I have been working towards polishing three picture book manuscripts and decided it was time for one of them to be critiqued. I’ve come to a point where I’m questioning everything I write and I feel like it’s been bogging me down a bit.  So I reached our to a critique group with members of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) to which I am also a member. I asked for a “big picture” review. I just needed to know if my story made sense, if there were elements I was missing, etc. I swapped stories with four individuals and received four completely different critiques. Great feedback, and it confirmed a few things that I had wondered myself within the story. BUT I could tell they were being gentle and nice about things, and I really prefer my work to be torn apart from every angle, so I decided to look into a professional critique. Enter the Blue Pencil Mentorship program.

Blue Pencil Mentorship

In addition to being a member of SCBWI, I am also a “friend” of the Canadian Society of Children’s Authors, Illustrators and Performers (CANSCAIP). Being a friend means I can take advantage of CANSCAIP’s highly regarded Blue Pencil mentoring program (for a fee of course). 

The program matches Friend members with published members for evaluations and advice. It’s definitely one of the more affordable ways to receive a professional critique of your work, and I have to say, I loved it! And I now have a new draft of my story that I absolutely think is stronger because of it.

Here’s how it works:

  • Read through the  Blue Pencil Mentorship on the CANSCAIP site. *Just a note, this mentorship program is for those wanting to publish children’s literature.
  • Follow the submission instructions. There are critiques for children’s books under 1,000 words, over, and those with illustrations as well.
  • Get paired up with someone who is already published.

I was paired up with my mentor within about a week of submitting my manuscript. We were introduced by a third party from CANSCAIP. My mentor then had a two-page critique summary back to me within a week and it covered point of views, dialogue, setting, language/style, word count, strengths and challenges. I love the critique because my mentor did take my story apart from every angle, pointing out things that don’t really make sense, asking questions about certain sections, etc. It is exactly the critique I was looking for and my new draft is better for it. 

Once your mentor sends your critique back, you are then able to submit five follow up questions. I honestly had a hard time coming up with five because my mentor did such a thorough job. I used my last question to ask her if she had any other recommendations or resources I should look at prior to sending my manuscript off to agents. She recommended a few. 

SO if you are looking for a professional, affordable critique of your work, try the Blue Pencil Mentorship, and if you have any questions about how it works, I am happy to answer them!

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