Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Digging Deep into the Picture Book Creation Process

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Date(s) - 11/09/2019
9:00 am - 4:15 pm

Free Library of Philadelphia, Parkway Central Branch
1901 Vine Street - Philadelphia, PA 19147



Eastern PA SCBWI Proudly Presents



Digging Deep into the


Picture Book Creation Process



Saturday November 9, 2019

at the

Free Library of Philadelphia



Registration is now closed. If you’re interested in attending an Eastern PA SCBWI workshop this fall, we hope you’ll take a look at Fall Philly 2019. Please follow this link for more information. 

Digging Deep into the Picture Book Creation Process is a one-day intensive workshop for authors and illustrators. Michael Rex–author/illustrator of over 45 books for children, including the gruesomely hysterical, #1 New York Times bestseller Goodnight Goon–will jump start our morning by discussing the process of creating a visual language for stories. Participants will then hunker down to exchange feedback on their peers’ work during roundtable critiques. In the afternoon, NJ debut author-illustrator Suzanne Morris will share insights & tips in a hands-on workshop designed to inspire exploration, and Eastern PA Critique Group Coordinator Heather Stigall will introduce her go-to tools and resources for manuscript revisions. At the end of the day, Illustrator Coordinator Virginia Manning will dissect and reconstruct a picture book and offer multiple approaches to building a submission-ready book dummy.

The day’s offerings will set you on your path to publication and include multiple opportunities for networking with fellow authors and illustrators because a writer’s/illustrator’s network is one of our most valuable resources! 

As a bonus, authors and illustrators registering for the event have two opportunities to register for professional critiques. First authors/illustrators have the option of registering for a one-on-one manuscript/dummy or portfolio critique with Michael Rex. These one-on-one critiques will take place at the event on 11/9. (One-on-One Critiques with Michael Rex are now sold out.) 

Then after the event, attendees will have the option of registering for a written manuscript or dummy critique with one of several editors, including including Emily Feinberg, Roaring Brook Press, an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group; Joanna Cárdenas, Kokila, an imprint of Penguin Random House; and Samantha Gentry and Esther Cajahuaringa, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Hachette Book Group.

The professional critique opportunities come at an additional cost ($45 members and $55 non-members) and will only be offered to event attendees.

Last but not least, author-illustrators who participate in the 2019 Digging Deep workshop will be given priority when registration opens for the 2020 Picture Book Masterclass, and that’s an opportunity you don’t want to miss!   


To learn more, please follow these links:

Event Agenda

Meet the Faculty

Peer-to-Peer Roundtable Critiques

Professional Manuscript/Dummy/Portfolio Critiques





Finding the Visual Language for Your Book presented by Michael Rex

Each picture book requires a specific language that will best help tell the story. Figuring out what you need and, more importantly, what you don’t need, is the heart of the dummy making process. Does your story need lots of detail to be most effective? Or can you simply have characters on a white background? Is your text neat and lined up? Or does it flow and travel across the images? How many colors do you really need? The visual language you create for your book is equally important as the text, and can make-or-break a good idea.


Showing his sketches, dummies, and final books, Michael Rex will explore why he’s made certain choices with his books, and offer suggestions to guide attendees through their own exploration while creating their dummies.


Story Evolution from Idea to Print presented by Suzanne Morris

Suzanne will share her picture book creation process from idea generation to final art with an emphasis on enjoying the messy middle and a focus on integrating feedback to propel your work forward. We will use character development and story prompt templates in this hands-on workshop. Attendees will leave with tools, tips and tales to inspire exploration for their own work in progress.



Your Picture Book Fixer Upper presented by Heather Stigall

Congratulations! You’ve finished writing the first draft of your picture book. Now it’s time to put on your work boots and hard hats, because the story you’ve created most likely isn’t submission ready. But don’t worry! Even if you have very little “home improvement” experience, Heather will discuss the tools, strategies, and resources you can use to work through several stages of revision so you can take your picture book manuscript from “shack” to “chateau.”



Let’s Get Technical! PB Anatomy & Dummy Construction by Virginia Law Manning

“I have a question for you? 32 pages or 40? Self-ended or with separate ends? Hardcover, paperback, board book or library binding? Staple bound or with a spine? Jacket or no jacket? Coated or uncoated? One, two or full-color endpapers? 14, 16, 18 pt font? Does your story begin on page 1 or page 3? Hand lettered text or typography?”

OK, I lied. That was more than one question. Do you know the ‘right’ answers for your work-in-progress or whether these are choices you or the publisher makes? Virginia Manning will decipher the mysterious language of picture book design & production and present multiple approaches for paginating text and creating dummies that range from super-simple to high tech.     



Registration is now closed. If you’re interested in attending an Eastern PA SCBWI workshop this fall, we hope you’ll take a look at Fall Philly 2019. Please follow this link for more information about Fall Philly.  



*Please check your calendar before registering. 

*SCBWI members, please log-in before registering to receive the member discount.

*If you’re paying with credit card, at some point you’ll need to select PayPal.

*Registration fees for one-on-one critiques are non-refundable.

*All cancellations are subject to a $20 cancellation fee.

*NO cancellations after 10/19/2019.


Questions? Please contact Virginia Manning at