Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

First Pages – June 3rd 2017

scbwi first page event photos  copySCBWI First page event page 2 copy

First Pages with Stacey Friedberg, Associated Editor of Dial Books for Young Readers

written by R.M.Rivera 


June 3, 2017


Guest speaker: Stacey Friedberg, Associate Editor of Dial Books for Young Readers

    Stacey Friedberg, Associate Editor of Dial Books for Young Readers, critiqued members first page manuscripts.  The pages were read by Annina Wildermuth, Illustrator Coordinator, and SCBWI member, Stephen Ingram. After the critique, Selene Castrovilla, moderator and Long Island SCBWI Co-R.A., then opened the floor to members, for a Q&A. The event was held at the Huntington Public Library in Huntington, New York.


    Dial Books for Young Readers, an Imprint of Penguin Books USA describes their imprint as; “Heartwarming beauties, lively humor, conversation starters, much-needed mirrors: classics in the making.” 


    Dial Books for Young Readers publishes books for toddlers, pre-k, elementary, middle and high school (pre-teens and teens). Dial books reflect their readers vast and diversified lives. They “care deeply for their readers” Recent awards include: Newbery Honors for Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson and The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley.


Check out their website:


Make Your Manuscript “Sparkle”: Helpful tips from Stacey


Picture Books

  • Is your manuscript different? Example: What makes your 'dog' book different than all the other 'dog' books on the market?
  • Amp up the fun volume when adding a modern twist to a classic tale.
  • Have your main character solve his/her own problems. 
  • Well-paced stories with good flow and fun word play is appealing to children.
  • Make your main character interesting. It will grab the editor's attention?
  • Keep your target readers in mind; the children and the adults. They buy your books, too.
  • Fun word play and catchy phrases hold the reader's attention.
  • Does your authentic voice ring true? Will your reader find your character believable? 
  • Use your imagination and take your character on fantastical adventures.
  • Explore different concepts and mix them together. Example:  Dragons Loves Tacos by Adam Rubin and Daniel Salmieri.
  • Characters in controversial and heavy emotional topics need to show empathy and understanding. Example: Is your character responding correctly when someone is hurting?


Chapter Books, Middle Grade and Y.A. Novels, Oh My!

  • Non-fiction books must be fact based with proper citations.
  • When writing historical fiction, don't write a list of facts, make that world believable.
  • Visual a 3D world for your character(s). Open the space in front of them
  • Make sure your main character shines through.  
  • Be mindful of the today's sophisticated reader and write compelling stories. 


What Stacey Wants and Doesn't Want in a Manuscript

  • When writing a rhyming picture books, one must learn to write with tempo, meter and rhythm before sending. Very hard sell.
  • Add illustrator notes, where needed. It will help editor to visualize your story.
  • Edit your words. Cut out extraneous words from your text. Example: Cut adverbs from picture books.
  • Have a good hook in your first line. It will catch the editor's eye.
  • Don't talk down to your readers.
  • No message heavy manuscripts.
  • Do your homework first, before sending your manuscript to Dial. Is it the right fit?
  • Good writing, unique concepts and well-written characters will stands out. 
  • Won't pass a manuscript to another editor, if it isn't a good fit for Dial.
  • Wants to publish that “I fell in love with it and I can't stop picking it up,” type of book.
  • First page must have “sparkle.”

Stacey enjoyed reading and participating in SCBWI Long Island's First Page Event!