Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

How to Format and Submit Manuscripts, Picture Book Dummies, and Graphic Novels for a Manuscript Critique


How to Format and Submit

Manuscripts, Picture Book Dummies, and Graphic Novels

for a Manuscript Critique


A professionally formatted submission shows you to be a writer who understands the business of writing and publishing for children.  


Make sure your submission is formatted in the following manner:

Double spaced

One-inch margins

12 point Times New Roman Font

For a formatting guideline, download FROM KEYBOARD TO PRINTED PAGE


On the first page in the upper left corner, put your contact information:

Name  [the name on the submission MUST match the name on registration]





Category [YA, MG, PB, NF, CB, GN]


All pages must be numbered. In upper right corner from the second page,



Where does the title go?

The TITLE should be in caps, centered on the page and about halfway down.


How long can my submission be?

SUBMIT one (1) copy of up to (10) ten pages of one manuscript.

For Picture Books and Poetry: Submit only the first 800 words of one manuscript.

For Middle Grade, Young Adult, Non-Fiction and Chapter Books: Submit only the first TEN (10) pages of one manuscript, even if it cuts off mid-chapter.


Do I need to include a synopsis?

YES, you MUST submit a synopsis if you are submitting the first ten pages of a chapter book, middle grade or young adult. Picture books do not require a synopsis.

For more information on writing a synopsis, we suggest Jane Friedman’s Blog


How long should your synopsis be?

A synopsis should be no longer than one page, single spaced, approximately 250 to 300 words


Should you include word count in the header?

Most editors/agents don’t care about word count.


Should you put in a title page?

There is no need for a title page, nor for a letter to the industry professional providing the critique.


When your submission is ready, label your file with your name and then save it as a Word.docx file:   

LastName_Title_Faculty.docx (i.e, Fannin_Darkness_Adams.docx) 


Can I submit a dummy?

Yes, if you are an author/illustrator, you may submit a dummy in pdf form, text and images, maximum file size 8MB. Double-page spreads are recommended. (ie: Each single page in the pdf would show the two facing pages of the spread of your book.) Up to three fully illustrated and colored spreads are standard, with the rest of the dummy being pencil sketches. (If you’ve only got one finished spread, that’s ok. If you have no finished pages, also ok. If the entire book is finished out, that’s ok too. The point: submit your dummy.) 

To submit your picture book dummy, label your file with your name, identify it as a PBDummy within the file name, and then save it as a pdf: 

LastName_PBDummy_Title_Faculty.pdf (ex: Fannin_PBDummy_SunnyDay_Adams.pdf)


Can I submit a Graphic Novel?

Yes. To submit a graphic novel, include either 10 pages of the narrative (text only) as a Word.docx file as described above OR 10 pages of the final product that includes the artwork if you are also the illustrator.

For this second option, label your file with your name, and then save it as a pdf:

LastName_GN_Title_Faculty.pdf (ex: Fannin_GN_SunnyDay_Adams.pdf)


What If I have questions?

Contact Elizabeth Rawls, ARA ( or Becky Shillington, Co-ARA ( with questions or concerns.


***All critique entries must be formatted as described above.***





How do I submit?

We ask you to save your entry as one document in a Word.docx file (or pdf for author/illustrator dummies or graphic novels with illustrations–see above). The one document should include:

Your manuscript pages formatted as described above. 

Plus your one page, single-spaced synopsis of up to 300 words (if submitting a middle grade or young adult novel). 


When do I submit my critique?

Between August 1 and August 15, 2020.


Where do I send my critique?  

Send your entry to

In the email Subject Line: Last Name_Title_Faculty, i.e, Fannin_Darkness_Adams (This is just an example!)  

Attach your Word.docx or pdf to the body of the email. DO NOT PASTE INTO THE EMAIL! 

In the body of the email include: 

Name  [the name on the submission MUST match the name on registration]