Does Your KidLit WIP Need Fresh Eyes?

Wednesday, February 25, 2015
Living in a rural area, I have limited writer resources. Two writing groups in the entire county. An annual one day writing workshop. Zero bookstores. Published authors...some. But it's difficult to make connections. That's why, when I stumbled on KidLit 411 Manuscript Swap it was like a dream come true.

I have several children's picture books that get sporadic attention. I will send them out to a few agents or publishers, get back rejections, refine them, send them out again. What I really needed was someone objective to read them and tell me all the harsh truths. Someone who knows something about children's books.

Because I work at a job that puts me in touch with dozens of teachers I thought of asking some to read my manuscripts or allow me to read them to their students but I wanted the manuscripts to be at their best before taking that leap. So hooray for KidLit 411 Manuscript Swap! It's a Facebook group where members post what type of children's manuscript they have and what they're asking of other members. Some requests are wide ranging like "fresh eyes", others have specific things they're looking for: "Is the ending weak?", "Which scene should I cut?", even line by line edits. Although picture book writers usually offer their entire WIP, most chapter and middle readers offer 2-3 chapters. Members do a critique for critique swap and you can choose what you critique as most members post type of book, genre, word count and often a brief outline such as "a rhyming picture book about vampires".

Three members critiqued two of my manuscripts and they were wonderful. They asked questions I hadn't even considered, pointed out problems and made suggestions as well as telling me where they thought my writing was strongest. It wasn't only the critiques I received that helped me. Doing critiques for other writers helped me with my own work. Dissecting their work made me look at my work in a different way. KidLit 411 Manuscript Swap is an incredible tool that all children's writers should be using!

Jodi Webb is a blog tour organizer for WOW-Women on Writing and would love to hear about your book and promotional needs at She blogs about books and writing at Words by Webb and Building Bookshelves. Like all mama writers she has a children's book manuscript (or two or four...) in the works. None about vampires, but one about a pig that thinks she's Carmen Miranda.


Elizabeth Pagel-Hogan said...

Hi Jodi! I'm a member of the KidLit 411 group, too, and have gotten excellent feedback on manuscripts. While I am lucky to live in an area with lots of resources for writers, I do have a busy schedule and the manuscript swap helps me, too! This is a great post and hopefully we'll exchange manuscripts in the future!

Renee Roberson said...

This is so cool, Jodi! Thank you for sharing with us. I'll definitely have to check it out.

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