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Are paid picture book critiques worth it?

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hiya, I just posted my experiences with 3 different professional critique services on my blog (, with Writersadvice, with Deborah Halverson and with our own Verla Kay. I'm also pasting my experience with Verla down here. For my experience with the others, feel free to have a look at the above link :-)

The third feedback I received, was from Verla Kay. Verla was lovely. Really. She took a little longer over my stories due to personal circumstances, but it definitely was worth the wait. Like Deborah, she gave me first some general feedback on my story and then, she attached a line-by-line edit. Verla put her finger clearly on the different problem zones in my story, but at the same time, she took the trouble to also pinpoint exactly which words or ideas she found well-found. The result was that after her feedback, I felt brimming with energy to rework my stories. One of the stories I had asked Verla to work on was about a little girl coping with the death of her mother and I think it was really a difficult job, but Verla’s very specific and concrete suggestions to rework the text were stellar.  For me personally, it was great having someone really work line by line, giving me specific suggestions for EACH line where she felt something was off. I also felt as if Verla was the type of person that assessed your story within its own style and worth. She currently charges from 50usd on, depending on wordcount. The combination of general feedback and detailed line-by-line edit, makes that all in all, Verla’s advice was very valuable to me.
#31 - November 12, 2011, 09:34 AM

I'm an independent editor when I'm not running The Purple Crayon, and I give PB critiques to clients on my own and at conferences I'm speaking at. In both cases, I try to give the writer comments that will help them see their manuscript as an acquiring editor or agent might see it, and suggestions for improvement.

I think my critiques are worth it, as are the critiques of others in the list that the SCBWI maintains of manuscript consultants and book doctors (can't remember the exact name of it), which is available to members.

However, if you haven't gotten as far as you can on your own and/or with the help of your critique group, you won't get as much out of the comments as you will if you HAVE. I actually turn down a sizable portion of the people who approach me for PB critiques for this reason. So try to hold off on this route until you are absolutely sure you are ready.
#32 - November 12, 2011, 01:34 PM
Harold Underdown

The Purple Crayon, a children's book editor's site:

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Sorry I didn't see these new posts until now...I've been totally engrossed with writing projects, PiBoIdMo, family life... Thanks so much to Wonky, Janischa, and Harold U for posting your comments. Thanks, Janischa for sharing your details. Thanks, Harold, for your wisdom. I do belong to a wonderful picture book critique group and value their comments the most!
#33 - November 28, 2011, 05:17 AM
Seasons of the Asian Pear Tree, Schoolwide Fall 2015
Girls Guide to Manners, Legacy Press Kids 2014
God Is So Good coloring book, Warner Press 2013

They can be helpful, eventually.

If you're in the beginning stages of the PB and are still ironing out the basic plot of your story then it's probably not worth it. You might have to make major changes which basically change the whole story, be asked to start over, or they'd critique it but then say it's not likely to sell. Although learning experiences, one has spent the money.

Like any critique - it all depends on what is received back - and you can't really tell how useful it would be till after the fact. A quality critique is a quality critique, free or paid... Also, it's still someone's opinion so there is that subjective element as well.

However, I would expect that they know more about the market than the average picture book writer... but again, anyone could figure this out too but it takes time and effort to see what's selling and what not. In a way, you're "spending" your time and effort rather than spending money.

After a couple of rounds of free friend workshops, then it might be something to look into.
#34 - June 27, 2014, 01:59 PM

I got a paid critique for two of mine. But I didn't get it till I had revised and revised my ms over 4 years, and gotten many online free critiques. I only got a paid one when I thought I absolutely loved where the work was currently at, and couldn't possibly do anything more with it. And then, the paid critique helped me get renewed confidence in my work. I would suggest you don't get one till you are at a point where you are satisfied with your work, and are looking to see if there is possibly any chance of making it even better.
#35 - June 30, 2014, 04:26 AM
Ten Sheep to Sleep; Simon's Skin

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I'm going to chime in here and agree with Nidhi. I do critiques and when the piece is polished, I can really help fine tune and get that manuscript up to the next level. But if you're a beginner, I'm so bogged down with grammar mistakes, pacing problems, and overall beginner problems that you're not using my knowledge efficiently. I have a few clients who only use me after their manuscripts have gone through lots of critiques in their critique group. Those are the best manuscripts I see and once we're finished (usually through one critique), they can feel confident about querying  an agent or submitting to an editor at a conference.
#36 - July 04, 2014, 03:06 PM

Brianna Bright Ballerina Knight series

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Chiming in late!
After working for years and perfecting the script and getting the go from the critique group, and other readers you exchange the manuscript with, I think professional critique is absolutely invaluable before submission. No matter what your critique group says, you need someone totally new to take a look at the manuscript before sending it out. The process is absolutely invaluable.

Pam gives fast and fantastic feedback!  :thanks2

Good luck!
#37 - July 06, 2014, 05:54 PM

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Hello! I am an experienced picture book editor and have been working as a literary consultant for the past few years. I decided to start doing this is because I am passionate about storyshaping and editing, but found that more and more editors and agents just want polished work to be submitted despite the fact that it is becoming increasingly challenging for in-house editors to offer the kind of editorial advice that authors/illustrators could expect in times gone by. They simply don't have the time! But I agree: check out the credentials of the person who you are asking to critique your work carefully. Good luck! You can find out more about me at:
#38 - July 07, 2014, 05:30 AM

Thank you, Rani!
#39 - July 07, 2014, 10:21 AM

Brianna Bright Ballerina Knight series

Princess Peepers
Multiplying Menace


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