SCBWI's Blueboard - A Message & Chat Board

Writer's Room => Picture Books (PB) => Topic started by: Stacey on May 17, 2020, 01:18 PM

Title: Paid critique services
Post by: Stacey on May 17, 2020, 01:18 PM
Hi there,

Has anyone used a paid critique service they would recommend? I know I could join a critique group but I am not a full-time writer (I'm a pediatrician) and I don't think I have the bandwith to be part of a regular group. This may not be entirely rational but I am also hesitant to post my work on a forum.  I'm specifically looking for someone with expertise in PB for the 0-3 age range.  Any recommendations for a trusted person to do a critique are greatly appreciated!

Title: Re: Paid critique services
Post by: JodyJS on May 17, 2020, 03:12 PM
Hi Stacey,

I critique PBs. You can look at my website to verify my experience with them and to contact me,

Title: Re: Paid critique services
Post by: Debbie Vilardi on May 17, 2020, 06:45 PM
Stacey, 0-3 is more board book than picture book. If you look at the 12x12 group, I bet you'll find PB experts there who critique. Harold Underdown is also good. (I have not paid for a critique personally.

Critique group can be very flexible and some meet monthly or work online where you have a certain commitment. It depends on the group. One reason I strongly advise a group is that you'll need to pay again once you've made edits to see if they are working unless your book is as far along as possible. I use my crit groups until we are all certain the work is perfect, and then I attend a first pages sessions or get a paid critique at a conference, which will almost always lead me to taking revisions back to my crit group.  But I do get the money vs. time concern; it's all in which you have more of to spend.
Title: Re: Paid critique services
Post by: DianaM on May 17, 2020, 07:20 PM
Paid critiques can be great but either way, I highly recommend you either get into a small critique group or find one or two partners to exchange with. Multiple people exchanging together is generally better because then you can see what other people think about manuscripts that aren't your own. That can be eye-opening. In addition, when YOU critique someone else's work (especially frequently), that tremendously improves your own revision skills.

There are lots of people who have day jobs in addition to writing, btw.

Finally, it is extremely common for new writers to feel paranoid about sharing work. I felt the same way when I started out (around 2007). I was worried about someone stealing my ideas. But honestly? You kind of have to get over it. I've seen people in my critique group write about the exact same concepts and the end products still come out totally differently. That's because it's all about your unique voice and execution.

Long story short, if you pay for a critique, I'm sure you'll find it very useful. I'm not discouraging that. But a critique group will benefit you more in the long-term.
Title: Re: Paid critique services
Post by: RebeccaL-G on May 18, 2020, 10:28 AM
Echoing what Diana said. If you're only looking at getting one manuscript in shape ever--then maybe a paid critique is the way to go. But the advice you receive will only work on that one revision. To get a manuscript submission ready, it can take several dozen rounds of revision--even for a board book. If you're looking at writing for the long term then you really need to be part of a critique group. A paid critique informs you of one person's opinion on how to make your writing better. Being part of a critique group and learning to give critique yourself will inform you how to make your own writing better and help you grow your craft. 
Title: Re: Paid critique services
Post by: Vijaya on May 18, 2020, 01:04 PM
Stacy, I also critique PBs. See: but I always encourage clients to first explore working with a critique group because you learn so much from both giving and receiving critiques. I realize you might not have time for that right now, but do consider it for the future. All the best getting your ms ship-shop-shape.
Title: Re: Paid critique services
Post by: Stacey on May 18, 2020, 04:34 PM
Thanks everyone! I appreciate all of the good advice and insights. If I go the critique group route, any words of wisdom of how to find one that's a good fit? The PB critique groups in my local SCBWI chapter are all closed for new members. Anyone have luck posting on the critique forum here? Or tried Inkedvoices?
Title: Re: Paid critique services
Post by: Vijaya on May 18, 2020, 05:56 PM
Stacey, it can take some time to find the right fit but it's worth the effort. I'd say beware of anybody who's too forceful in their opinion of what your story should be or if they want to be a co-author (lol, this has happened to me). What's wonderful is the free exchange of ideas. Trust builds with time and I'd say, follow your gut. You have a vision for your story. Trust it. If there's advice that resonates, take it. If not, toss it. Good luck, V.
Title: Re: Paid critique services
Post by: JodyJS on May 18, 2020, 06:03 PM
Stacey, I found my first PB critique group on the blue boards, and we’re still going strong! That was a million years ago. I also have awesome in-person critique partners. Good luck!
Title: Re: Paid critique services
Post by: Debbie Vilardi on May 18, 2020, 06:23 PM
Keep up with your local chapter because new people may join or other groups may shift. I've been running a local group one Sunday morning a month for years, but there have been more than 25 members over time. People have retired and moved, had family issues come up, changed day jobs, and adopted babies. There is flow to it.

I moderate the crit forum here and have posted to it. (Anything else would be hypocrisy.) There are some great critiquers who show up. You can also post a request for a crit partner or answer one, as Jody suggested. I actually often go from my local groups (okay, so I belong to two others too) to the boards and then to paid pages. I'm not paying for anything I can get for free, but having someone with more industry knowledge is very helpful as you reach completion of a project. (First page sessions also open doors that may be closed otherwise since you can often submit thereafter.)
Title: Re: Paid critique services
Post by: DianaM on May 18, 2020, 07:31 PM
I met all my writing friends and got into my current critique group via the SCBWI discussion boards and the Verla Kay boards (they were separate back then). It takes a while to figure out who you get along with and who you like working with. People have very different styles of critiquing.

You can use the critique area of this board to try exchanging with a few people and see who you mesh with.

I used to post full manuscripts on the scbwi exchange boards back in the day and found it very helpful. I met some critique partners that way, too. Over a decade later, I'm still working with some of them!

I've also seen people form critique groups through online writing events and contests (on twitter and various blogs) or Facebook groups.

Scroll to the bottom of this post for some more ideas of where to look:

And if you're looking for paid crits, Jody and Vijaya are both really solid choices! When you're starting out, you usually end up exchanging with other people who are just starting out. That's the thing. So sometimes it's beneficial to get direction from someone with more experience.

It's a long journey but lots of fun! Best of luck!!!