Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

2023 Virtual Agents Day Critique Guidelines

**Carefully read the submission instructions below.**

Manuscript critiques are an extra ADD-ON in addition to the Agent Day presentation. There are a limited number of critiques available and may sell out. 

The agent you selected during registration will review your work and prepare comments in advance of Agents Day.

You can choose a “written only” critique OR “critique with meeting”.

Written-Only –  the agent will provide written feedback about your manuscript. We will email your feedback shortly after Agents Day.

Critique With Meeting – On Agents Day, you will have a scheduled one-on-one, 15 minute Zoom meeting with your critique agent to hear their feedback, ask questions, and discuss your project.


Submission Policy:

If you register for a Roundtable, you cannot register for a Manuscript Critique (and vice-versa).  You can only choose ONE.

If you choose Manuscript Critique, you may only submit ONE manuscript.  Manuscripts are in the PB or MG and YA category.

Picture Books (PB)

PB manuscripts for critique are up to 6 pages in length, with 1,000 words max, or 1,200 if non-fiction. (Note that many picture books are under 500 words these days. Just because you can submit up to 1000/1200 words doesn’t mean you should.) You have the option of including a one-page cover letter in addition to your manuscript.

Middle Grade and Young Adult (MG and YA)

MG/YA novels for critique are up to 10 pages in length (2,500 words max). Optionally, you may also include a one-page synopsis, and/or a one-page cover letter, in addition to the 10 page sample.

**If you submit a manuscript longer than the max limit, we will cut it off before sending to the faculty for critique.  So double check the submission instructions!


Submission Instructions:

Step One: Write a one-page cover letter (optional but recommended).

Please address your letter to the particular agent you registered with or simply use “Dear Agents Day Manuscript Reviewer,” which is also fine.

Much like a query letter, this can be a quick note that includes a pitch/synopsis and any relevant biographical information.

We highly recommend this opportunity to introduce yourself and your work to the faculty reader.

(MG and YA only): Write a one-page synopsis, in addition to your cover letter (optional).

**If you submit a cover letter longer than one-page, it will not be sent with your manuscript.  Please double check your submission!


Step Two: Format your manuscript:

Your name and contact info in the upper left corner of the first page

Your manuscript’s title centered in the upper middle of the first page

Text starting half-way down the first page, double spaced

1 inch margins all around with name, title and page number in the header or footer

12 point Courier, Times or Arial type


Step Three: Create your word file:

Make sure your document contains the following (all in one file): 1) A cover letter (optional/recommended); 2) A synopsis page for MG/YA novels only (optional); 3) Your manuscript text

Carefully proof, spell check and edit all text. Then double check it. You can only submit ONCE so make sure you are ready.

Create your word file using the following titling format: [Manuscript Title]-SCBWI (Ex: TheHappyBird-SCBWI.doc or Dragonriders-SCBWI.docx)


Step Four: Submit your single Word file.

Click over to the Manuscript Submission Form. (Will open in January).

Enter your contact information.

Select your faculty choice.

Upload your file per the instructions on that page.

Click submit. You will receive an automated confirmation email.


(The Manuscript Submission Form will open along with registration in January).


Dates and Deadlines

Submissions must be uploaded no later than January 18th, 2023.


Please see the event fee page for the critique add-on fees.



Unfortunately, there are NO REFUNDS available for manuscript critiques. Because there are only a limited number available and may sell out, only register for a manuscript critique if you are ready to submit one.


Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Why do novel samples get 2,500 words and I can only submit one picture book per consultation under 1,000 words?

A: Novels and picture books are two very different storytelling mediums. Picture book texts must “make every word count” as well as share the page with illustrations for very young children. Novels are tens of thousands of words longer, and therefore require a slightly more substantial introduction for a manuscript consultant to provide adequate feedback.

Q: After I submitted my work, I made some changes and I want to replace my original submission with a new one. There is still time before the deadline, so can I do that?

A: No. Please upload your manuscript ONLY ONCE. We cannot accept multiple revised uploads. Proof your work carefully and submit when you are absolutely ready.

Q: If I am an author-illustrator, can I submit both a manuscript and pictures?

A: Author-illustrators may opt to submit along with the picture book manuscript ONE PDF dummy (or ONE PDF of several illustrated spreads) from the manuscript being reviewed.  Refer to the Manuscript Submission Form for more details.

Q: Should I submit something that is polished and ready for publication, or should I submit something that I feel isn’t yet working that I want a professional’s input on?

A: There are pros and cons to both strategies. If your primary goal is to gain feedback into how to make your piece better, then submit something that you feel isn’t quite there yet, to obtain valuable professional insights. If, however, your primary goal is to either win an award or possibly make a connection that might lead to representation or a future sale, then you should submit your most polished, most ready-for-publication manuscript. Regardless of which strategy you choose, do your very best to remain open to feedback. There is always room for improvement.

Q: How come I can only register for a Manuscript Critique and not a Roundtable (or vice-versa) for this event?

A: We only have a limited amount of critiques and roundtables available. Since we are offering affordable fees for San Francisco/South members, we want as many people as possible to have the opportunity to receive professional feedback. Thank you for understanding!

Q: I registered for a “critique with Zoom meeting” and cannot make the scheduled time for the Zoom meeting. May I reschedule or receive a refund?

A: No. The Manuscript Critiques with Zoom Meetings take place during Virtual Agents Day on Saturday, March 11th from 12:00 -1:35 pm PST. You will receive an email where you can choose your 15 minute time slot. There are no refunds and we are unable to reschedule if you miss the session. If you miss your meeting, we will email your feedback to you.

Q: I registered for a manuscript critique but did not submit my manuscript on time. May I receive a refund?

A: No. There are no refunds available. Only register for a manuscript critique if you are absolutely ready to submit one. We are obligated to send the manuscripts to the reviewers in advance by a set due date and cannot make exceptions. If you register and do not submit a manuscript on time, we will not be able to fill your spot past the due date.

Q: I wanted to register for a Manuscript Critique but it is showing as “Sold Out”. Is there a waitlist available?

A: Yes, we have a waitlist in case of a cancellation, however, all manuscripts must be submitted by our deadline. You will receive an email if your name has been pulled up from the waitlist.


If you have any further questions, please email our Manuscript Coordinator,