Picture Book Manuscript Critiques

Update: I am currently closed to critiques. Please check back in a month for an update. Thank you for your patience!

Becoming a children’s book writer is a challenging, often frustrating, and very emotional journey. It takes a great deal of time and effort to create work that stirs the hearts and minds of young readers. It also takes great courage to share that work with others. Getting critical and objective feedback on your stories is essential to making sure you can take your work to the next level and ultimately in the hands of a child.

I have critiqued hundreds of manuscripts, many of which have been subsequently published or are on their way to publication, for writers from beginner level to agented and published. My critiques are honest and thorough evaluations of your manuscript. My goal is to highlight both the weaknesses and strengths in your work, offering positive feedback as well as input on how to improve your work. If what you seek is a “good job/keep going” kind of critique, I am probably not the right fit for you.

My critiques are done in MS track changes and the feedback I provide assesses your manuscript both from a writer’s standpoint and the reader’s point of view. I always include comments explaining the reasoning behind my feedback, and I may also refer you to certain articles, books, or mentor texts that can help you further on your journey.

I greatly value the trust you place in me as a critiquer, and I take this work very seriously. If you are serious about taking your manuscript to the next level, please consider one of the following packages*:


$90 for up to 1,000 words (price will increase for longer manuscripts) 

Critique includes in-line comments and separate written feedback. Depending on the manuscript needs I will analyze the following:

  • story structure and plotting
  • story book ends (beginning/ending) and first-line hooks
  • concept/theme
  • development of tension
  • page turns
  • illustration potential
  • conclusion
  • point of view
  • showing vs. telling
  • dialogue
  • character development
  • formatting
  • title
  • grammar

I will also address any specific issues or concerns you may have.

I offer discount critiques for manuscripts I have already reviewed.

Please contact me for any questions or drop me a line at karla.p.valenti  [at] gmail [dot] com.


“Wow! Karla’s feedback was clear, insightful, and extensive. I deeply appreciated how she explained the why behind each suggestion. She provided a deep-dive analysis of my story with targeted feedback for improvement balanced with kindness and encouragement. I’m excited to tackle the manuscript again with Karla’s clear and detailed suggestions in hand. This was my first critique with Karla; it won’t be my last!”

Gabrielle Snyder, children’s book writer

“It has been a pleasure to work with Karla. She has critiqued three of my picture book manuscripts and gave each one thoughtful, constructive,  and meaningful comments. She is very timely and willing to answer clarification questions. She is very constructive without being negative. Karla ’s critiques have really pushed me forward as a writer. She gives wonderful big picture thinking points as well as highlighting small details to improve upon. I would recommend her to friends and will continue to use her in the future.”

Jodie Finney, children’s book writer

“Karla’s critique of my story was thoughtful and in-depth. It’s obvious that she truly cares about pushing the writer to the best of their abilities. Getting a critique is always nerve-racking, but instead of feeling overwhelmed, Karla’s comments made me feel confident and inspired to continue writing and improving. Karla clearly has perfected the task of giving constructive criticism. I will definitely be seeking her help again in the future!”

Korrie Harkins, children’s book writer

“Karla has a magical way of balancing her comments so you feel inspired and encouraged, but armed with clear guidance on how to strengthen your story. Her deep knowledge of story structure, creating tension and character development have been a tremendous help to me. I have found that effective critiquing is a unique and rare talent… and Karla definitely has it!”

Jessica Speer, children’s book writer

“As one of my go-to sources, Karla has critiqued several of my picture books manuscripts. At the same time, I’ve had critiques by famous authors, editors at major publishing houses, and top-tier agents, so have a good measuring stick across the industry. With that in mind, I can honestly say that Karla’s feedback has always been in-depth, extremely thoughtful, and specifically targeted to each tale’s plot, characters, and underlying themes. Her insights into multiple facets of my stories have been spot on, and she makes me think of my work on multiple levels, causing me to dig deeper in order to improve my writing. Needless to say, should you need a set of professional eyes on your manuscript, I would highly recommend Karla.”

Derick Wilder, children’s book writer

“I have had several critiques done by Karla now, and her critiques are thorough and insightful, and challenge me to dig deeper than I ever thought possible. Her detailed analysis is honest, but always kind, which I personally appreciate. She has definitely become my go-to person for that last in-depth revision that my stories need before sending them out into the world.”

Midge Ballou Smith, children’s book writer

“I was extremely satisfied with the quality of Karla’s critique–it was thorough and insightful–and it really helped me improve my story. I do recommend her services to writers of all levels!”

Rosie J. Pova, children’s book writer

“Karla Valenti’s professionalismattention to detail, and optimistic feedback is invaluable. I appreciate her willingness to share her knowledge on her website and critiques. I highly recommend her services to any writer seeking to improve first lines, POV, story arc, and characterization. Great Bang! For your buck!”

Lisa Eickenberg, children’s book writer

“Karla’s critique was fabulously thorough, sincere, and honest. I very much appreciated the plot-based structure suggestions. Who is the main character? What is his/her goal? What do they want? What is driving the story forward? And so on. Karla generously pointed out the spots that needed work, asked specific questions about the narrative, and offered ways to create more tension. Based on her detailed notes to me, it is clear that Karla took much time in going over my work. I very much look forward to returning to her critique services and recommending her to my friends. Thank you Karla!”

Bonnie Gubman, children’s book writer

“I was thrilled with my recent critique from Karla.  She pinpointed areas that worked well and, most importantly, she dove deep into the details of what makes a successful picture book.  Karla gave me many suggestions for adding layers and depth to my story.  Most had not even occurred to me, but will certainly make my manuscript much stronger.  This was my first experience working with Karla but I know it will not be my last.”

Jenny Bagan, children’s book writer

“I was referred to Ms. Valenti by House Full of Bookworms’ blogger and Amazon affiliate, Carolyn Leiloglou.  My writing partner and I were seeking an in-depth overall critique after the completion of our professionally-edited first draft.  Karla’s natural insightfulness grasped the concept of our story from the first read.  She provided specific pointers on how to develop the main character’s arcchange the introduction to straight action and heighten the tension.  Karla demonstrated an immense knowledge within the children’s literary world and is up-to-date with industry demands, which is very helpful with queries and submissions. In addition to her critique, she provided additional valuable resources to make our story stronger and seek the right representation.  Ms. Valenti connected with our story and her critique was precise and brilliant!”

Myrna Lartigue Bueno, children’s book writer

“Karla’s editing of my manuscripts equated to a valuable course in picture book writing and plotting. Karla gave detailed notes on line edits, plot points, character development, as well as helped me recognize how to better approach future picture book creations. She also offered insight into the current picture book industry, and how my manuscripts fit, or could fit (with revision), into the children’s lit world. She clearly treats a writer’s manuscript with respect, thoughtfulness, warmth, and constructive honesty. I definitely recommend her editing services!”

Kristi Mottla, children’s book writer

“Karla’s critiques are direct and honest. She not only can identify the weaknesses in the story arc and character development, but she can spot a word, phrase, or detail that jars.  Critiquing is like a coin. It has two sides. Karla also identifies a story’s strong points and encourages the author. Karla has a good understanding of what makes a good picture book and of the picture book market. You will always learn from Karla’s critiques.”

Lynn Connor, children’s book writer

“I was lucky to receive a critique from Karla on the 12×12 forum. She provided an in-depth professional critique. Karla’s vast knowledge accelerated my learning at a pace unparalleled from other critiques. I have also been fortunate to read some of her own writing. Her creativity is exceptional.”

Julia Richardson, children’s book writer

“Karla has the ability to examine a text in detail and look at a manuscript from every conceivable angle, but she is also able to take a step back and see the “big picture.” She is knowledgeable about the finer points of writing children’s fiction and shares this knowledge through each critique, giving writers a lot to think about as they move forward with polishing their work.”

Becky Shillington, children’s book writer

“Karla’s critiques are always well-considered, and often get to the heart of what is and isn’t working in a story. Not only does she point out problems, but she also helps explain why they are problems, and offers suggestions for solving them. She also notes what is working well, and how to build upon this. Karla’s observations have been invaluable in helping me craft better stories.”

Rajani LaRocca, children’s book writer

“Karla offers a careful, thoughtful critique. One feels that she really cares about one’s writing. Her comments make it clear how to improve a story with clear suggestions. I value her honesty.”

J.S.Buttery, children’s book writer

“Karla took me from a 68 word outline that I thought was a story, to a 300+ word Picture Book that I am very proud of. She provided insight on what I needed to do in order to move forward with my story writing. This includes clear and concise structure, use of dialogue, the appropriate need for illustration notes and justifying every word in my story! Thank you Karla!”

Patti Ranson, children’s book writer

“Karla provides straightforward, insightful critiques. She provides in-depth line by line support, as well as big picture recommendations and exploratory questions to support the revision process. I found her critiques specifically helpful to me in further exploring the theme, structure, and character development of my manuscript. Karla’s thoughtful feedback pushes writers to not only improve their manuscript, but also to hone their craft.”

Amanda Sincavage, children’s book writer

“Karla has offered incredible feedback for my story drafts. She is very prompt in her responses. Karla did a thorough and  helpful critique of my picture book manuscripts. Her critiques were always positive and offered suggestions for revision that would clearly strengthen the narrative of my manuscript. I certainly plan to have several critiques with her. I highly recommend her services to my fellow writers.”

Rani Iyer, children’s book writer

“Karla’s detailed, honest and insightful critique helped me see my work in completely new light. She not only provided me with insights on my manuscript but directed me on the steps ahead, introduced me to some basic concepts of PB writing that I, being an emerging writer, was unaware of  and provided useful links that would surely help develop my skills. At the same time, I felt encouraged by her and by the warmth that she had blended in her critique. A thorough professional with the heart to share her vast knowledge, Karla definitely is the best!”

Tej Barua, children’s book writer