What would you say ya do here?

The-bobs1I was really excited when I joined SCBWI back in 2010. Because I’m an info junkie, one of the first things I did was to peruse the national and regional websites. I discovered there was a lot of great perks and services the society offers its members, such as; access to conferences at a reduced rate, informative blogs, forums that answer most any question you can come up with in regards to writing and illustrating for children and of course, critique group coordination. But what exactly does that last item really mean?

I have a confession to make, and in retrospect I guess it’s kind of poetic justice, I truly thought it was the job of the critique coordinator to actively search for critique groups for me to “audition”. You know, I give the coordinator info and sit back while they find me a group and if it happens to not be to my liking I pass and the coordinator keeps searching for me. I know – I’m awful right? Sure, when I look back now at my “noob” years I have an “Ohhhhhh” moment. But I didn’t know what I didn’t know and honestly I think my assumption probably wasn’t far off base of what others probably assume, and you know what? That’s totally fair because if no one has ever told you what it is we volunteers do in our chosen roles, then how are you to know?

So, I decided to take my posting time today to give you a run down of what it is I do as the Critique Group Coordinator for the MD/DE/WV region and what you can expect from me. To save time and ensure this post isn’t 10 pages long – I’m bullet pointing the items that I do and don’t do (which is tough because they come across as somewhat blunt and I would LOVE to spend 20 minutes talking about each one but yeah…)


  • Collect information from those looking for a critique group and input it into a database.
  • Collect information from active groups (membership status, location, genre, meeting dates/times) and input it into a database.
  • Cross reference information of those looking for a critique group with currently active groups in the members area.
  • Identify areas without critique groups and look for volunteers to run one.
  • Advise volunteers on how to set critique groups up (marketing, facilitation and so forth).
  • Answer questions and assist in troubleshooting for those leading critique groups.


  • Actively look for a critique group for you (I will send you information on groups in your area and it is up to you to contact them).
  • Create and run critique groups in all areas.
  • Attend members critique groups (while I may attend a group to assist if you are having some issues, I do not make a practice of attending all of the critique groups in the region).
  • Critique anyone’s manuscripts (please do not send me your work as I will delete it w/o opening the email – sorry I just don’t have the time to read everyone’s work!).

I’m sure I’ve probably missed some stuff but that’s the basics. I do want to take the time to mention that right now I’m focused on finalizing the database and having some discussion with those who’ve volunteered to run groups. Once that process is completed, I’ll pass on the info of those members looking for a group to those volunteering to lead and they will contact you. For those members who’re more rural and not near a group, I’ll send you info on other options you might want to explore. For those looking for an online group – I’m waiting to see what the new national SCBWI site might have to offer as a forum (the site be launching later this month).

Setting up the database has been a pretty big job as there are a LOT of you looking for a critique group! I love, love, love that but the process of organizing the data has taken a bit longer than I intended so I do apologize. I’m hoping to have all of you contacted in one form or another by the end of October and I thank you all for your patience!

PS: Bonus points to anyone who can tell me that movie this articles title came from… (Yeah I know – the image is a give away but still –  no cheating by going to Google!)


About Shelley Koon

Artist and author - visit me at my site listed below.
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