Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Critique Groups

On-Site Critique Groups

In the past we have hosted once a month Saturday Critique Groups from September through April prior to Chapter meetings from 12-1:45 p.m.  Please contact the appropriate critique coordinator listed below to see if there will be any ad hoc critique groups on-line prior to each months meeting. If there will be, the groups are capped at 6 people and an RSVP is required five days prior to the meeting, to allow for manuscripts to be distributed and groups arranged.

MG and YA authors please RSVP to Gigi Orlowski at (Because material is read in advance, walk-ins cannot be accommodated.)

PB and Chapter Book authors, please RSVP to Gigi or Susan until replacement has been announced. Until then do not use the following email at to ensure placement in an appropriate group and pre-distribution of material over 1,000 words.

On-line Critique Groups all genres, please contact Susan Ranscht through the chapter email at 

Illustrators, please RSVP to Katrin Azimi at – Note: the Illustrators often meet outside the Saturday timeframe so please contact Katrin for updates.

There is a Monthy Illustrator Meetup/Gathering held the Third Thursday of the month from 7-9 PM For our 2020/2021 Season Schmoozes Will Be On-line, so it is important you RSVP with Lisa at least a day in advance so she can send you the Zoom link. It’s a time for illustrators to come together to share inspiration and projects. Please contact Lisa Venditelli Karmel for more info at


Off-Site Critique Groups

     Gigi Orlowski, Susan Ranscht and Katrin Azimi also help bring writers and illustrators together to form off-site and on-line critique groups. 

     Critique groups are the best way to improve your work quality, manuscripts and portfolios. When children’s authors and illustrators get together in a small group to share and critique each other’s work a remarkable thing happens. The strengths each individual brings to the group combine with the strengths of others in the group to advance the skills of all members. Many critique groups have started with no published members only to have more and more members of the group become published over time. In addition, critique group members often share market information, help cushion the sting of rejections and celebrate successes.

     Typically organized by genre and geographic location, there are critique groups located throughout San Diego County.

If you are  an illustrator, interested in joining a critique group please email Katrin at 

If you are an author, please email Gigi Orlowski, Critique Group Coordinator at with the following information:

       – Your name and area of town

       – Which market(s)/genre(s) you write for

       – Any writing classes you have taken

       – Whether or not you are published and where

       – When and how often you would like to meet

       – If you are willing to start a new group or host a group at your home or in your area

     Be prepared to commit to meeting with the group and bringing your work on a regular basis. If you don’t share your work and/or miss most meetings, it puts a strain on the other members of the group.

     Be prepared to discuss both what works and any thing that still needs to be tweaked in a manuscript or illustration. The focus is on the manuscript or illustration, NOT the author or illustrator.

      LISTEN. A critique group is not the time to get defensive, it’s a time to listen and stretch and consider any and all comments. You don’t have to make the recommended changes, after all you are in charge of your own work, but you do owe your colleagues and yourself the curtsey of listening and considering what’s said. However, if everyone says the same thing, you probably need to re-work what’s bothering your critique group members.

      Each group is unique. Some rotate between member’s homes, others meet at restaurants, libraries, parks or bookstores. Some groups meet once a month, every other week or even once a week. Some exchange their work prior to the meeting others bring their work with them. Whatever works for your group is the right thing to do. Note: having a variety of writing styles and genres in your critique group enriches the group. Not everyone needs to be working on the same type of project.

     Give your writing and illustrating a kick-start. Join a critique group and make the commitment to meet on a regular basis with others who are serious about improving their skills. You’ll find it one of the best investments for improving your work and its marketability.