Canadian Society of Children’s Authors, Illustrators and Performers<br>La société canadienne des auteurs, illustrateurs et artistes pour enfants

Do you have a manuscript or illustrations that needs a professional evaluation?

CANSCAIP’s Blue Pencil Mentorship Program puts you in touch with experienced and professionally published children’s authors and illustrators, enabling you to:

  • Connect with an expert in your field
  • Receive a personal critique of your work
  • Submit up to five follow-up questions

What Type of Material Can I Submit?

You can submit material in the following genres:

  • Picture book or early reader: illustration, fiction or non-fiction, dummy (text and illustration)
  • Chapter book or middle grade: contemporary, historical, fantasy, science fiction or non-fiction
  • Young adult: contemporary, historical, fantasy, science fiction or non-fiction
  • Poetry
  • Play 

Middle grade refers to ages 8 to 12, while young adult refers to ages 12 to 18.

Who Are the Mentors?

Mentors are professional children’s authors and illustrators who are Members of CANSCAIP. They have a minimum of three books published, plus experience in reviewing, teaching, mentoring and/or editing. You can read more about our individual Members here.

What Will I Receive?

We’ll pair you with a mentor who is a professional in your genre. Your mentor will submit a report directly to you by email. This report will take the form of a substantive critique (at least two single-spaced pages) rather than a line-by-line edit. After receiving the report from your mentor, you can respond with up to five follow-up questions. The follow-up must be completed within one month of receipt of the critique.

Manuscript reports include discussion of:

  • technical ability, including style and execution
  • character, structure, plot, setting, point of view, voice, dialogue, believability (where applicable)
  • steps to further develop the manuscript

Illustration reports include discussion of:

  • technical ability, including style, execution and suitability for picture books
  • character, expression, action, variety, unity (where applicable)
  • steps to further develop the illustrations

Note: The Blue Pencil Program does not help place a manuscript with a publisher.

How Do I Submit?

Provide the following information on a single sheet of paper:

  • your contact information: name, address, email, phone
  • information about your work: 
    - title
    - genre (e.g., historical fiction, fantasy, non-fiction topic, etc.) 
    - reading level (picture book, early reader, chapter book, middle grade or young adult)
    - number of pages you are submitting for evaluation
  • which Blue Pencil service you are requesting (see below, How Much Does it Cost?)
  • brief notes about your work that would be useful for your mentor to know
  • short summary of your writing or illustrating experience 

Mail CANSCAIP your sheet of information (but do not mail your manuscript or illustrations; you'll be asked to email these to your mentor) with a cheque. The cheque amount should include the applicable Blue Pencil fee, plus an additional $35 for a Friend membership (if you don't already have a CANSCAIP membership). Mail to:

720 Bathurst Street, Suite 503
Toronto ON
M5S 2R4

You will be introduced to your Blue Pencil mentor via email, and provided with information about how to submit your manuscript or illustrations. Manuscripts must be double spaced with 12-point type in a standard font with one-inch margins. You may include a cover letter and/or one-page synopsis with your submission. 

How Much Does it Cost?

The Blue Pencil fees, including mentors' HST*, are as follows:

  • $170 for ten illustrations.
  • $200 for a 32-page dummy book (illustration and text).
  • $170 for up to 10 manuscript pages of one work in any genre (double-spaced, 12-point font).
  • $225 for up to 50 manuscript pages of one work (plus $2 per page thereafter).

All applicants must be Friends or Members of CANSCAIP. If you are not currently a Friend, you can become one at the discounted rate of $35 (regular annual Friend membership is $45).

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