Manuscript Critiques

Picture book authors hear this all the time. So many people assume that writing picture books is easy. It’s not. Creating a compelling story that resonates with both children and adults in 1,000 or less is incredibly challenging. A professional critique can make all the difference in making your manuscript polished and submission-ready. 



Who should consider a professional critique? 

The easy answer is “everyone”! Although I belong to a critique group, I often get professional critiques of my work, and it’s been invaluable. But if you need more specific reasons, here are a few:


 

  • If you’re new to picture book writing and need feedback from someone with
  • experience.
  • If you have a great story idea, but your manuscript isn’t coming together.
  • If your story has received multiple rejections from agents and/or editors.
  • If your word count is high, but you can’t bear to cut anything.
  • If you’re too close to your story and can’t see what might need to change.


Learn More

Interested in scheduling a critique or need more information regarding the process? 

Why should I hire you?

  •  I have experience writing both fiction and nonfiction picture books.
  • My books have received a number of awards, including the ALA Stonewall Award, the International Reading Association Notable Books for a Global Society Award, and the ForeWord Book of the Year Award.
  • I have experience giving professional critiques, particularly at SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) conferences.
  • I’ve taught a number of “how to write a picture book” workshops.
  • I’m well-versed in rhyme, meter, rhythm, story arc, character development, and plotting.
  • If your story contains LGBTQIA+ themes (particularly if you are not LGBTQIA+), that’s an area where I have specific expertise.

What to Expect from a Critique

 

I will give you a “big picture” perspective about your manuscript. Specifically, I will give you

feedback about:

  • whether your story “hooks” the reader
  • whether your plot is strong
  • whether your story arc works
  • whether your characters are likeable yet flawed, relatable, and well-developed.

I will also give you more specific, line-by-line feedback. Every manuscript is different, so these specifics will vary from one manuscript to the next. My feedback may address things like:

  • tense
  • point of view
  • awkward or clumsy writing
  • transitions
  • dialogue
  • action
  • active vs. passive voice
  • telling vs. showing
  • underlying tension
  • endings.

Some other things to expect:

 

  • I will give feedback about the marketability of your manuscript.
  • I will probably recommend mentor texts for you to read. These might be picture books about the same topic as your manuscript. They could be books that use a similar style as your manuscript (such as rhyme). I might ask you to look at picture books for the illustrations, or to see how the text and illustrations complement one another. Or I might encourage you to read craft-oriented books that teach specifics about picture book writing.

And, of course, I will tell you what I love about your story!

Critique Fees

 

If you are interested in receiving a professional critique from me, please e-mail me at pitman_g@yahoo.com. Please put CRITIQUE REQUEST in the subject line of your e-mail. Once I’ve received your request, I will send you a PayPal invoice. I will begin your critique once I’ve received payment. My turnaround time is usually two weeks or less.


My fees are:

$75 for a picture book manuscript of 1,000 words or less.

$100 for a picture book manuscript that is over 1,000 words.

$120 for a picture book manuscript (fiction or nonfiction) with extensive back matter.

$50 for a second review after you’ve completed a revision.


When submitting your manuscript, please use the format listed below:

  • Your manuscript should be in a Word document.
  • Contact information should be in the upper left corner, single spaced.
  • Include the word count under your contact information.
  • Use 1-inch margins.
  • Include a title in ALL CAPS halfway down the first page.
  • Double space your text.
  • Use a common 12-point font, such as Times New Roman.
  • Don’t include page breaks in your manuscript.
  • Keep illustration notes to a minimum.