Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

JambaLAya 2022 Manuscript Critique Guidelines

Critiques cost $52 for in person and zoom and $42 for written only and are for a max of 10 pages. For novels, this means the first 10 pages of your manuscript. For picture books, this usually means 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. For dummies, you will also submit the full dummy. Please see below for more details.

You will submit the pages on or before June 18 at 5 pm (CT) to Laura Roach Dragon at

For Zoom consults: On a date scheduled post-conference, you will meet with your critiquer for a 10-minute one-on-one via Zoom when your critiquer will go over their notes and answer any questions. The feedback will be emailed to you in advance, if possible. We recommend you use a notebook to take notes of what’s said. If you’d like to record your conversation, please ask your critiquer’s permission at the start of your critique time.

You can sign up for a critique when you register.


When will I know my critique time?

You’ll receive your critique time in an email prior to the zoom consultations or in-person conference. Please note: The one-on-one-meeting zoom critique time will be a few weeks after the conference. See the schedule below.

Can I sign up for more than one critique?

No, not for this conference.But an illustrator who is having a portfolio review may also sign up for an editor critique.

Can I add a critique after I’ve registered?

Yes, if available. However, changes to your registration must be handled manually. If you have already registered for the conference, you will have to email Co-Regional Advisor Cheryl Mathis to add a critique.

What if I have to cancel?

Critiques only are non-refundable unless the waiting list has someone to take your spot.


What to Submit for a Manuscript Critique?

Critiques are for the first 10 pages of your manuscript (chapter, middle grade or young adult), or your full manuscript in the case of a picture book.

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

  • black type on 8.5 x 11″ document with 1″ borders
  • in a 12-point font that’s either Arial or Times New Roman
  • double-spaced (unless in verse)
  • numbered consecutively.

For more information on how to correctly format your manuscript, look at SCBWI’s From Keyboard to Printed Page. Note: Check The Book for updated content on this. (You must be logged in as a member to access.)

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: PB (picture book), ER (early reader), CB (chapter book), GN (graphic novel), MG (middle grade) or YA (young adult). For example: R.J. Palacio’s Wonder would be MG_Wonder_RJPalacio.doc or .docx

For any other questions on format, email Laura Roach Dragon at the submission address

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: Jane Yolen’s Owl Moon could be DUMMY_MOON_JaneYolen.pdf

For any other questions on format for dummies, email Illustrator Coordinator Denise Gallagher at

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, please email to LAURA DRAGON at

NOTE: All critique materials MUST be submitted TO THE SUBMISSION EMAIL by 5:00 p.m. CST on June 18, 2022.

Other Information About Critiques

Critiquers will read and make notes about your pages. During your 10-minute one-on-one meeting, they will discuss their notes with you, and you will have the opportunity to ask questions.

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 writing.

Critique meeting times will be scheduled in July, and the schedule follows. You will be notified of your day and time via email closer to the conference. Your critique meeting time may NOT be changed on the day. If you miss your critique time, we cannot guarantee that you will be able to get another 10 minutes, so please keep an eye on the time. Aim to login into the critique Zoom meeting at least five (5) minutes before your scheduled critique time. Instructions for your Zoom critique meeting will be emailed to you.

Zoom Critique Follow-ups:

Naomi Kirsten: post conference (evening time slots approximately 3-4 weeks after the conference)

Shirley Ng-Benite: post conference (evening time slots approximately one week after the conference


Saba Sulaiman and Nina Kooij – Morning of the conference on July 16 at UNO.

In Writing:

Leslie Staub’s will be provided either at the conference or emailed at that time.


Depending on demand we may add extra in-writing critiques.