2016 RUCCL Mentors


If you’re submitting to RUCCL One-on-One Plus Conference, please know…

The manuscript’s the thing.

If you send your submission to the wrong address, don’t worry, we’ll get it to the right place.

If you forget to send a check, don’t worry, we’ll get in touch.

If you somehow mess up the instructions, don’t worry. It’s OK. We are not here to impose penalties on you. We want you to get in, we really do! We read each manuscript thoroughly and determine its merits. There are no red marks on your paper or strikes against you. We strive to look for the positive in every submission we receive.

If you get in, rejoice! It means the reading team liked your submission AND we had a mentor to pair you with. Sometimes we have more mentors for YA than picture books, or more for MG than non-fiction, although we try to keep all genres balanced and fairly represented. So if you don’t get in, do not despair. It does not mean anything bad about your work. It might mean we just do not have enough room for you this year and we hope you will try again. Our conference grows each year. Last year was our biggest RUCCL One-on-One Plus ever, and this year will break the record books once again.

This being said, let’s review some of the issues found in last year’s crop of fiction picture book submissions. Pay attention to these things and polish your manuscript to a high sheen!

  • Not picture book language

Some manuscripts were lengthy and overly descriptive. The writer did not exhibit an understanding of the play between words and images that is essential to the picture book format. Sentences described what could have been shown instead. Shorter, snappier language where every word is carefully chosen is preferred. Some writers paginated their submission, with large paragraphs on every page—not the norm for a modern picture book. Overall, there was too much unnecessary text—text that did not move the story forward.

  • Story arc needed development

Some submissions did not contain a clear beginning, middle and end. The story had a muddled arc or a “one and done” plot—the character tried once and succeeded, which creates an unsatisfying ending because there isn’t sufficient tension. The reader has not had time to build empathy for the character’s struggle.

  • Concept needed development

Many submissions last year focused on the main character or the character’s friend moving. This concept is common and needs a fresh twist. The pretty, fancy princess theme also turned up a lot. The market is saturated with Fancy Nancy and Pinkalicious-like books, so again, a fresh twist is needed to make these concepts stand out. What about your character makes her different than what is already on the market?

  • Common concepts need a fresh take

If you are writing about a common concept, it needs a fresh twist to make it different and new. Try changing the character (from a child to a robot) or the setting (from modern times to prehistoric, from land to the sea) to create a new perspective.

For more on the RUCCL One-on-One Plus Conference, please visit ruccl.org.


This year’s guest speakers were recently announced—Pat Cummings as the Keynote and Kate Dopirak as the Success Story.

Submissions are being accepted NOW, postmarked  through June 27, 2017.

Good luck and I hope to see you there!