Picture Books, with Kayla Cichello

September 29th, 2022 - October 31st, 2022

with Kim Pfennigwerth

Group started

In this intimate workshop, you'll receive a written critique of a picture book manuscript from literary agent Kayla Cichello from Upstart Crow Literary Agency, plus get the opportunity to speak to Kayla individually in the live group call that follows critiques. You'll also exchange critiques with your workshop peers.  

How it works

You'll submit your pages at the group start, then spend the next weeks critiquing peer stories. The agent will submit their notes near the critique deadline. After critiques are complete, we host a live group debrief over Zoom, in which each writer gets individual time with the agent to dig into feedback, brainstorm next steps, and discuss any writing questions. 

Our goal with these events is to help writers become stronger storytellers. That said, this workshop also comes with a submission opportunity.

About the group workshop format

Participants should be sure they have at least 1 hour to give for critiquing each person's manuscript (plus reading time). Because this is a group of 9, this means you should have at least 8 hours available for your peers' stories.

This makes for an intense workload for the few weeks of peer critique. However, we've also found that this format accelerates learning because you are able to read a professional's feedback on each story you have read and critiqued, and you will listen to each one-on-one in the debrief. Many writers have told us that listening and learning from the professional's notes to others has been just as beneficial to their learning as the feedback on their own work.


Who this workshop is for: Writers are expected to be at an intermediate level of picture book writing craft or above. Writers may have achieved this through self-study of books and exercises, or organized instruction such as classes, workshops, or webinars. Writers should be familiar with elements of craft such as characterization, plot, internal arc, and pacing, in order to offer craft-rooted feedback to their peers.

Focus: Children's - Picture Books - Fiction - Children's - Picture…

Group size: 9 writers

Submissions: Submit one picture book. Fiction submissions should be under 900 words; nonfiction should be under 1500 words.


Members: $101; Non-members: $121

We are pleased to offer a workshop spot free of charge to a writer of color or from a historically marginalized background. Applications for this scholarship have closed.

About Kim Pfennigwerth

Kayla Cichello is an agent with Upstart Crow Literary open to picture books through YA and illustrators. She’s searching for voices that can make her laugh, and keep her turning the page, but above all else, voices that feel authentic and honest. Some of her clients include Ana Otaru, author of the upcoming picture book MASQUERADE FOR GRANDPA (Atheneum/S&S, 2023), and a follow up in 2024, and author/illustrator Kirbi Fagan, illustrator of SUMMER OF THE TREE ARMY (Sleeping Bear, 2021). You can find more about Kayla’s taste at www.upstartcrowliterary.com.

Critique Style: I like to focus on high-level issues in my critiques, thinking about points like is a manuscript hitting all the right marks, is it something unique enough for the market, and if the elements are working overall, noting specific instances in the text where there may be room to flesh out an idea, emotion, or moment. My comments are always meant as suggestions, and are meant to make the author think through places that may not be working just yet.


Thurs, Sept 29th- Submissions due
Thurs, Oct 20th- Critiques due
Thurs, Oct 27th, Debrief call 3:30-5:45pm ET
Mon, Oct 31st - Group closes - unless a second round is decided.