Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Distance Critique – January 2016

Date(s) - 01/20/2016
12:00 am

Want professional feedback on your writing or illustrations?

Participate in our DISTANCE CRITIQUE


How does it it work?

You send your material to us; we send it to the agent, editor, or art director; they critique it and send it back to us; and we send it back to you.

Your written critique will be of the same quality and caliber you would receive at a conference…without the high cost of travel. There is the option, at no extra cost, of participating in an in-person or online Distance Critique Workshop to discuss your critique with other participants.


Manuscript Deadline: Jan. 20, 2016 

Register for the Distance Critique, and then email submissions to no later than January 20, 2016. In your email, state your first, second, and third choices for a critiquer. Put your "burning question" (see below) at the top of your manuscript.

Manuscripts returned: Feb 9, 2016

Optional Workshop: Feb 18, 7-9 PM

Review critiques together. In person in Anchorage (and Fairbanks and Juneau if we have enough participants) or online (for the first 5 participants to request it).

Why? It’s a great learning opportunity to hear the other critiques and see in depth how the critquers look at a manuscript. You can also compare your critiquing skills with the professional's.


Our Professional Critiquers

Vicki Selvaggio of Jennifer DeChiara Literary Agency

            With a strong background in business ownership, Victoria A. Selvaggio comes to The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency as an Associate Agent with over 6 years of actively working as a volunteer and Regional Advisor for SCBWI Northern Ohio.  Drawn to the publishing scene first as an author writing all genres, with her most recent publication in the 2015 Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market, Vicki’s passion for honing the craft carried over into reading manuscripts for the agency. Currently, she is excited to read compelling manuscripts that will resonate with her long after she’s done.

            What I'm looking for: I am currently looking for lyrical picture books, middle grade and young adult fiction, new adult, mysteries, suspense, thrillers, paranormal, fantasy, narrative nonfiction, and adult fiction but find I’m especially drawn to Middle Grade and Young Adult. I especially love thrillers and all elements of weird, creepy stuff. If it’s out of the box, and it will make me think and think, long after I’m done reading, send it to me! On the flip side, I yearn for books that make me laugh, cry and wonder about the world.


Becca Stumpf of Prospect Agency

            Becca Stumpf joined Prospect Agency in 2006 after working as an assistant at Writers House Literary Agency. After graduating from Grinnell College with a B.A. in English Literature, Becca lived and worked in England to indulge her yen for cobbled streets, neighborhood pubs, and barbed wit. She came to New York armed with naïveté and a love of books, and couldn't believe her luck when she found a field that allowed her to work closely with authors and their manuscripts. As a reader, Becca falls hard for sentences that are beautifully crafted, for humor in unexpected places, and for characters and worlds that spark off the page. She rereads the first chapter of A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L'Engle every year because it still knocks her socks off with its simple evocation of a family awoken by a storm in the nighttime.

            Becca is currently acquiring Adult, Young Adult and Middle-Grade literary and commercial fiction, with a special interest in genre fiction with broad appeal (Fantasy/SciFi is not just for nerds anymore, so let's bring it to the masses!). She loves intricate plots that balance drama, wit, and intrigue in equal parts, as well as stories that explore the lives of anti-heroes and fringe-dwellers, or the unexpected complexities of the "normal" day-to-day — be that surviving the spells of an unhinged wizard or an awkward romance.

            In the YA and Middle-Grade realm, Becca is especially looking for spine-tingling mysteries (historical or contemporary), YA thrillers, and beautifully written fantasy and science fiction. She's also looking for contemporary YA and MG stories that go beyond "boy-meets-girl" and explore a broader view of life and relationships.

            In adult fiction, Becca is looking for literary mysteries that chill and charm, fast-paced literary thrillers, character-driven SciFi and Fantasy novels that defy genre stereotypes, and smart, spicy romance novels (contemporary, historical, SciFi/UF/Steampunk).


Christa Hescke of McIntosh and Otis

            Christa Heschke graduated from Binghamton University with a major in English and a minor in Anthropology. She started in publishing as an intern at both Writers House and Sterling Lord Literistic, where she fell in love with the agency side of publishing.

            Christa has been at McIntosh and Otis, Inc. in the Children's Literature Department since 2009 where she is actively acquiring for all age groups in children’s. 

            For YA, she is especially interested in contemporary fiction, thriller/mystery, and horror. She is always on the lookout for a compelling voice combined with a strong, specific hook that will set a YA novel apart in its genre and the flooded market. She is open to all types of middle grade and especially enjoys adventure, mystery, and magical realism, whether in a voice that is more light and humorous or one with more of a timeless, literary feel. For both YA and MG, she is particularly interested in unique settings and cultural influences, interesting storytelling structure, complicated romances, diverse characters, sister or friendship-centric stories, and stories that feature artists of any kind. In picture books she is drawn to cute, funny stories (as opposed to sweet and quiet) with strong hooks that will grab both kids and their parents as well as the occasional nonfiction biography on a unique subject whose story has yet to be told.



Guisseppe Castello, who is an award-winning Designer, Illustrator, and Art Director at Penguin Random House; with over sixteen years of book publishing experience. He oversees the imprints of Grosset & Dunlap, Price Stern Sloan, Frederick Warne and Co., the Penguin Young Readers, and Cartoon Network Books.


What can you get critiqued?

For writers, a total of 10 pages, double spaced, 12 pt. These ten pages can include (choose one):

           10 pages of a manuscript or picture book

           9 pages and a 1-page synopsis OR query letter (though query letter and synopsis will not be critiqued)

           8 manuscript pages and a 2-page synopsis (though synopsis will not be critiqued)

For illustrators (choose one):

           3-5 images

           Picture book dummy


           Picture book with a dummy, but dummy will not be critiqued, unless you register for a separate dummy critique. This is because your critiquer will spend an equal amount of time on each element. Please specify which you want critiqued most.

Bonus for Everyone

You can submit “one burning question” for your critique. Examples: Does this story start in the right place? Is my main character likable? Is there too much backstory? Is my dialogue believable?

After the Critique

The agent, editor, or art director will be open to submissions from participants for a limited time.

Want More Than One Critique?

You can have as many critiques as you want. Purchase additional critiques here.


Formatting Guidelines

Your submission needs to be in standard industry submission format. Your submission will be returned if not in the correct format, and time-permitting you can resubmit.