CBI 1-On-1 is a manuscript consulting service offered through Children's Book Insider.
Laura Backes, publisher of Children's Book Insider, the Newsletter for Children's Writers, has worked in the field since 1986, and has held positions with several publishers including Ballantine and Farrar, Straus & Giroux. She is also a former literary agent and freelance editor.
Her book, Best Books for Kids Who (Think They) Hate To Read was published by Prima/Random House in 2001. She's the Technical Editor of Writing Children's Books for Dummies (Wiley), and a contributor to The Writer and Writers Digest magazines as well as the 2012 edition of Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market. Laura is a frequent speaker at writing conferences, and since 2001 has taught the Children's Authors' Bootcamp writing workshop around the country with author Linda Arms White.
Laura has critiqued over 2000 manuscripts, picture books through young adult, fiction and nonfiction, from all levels of writers.
Here's what some of her clients have to say:
Chris Woodworth, author of When Ratboy Lived Next Door, Georgie’s Moon, and Double-Click for Trouble (Farrar, Straus & Giroux):
“Laura helped me clean up my first novel manuscript, then made helpful structural suggestions. An agent picked it up and piqued the prompt interest of an editor. Based on such good results, I also submitted my second novel manuscript to Laura, which immediately sold to the same editor! My agent was impressed enough to request Laura’s contact info for other clients."
Cynthia Chapman Willis, author of Dog Gone and Buck Fever (Feiwel and Friends/Macmillan):
“Laura’s review of my mid-grade novel manuscript was detailed, precise and professional. It pinpointed strengths and weaknesses, efficiently walked me through areas that needed work, and asked poignant questions. My revisions led to publication and positive reviews. I applied the critique lessons to a second novel manuscript, published the next year. I would not hesitate to return to Laura for further advice and guidance."
Diane Tinney; President and Publisher, Keene Publishing:
“Laura Backes has a natural talent for being a storyline editor. Storyline editors need to not ‘re-write,’ but instead recognize and exploit the author’s voice. Our books shine because of Laura’s insights and skills.”
Barbara Plotkin, aspiring author:
"You have opened up my mind to so many things. I have never been so excited to go back to my stories and write. This was the best money I ever spent for anything anywhere anytime! I feel like I have a new life ahead of me and I can't wait to make it all happen."
Laura offers two basic critique packages:
The Big Picture
* assessment of overall story idea or nonfiction concept
* a look at the plot arc and characters
* analysis of writing style and voice
* pinpointing of strengths and weaknesses to be addressed in revisions (dialogue, point of view, show don't tell)
* comments on marketability and if idea is appropriate for the intended audience
* answers to any specific questions the author has at this point
How critique is executed:
Author contacts Laura to arrange date for the critique, and then emails manuscript along with any questions. Laura reads and makes notes about the work, then calls the author at the scheduled time and gives the critique during a 30-45 minute phone call (picture books and easy readers require a 30-minute call; longer works can go up to 45 minutes). The call is recorded and emailed to the author as an mp3. The manuscript is also emailed back to the author containing any broad comments and/or examples of how the writing can be revised.
Who would benefit from this critique:
Beginning or unpublished writers; writers of any level who want some input on their first drafts; authors switching from one genre to the next; anyone who wants early feedback on an outline, synopsis, opening chapters, or any other portion of a manuscript.
Submit the entire manuscript, or a portion (a synopsis or outline is recommended if only submitting a few chapters so Laura can judge how the excerpt fits into the whole work).
Base price: $135 for the first five pages
$1.50 per page after five pages.
Pages are double-spaced, in standard manuscript format (12 point type, Times New Roman or similar, 1 inch margins on sides, 1-1.5 inch margins top and bottom, pages numbered consecutively). A single-spaced synopsis counts as two pages.
* A 10% discount is given to manuscripts previously critiqued by Laura in a Big Picture Critique.
A Closer Look
* general editing marks and comments written on the manuscript. If a problem is consistent throughout work (such as telling instead of showing), Laura will closely line edit one chapter as an example of the types of revisions needed throughout.
* a thorough analysis of the plot, character development, voice, dialogue and pacing
* analyzing the believability of characters, premise, setting (especially in fantasy, sci-fi and talking animal books)
* comments on general writing style and any areas that need work
How the critique is executed:
Author contacts Laura and schedules a date for the critique. Prior to that date, the author sends Laura the entire manuscript (electronic submissions are preferred; physical manuscripts can be mailed with a self-addressed, stamped envelope). Laura will read the manuscript on the scheduled date, and write a detailed letter discussing the above areas. Then the manuscript and critique will be emailed back to the author (or mailed, if sent a hard copy) within two days. (Note: For electronic manuscripts, Laura uses the Edit function on Word to show changes and comments right on the manuscript.)
Who would benefit from this critique:
Previously published authors; writers whose manuscripts have been revised and/or critiqued by a writers group; manuscripts that have already gone through a Big Picture critique; authors who have taken several writing workshops, read books on writing, or who have spent considerable time studying children's books. This critique is designed for authors who are comfortable with getting constructive criticism on their work and are committed to focusing on the areas that need revision in order to vastly improve their writing.
Base price: $175 for the first five pages
$2.50 per page after 5 pages.
Pages are double-spaced, in standard manuscript format (12 point type, Times New Roman or similar, 1 inch margins on sides, 1-1.5 inch margins top and bottom, pages numbered consecutively
**A 20% discount is given to manuscripts previously critiqued by Laura in a Closer Look critique.
Additional Services for Authors and Illustrators: Critique and rewriting (if necessary) of query letter …..$25 if accompanying a manuscript critique; $35 if just sending the letter *** Phone consultations, covering any questions or concerns about writing, submitting or marketing the work….$75 for 30 minutes *** Long-term mentoring, concept development, ghost writing, or other custom services….call Laura at 970/495-0056 to discuss
To schedule a critique: Contact Laura at Laura@cbiclubhouse.com with the type of critique you'd like, and the number of pages in your manuscript. Laura will let you know the first date available for your critique. Payment is due one week before the scheduled date (you can call 970/495-0056 to pay with a credit card; pay through PayPal to firstname.lastname@example.org; or send a check to 901 Columbia Road, Ft. Collins, CO 80525).
Manuscripts must arrive by the day before the scheduled critique. If you need to reschedule your critique, please let Laura know as soon as possible so she can give the slot to someone else. If you cancel the critique within a week of its scheduled time without rescheduling, or reschedule the same critique more than twice, a $50 fee will be charged. Questions? Call Laura at 970/495-0056. Thank you!