Picture Book Mentoring Services

Do you want to write a picture book?
Have you written one already but don’t know how to submit to a publisher?
Does your manuscript need work?
Have you received feedback from an agent or editor and need help taking your work to the next level?

Perhaps I can help.

“I honestly don’t think I’d be a published author if it hadn’t been for Caryl’s excellent advice. I can’t praise her highly enough” Ellie Woollard

"exactly what I needed!" George Lomas

"extremely insightful and super helpful. I highly recommend!" Meredith Vigh

About me
I started my career as a children’s author in 2007 with no training or prior experience. I had no idea how the publishing industry worked. I had no contacts, no network and no idea what I was doing or whether I was good enough to succeed. I just knew I wanted to try.

Since then I have published 26 titles including picture books and young fiction. I have a further 20 books in production, with seven major publishers.

My books have won seven regional awards and been shortlisted for five more.

Some of the books I write are totally originated by me. Others are commissioned by editors looking for a text on a certain topic, or for a story for a new character that an illustrator has created.

Getting into publishing
The children’s publishing market is very competitive. And creating picture books is expensive. I was once told it costs around £30K to get a children’s book to market. So publishers are very, very choosy. Many receive hundreds of manuscripts each year. Most of them do not get read. Honestly, that is because most of them are awful!!

But someone has to make it, right?


There are always openings for new authors. Publishers want to find new talent, to grow their list and keep their books current and fresh and competitive. And once you have a track record, a few books under your belt, you will find the job gets easier. Children’s publishing is a wonderful industry to be part and definitely worth fighting for. But getting that first deal can be a real challenge. Still, nothing worth having comes easy!

Writing a successful picture book is partly down to talent, of course. But grit, determination, and a will to act on good advice are equally important. Nobody is born able to write a bestseller. It’s something we learn.

And this is where I might be able to help.

Mentoring Packages
I’ve put together three mentoring packages that could help you get your book to market.

I am not a publisher or an agent. I can not guarantee your work will be published after my input. I can not pull strings for you, nor can I write your book for you! But I CAN guide you in your work and be honest in my advice. I can help you grow as a writer, and give you a boost to help get your career off the ground.

So if you’re determined to become a children’s author, read on!

Option 1: Introduction to children’s publishing
Find out who to speak to, where to find information, how to get your career off the ground, and how to present a manuscript. Everything you need to maximise your chances of getting your work read.

What you get:
Written guide including:
  • How children’s publishing works
  • What to expect from editors
  • What to expect from a book deal
  • Agents and what they do
  • Guidance on how to present a manuscript
  • Reading list
  • List of useful contacts and websites
  • Telephone consultation, up to 30 minutes, for you to ask questions and pick my brain!
Cost: £150

Option 2: Manuscript Overview
I will read your manuscript and give you general pointers on how to improve it. If your text is unlikely to succeed in the marketplace in its current form, I will advise you how to improve your story concept and writing skills to improve this text or create a new one.

What you get:
  • I will read your text and work out what I think your next steps should be.
  • Written report with practical advice on how to improve your work
  • Telephone consultation to talk specifically about your text and answer any questions you may have about getting it published.
  • You may then re-submit your text to me for a further review.
  • Second telephone consultation to discuss next steps.
Cost: £250

Additional reviews of the same text £150 per review

Option 3: Manuscript Editorial Review
I will help you improve more developed texts and advise you of the next steps you need to take to get them ready for submission.

What you get:
  • I will read your text and work out what I think your next steps should be
  • Written report noting specific editorial suggestions such as re-wording, cutting or moving text, altering story structure, improving beginnings or endings, improving pace or character voices.
  • First telephone consultation to discuss these changes.
  • You may then work on your text and send it back to me for second editorial review.
  • Second telephone consultation to discuss these changes and next steps
Cost: £350

Additional reviews of the same text £150 per review

Think mentoring is too expensive?
A quick flick through the internet will tell you that there are many different mentoring services out there, offered by authors and agencies. Some will be significantly cheaper than mine - some more expensive. Just be aware that you generally get what you pay for, so I would advise you to check the credentials and experience of whichever mentor you choose.

A typical advance for a first picture book is around £2000. Advances increase as your track record builds. My fees might sound like a lot for “just reading” a couple of pages, but you can be assured that I will share something of what I have learned over years of hard work perfecting my craft. And if you get a deal, you’ll cover your costs and have change left over for that first bottle of bubbly!

Once you have decided to proceed, and have made your payment, you will receive written and verbal advice from me. In paying the agreed fee, you agree not to reproduce or in any other way share the verbal or written advice and guidance given to you.

I respectfully ask that you adhere to this copyright agreement as my guidance and advice is given in good faith and is based on 12 years hard slog and experience gained the hard way! As you will soon discover, making a living from being an author is not easy, and the fees I charge for advice and written guidance go towards buying food, heating my house and paying for my kids’ dancing lessons.

If you are part of a critique group or have friends who would like to benefit from my advice please let me know so that we can agree an appropriate fee for sharing materials.

Let's Get Started
If you would like to apply for one of more of the above services, here's what to do:
  • fill in the enquiry form
  • I will reply with an email address for you to send your manuscript
  • email your manuscript(s) to me
  • I will read your work and advise you which service is most appropriate for you, how much it will cost and a PayPal invoice.
  • If you wish to proceed, pay the agreed amount by PayPal or BACS
  • Once your payment has been received I will assess your work and get back to you with your first written feedback within 4 weeks.
  • Subsequent re-assessment and follow-up phone calls will be arranged in discussion via email to suit both parties.