Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

2023 Conference Critique FAQ

We’re thrilled to offer critiques and portfolio reviews with our brilliant faculty members at the 2023 Writers & Illustrators Working Conference.

NOTE: If you read our email that said the critique deadline is March 18, that is wrong. The deadline is March 25. We apologize for any inconvenience.

We believe in working on craft as much as possible, so we highly recommend getting feedback. Getting a critique or portfolio review from a more experienced and established author/illustrator, editor or agent can teach you things you will be able to use in all your future writing. And it can make the difference in polishing your manuscript before you send it out to agents and editors for consideration. Read this article by author Erin Heger about Why Author Critiques Can Be a Career-Maker.

Critiques and portfolio reviews cost $50 and should be requested when you register. Critiques and portfolio reviews are in person during the conference on Saturday this year as they have been in past in-person conferences. Each critique or review is 10 minutes. If you want to add a critique or portfolio review after you have registered, please email Regional Advisor Samantha M Clark.

All critiques are curated. You will have the option to request up to three (3) faculty members when you submit your form. We try our hardest to honor all the requests as much as possible. Reading the bios of the faculty is a great way get a feel of who would be the best fit for your work.

Manuscripts that are critiqued are automatically eligible for Austin SCBWI’s Cynthia Leitich Smith Writing Mentor Award. If you would prefer not to be included in the award, please note that when you submit your pages.

See the FAQ to answer your questions or scroll down for how to submit your manuscript or dummy



What is critiqued?

Novel, graphic novel, chapter book and early reader critiques are for the first 10 pages of your manuscript.

Picture book critiques are usually for the full manuscript; however, if the picture book is longer than 10 properly formatted pages, you will submit only the first 10. (Please note: Each critique is for only one (1) manuscript. If your picture book manuscript takes up only five pages, you may NOT submit another manuscript to get to 10 pages.)

Dummy critiques are for your full dummy. Please see below for more details.


When should materials be submitted?

For all manuscripts and dummies, you will submit your materials by March 25th to the conference to give your critiquer time to prepare their feedback. Scroll down for instructions.


When do the critiques take place and how long will they be? 

All critiques are in person at the conference and will take place on Saturday.  If you are planning to do a critique, you must sign up for Saturday in-person or full conference in-person.  Each critique will be 10 minutes. Please note that your critique might take place during breakouts or keynotes. This is necessary because of our tight schedule. Please make sure you’re at the critique area at least 5 minutes before your critique so you don’t miss it. Missed critiques may not be rescheduled and will not be refunded.


What happens in your critique or portfolio review? 

During your 10-minute one-on-one meeting, you will review the notes of the Critiquer for your manuscript or dummy.  They will have read and made notes about your pages prior to the conference. It’s a time to ask questions and to take in the context of the notes from the Critiquer.

Remember, the Critiquer is here to help you take your work to the next level. If you feel the Critiquer didn’t understand some aspect of your manuscript or dummy, do not use this time to defend your work. Instead, listen to what the Critiquer has to say and ask questions that will help with your future work.


Who will critique my work?

At Austin SCBWI, we do curated critiques where we match manuscripts and portfolios with the best faculty member. We have a committee who looks at every submission and creates the best match. This means, you’ll get a quality critique with a faculty member who’s best suited to helping you take your work to the next level.


Why can’t I choose who will critique my work?

In the past, critiques have sold out in a matter of seconds, and, in their haste to get a critique, some attendees signed up for faculty members who weren’t a good match (for example, sending a picture book to a faculty member who doesn’t work on picture books). For these reasons we moved to curated critiques at our conference, and the shift has meant that every attendee can get the best critique for their work.


Can I request a specific faculty member?

Yes, you can. When filling out the online critique submission form, you will have the opportunity to list up to three (3) faculty members. While these will be taken into account, we cannot guarantee that you will get one of your choices. However, you can rest assured that our committee will work hard to match your submission with the best faculty member. We want you to succeed! If you request a faculty member, we highly recommend you research the faculty BEFORE you submit your materials. Make sure you request a faculty member who critiques your types of manuscript. Reviewing the faculty choices is important to find the right fit for your work.


How do you decide which faculty member will critique each submission?

Austin SCBWI has a committee of experts dedicated to looking at every manuscript and dummy matching them with the best faculty member. Assignments are made based on faculty preferences (i.e. MG manuscripts will go to a faculty member who knows MG books well), quality of the work (i.e. whether it’s ready for an agent or an editor or whether a critique with one of the authors on our faculty will help get it ready for sub after the conference) and whether the creator is agented (that information is taken during registration). Since our faculty have limited critique slots, preference will also be given to early registrations as well as SCBWI members. Please note, everyone who purchases a critique will get matched. If slots for, say, picture books fill up, we will bring in extra faculty do the remaining critiques.


Can I sign up for more than one critique and/or review?

Yes! When you register, you’ll have the option to choose a critique for a variety of categories, including MG, YA, PB, chapter book/early reader, graphic novel, or dummy. You may choose one or more categories, and up to three (3) critiques within the same category, four (4) for picture books. If you choose, say, a PB critique, you’ll then have the opportunity to choose a second PB critique. And if you choose a second PB critique, you’ll have the opportunity to choose a third PB critique. The same goes with every category. If you would like to add a more critiques than are available in any category, please email Regional Advisor Samantha M Clark. Please read our Conference FAQ for more.


When will I know my critiquer(s) and critique time(s)?

You’ll receive the name of your critiquer(s) and your critique time(s) when you pick up your badge at registration Saturday morning at the conference. All the information will be on the back of the badge.


Can I add a critique after I’ve registered?

Yes, however, changes to your registration must be handled manually. If you have already registered for the conference, please email Regional Advisor Samantha M Clark to add a critique. Please read our Conference FAQ for more.


What if I have to cancel?

Critiques can only be canceled before the March 25 submission deadline. Please read our Conference FAQ for more.



All critique materials MUST be submitted VIA THIS FORM by 11:59 p.m. CST on March 25, 2023.

What to Submit for a Manuscript Critique

Critiques are for the first 10 pages of your manuscript, or your full manuscript in the case of a picture book that’s shorter than 10 pages.

Manuscript pages must be submitted as a Word doc formatted correctly to the industry standard, including:

• typed with black ink on 8 1/2 x 11-inch white paper
• in a 12-point font that’s either Arial or Times New Roman
• double-spaced
• numbered consecutively
• and have margins that are 1-inch on each side of the paper.

For more information on how to correctly format your manuscript, look at SCBWI’s From Keyboard to Printed Page.

For novels, you may include one additional page with a brief synopsis. This page will not be critiqued but it allows the critiquer to get a better idea of your story. The synopsis can be single-spaced, but keep it brief! Think book jacket copy. You want just enough information to introduce the critiquer to your story and what you’re trying to do.

Name your file in this format: CATEGORY_KEYWORD FROM YOUR TITLE_YOUR NAME.doc, where category would be one of: BB (board book), PB (picture book), ER (early reader), CB (chapter book), GN (graphic novel), MG (middle grade) or YA (young adult). For example: Samantha M Clark’s The Boy, The Boat, and The Beast could be MG_BEAST_SAMANTHAMCLARK.doc

For any other questions on format, email Assistant Regional Advisor Lindsay Leslie.

What to Submit for a Dummy Critique

Author/illustrators, save your picture book dummy (pictures and text in the book’s layout) as a .pdf with a maximum file size of 10MB.

Double-page spreads are recommended (i.e. each single page in the pdf would show the two facing pages of the spread of your book).

Up to three fully illustrated and colored spreads are standard, with the rest of the dummy being pencil sketches. If you’ve only got one finished spread, that’s ok. If the entire book is finished out, that’s OK too.

Name your file in this format: DUMMY_KEYWORD FROM YOUR TITLE_YOUR NAME.pdf For example: Lindsay Leslie’s DUSK EXPLORERS could be DUMMY_DUSK_LINDSAYLESLIE.pdf

For any other questions on format, email Illustrator Coordinator Laura Fisk.

How to Submit Pages for a Manuscript or Dummy Critique

Once you have your .doc for a manuscript or .pdf for a dummy ready in accordance with the instructions above, submit via this FORM

If you have multiple critiques, fill out the form for each critique separately. Do NOT include materials for multiple manuscripts or dummies in one form submission.