ways—you can send me work on a regular basis, you can check in with emails or scheduled calls to bounce ideas off me. I can also give you directed writing prompts to help you explore specific issues in a manuscript. As a coach, I can help you come up with a plan to you complete your project and be there for you along the way. Contact me for rates for coaching.

Writing Workshops: I have started offering weekend revision workshops! These workshops are conducted via zoom and run from 11 am to 4 pm EST. They are limited to 8 students. Students can send in a story or chapter up to 20 pages double spaced, and the weekend will involve critique and revision. I will also schedule individual conferences for students the following week. The fee for the workshop is $500. I’ll post upcoming dates for these workshops on the Events sidebar. Please email me with any questions!

Please email me at karenebender1@gmail.com for more information.


“Karen Bender was an essential guide during my formative writing years. She helped me push my short story characters further than I would have ever pushed them, and she even allowed me to workshop this story two times in class, so I was able to try out different techniques multiple times and see what stuck. A phenomenal writer, reader, and teacher.” –Garrard Conley, author of BOY ERASED, Riverhead Books

“Karen E. Bender is one of those rare teachers who, despite her incredible success, makes you feel like you are the most important person in her world when she is working with to you. This presence and care inspires her students to create the best work of which they are capable. Her insights into how texts work are incredibly keen; she knows how to dig into a piece of writing and figure out exactly what the writer is up to. She opens up her heart and her mind to her students, molding them not only into better writers but into better humans, into more eloquent, effective, and empathetic versions of themselves.” –Ellen Louise Ray, St. Albans Writer in Residence

“Karen E. Bender is an inspiration in and out of the classroom. Her enthusiasm is wonderfully contagious but also deeply rooted in her love for writing, which she takes seriously, along with her students, regardless of their experience or talent. I can honestly say I’ve never known a better teacher of creative writing.” Paul Matthew Maisano, author of BINDI, Lee Boudreaux Books/Little Brown

“Karen is the ideal adviser for an MFA consultation. She is kind, honest, generous, and amazingly insightful. She truly cares about helping aspiring writers, and I could not have asked for a better experience. With her advice on my manuscript and personal statement, I was admitted to my two top choice programs.” – former consulting client

“Karen Bender worked with my teen daughter, who wanted professional feedback on her writing.
My daughter loved Karen’s kind and enthusiastic lessons and thoughtful feedback and would come out of her sessions inspired and wanting more.
It’s an incredible gift for a young writer to be taken seriously, and Karen was just the right teacher – caring, kind, and able to find the right approach in her lessons.” – grateful parent