Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Manuscript Critiques and Submission Guidelines

Carefully read the submission instructions below, then click here to get to the submissions page. The deadline for manuscript submissions is January 5, 2020.


What’s Included:

One of our faculty members, an agent or editor, will review your work and prepare comments in advance of the conference.

While at the conference, you will have a one-on-one, 15 minute meeting with your critique faculty member to hear their feedback, ask questions, and discuss your project.

We will be awarding the annual Golden Gate Writers’ Award (one for a picture book and one for a middle grade or YA novel) during the conference, and entries for the contest will be selected only from those manuscripts submitted for critique.

When you submit a manuscript for critique you will have the opportunity to opt-in to a chance to participate in our free mentorship program.


Submission Policy: Picture Books

You may submit one picture book manuscript per paid consultation, of 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.


Submission Policy: Middle Grade and YA

You may submit up to 10 pages of your manuscript (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. 


Submission Instructions:

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

Do not address your letter to a particular agent or editor. “Dear Golden Gate Conference Manuscript Reviewer,” or similar is 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.


Step Two: (Middle Grade and YA only): Write a one-page synopsis (optional).


Step Three: 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 Four: 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]-GG20 (Ex: TheHappyBird-GG20.doc or Dragonriders-GG20.docx)


Step Five: Submit your single Word file.

Click over to this submission page.

Enter your contact information.

Select your faculty preferences.

Upload your file per the instructions on that page.

Click submit. You will receive an automated confirmation email.


The submissions page link is live! Click here to submit.


Dates and Deadlines

Submissions must be uploaded no later than January 5, 2020.



The add-on fee for a critique is $75.




Q: Can I choose the agent/editor I want to review my work?

A: You will have an opportunity to indicate your top 3 picks for a manuscript reviewer when you upload your manuscript on our Manuscript Submission Page. 


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: (Answer coming soon.)


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. 


The submissions page link is live! Click here to submit.


If you have any questions, please email our Manuscript Coordinator, Claire Bobrow at