Picture Book Critiques

Picture books are easy to read so they must be easy to write, right?  As you know, nothing could be further from the truth.  It takes skill and hard work to craft a marketable story that begs to be read over and over again. 

I offer online critiques for picture book manuscripts (prose and rhyme) of 1,000 words or less (writers must be 18 years or older).

My Experience
My writing career began at my first SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) conference in 1999.  Having learned from the best authors, editors, and agents, I've honed my craft for 20 years, gaining valuable insight along the way. I’ve critiqued hundreds of manuscripts for fellow writers and have over a dozen published picture books (fiction, non-fiction, rhyme, and prose) with Random House, Clarion Books, Henry Holt, Candlewick Press, Disney, and others


Without Danna Smith's critiques and patience, I don't know how long or if I would ever have been able to announce the sale of my first picture book. Danna is filled with talent but a lot of talented people can't seem to teach others. That definitely is not true of Danna. She is so patient and works to pull the best manuscript out of the writers who use her critiques. She won't let you settle for second best and that's what we writers need. Today's market won't settle for just good and neither should we. I highly recommend her.   -Linda Whalen Little Red Rolls Away / Sleeping Bear Press

Danna's critiques are a fantastic resource for both new and experienced picture book writers. She is thorough, thoughtful and extremely fast. The critiques themselves are quite competitively priced and worth every penny. Thanks, Danna!  - Eileen Manes

Danna Smith has been critiquing my manuscripts for years. I know she has great insight into what makes a picture book special. Her feedback is incredibly valuable to me. She's an author I greatly admire and a prolific writer. - Kristyn Crow, author of the ZOMBELINA series

As a member of the published picture book writers' group I belong to, Danna has offered thoughtful, specific critiques of my manuscripts and of the work of other group members. Danna strikes just the right balance between useful comments and kindness. She leaves you hopeful about making your manuscript better and gives you tools with which to do it. Thanks, Danna! —Kate Coombs, author of The Tooth Fairy Wars and Water Sings Blue

I have been in a critique group with Danna Kessimakis Smith for over ten years. I am dazzled by her work ethic. She is a relentless reviser! And her persistence pays off — with a shelf full of books to her credit. I wouldn’t submit a manuscript without her excellent feedback, and you shouldn’t either.  -Carolyn Fisher, author-illustrator of THE SNOW SHOW

Danna Smith is a true professional when it comes to critiquing picture book manuscripts. Her sense of rhythm, pacing, story arc, and character development are spot-on and she is able to offer feedback that is both insightful and helpful in a very practical way.   --Sharlee Glenn

In the several years I have participated in the same writer's group as Danna, I have come to value her thoughtful, thorough critiques. I especially appreciate that while she is candid in identifying flaws, she also provides substantive suggestions and encouragement that help fuel my revising efforts. I have a great deal of respect for her tenacity and dedication as a writer ~ she has definitely paid the price in experience to qualify her to assist others in their quest for success.  -Leah Wilcox

Critique Fees through PayPal

$100.00 for a picture book manuscript critique of 1,000 words or less.

$35.00 for a second review and polish of the same manuscript after you have revised your work.

What you will get
I understand that it's difficult to let someone read your work, thank you for considering taking this important step with me. With this in mind:

I will keep your manuscript confidential.
I will be direct and honest with my constructive feedback.
Manuscripts differ, but you will receive line-specific guidance in many of the following areas:

story structure
plot development
character development
point of view
sentence structure
word choice
story strengths and weaknesses
creative suggestions


If you would like a critique, please follow these steps:

First, send me an email to check availability.
Include your contact information on your manuscript.
Click below to pay via PayPal
When I receive notification of payment, I will contact you via email requesting your manuscript as an email attachment.
When received, I will confirm receipt of your manuscript.
That's it!  I will critique your manuscript and return it via email within one week.

35.00 second look



100.00 critique