#PBCritiqueFest 2022



Happy Saturday and welcome to Picture Book Spotlight!


Are you ready, kidlit fam?


Exactly six days from today, our annual #PBCritiqueFest will kick off for the fourth time! This massive one-time critique giveaway will give 32 kidlit creators an opportunity to have their work critiqued by published authors, illustrators, and literary agents. In this post, I hope to provide more information about how everything works as well as announce our festival participants. If after reading this post you still have questions, don't hesitate to Tweet at me or use the contact form on this website.


Let's dive in!


The good news is, if you're familiar with #PBCritiqueFest, this year will mostly feel very similar to the previous three years. If you're new to the festival, winners are selected randomly, raffle-style, but you can increase your odds by earning additional entries when you help promote the festival and participants' books. The vast majority of last year's winners had significant multiple entries--it really does make a difference! To register, you have to subscribe to Picture Book Spotlight, and fill out the initial Registration Form (going live October 21st). That puts you in the running and could get you a win by itself.


Registrations and Additional Entries can be logged during the festival from October 21st until October 31st. Once the festival has concluded and winners have been raffled, I will begin "pairing winners with their person" using the information provided on each winner's registration form. Winners and pairings will be announced throughout the day on Saturday, November 5th on Twitter, Facebook, and a Picture Book Spotlight blog post.


After November 5th, winners will be emailed with next steps info on how to get their manuscripts to their critique person. That's basically it...continue reading for specific more info and to see who will be donating critiques this year! All festival info and links to forms can be found at our #PBCritiqueFest Page here at PB Spotlight.


And now...the 2022 #PBCritiqueFest participants!

2022 Festival Participants:






How to Register:

To register for #PBCriqueFest, simply subscribe to PB Spotlight and complete our Registration Form. Boom. That's it! That locks you in the running and officially tosses your name in the digital raffle hat. Filling out the purple form (shown below) grants you ONE ENTRY. If you like living on the wild side, that's all you need to do. If you want better odds considering how many people enter (hundreds), participate in the festival activities to earn more entries!--see details below!


Our purple registration form will be live and fillable on October 21st at midnight.

2022 Additional Entries:

The purpose of this festival is to celebrate the critique and revision process and to build the kidlit community. We do that by spotlighting the great work being done by our critique donors. Theoretically, if you engaged in all of the possible activities during the 10 day festival, you could earn up to 200 additional entries (giving you 201 total entries). That's a lot! As a reminder, this is a voluntary and self-paced way to potentially help you come out as a winner. It is not a guarantee. The winners are truly randomly raffled based on all participant entries. All I can say is that in both the two previous festivals the overwhelming majority of winners had significant additional entries.


The graphic below shows all the ways you can add additional entries. This year, we will still be using Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram as our festival social media platforms. You can earn entries by posting about the festival in general, promoting a participant's book, posting a screenshot (photo) of a review you left on Goodreads or Amazon for one of our participant's books, and by posting a screenshot (photo) proving that you purchased a participant's book. All social media posts must include the festival hashtag (#PBCriqitueFest). The only non-social media option to earn up to 50 more entries is to share a blog post about #PBCritiqueFest.


In order to actually earn your additional entries, you MUST log your activities on the Aditional Entries Form every time you do them. You will get an email receipt each time you fill out the form to help you keep track of what you've done, but it is your responsibility to fill out the form in order for it to count.



To explain the "formula" with an example, you can post about #PBCritiqueFest on Twitter up to 5 times for an additional entry every time you do that (if logged on the Additional Entries Form). Once you have done that 5 times, you can no longer receive additional entries for that particular activity. All social media posts MUST include the festival hashtag #PBCritiqueFest to officially count!


For another example, let's say you buy some of our participant's books. Can you use the same books across all 3 social media platforms to increase your entries by 60? Yes. It is not required that you purchase 15 books--you could buy 5 books to max out the 20X additional entries per social media platform if you posted on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.


You are in charge of how many activities you want to log--do as much or as little as you like!

The books our participants are hoping you will promote, review, or buy are available on the #PBCritiqueFest Page under each participant's bio. There will be an author, illustrator, and agent page with all participant info available to view just before the launch of the festival on the 21st!


Our green additional entries form will be live and fillable on October 21st at midnight.

2021 Winner Testimonials:


I won a fabulous critique from Kaitlyn Sanchez. She loved my story and asked to see more of my work, which was very exciting. Ultimately she decided to pass when I received an offer from another agent, but it was lovely to connect with her and receive her valuable feedback. It was definitely a great experience and a huge confidence boost - an important stepping stone in my journey even if it didn't lead specifically to an offer. As a querying writer, anything that enables a connection with industry professionals is so valuable. Thank you for making it happen!

Emma Pearl


PBCritiqueFest was a whole bunch of fun! It was a total blast reading and reviewing the critique authors’ amazing selection of work and sharing my discoveries with friends and family. However, the best part was winning a critique from Diana Murray! She helped clarify some things about rhyming manuscripts that have greatly improved my storytelling skills in the rhyming department! Her notes have stuck with me for every rhyming manuscript I’ve worked on since. Thank you Diana, and thank you Brian for the opportunity! Alexa Tuttle


I love PBCritiqueFest! I was fortunate to win a critique with Jody Jensen Shaffer in 2021, and her comments helped me level up the manuscript. It's since gotten some interest from agents, so fingers crossed!

Susan Johnston Taylor


I was so thrilled to have won a chance to have my work critiqued, and the feedback provided was really insightful. A fair bit of it was hard to hear, but hearing it has certainly made me a better and more resilient writer. Sam O’Neil


Last year I entered PBCritiquefest and won a critique from a published author. I was several years into my querying journey and happy to receive any advice or revision ideas. This author decided to go above and beyond what she agreed to for PBCritiquefest and ended up reading several manuscripts and speaking with me on the phone about revision, which manuscript was the most marketable, and encouraging me. I ended up getting my agent in my next round of querying after following her advice. My prize from PBCritiquefest was an invaluable surprise and a wonderful experience I'm grateful for. While not every win will work out that way, any prize garnered from this contest is sure to be encouraging to querying kid lit authors! Meredith Flory


Luck was on my side when I won a critique from the amazing Jody Jensen Shaffer last year. Not only did she do an excellent critique of my manuscript (with only a two-day turnaround - say what?!?), but she also re-worked my pitch to make it so much stronger! Her comments on the text were spot-on and helped me streamline it and up the tension. The manuscript reached a polished stage with her help, and I'm so grateful to Jody and PBCritiqueFest for making this happen. Hollie Wolverton


PBCritiqueFest was my first foray into kidlit contests and it was an overall great experience. I was so surprised when I won one of the bonus critiques. Author Michael Rex gave me valuable specific feedback as well as general advice for writing picture books. I have used this advice when drafting subsequent manuscripts. I have since entered several other writing contests, including submitting my critiqued picture book to Mindy Alyse Weiss's PBParty. Kate DeMaio


PBCritiqueFest was an incredible opportunity for me! I had a manuscript that I loved, but there something about it wasn't working--yet I couldn't figure out what. Fortunately, I was able to win a critique from an agent (and an author, herself) who read my manuscript and then gave me actionable feedback, including books to consider using as mentor texts. That push helped me reshape that story into a much stronger one, which I am now am submitting directly to publishing houses! I am very grateful for the opportunity PBCritiqueFest afforded me to get that insider insight and I know helped me improve my writing by leaps and bounds! Elizabeth James


Getting a critique from Brian Lies was a fantastic experience that I’ll always treasure. It has given me helpful insights and more confidence in my vision. Julia D'Ambrosi Major

#PBCritiqueFest 2021 was quite easy to navigate, which makes it appealing as a contest. It's also one of the few PB contests out there that you can significantly increase your odds simply by increasing your participation. The list of authors and illustrators was amazing, and I was thrilled to win a critique from Corey Rosen Schwartz, who has always been one of my favorite PB authors, even since before I started writing PBs myself. She was incredibly encouraging and insightful, and our interaction felt like chatting with a critique partner. She was so down to earth and humble, especially for someone who's been so successful in this space. I felt honored to have her review my manuscript. Thank you, Brian and Corey! Good luck to everyone entering this year! Amy Leskowski

My critique from Sue Lowell Gallion awarded by PBCritiqueFest was above and beyond! She found comps and offered suggestions that were thought-provoking. Throw your hat in the ring--this event is not only beneficial to budding authors, it's monstrously good fun! Melisa Wrex

Brian Gehrlein’s PBCritiqueFest not only connected me with the brilliant Masha Manpov as far as an eye-opening, encouraging, and insightful critique, but it also introduced me to a world of new books, new friends, and new inspiration that I will always treasure. Huge thanks to Brian and all those who make this amazing event possible!

Jodi Moore

PBCritiqueFest was one of the most helpful experiences I've had in my writing career. Author Tara Luebbe offered to jump on a call with me to discuss my manuscript, the industry, and ANY questions I may have had. The feedback changed how I approached my own drafting and revising as well as increased my knowledge and understanding of breaking into the industry. I refer back to this invaluable information today. Tara continued to be amazing by offering to look at a revision! PBCritiqueFest provides a unique experience for writers and gives back to the writing community. Ashley Sierra

It was such an amazing experience, Alastair Heim is a brilliant writer and he totally got my story Celeb-Yeti. It was fantastic to be able to have a zoom meeting and it was great fun to be able to bounce ideas off each other. With his help and support I feel that my story zip, zaps and zooms off the page. Stacey Miller

So many times in life, you just need a helping hand. An encouragement. Some directions to keep you on the right track. Last year's PBCritiqueFest, sponsored by Brian Gehrlein, gave me just the direction and encouragement I needed to keep writing, keep revising, keep submitting. I was fortunate to be paired with the amazing Rebecca Gomez (HENSEL AND GRETEL and more), who provided excellent feedback on one of my manuscripts that features monsters, mice and plenty of mayhem. While I'm still toying with this story, her insights were key to helping with the ending, suggesting comp titles, and overall narrative structure. Heather Morris

I'm so grateful to Brian Gehrlein and PBCritiquefest! The event is super fun and there are so many wonderful prizes. The best part is that everyone has an equal chance of winning (as long as you enter!) Personally, I won a critique/zoom with THE man himself, Brian Gehrlein! It was the best! He is thoughtful, knowledgeable and kind. Oh and fun. We had a blast zooming together! My manuscript is infinitely better after talking it through with Brian. I urge everyone to participate in PBCritiquefest! Join in on the fun! :) :) :) Genevieve Gorback


How thrilled was I to win a critique through Brian Gehrlein's PB Critiqufest! After sending my story to author Laura Gehl, she gave insightful and thoughtful comments that helped me feel confident to revise and start querying. It was so nice to make the connection with her so I can support her as well! Maryellen Annese

First, I love the PBCritiqueFest model because it supports kidlit authors and illustrators. Last year, I won a PB critique with agent Jennifer Harrington from Harvey Klinger Agency. It was the first PB critique I had won with an agent, so I was super excited. Jennifer was sweet and sent me a detailed critique of my picture book manuscript. It was a wonderful experience that gave me a preview of an agent's work and the certainty that I want to be part of the publishing world. I highly recommend that kidlit creators participate in PBCriqueFest and complete as many entries as possible to support writers and illustrators and increase their chances of winning a prize.

Yolimari García



Still have questions? Tweet at me or use the contact form on this website.

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October 19, 2021 (34)_edited.jpg