Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Editing Like an Editor Mini-Retreat

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Date(s) - 09/12/2018 - 09/14/2018
5:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Christ The King Retreat House
500 Brookford Road - Syracuse, NY 13224


Important! Please read all the way through the entire entry for valuable information. Registration closes out October 5th, 2018! See schedule below. Check in time begins at 5:00 p.m., dinner is at 6:00 p.m., and First Session begins at 7:00 p.m. Friday, October 12th. 


Editing Like an Editor Mini-Retreat with Harold Underdown

Come join us at the peaceful Christ The King Retreat House in Syracuse, NY. For more information on our venue, please visit their website:

This retreat includes meals and lodging. A limited number of in-person manuscript critiques from Harold Underdown are available for a separate fee on a first-come, first-served basis. (See below)

If you have any dietary issues (i.e. vegetarian, gluten-free) please contact Sandra at at least 9 days in advance of the conference. Put Editing Like an Editor Mini-Retreat Dietary Concerns in the subject line.


Do you have a manuscript—picture book, novel, or nonfiction—that needs work? Do you wish you could learn techniques that would help you revise not only this manuscript, but future ones?


Then come to the Editing Like an Editor Mini-Retreat. Learn revision techniques by working with Harold Underdown, who has distilled the methods he has used in editing manuscripts with individual clients and in the online Kid’s Book Revisions class. This is an updated version of the mini-retreat we put on in 2015.


We will begin on the Friday evening with a presentation called “Reading and Responding Like an Editor,” in which Harold compares “reader response” theory and the lit. crit. approach, and discusses how to use insights from “reader response” to understand how stories of different kinds work. We will also do introductions and set up optional critique groups.


The revision work starts on Saturday morning. We open with a look at methods for getting feedback from others, including making critique groups work better. Later in the weekend, we will learn and try out a variety of techniques for self-editing, from big picture revision down to copy-editing and other methods to use to polish a manuscript, working on your own or with a partner. We will also explore methods to use to create new material for a story or otherwise “re-imagine” it.


Outside of the presentation time, there’s time for you to write, to revise, to try out the techniques you’ve just learned, to work with other participants in critique groups, and to meet with Harold one-on-one for critiques. When he’s not meeting about critiques, Harold will be around for advice, consultation, or just to chat.


A note on critiques: Please send no more than 20 pages in standard manuscript format from those with novels, chapter books, or longer nonfiction. Harold will read two picture-book length manuscripts, but he encourages only submitting one, as 15 minutes is just too short to discuss two. With your manuscript submissions, please include a cover letter to Harold that features a brief history of the manuscript and your goals.




Sessions at Mini-Retreat


5:00-6:00 Arrival and settling in

Supper 6:00

Friday evening, 7:00 – 9:00, “Reading and Responding Like an Editor” presentation, schedule review, introductions, and initial critique group set-up.



Breakfast 8:00 – 9:00

Saturday 9:00 – 10:30, “Getting Feedback from Others,” including critique group tips and focus questions.

Saturday 10: 30 – 12:30, writing/critique group time with Harold on call

Lunch 12:30 – Lunchtime Chat: Time Management. How do you juggle writing, revising, and other commitments?

Saturday, 1:30 – 3:00, writing/critique group time with Harold on call

Saturday, 3:00 – 6:00, individual critique meetings and writing/critique group time

Supper 6:00

Saturday, 7:00 – 9:00, “Re-Imagining Your Story,” creative strategies to find new approaches and material.



Breakfast 8:00 – 8:30

Sunday, 8:30 – 9:30, “Big Picture Revision

Sunday, 9:30 – 11:30, remaining individual critique meetings and writing time

Sunday, 11:30 – 12:30, writing/critique group time with Harold on call

Lunch 12:30 – Lunchtime Chat: When Is It Ready? How do you know when to stop revising and send the manuscript out?

Sunday, 1:30 – 3:30, “Tightening and Polishing,” followed by final questions, lessons learned, and goals


Harold Underdown is an independent editor and publishing consultant; he does critiques, helps to develop manuscripts, and provides other editorial and consulting services for individuals and publishers.

Harold enjoys teaching, and in that role wrote The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Children’s Book Publishing, now in its third edition. He founded and runs “The Purple Crayon,” a respected web site with information about the children’s publishing world at He speaks and gives workshops through the Highlights Foundation, SCBWI’s national and regional conferences, and Kid’s Book Revisions (offering online and on-site tutorials, webinars, and workshops in partnership with Eileen Robinson:

As an in-house editor, he worked at Macmillan, Orchard, and Charlesbridge, and has experience in trade and educational publishing. Among the books he has edited are Yumi Heo’s One Afternoon, Larry Pringle’s and Bob Marstall’s An Extraordinary Life, Lisa Rowe Fraustino’s Ash, Grace Lin’s The Ugly Vegetables, and Sneed Collard’s and Michael Rothman’s The Forest in the Clouds.


Refund Policy: Full refund before September 21 st (minus $30. administrative fee). Partial refunds after September 21st.  No refund after October 5th. You must request this in writing to Sandra at if for some reason you are unable to attend after registering.