PROFESSIONAL CRITIQUES


Rate Your Story offers writers a number rating (1-10) on a manuscript for free. If you're a Basic or Pro Member, or purchase a SPEEDPASS, you'll also get a few sentences of feedback.  However, you may benefit from having a full critique of your story – something not offered from Rate Your Story.

If you've already received your free rating, you might consider getting a critique or line-edit of your story in order to understand how to make it better (or not tamper with what is so good about it).

Volunteer judges at Rate Your Story offer these services for a fee on their websites.  If you want to know (on a much deeper level) what's great–or not so great–about your story, consider getting a professional critique from one of these writers.

NOTE: Basic and Pro Members will automatically be signed up for rotating discount offers on professional critiques. Nonmembers may occasionally be notified of discounts from time to time by signing up for our eNewsletter. These offers and discounts will not be posted online for the general public to view.


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Miranda Paul is a freelance writer, editor, and Picture Book Academy Instructor who offers critiques, line-editing, and other writing services. She specializes in picture books, folk tales, and creative nonfiction (that tends to rhyme). She's authored more than 60 digital books for children, edited a print collection of folk tales, and published pieces in magazines such asPocketsTurtle Magazine for Preschool Kids, and Children and Libraries. Her forthcoming picture books include One Plastic Bag (Millbrook/Lerner Publishing, 2015) and Water is Water (Neal Porter Books, 2015). View her portfoliowebpage, or blog to learn more.


Photo: Karen A. Lloyd
Lisa Wheeler is passionate about children’s books. “I love everything about them, including the smell.” To date, Lisa has thirty titles on library shelves, with more to follow over the next few years. She’s written picture books in prose and rhyme, an easy reader series, three books of poems, and creative nonfiction for the very young.  Learn more about Lisa's books at her website, http://lisawheelerbooks.com/LW/home.html.  Her professional critique page is available at: http://lisawheelerbooks.com/LW/critique.html.


Jill Esbaum is the author of 11 picture books with major publishers, plus a few titles in the new Angry Birds Playground series. She is a former instructor for the Institute of Children’s Literature, and, in addition to critiquing picture book manuscripts privately, she is a longtime workshop facilitator at the University of Iowa Summer Writing Festival and co-hosts the annual Whispering Woods Picture Book Writing Workshop. Jill and her husband live on a family farm in eastern Iowa.  You can learn more about obtaining a professional critique from Jill at her critiques page, http://www.jillesbaum.com/CRITIQUE.html.




Kelly Hashway is a children's book author who also works as a freelance editor. She is the author of a YA trilogy (Touch of Death, Stalked by Death, and The Monster Within) from Spencer Hill Press and the forthcoming MG novel The Curse of the Granville Fortune(Month9Books, 2014). She is also the author of five picture books. Her novels are represented by Lauren Hammond of ADA Management. To find out more about her editorial services, visit her website at http://www.kellyhashway.com or her blog at http://kellyhashway.blogspot.com.




Anne E. Johnson writes fiction in many genres. Her works include the middle-grade paranormal mystery Ebenezer's Locker (MuseItUp), middle-grade historical mysteries Trouble at the Scriptorium  (Royal Fireworks), and noir sci-fi series The Webrid Chronicles (Candlemark & Gleam). The year 2014 will bring the release of her humorous chapter book Launching the Lunchroom (4RV Publishing) and her YA sci-fi adventure novel Space Surfers (Candlemark & Gleam). She has had nearly forty short stories published, for both children and adults. Visit Anne's website to inquire about professional critique services or to learn more about her stories.



Linda Skeers LOVES children's books! She's the author of picture books, children's nonfiction, magazine stories, poems and articles on the craft of writing. She is a former instructor for the Institute of Children's Literature and co-teacher of the annual Whispering Woods Picture Book Writing Workshop. Linda enjoys mentoring aspiring writers and does private manuscript critiques. For more information go to www.lindaskeers.com.


Freelance writer and children's librarian Sharon Verbeten has been a writer/journalist for more than 20 years. She has been widely published in national and local trade and consumer titles and she is the author of the book The Best of Barbie (Krause, 2001). Sharon is also the editor of Children & Libraries magazine, the official, refereed journal of the ALA's Association for Library Service to Children (the organization who assembles Newbery & Caldecott Committees). She can be reached at toylady@athenet.net or via her company's Facebook page under All Write Creative Services.




Ella Kennen – Ella is an intern firmly buried in the slush at the Corvisiero Literary Agency. Before this, she worked as an editor for Musa Publishing, and before that, she  published over 100 pieces, including over two dozen articles and stories for children in magazines such as Girl's Life, Appleseeds, Boy's Quest and more. Ella is a big picture-person and loves good world-building and voice. She is not available for professional critiques, but she does share her slush-pile wisdom at @EllaTalks




Katie Clark is the author of the upcoming YA Enslaved series (Watershed/Pelican Book Group, 2014) and several picture books for Capstone Press, Redline Editorial, and Guardian Angel Publishing. She has also published more than 50 short stories and articles for children and adults, and her writing is represented by Terry Burns of Hartline Literary Agency. For more information about contacting Katie for a professional critique, visit her website at www.katieclarkwrites.com.







Lori Degman is a picture book author and teacher of deaf and hard-of-hearing students.  Her first picture book, 1 Zany Zoo (Simon and Schuster, 2010), was the winner of the 2nd Annual Cheerios New Author Contest.  Her second picture book, Cock-a-Doodle Oops! (Creston Books), will be released in May, 2014.She writes mostly in rhyme, sometimes in prose, and always with humor.  “I love helping writers with their rhyming picture book stories," she said.  "My professional critiques include comments on all aspects of the story, as well as a line-by-line review of both rhythm and rhyme.”  Learn more about Lori’s critique service on her website: www.Loridegman.com.

Photo: Richard Mayer
Pamela Mayer is a children's book writer and children's librarian. Her most recent picture book, Don't Sneeze At the Wedding, (Kar-Ben 2013) received the 2013 Sugarman Family Children's Book Award. Stories and articles she has written have appeared in Jack and Jill, Humpty Dumpty, Primary TreasureStories for Children, Highlights, The Friend,Hopscotch and My Friend. An avid reader since childhood, she knows that only the best is good enough for children! For more information visit her website at www.pamelamayer.com


Lisa Albert - Lisa Albert’s thought-provoking young adult novel, Mercy Lily, debuted from Flux in 2011. Lisa’s also written three nonfiction titles including, Stephenie Meyer: Author of the Twilight SagaLois Lowry: The Giver of Stories and Memories, and So You Want to Be a Film or TV Actor? She’s been a contributing writer for The Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market where her author profiles and articles on the craft of writing have appeared. Lisa has presented workshops on writing and the publishing industry for the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators and has appeared events held by the American Library Association, the American Association of School Librarians, the Wisconsin Book Festival, and the Southeast Wisconsin Festival of Books. In addition to being an author, Lisa is a Library Assistant at a K-8 school library and loves being surrounded by books and children every day.



Melissa Gorzelanczyk is a freelance writer, editor and author of The Hybrid Homemaker who offers critiques and other writing services. Her debut YA, ARROW, will be published by Delacorte/Random House in 2015. She has a ten-year background as a newspaper and magazine editor, and was the recipient of the Marsha Dunlap Memorial Scholarship (SCBWI-WI, 2011) for one of her YA manuscripts. She is represented by agent Carrie Howland of Donadio & Olson. Contact her through Elance or follow her writing at Peace & Projects.


Kristen Fulton lives in Central Florida with her husband Rusty, a rocket scientist (really). Kristen's books are represented by Kendra Marcus of Bookstop Literary and she has three forthcoming nonfiction and historical picture books. Kristen is also the founder of Week of Writing: Nonficpic week and organizer of a private picture book retreat that will take place in Georgia in July 2014. When she is not writing or planning her WOW retreat, Kristen likes to watch the Hallmark channel. Learn more at http://www.kristenfulton.org.

Julie Mata’s novel, Kate Walden Directs: Night of the Zombie Chickens (Disney Hyperion, 2014), is the first book in her middle-grade series. Julie has worked as a television reporter and freelance writer, and is currently a writer and producer for the video production company she co-owns with her husband. You can find out more about her book at her website http://juliemata.com, at her Facebook page, or follow her on Twitter at @juliehmata.



Margot Finke is an Aussie Transplant who has lived in Oregon for many years. Her 11x published children’s books can be viewed on “Margot’s Magic Carpet.” If you want to HOOK a publisher with writing that is tight and terrific, Margot’sManuscript Critique Service offers personal guidance.  She focuses on what is vital to the plot plus richly drawn characters.  An in-depth critique includes suggestions + examples that are as tight as your granny’s new girdle. ** For self-editing and other writing help, visit Secrets of Writing for Children.



Nancy Stewart is the bestselling and award winning author of the four Bella and Britt Series books for children:  One Pelican at a Time (eighteen weeks on Amazon Bestselling List), Sea Turtle Summer (International Classics Gold Book Award), Bella Saves the Beach and Mystery at Manatee Key. Her book, Katrina and Winter: Partners in Courage, is the authorized biography of Katrina Simpkins and her life changing relationship with Winter, the dolphin (International Classics Silver Award, 2013) A frequent speaker and presenter at writing conferences throughout the United States, Nancy conducts many for SCBWI and speaks to school children frequently. Learn more at www.nancystewartbooks.com, read her blog, or visit her on Twitter or Facebook.

Terrie Hope grew up in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), Africa, and founded Critique Cafe as a way for writers to network, join critique groups, and get help with their manuscripts.  Terrie is as much of a reader as a writer, and has contributed to creative endeavors ranging from puppet plays to church newsletters.  If you're looking for critique partners, visit Critique Cafe or connect with Terrie via her website, www.TerrieHope.com


Katrina DeLallo is a spiritual, fantasy writer whose work has been published in several eZines, SuperTeacherWorksheets.com, and in print anthologies published by Static Movement.  Her earliest writing memory stems from the age of six, when she wrote her first story into a journal given to her by one of her older sisters. She adores imagining new worlds, new places, new people and characters. Her main draw is to fantasy, because fantasy allows her to create worlds that do not exist. Visit Katrina's blog or request a critique at her website, The World Crafter.


Want to know what to expect from a professional critique?  Harold Underdown's website has an entire page devoted to what a writer can expect from a professional critique here.