Take the first step to writing your children’s book story. Get your copy of the children’s book template here to help you get started.
Once you have a story manuscript finished, you need to have it reviewed. But where can you find someone to read your story? A great resource is to use a critique group. Here’s how you can find your own critique group to get story reviews on a regular basis.
Finding a critique group for your children’s book story:
Over the years, I have had numerous critique groups for different purposes. However, my main critique group of 5 ladies has been my saving grace as a writer. Not only for helping me grow with my own writing skills, but to also have a lasting friend group of children’s writers who understand this crazy industry we’re in.
Something you need to find, too, if you’re going to stay in this industry. (Seriously, the best thing you can do for yourself and your stories!) Here’s how you can go about finding or forming your own children’s book critique group:
What is a critique group for?
A critique group is at least 3-4 people who meet regularly to read and offer feedback about your story. I’d recommend meeting at least once a month, but how often you meet is up to you.
What to do during your critique:
As a critique group, you can meet either online or in-person to share your stories. If this is a regular group you meet with, you should send each other your stories ahead of time. (I would recommend sending them the week of so everyone has time to read through and provide you with feedback.) If this is a cold critique, you will just show up to the group to get feedback cold.
When giving feedback, you’ll want to use the Sandwich Method.
- Everyone will get a turn to share their story
- When it’s your turn, you will read your story (if it’s cold) then each person in the group will get a turn to say what they thought about your book
- Start by saying something positive about what you liked about the story
- Offer helpful suggestions to make improvements
- Then end with adding something positive so they feel encouraged at the end
It’s important that you don’t interrupt or try to explain anything about your story when you’re getting feedback. Instead, you want to let them speak and listen with an open-mind. Even though you don’t have to take all the suggestions, it’s important to consider them all because all of your critique partners are working toward the same goal — to help you write an awesome children’s book.
Where do you find your critique group?
The possibility of getting feedback on your story might have got you super excited and ready to find one of these great groups. Am I right? Well, when you’re ready to find a critique group, here’s where you can look:
- Your local library or local event sites — They will normally post meet-ups and groups who meet regularly
- Ask your regional SCBWI advisor for suggestions — They should have some people that you can connect with or might host their own meet-ups as a region that you can join
- Search online groups like Facebook for writers — These groups will have similar people interested in getting feedback. Just make sure they write the same things and to establish the goals and rules of the group ahead of time.
If you’d like to find an online critique group, ask in our Journey to Kidlit Facebook Group to see if anyone’s interested. (Here’s the link to request to join.)
If you’re having trouble finding an existing critique group, or have a group of children’s writers you already know, you can also form your own critique group.
How to form your own critique group:
While I would recommend trying to join an existing group when you’re first starting out, you might want to create your own group. Here’s what you need to do to make sure it’s successful:
- Decide what type of critique group it’ll be — a pop-up where people bring their stories to read cold, or one where you send stories in advance
- Select a recurring date/time to meet — we all have busy schedules, so you want to make sure to get it on everyone’s calendar regularly to ensure you always know when you’re meeting
- Make sure you write similar things — children’s books are very different than adult novels to write, especially picture books. If you’re going to make your own, make sure the other members are children’s book writers, too.
Doing these 3 things will make sure your critique group will be effective for everyone involved. However, if things don’t work, decide as a group if this will be your last meeting.
There you have it! How to find a critique group as a children’s book writer and how to make it worth your time. But if you’re in a hurry to get feedback, know that you can always hire a professional for a critique as well.
Book a critique with us and we’ll send you an official seal of approval with your notes! 😀
Other helpful resources around the blog:
- How to know if your story needs a rewrite
- 6 steps to get started writing your children’s book
- Everything you need to know as a children’s book writer