Attendees to an SCBWI conference often consider submitting material for a critique. Is it worth the extra money?  Will the advice and comments they receive be worth possibly missing part of a session while you talk with the agent, editor, or writer who critiqued your manuscript? Here’s a comment we received from Kerry Aradhya, whose ms was critiqued at a previous conference:

During a critique at our 2009 summer conference, I was paired with a local author who recommended several ways to improve my manuscript and suggested I try submitting it to Sylvan Dell Publishing. Just before the holidays, the editor at Sylvan Dell let me know that it was one of about 30 manuscripts she was still considering for 10 slots in her 2011 list. In the end, it didn’t make the cut, but I got oh so close to my first picture book contract. I thank my critiquer for this encouraging experience, and I will definitely use this service again!

Speaking for myself, I’m published, but that (sadly) doesn’t open editors’ doors automatically.  I had a NF picture book I thought was pretty good, but it got no traction with editors.  So I gambled at the 2009 conference and had a critique.  The agent told me that the story would be better suited if I fictionalized it.  I truly prefer to write NF but, after a lot of thought, decided to re-write it as she suggested.  A publisher liked my query and it is now under consideration.

Moral of these two tales:  Critiques can help.

AND –Whether aspiring or well published writer, you now have four additional days to take advantage of a critique opportunity (and not regret you didn’t).  See the registration form for specifics and send to Naomi (writers) or Susan (illustrators) now.  Even if you’ve already registered.

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3 Responses to

  1. Danelle Witte says:

    My first critique was with an author who had a lot of experience under her belt. She not only made suggestions on improving my work, but gave me the name of an editor who liked the kind of writing I do. The editor did like the manuscript(and I did revise with my critiquer’s suggestions first!), but after hurdling the editorial committee and a year of back and forth–the book didn’t get picked up. But I felt I got my money’s worth from this critique.

    Another critique with an author who only had one book to her credit was disappointing. I felt cheated at being given a critique by someone who had only slightly more experience than myself and her area of writing was not the same genre as mine. Her critique offered me little more than another read-through on my part would’ve revealed. Lesson learned: if I can’t choose which critiquer I’d prefer, I won’t spend the money.

  2. I’m very sorry to hear of your negative experience. You don’t mention the date, but I assume a conference in our region. I can tell you that the agents, writers, and editors who will be reading material for the March 6th conference are well qualified. If you are seriously concerned with your critique or any other aspect of the conference, please talk to a member of the planning committee before you leave or complete the feedback form. We don’t want anyone driving home angry! We may not be able to make a change–or we may be able to in the future.

    • Danelle Witte says:

      Hi Mary,
      No, the negative experience wasn’t in our region. I did leave a feedback note with the planners at that conference to let them know the reasons for my disappointment.
      Danelle Witte

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