Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Monthly Meeting – February 2022: Regional Advisor Samantha M. Clark and Illustrator Coordinator Laura Fisk


“How to be Critique Ready” was the topic of our February Monthly Meeting. Regional Advisor Samantha M. Clark and our new Illustrator Coordinator Laura Fisk offered advice for both authors and illustrators ahead of this year’s SCBWI Austin Annual Conference.

Here are some highlights:

—Critiques provide perhaps the most useful information you need.

—Critiques combined with continued hard work can take you from seeking publication to getting published.

Reasons to Get a Critique

—To look at your work in new ways

—To find solutions to problems/to move forward if stuck

—To discover new tools and techniques

—To level-up your work

How to Prep for a Critique

For Writers:

—Decide which of your works is ready for feedback

—For paid critiques: make sure the faculty is a good match

—Make your pages the best they can be before the critique

—Revise your work

—Know what the opening pages should include (for novels)

—Check spelling

—Format your work properly (page size, font, spacing, etc.)

—Include a brief synopsis (as on a book jacket)

—Submit pages on time and correctly

For Illustrators:

—Entering your portfolio is free this year and online

—A great way to test the portfolio waters

—Include 8-10 cohesive pieces

—Consider including a dummy for critique

—If you are not sure if you are ready: think, “YES! I am ready!”

—Show fewer great works rather than extra “okay” works

—Only show pieces that bring you joy

—Focus on work you want MORE of, not on what you “should” have

—Focus on cohesiveness, organization, editing, and range

—Do your homework to make sure the professional who will critique your work is well-matched with you in terms of style and that you know what else that person has worked on

—Have your questions prepared in advance

Illustrator Dummies:

—Dummies are supposed to be rough and unfinished

—Focus on telling the story

—Images should be black and white sketches with 1-3 finished full-color pages and a full story at least 32 pages for picture books

— If you don’t have all these elements, still submit it so that you’ll have the opportunity to grow/progress your story

In the Critique

—Listen; don’t defend

—Ask if you may record the comments

—Take notes

Remember: YOU CAN DO IT!

—To feel bold: do the Superman pose

—To relax: think of puppies and kittens!