Skypin' with the Picture Book Whisperer

Back in April, I won a critique session with author/illustrator/educator Mira Reisberg, who presented her "4 P's of Getting Published" on the 12x12 blog. After connecting over email, I sent her a picture book manuscript for the critique. Easier said than done.

I have a wide range of stories in a wide range of development levels. I debated whether to send Mira something rough and new or something more polished. When you have a precious hour with an industry pro (or, like 20 blazing minutes for a conference critique), you want to make the most of it. With a newer piece, maybe she could suggest directions for the story that I hadn't considered yet. Versus, with something I feel is close to being submission-worthy, perhaps she'd catch some details that push that manuscript over top. I went with a more polished piece. I've been ramping up a handful of my favorite stories for a new round of submissions, and I wanted to test out one of my stronger concepts. If Mira detected problems with my work, I'd rather hear it from her than submit a flawed manuscript.

Since Mira's in Sacramento and I'm in Mountain View, we Skyped. I'd only done this once before when my critique group Skyped in one of our partners who couldn't attend in person that day. That particular experience was mixed. It was great to include our friend, but the meeting was wearisome. Everyone was talking extra loud to be heard and our remote member could only see the person who was sitting directly in front of the laptop. But, for Mira's and my one-on-one conversation, Skype worked out swimmingly.

And I couldn't have asked for a more enjoyable and productive experience. Mira provided such wonderful feedback on a whole range of levels. While maintaining a friendly tone of support and inquisitiveness, she called out small surface details as well as delved into issues of subtext and story structure. She asked tough questions and offered keen insights. She offered both assurance and challenges, and I left the meeting greatly inspired. Mira clearly loves helping writers achieve their goals, and whether or not this particular manuscript goes on to great things (though I sincerely hope it does) I gained a richer understanding of my work and my path to publication.

Another big thanks to Julie at 12x12 for providing this opportunity by having Mira as a guest blogger. And a special thanks to Mira Reisberg for her friendship and words of wisdom. To learn more about Mira and the classes and services she offers, visit www.mirareisberg.com.