I offer critique services for fiction and nonfiction picture books.
Why am I offering critiques? I’ve written manuscripts for a variety of ages, including two published picture books and two more forthcoming. I’ve also blogged about children’s books for The Bull Horn and other sites. I’m an active member of two critique groups—critique has always been an important part of my writing process.
Why picture books? I’m drawn to picture books because they are created for the youngest readers. They are an important part of how children learn about language and story, and they can introduce kids to a wide range of topics. I also love how the picture book form pairs text and image, inviting writers to accomplish a great deal with minimal words. It can feel like a puzzle to combine all the elements of character development, narrative arc, pacing, theme, and language into a manuscript. I enjoy working with writers as they develop and polish their manuscripts and prepare them for submission.
What does a critique include? A written critique of your full manuscript will include big picture comments and line edits. I’ll provide feedback on structure, narrative arc, pacing, character development, theme, and language in an editorial letter and a marked-up manuscript. If there is a particular question you would like me to consider during the critique, we can discuss that as well.
How much does it cost? $100 for up to 1200 words (including backmatter).
How long will the critique take? 2-3 weeks.
How can you sign up for a critique? If you are interested, please contact me here.
I look forward to reading your words!
“Alison’s critique of my PB biography was like receiving a warm hug. Throughout the text, she asked questions which highlighted where I could provide additional information to make the story richer and more complete. These nudges also made me realize how and when to add facts without slowing down the story and losing the language I had already worked hard to establish. Alison carefully broke down her overall thoughts into sections so I could easily go back to these thoughts individually in my revision process. Thank you, Alison, for your insight.”-Sara Dorsch
“If I were to choose three words to describe Alison Goldberg’s critiques, they’d be kind, insightful, and experienced. Writers can be confident that Alison will read their manuscripts respectfully and respond to them authentically. Most importantly, she knows how to offer guidance and make suggestions without trying to steer the story herself. All of my picture books have benefited from Alison’s expert eye and commitment to excellence.”-Hayley Barrett, author of What Miss Mitchell Saw, illustrated by Diana Sudyka (Beach Lane Books, 2019)
“I came to Alison with a children’s book that I’d been working on for two years and she was amazingly helpful in taking my raw ideas and refining them into something beautiful that truly expressed the essence of the work. It’s been a joy working with her and her encouragement and guidance have been invaluable to my creative process.”-Adriana Mesén
“I’ve been so fortunate to have Alison as a critique partner for the last six years. Her feedback has been invaluable. Whether it’s a picture book or middle grade nonfiction, she always makes my manuscript stronger and is skilled at identifying those key things that are not working. Most critiquers will be helpful in one or two areas, but they won’t be adept at critiquing character development, setting, plot, pacing, structure, and voice. Alison stands out because she is talented at making recommendations in ALL areas and she does it using a kind and generous approach, always making sure to point out the things that are working well. Alison has made me a better writer—a critique from her is a gift that keeps on giving.”-Heather Lang, author of The Leaf Detective: How Margaret Lowman Uncovered Secrets in the Rainforest, illustrated by Jana Christy (Calkins Creek, 2021)
“I have had the great good fortune to have Alison Goldberg as my critique partner for many years. Not only is Alison a wonderful champion and cheerleader for each piece of new work I share, she is also an astute reader and responder. Alison looks closely at the structure of a picture book, analyzing it for consistency of form and suitability of function. She also “listens” carefully to character presentation, watching for a match between the emotions of the characters and the words that give them voice. In particular, Alison was especially helpful with my new picture book Pa, Me, and Our Sidewalk Pantry where she supported my efforts to bring an important social justice issue that she is passionate about to the page through helpful and sensitive comments on the plot and dialogue that improved both immensely. I wouldn’t be the writer I am without Alison’s insightful and encouraging critiques.”-Toni Buzzeo, author of Pa, Me, and Our Sidewalk Pantry, illustrated by Zara González Hoang (Abrams, 2023)
“As a longtime critique partner over many years, Alison has helped me grow as a picture book writer. Alison’s approach to critique is kind and nurturing, and I always feel that she is working with me to help me accomplish what I want to do with a particular manuscript. She is skilled in providing feedback on all aspects of story – whether it’s setting, plot, character development, structure, narrative arc, or language. I have especially benefited from her keen and subtle insights about pacing, beats across a manuscript, being spare in style, and letting a story breathe. (In addition to all the varieties of narrative writing she does, Alison is also a poet!) I am enormously grateful to have Alison in my writing life.”-Ellen Mayer, author of Gift & Box, illustrated by Brizida Magro (Knopf, 2023)
“Alison is a trusted, valuable picture book critique partner of fiction and nonfiction, who returns manuscripts promptly. The feedback she provides, both overall comments and line edits, is professional, helpful, and encouraging. I highly recommend her services!”-Robin W.
“Alison and I have been in a critique group together for a number of years. I always appreciate the thoughtful focus that she brings to each critique, and her insight helps me think about my work in new ways. I often leave our meetings with new approaches to my manuscripts, feeling encouraged and enthusiastic.”-Sarah Lynne Reul, author and illustrator of Bubbie & Rivka’s Best-Ever Challah (So Far!) (Abrams, 2022)
“Alison has been my critique partner for many years, and I’ve found her feedback on my picture book manuscripts consistently helpful. Sometimes I’ll bring a story I consider to be in good shape—done even! And Alison will point out areas that need work. Maybe I lost track of the theme or need an extra line here and there to improve the flow. Her comments—both verbal and written—are offered so gently and clearly that I never feel, “Oh no! But it’s so good! It was done!” Instead I feel, “Oh, I see what she means!” And I go back to my writing not discouraged but energized to make it stronger. Anyone who gets to work with the kind, astute Alison Goldberg will be fortunate.”-Jane Sutton, author of Gracie Brings Back Bubbe’s Smile, illustrated by Debby Rahmalia (Albert Whitman, 2022)
“Working with Alison is a “dig into this” delight – she’s curious, insightful, and not afraid to dive deeply into the complex layers of theme and story, and to help illuminate the heart of a picture book, whether fiction, non-fiction, or hybrid informational, whether short, long, or in between, whether wild, wistful, or gently whimsical. I’ve been fortunate to have Alison’s feedback on a wide range of projects for over a decade, and there is no doubt my work, and my writing spirit, is better for it.”-S. Abra Hanen