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Picture Book Critique Fest


As writers and artists we desperately want our work to be its very best. Whether you're just starting to play around with the idea of creating picture books or if you're a seasoned veteran, we're all united by the fact that making stories work is a PROCESS that requires critique and revision.

Nobody gets it right the first time. Nobody.

And would it even mean anything if we did?

It's about the climb. The walk. The daily grind. Not the end goal. The finished product. Or the fruit of our labor.

It's about the labor it took to make that fruit burst forth--and what we learn along the way.

I could wax poetic some more about the relationship between meaning and work and art and what the struggle to bring anything into being produces in us, but you're probably wondering what all this #PBCritiqueFest stuff is about.

If you're taking your work (not yourself) seriously, you need to have your work critiqued. You need people in your camp who can speak into your art and story to help you see it as it is. This gives us (and our work) new life.

Perhaps you already have a critique partner. Perhaps you meet with a regular critique group. Perhaps you share your work with people you met online. That's great! You should celebrate that.

And that's ultimately what this is.

A celebration. A jubilation. A...(dare I say it) festival. A picture book critique festival, that is.

My vision for this (hopefully) annual event is to celebrate the critique and revision process and to help build our kidlit community. It's my sincerest hope that new connections will be made and that actual, living, breathing books will be birthed out of this process.

Okay, okay, okay...BUT WHAT IS IT?!

This October, Picture Book Spotlight will be hosting a MASSIVE one-time picture book critique giveaway, featuring 36 of some of the top authors, illustrators, and literary agents on the kidlit scene.

This is NOT a mentorship--just a one-time giveaway for 35 lucky individuals to receive feedback on a picture book manuscript or dummy.

We will have our own hashtag to help spread the word (#PBCritiqueFest)--why not start now? Share this post using the hashtag to kickoff the celebration! More friends, more fun!

If you want to know more information about how this will work, check out the FAQs below.

If you want to see who is participating and giving generously of their time and talent, check out the star-studded list below!











How did this all happen?

Ask and you shall receive. After seeing how meaningful critiques have been through the Spotlight Interviews, I had an idea to host a bigger giveaway event to help more people. I wanted to offer something unique that was less of a commitment than a mentorship. So I reached out to a few people to test the waters. Tammi Sauer was my first yes. And then I thought, "well, if Tammi Sauer is interested...I should ask a few more!" People kept saying I kept asking.

How were the authors, illustrators, and literary agents selected to participate in the giveaway?

I ended up asking just over 100 industry professionals. From this initial group, we ended up with 36 participants--not bad for a debut event on a boutique picture book blog!

When will it start?

The start date is tentatively set at October 3rd. The festival page (on this website) will be up on that day and people can start entering the raffle.

How can I enter the giveaway raffle?

You can enter the giveaway raffle on this website. We will have our own #PBCritiqueFest page where you can see participant bios, enter your name by filling out a google form, and get all the information you need!

Is there any way to increase my chances?

YES! Through sharing on social media and a few other ways, your name will be entered more times! Specific info and rules about this will be available in October.

How are winners selected?

Winners will be selected through an online list randomizer--top 35 move on to be "paired with their person!"

How can I help spread the word?

Smoke signals, flare-guns, and Morse code are the preferred means of communication for this event. JUST KIDDING! By any and all ways. Social media is obviously a major component to something like this, but by all means text a friend, email, post a blog, whatever!

Who can participate?

EVERYONE. Period. Newbies. Not-so-newbies. Query warriors. Self pubbers. Agented friends. Un-agented friends. Authors. Artists. Humans, mostly. If you create picture books and want your work to be better...this is for YOU!

When will winners be announced?

The tentative date is set at October 25th. That's the deadline for entries. Unless the pairing process becomes an enigmatic bafflement, it should be that evening.

Where will winners be announced?

The winners will be announced on this website (on the #PBCritiqueFest page), a blog post, and on social media (Twitter and Facebook).--also watch for some signal flares!

How will winners be paired with their person?

When you enter to participate on our google form (available on this website in October), you will share a little bit about yourself, your work, and your preferences. After the group of 35 winners is randomly selected, I will do my best to pair people according to their entry information---The critique participants have also filled out a survey to help me pair them with the best fit.

What happens after I win?

You mean after your happy dance? After that happy dance is finished, it's time to work! Make sure that manuscript or dummy is in ship-shape and ready to send out--some of our participants will want your work immediately! I will reach out to specific individuals over email to communicate their deadline and any other information their "person" wants me to share.

Will this happen every year?

Golly Moses, I sure hope so! I'm leaning toward a solid yes...unless for some reason this epically fails. Time will tell! (insert nervous laughter)

Anything I didn't cover? Shoot me an email or Tweet! All questions welcome.


Brian Gehrlein is a picture book author and the creator of Picture Book Spotlight. He teaches high school English and works part-time as a librarian. He lives in Liberty, Missouri with his wife, Katherine and son, Peter (and two corgis, Toby and Harry). Brian is represented by Melissa Richeson of Apokedak Literary Agency. He is a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. Future you has read his picture books. Future you laughed. Thanks, future you.

October 19, 2021 (34)_edited.jpg
October 19, 2021 (34)_edited.jpg
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