Hello, my fellow picture book author. I am so glad you're here.
I have been writing and critiquing picture books since 2013. I know how hard this business can be. I know how hard writing good picture books can be. I know how self-doubt and fear can grab hold of you and convince you you are not a real author. And I am here to tell you: you are not alone. I am also here to tell you: I want to help you kick self-doubt and fear in the butt and get your picture book manuscript ready to send out into the world, because that's where it belongs.
And please repeat after me: "I am a real author."
Now please do that again, but louder.
Let's get to work. If you have a picture book manuscript you'd like to either submit to an agent or editor, or publish yourself, and need help to get it ready, I can help. I have been critiquing several manuscripts a week for years now, and I love nothing more than to see a story go from okay to fabulous. Yes, it can be done!
If we work together (and I hope we do), we will be focusing on the following elements:
point of view
theme or takeaway
opening and ending
and loads more
We will also be talking about industry stuff, like querying agents, finding good comparable titles, Twitter pitches, manuscript wishlists, and so much more. I will answer any questions you have about the craft and getting your story published as best as I can. Having self-published 2 picture books, traditionally published 8 more (with six more coming out in 2024 and 2025), and put together a children's anthology, I have learned a lot, and I can't wait to share that knowledge with you.
Please go ahead and check out my services and see what feels right for you and your story. If you have any questions at all, please don't hesitate to contact me. I'd be more than happy to chat with you about tailored services if you can't find what you're looking for.
A few things to take note of before you dive in:
I accept fiction picture book manuscripts of up to 1,000 words (please expect this number to drop drastically once we're done 🙂).
I accept non-fiction picture book manuscripts of up to 1,500 (excluding back matter.)
I will deliver my critiques in 2 weeks or less from the day payment is made*. For critique packages, that's 2 weeks per round.
It's good to remember that the feedback you get from me is only one person's opinion. This business is incredibly subjective, and what works for one person may not work for another (think about the books you've read―you didn't love them all, did you?) This is why critique groups are so important. My feedback will go deeper, yes, but a critique group will give you different perspectives to consider.
*Payment details will be provided when you're ready to begin. I am no longer using PayPal due to their unaffordable fees and business ethic. Wise and Stripe are possible.
Please get in touch for a tailored quote.
- I will send you an editorial assessment which includes bullet points of what you need to think about and big-picture edits to consider. We can combine this with a round of line edits.
- Recommended for those who have spent a lot of time on their manuscript and need a quick assessment.
Big Picture Critique:
- I will send you an in-depth editorial letter that covers developmental, big-picture points, helping you to work on your structure, character's motivation, point of view, pacing, plot, character, story arc, theme, and so on.
- Recommended if you want to make sure your manuscript is headed in the right direction before you dive deeper and are prepared to do some serious work (which will all be worth it, I promise).
Line Level Critique:
- I will send you line-by-line edits and suggestions that cover word choice, voice (yours and your character's), sentence structure, rhythm, showing versus telling, text flow, and so on.
- Recommended if you feel your manuscript is in a good place and want to dive deeper and tighten your text.
- This package will consist of two rounds: (1) Big Picture Critique (see above), and (2) Line Level Critique (see above).
Query & Pitch Critique:
- We will work on the structure and content of your letter, making it as effective as possible (2 rounds).
- We will work on crafting your story pitch, which will be included in your letter.
- I will help you find 2-3 recent comparable titles because most agents and editors want to see this.
SUBMISSION PACKAGE: Critique Package + Query & Pitch Critique:
- Recommended if you want to get your story ready to pitch. If you choose this option, we will turn your draft into a polished manuscript and get your query letter ready to submit.
- I will send you a brief editorial letter with suggestions on how to move forward with your piece.
- 30-minute Zoom call to talk about your poem's meter and rhyme
- I will finally send you a scan of your poem with line edits and suggestions to help you polish it up and make sure it flows like music.
- I will sit with your manuscript for a few days and make some quick notes to be discussed during the call.
- Good for those who prefer to talk through edits and have writing and industry questions.
- Looking for some long-term support? Email me and let's talk about what you need and how I can help.
For questions and rates, please get in touch. I look forward to working with you!
"Leila is a Godsend. Writing is such a lonely craft and working on the words alone won’t get you anywhere in the publishing world. Leila not only nurtured my idea and helped shape and polish it, but also she helped me navigate the publishing industry. Leila is a bookworm. She is knowledgeable, hardworking, and conscientious, but most important for me, she is humble, compassionate, and kind. She’s been through the process and understands the struggle. She breaks everything down into small steps and holds your hand throughout. I am thrilled that the first picture book we worked on together has found its home with publication scheduled for 2022. I could never have done it without her support and encouragement."
- Alice Bianchi-Clark, Picture Book Author, Singapore
"I highly and enthusiastically recommend Leila to help any author to craft their best manuscript. She carefully analyzes the text, subtext, and word choice. Her encouragement and positivity are infectious and push me to improve as a writer. Leila has the perfect combination of a broad knowledge of writing, compassion, and a profound understanding of what makes the most creative children’s book possible."
- Patricia Oppenheim, Picture Book Writer, USA
"I've had the pleasure of working with Leila over the past 4 years. She has been undoubtedly instrumental in improving my writing skills, not only at the line level but also for strategic and nuanced advice on arc, emotional strength, character development, sequencing of events, overall readiness, and so much more. She always approaches revision work with a critical yet constructive eye, and has an incredible talent for crafting the most heart-filled, sublime phrases. Plus, she's one of the most reliable, caring and thoughtful people I know! I highly recommend Leila for any editing, critique, or creative writing services you may need."
- Sylvia Chen, Picture Book Writer, USA
"Leila is thoughtful and thorough. Not only does she write beautiful stories filled with heart (fiction and nonfiction), she also has a fantastic sense of humor. Her insights will benefit any type of story. She has the wonderful ability to embrace what the writer is trying to accomplish and work from there. Her feedback has made so many of my stories better and I'm grateful to be able to work with her."
- Carrie Williford, Children's Writer, USA
"I've known Leila for two years as a critique partner, and she is unfailingly thoughtful in every way. She is knowledgeable, insightful, kind, and encouraging. She always seems to have the right perceptive observation to bring a piece to the next level. Her insights about story arcs and comp titles have been especially helpful, as has her general attention to detail. Leila has my enthusiastic recommendation, not only for her broad and deep knowledge of children's literature, but for her warmth as a human being."
- Robin Sanders, Writer, USA
"Leila has critiqued many of my manuscripts and I feel that I have become a much better picture book writer with her guidance. Her critiques are insightful, thorough, and clear. Leila is skilled at helping strengthen big-picture elements such as emotional resonance and story arc, and she also offers useful line-level notes. She understands the craft of writing for children extremely well and helps me polish my work until it sparkles!"
- Amy Center Cory, Author-Illustrator, USA
"I have been lucky to work with Lelia Boukarim. Her thoughtful, detailed feedback has helped strengthen the emotion, heart, character, and story arc of my manuscripts. She's helped with both the big picture and the tiny details that make a story resonate and sing. Leila is an absolute joy to work with."
- Maria Marshall, Children's Author, Poet, and Blogger, USA
"I've worked with Leila Boukarim on a number of my picture books. Whether it's big picture feedback or sentence-level edits, her advice has always been very encouraging and helpful. Leila has vast knowledge about the craft of writing picture books, mentor text suggestions, even query letters. She has experience with both, traditional as well as self-publishing. Last but not least, Leila's own work reflects the careful thought and consideration she puts into stitching together words into meaningful sentences, the end result being lovingly crafted stories - with heart. Leila has helped me do the same with my stories. I highly recommend her editorial services."
- Srividhya Venkat, Picture Book Author, Singapore
"I found Leila during one of my late-night internet deep dives. Meeting her has been transformative for me as an author because she had a wealth of knowledge, was generous with her advice and she took a genuine interest in the story that I wanted to tell. I found her editorial skills effective in challenging me as an author to craft the perfect story. The questions she asked made me refine and sharpen my character and story. And all the time, I was never made to feel like I was making mistakes or that my story was not good enough. I always felt comfortable and connected over email and looked forward to seeing her name in my inbox. :) I would highly recommend Leila and I cannot wait to work with her again!"
- Rachelyn Gordon, Picture Book Author, Singapore
"It was such a pleasure to work with Leila. Very professional, punctual, and extremely thorough! I Learned so much from her in such a short period of time. Will definitely work with her again."
- Hazem Nassar
"Leila was wonderful to work with on editing my manuscript and query letter. She was very encouraging about my idea, which was motivating. Leila started with broad feedback and helped me clarify big picture ideas. She provided examples of books with similar themes which was really useful. Leila then did two reviews with line-by-line edits to help sharpen the story. She was especially good at helping me improve the pace and remove extraneous lines. She gave me helpful inside advice about how to word and format the query letter that no blog post or Google search told me. I will definitely work with Leila on future projects!"
- Stella Fischl
"Leila gave me great feedback on my manuscript! The in-line comments were easy to read and understand. She was very professional and you can tell she has been doing this for quite a while - she knows what books sell in the marketplace!"
- Deborah Foster
"Leila amazed me in every way. So supporting and so knowledgeable."
- Jacqui Bowden
"I absolutely loved working with Leila! Her suggestions and revisions were always sent in a timely manner and they were clear, making the process of revising so easy. She helped my story come to life and I would be honored to work with her again in the future."
- Vianay Valadez
"Leila has been such a pleasure to work with. I am so glad I choose her to help me with this children's book. She was kind and offered an honest evaluation. I worked to revise my story using her professional recommendations and I love the final version. I highly recommend her to all authors."
- Lynn Matchett