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.


RYS eNews Signup




Miranda Paul is a freelancer and children's author who specializes in picture books and creative nonfiction (that tends to rhyme). She's authored more than 60 digital stories and readers for children, edited a print collection of folk tales, and published pieces in magazines such as PocketsTurtle Magazine for Preschool Kids, and Children and Libraries. She has four upcoming picture books: One Plastic Bag (Millbrook/Lerner, Feb. 2015); Water is Water (Neal Porter Books, Spring 2015); 10 Little Ninjas (Knopf/Random House, 2016) and Helping Hands (Millbrook/Lerner, 2016). Miranda is also a campaign member for #WeNeedDiverseBooks, a volunteer for her local SCBWI chapter, and hosts fundraisers for Books for Africa, Inc. View her webpage 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. Hashway is represented by Sarah Negovetich of Corvisiero Literary Agency. To find out more about her editorial services, visit her website at http://www.kellyhashway.com or her blog at http://kellyhashway.blogspot.com.



Tameka Fryer Brown was awarded one of two First Prizes in the 2008 Cheerios® Spoonfuls of Stories® New Author Contest. Her debut picture book, Around Our Way on Neighbors’ Day (Abrams Books for Young Readers) was selected by the New York Board of Education for its library system—and purchased 69,000 copies! Her second picture book, My Cold Plum Lemon Pie Bluesy Mood (Viking Children’s Books/Penguin), is written in rhythmic, free verse and illustrated by CSK winner Shane W. Evans. Her book has been named a 2014 Charlotte Zolotow Honor, a Bank Street College Best Book of 2014, and a CCBC Choices Best Book of 2014. Learn more at http://www.tamekafryerbrown.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.




Ella Kennen is an agent 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 does not do professional critiques, but she runs the RYS blog. Have questions about agents or writing? Want to blog on Rate Your Story? Write her at rateyourstoryblog@gmail.com


Rob Sanders is a writer who teaches and a teacher who writes. Every day you'll find him at Mintz Elementary School in Brandon, Florida where he teaches kids about books and words and reading and writing. Then he scoots back home to write books for children just like those he teaches. On weekends and holidays you might find Rob with his dog, Baxter, at the beach with his great nieces and nephews, or learning and working with other children’s writers. Nothing makes him happier than hearing boys and girls say, “Read it again!” Visit Rob’s web site (where you can learn more about getting a professional picture book critique) at www.robsanderswrites.com and his blog atwww.robsanderswrites.blogspot.com.



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.



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 (ALSC, the organization that assembles Newbery & Caldecott Committees). She can be reached at toylady@athenet.net or via her company's Facebook page under All Write Creative Services.

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.




Vicky Rubin is an author and illustrator with books from Henry Holt. She specializes in humor. Her rhyming poetry has appeared in Cricket and Spider magazines. Her whimsical illustrations have decorated books, magazines, and greeting cards. She has worked as a writer/proofreader/copyeditor a for over 15 years, for magazines, businesses, and private authors. She has also taught art and English. She's a member of SCBWI and CBIG (Children's Book Illustrators Group) and was a longtime student in Marcia Savin's Writing for Children workshop. She offers detailed critiques, editorial services, and more. In her crits, she looks at character development, structure, language, pacing, plot, and the takeaway. Visit her at http://doodlesoop.comCritiques page:  http://www.doodlesoop.com/critiques/  Email: vicky@doodlesoop.com



Pam Calvert is an author of children’s picture books, easy readers, and short stories. She has four picture books nationally published that have been translated into Chinese, Korean, Catalan, and Spanish with more to come. Her Princess Peepers series has won awards and some of her books are Scholastic Book Club titles, including Multiplying Menace: The Revenge of Rumpelstiltskin. She offers a free picture book workshop, Picture Book University, on her blog as well as a highly praised critique service. She is represented by Kathleen Rushall of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency.

Jennifer Swanson’s love of science began when she started a science club in her garage at the age of 9. While no longer working from the garage, Jennifer’s passion for science resonates in the fascinating 20 nonfiction and fiction books she has written for children. She has received an award from the Pennsylvania TriState Young Adult Review Committee and books in the “How Things Work” series by The Child’s World were named to the 2012 Booklist’s Top 10 Books for Youth: Series Nonfiction. Top reviews include a starred review in Booklist, and recommended reviews from School Librarians Workshop, Library Media Connection, School Library Journal, and the National Science Teacher Association. Jennifer’s new books include releases with Rosen Publishing, ABDO Publishing, Britannica, National Geographic Kids (2015), and Charlesbridge (2016). She is also a member of SCBWI and a blogger at The Mixed Up Files of Middle Grade Authors. Read more at JenniferSwansonBooks.com.

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.

Noelle Sterne has published over 300 writing craft and motivational articles, essays, and stories in online and print venues such as Author Magazine, Chicken Soup for the Soul, Children’s Book Insider, Fiction Southeast, Funds for Writers, Romance Writers Report, and Writer’s Digest. Her children's book, Tyrannosaurus Wrecks: A Book of Dinosaur Riddles (HarperCollins) was featured on the hit television show Reading Rainbow. Noelle’s book Trust Your Life, Forgive Yourself and Go After Your Dreams (Unity Books, 2011) helps writers and other readers release regrets, relabel their past, and reach their lifelong yearnings. With a Ph.D. in English, Noelle serves professionally as an academic coach and editor for doctoral candidates. Her forthcoming book, specifically for dissertation writers, is titled Challenges in Writing Your Dissertation: Coping With the Emotional, Interpersonal, and Spiritual Struggles (Rowman & Littlefield Education, 2015). Please visit Noelle’s website: www.trustyourlifenow.com

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.