Get your work one step closer to publication with a professional illustration or writing coach. Their guidance will elevate your manuscript to a new level.

Mentored Critique Group

Note: Mentored critique groups are offered at the start of every term with select instructors. Next term starts May 2022.


Get guaranteed, targeted feedback on your work-in-progress from an industry professional and other students in your group.

Every term, we offer mentored critique groups with some of our instructors. These small groups meet three times during the term to receive peer critiques and critiques from an instructor on submitted work. Students can see their work advance considerably over the course of nine weeks through guidance from their mentor and application

Our Makers Pro members get first access to all mentored critique group slots.

  • Each group is limited to 5 participants. The three 2-hour meetings ensure that you can get your work critiqued three separate times.
  • Choose to get three projects critiqued or the same project three times over a nine-week term. You may submit new or revised work before each meeting.
  • Makers Pro members get first access to buy these mentorship opportunities with instructors.

Get one-on-one feedback on your work from an instructor.

A one-on-one with an illustration or writing coach is a 25 to 30-minute critique via Zoom. 

First, review the list of instructors (below) as each specializes in specific types of work.

Next, select and pay for your critique. From the confirmation page we will link you directly to our calendar system to book your date and time.

Lastly, remember to submit your work at least a week in advance via the link provided.

  • You'll need to upload your work at least at least a week in advance to give the instructor of your choice time to give you thoughtful feedback.
  • If you choose someone who specialize in picture book critiques, please only submit ONE manuscript or dummy for critique.
  • The instructors available will fluctuate throughout the year.
  • After checking out, just wait a few minutes to schedule your one-on-one through the instructor's calendar in Calendly. You can book a date from there and add it to your calendar.
  • Make sure you upload your work for the instructor in advance and show up for your one-on-one through the Zoom link provided!
  • If you need help, please email

Alex Leon is our Drawing 1 and Drawing 2 instructor, and he will be reviewing art with students. He can critique up to 3 drawings or paintings, but you can submit up to 10. Looking at 10 pieces will give him an overall idea and impression of what you need. Students should also submit 3 – 5 pieces of artwork that they like to show him how they are influenced by other artists and illustrators.

Our Writing Picture Book Manuscripts instructor, Jim Averbeck, is brilliant at helping students see how to revise their picture book manuscripts and dummies. You may be familiar with Jim's Hierarchy of Revision. Jim is a great mentor for any stage your story is in. You will need to upload either a dummy or a manuscript as a Word Doc or a PDF.

Tim McCanna writes rhyming picture books and taught our Storytelling in Rhyme mini-class. If you have a rhyming picture book, you may submit one manuscript for Tim to critique. Tim is also happy to critique non-rhyming picture books

Isabella Kung is the instructor of our Illustration 1 and Illustration 2 courses. For a critique with Isabella, you may submit one picture book dummy OR two illustrations for detailed critique OR an illustration portfolio for an overview. 

After working as an editor for Houghton Mifflin, Chronicle Books, and LucasFilm Licensing, Sarah Stephens became an agent with Red Fox Literary, Sarah enjoys everything from board books to YA, but she is most interested in acquiring picture books, early chapter books, and middle-grade fiction. She is interested in elevating the voices of marginalized individuals, amplifying stories that need to be heard, and connecting children to nature.

For critique, you may submit only one of the following:

  • full picture or board book manuscripts (author/illustrators should include dummies)
  • links to illustration portfolios
  • pitch and 15 pages from chapter books or MG novels

Rena Rossner has been a literary agent at The Deborah Harris Agency since 2012 and has represented numerous New York Times Bestsellers, a National Book Award Finalist, Morris Award Finalists, a Coretta Scott King award winner, a Caldecott Medalist, and more. Rena accepts queries for Adult, Young Adult, Middle Grade, and Picture Book projects and also works with illustrators.

You may submit one of the following combinations for critique:

  • Two picture book manuscripts or dummies
  • A query* and a picture book manuscript or dummy
  • A query* and the first 10 pages of an MG, YA, or adult novel

Alyssa Mito Pusey is an executive editor at Charlesbridge. For a picture book critique, submit one fiction or nonfiction picture book. For MG nonfiction, she'd like to see a synopsis and table of contents, as well as the beginning 1-3 chapters or 10 pages—whichever comes first.

For a picture book critique, submit one fiction or nonfiction picture book. For MG nonfiction, I’d like to see a synopsis and table of contents, as well as 1-3 chapters or 10 pages—whichever comes first.

Kaitlyn Leann Sanchez is a mom, wife, agent with Context Literary Agency, middle school math teacher, and picture book author. She's also the proud co-creator and co-host of the Spring Fling Kidlit Contest and Kidlit Zombie Week as well as creator and co-host of the Kidlit Fall Writing Frenzy Contest. 

For critique, you can submit one picture book manuscript or dummy.

Ariel Richardson is an Editor in Children's at Chronicle Books in San Francisco. She primarily edits picture books and board books, working on titles like What Color Is Night?, Like the Moon Loves the Sky, and A to Z Menagerie. She loves books with a global perspective, books about religious literacy and intersectionality, books that celebrate the power of the imagination, and books that push the boundaries of traditional bookmaking.

For critique, please submit one picture book manuscript as a Word Doc or one picture book dummy as a PDF.

Katherine Jacobs is an editor, teacher, and reader. She worked at Roaring Brook Press, an imprint of the Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group, for thirteen years, where she edited picture books, middle grade, and young adult titles. She is currently a senior acquisitions editor at ZonderKidz, the children’s imprint of Zondervan.


You may submit a picture book manuscript or dummy or the first ten pages of an MG or YA novel for critique.

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