Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

2020 Houston SCBWI Virtual Conference Critique FAQ’s

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I really admire a certain Faculty member and would love their critique of my manuscript, but it is out of their stated genre and/or category. Can I send it to them anyway?
Please respect the time and talents of our critique faculty by providing only manuscripts which align with each individual’s stated genres.
What are the categories of children’s literature?
Children’s literature is often broken down into these broad groups, which are based on age and reading level:
Non-fiction (NF): All ages, length and complexity varies by age group

Picture Book (PB): 3 to 8 years of age

Chapter Book: 7 to 10 years of age

Middle Grade (MG): 8 to 12 years of age

Young Adult (YA): 12 years to adult

I am submitting a picture book manuscript, how many pages can I submit?
Authors of picture books can submit up to a ten (10) page manuscript. Most picture books will be well under this limit so as to allow submission of the full manuscript; however, if the manuscript is over the limit, please respect the time of our critique faculty by staying within the stated guidelines.
How can I make the most of my critique or portfolio review?
Decide what you want to accomplish in your consultation such as:
– Asking questions about improving your project

Getting suggestions for marketing

Asking for concrete tips to help you work through a particular problem

Be prepared
Bring a paper and pen for note taking.

Arrive early to the Zoom waiting room, appointments will not be extended if you are late.

Be prepared to discuss:


Target audience

Word count/number of chapters

How your story ends

What is unique about your story

– Depart graciously and promptly at the end of your critique

Remember to channel your most confident, gracious self; the critique faculty are there to help you. You may hear criticisms of your work and will need to accept them gracefully.

Although an editor, art director or agent may ask to see a complete/revised manuscript or portfolio at a later date, it is unlikely that you will sell a book just based on this meeting.

For further questions, email the Critique Coordinator.
Check out these helpful resources:
Cover/Query Letters How to Write a Cover Letter for Manuscript Submissions Query Letter Basics for the Children’s Book Market
How to Format Your Manuscript From Keyboard to Printed Page

Tips on Writing a Synopsis How to Write an Easy Synopsis How to Write a Novel Synopsis How to Write a Synopsis Agents Will Notice
Picture Book Dummy Wendy Martin Makes a Dummy Picture Book Dummy, Picture Book Construction: Know Your Layout Make a PDF Book Dummy the Free, Easy Way Free Picture Book Thumbnail Templates for Writers and Illustrators Picture Book Dummy Part 1- Making the Dummy Book