Posted by: Kathy Temean | December 14, 2009

Top Ten Question Dutton Editors Ask Themselves

Top Ten Questions Dutton Editors Ask Themselves When Looking At A Manuscript

1.   Who is the readership for this book?

2.   Does this story surprise me and take me to places I didn’t expect?

3.   Is this a main character I care about?

4.   Am I personally moved by this story or sitituation?

5.   I this a theme/emotion/concern that a lot of kids will be able to relate to?

6.   Has this been done a million times before?

7.   Will I want to read this manuscript ten (or more) times?

8.   Is the voice/character authentic and real?

9.   For picture books:  Would this story be visually interesting for 32 pages?  Could I easily envision the illustrations for this?

10. For novels:  Does the action of the story move at a good pace and hold our interest?  Does tension build as the story moves forward?

This is good good list to use when working on our second draft and something we can use when critiquing other writer’s work.  Hope it helps.



  1. Good questions for writers to ask themselves! Very good. Thanks again.

    • Thanks for being a regular visitor. I enjoy having you. Have a great holiday. Kathy

  2. I think every writer should print this and pin it in front of their computers. Thank you!

    – Julie

    • I like your name. It should help you sell a few extra books. Kathy

  3. Thanks for this list, Kathy 🙂 I’m addicted to reading about anything to do with writing and the industry, and certainly about ANYthing that helps us get inside the heads and process of people on “the inside”.

    • Being addicted to reading and writing are good things, so it has to pay off.


  4. Thank you. This is really going to help with writing the synopsis for the novel I just wrote.
    Thank you so!

    — Adrienne

    • Glad it could help. Good luck with the novel.


  5. Good golly, all I can say is I Hope So!!!! 🙂 Thanks Kathy, excellent hel;p once again.

    • Where are you these days? Has the good luck ben holding? Kathy

  6. I’ll be at the Jersey Shore tomorrow to spend my birthday with parents, then back here Wednesday, will spend Christmas Eve w/younger son, then off to Austin to see my older son on Christmas Day. Good luck in regard to family health is still with me, thank God! My personal good luck? Doesnt seem very active at the moment but I am an eternal optimist and live by the saying, “With all this horse s*/t there’s got to be a pony in here somewhere!” I’ll know about possible move to NJ within a few weeks. Happy Holidays! Stay safe and merry.

    • Nanci,

      I just finished the last planned dinner tonight. All my aunts and uncles are gone, so it was just the cousins. I gave a ton of food away, but I doubt whether the rest will get eaten. Maybe I can freeze some. How did you holidays and dinners go?


  7. […] Top Ten Question Dutton Editors Ask Themselves […]

  8. What a treasure trove of information.

    Delighted I found you.

    Will be an eager follower from now on 🙂

    • Wendy,

      Great to have you aboard. I keep trying to pick all the editors and agents brains, so I can share their thoughts with all of you. It is nice to know it is appreciated.


  9. I like the list, but I’m thinking about do I want to read more than once. There are many books I’ve greatly enjoyed but I think that I have very seldom read a novel more than once. There are some exceptions. (specifically Woodiwiss)

    • Leigh,

      I think you are with most book readers. There are just too many books on a persons “books to read” list to be able to read too many of them a second or third time. But if you’re a editor and offer an author a contract for their manuscript, they better really like it, since they will have to read that manuscript over and over again before it comes out in print.

      When you look at it that way, you can see why they have to LOVE your manuscript – if not at rejection letter is headed your way.

      Thanks for visiting – hope you come back.


  10. BTW, i realize you’re targeting children, but for the most part, these could apply to me. 🙂

    • Leigh,

      Do you write for adults? It doesn’t matter. You are right most of the information can apply to all writers.

      Happy New Year,


  11. These are great questions to look at as we work on submissions in the new year. I shared a link to this post on the SCBWI-Carolinas listserve. Thanks for sharing.

    • Laura,

      Thanks for spreading the word. We are all in this together and the bottom line is to learn how to be successful. Good luck with your writing. I hope you will visit again.


  12. as a new yet unpublished author, these tips will help a lot not only as i continue writing, but also re-reading/editing completed manuscripts.

    Thanks and Happy New Years.



    • Rhyanna,

      There are lots of things to learn. Even after you become a big name author, there will still be things to learn. I hope you will stop back again and continue to keep learning as your venture down your path to publication.

      Happy New Year,


      • Hi Kathy.
        Yes I can see the constant learning. I had lost the link, but found it again. Still unpublished, but had entered a manuscript in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest. It made it through to the second rounds. I rec’d great feedback, and realized that I have to change it to past tense instead of present tense. I am also trying to write a novella to send to eharlequin. Writing a Novella is alot harder than I thought….


      • Rhyanna,

        Sounds like you are on the right track. That’s really great that you made it through to the second round with the contest. A novella; I’ve never tried to write one. Would be interested to hear about the things you need to know before you write one.


  13. So glad you asked since this is the year I plan to query.

    • Sherry,

      That is a good goal. It is top on my list, too.


  14. […] found a list of great questions in Kathy Temean’s blog on Writing and Illustrating. While her focus is on children’s books, it’s also very […]

    • Thanks for pointing people to my blog.


  15. Will print this up and put it on my night stand next to my Bible. Thanks!

  16. Bethany,

    That’s quite an honor. Thanks for stopping by. I hope you will visit again. I plan to provide more useful information.


  17. I saw links to this everywhere and finally caved in and decided to see what it was about! Glad I did. Thanks Kathy, very useful info!

    • Cyn,

      Thanks for the visit. How that got all over, I don’t know. But it did boost my visits. How did the exhibit go in Arizonia?


  18. Kathy,

    Thanks for the top ten list. I printed it out and will refer to it as I look at my current manuscript revisions and new ones. I received this through an email thread that was posted by COSCBWI group. Good stuff!

    Happy New Year! Jen

    • Jen,

      Thanks for visiting and letting me know you liked the list and how you found me. I hope you will stop back to visit again.


  19. Thanks for the information.

    • Henya,

      You’re welcome. Thanks for stopping by. Hope you visit again.


  20. Thanks for all you’ve put into this site. I look forward to working my way through it. The massive changes to the book business have given me pause.

    Best, China Galland (The San Francisco Film Society), the fiscal sponsor for a documentary film based on my most recent book, Love Cemetery, Unburying the Secret History of Slaves.

    • China,

      Thank you for you visiting and wanting to explore past posts. I visited you website, it looks like you have gotten involved in some interesting research. Good luck with the book. I stop back when I have more time to watch your video.


  21. Oh thank you so much! This can be applied to all writing, in fact, not just for children. But then again, didn’t they say, “You must write for children the same way you write for adults, only better”?

    • Irene,

      You are right. Writing is writing, so mostly everything applies to all writing. The middle grade novels and young adult novel that are being written today are just as good or better than the adult books I read. Hope you stop back to visit.


  22. Sounds to me like 10 questions you should ask yourself before you start writing just about anything.

    • Jaycee,

      I agree. Most writing tips can be applied to writing in general. Thanks for visiting and leaving me a comment.


  23. Nice list. Heard about via another blog. Will use it in my writing workshops.

  24. I wonder if there’s been any more on this published. Can’t seem to locate any. I put writing on hold for a few months, health issues-nasty buggers, demanded attention. I intend to start working on novels I’ve already written and see what I can do to condense some down, make tighter before trying to find someone to read it(them) for me before submitting. I also need to work on pitch and query. Didn’t make any rounds this year or last year, pitch wasn’t quite right.

    Anyway, thanks for having this forum.

    Rhyanna D.

  25. Hi Kathy,
    Thought you might like to know Clar shared your link on her blog. And I’m glad she did as this list will help me. 🙂

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