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Word on the Street

My picture book manuscript assessment with James Layton was one of the most comprehensive assessments I've had. The Larrikin House W.I.N.K.S assessment rubric helped me to see how to improve my story from a craft perceptive as well as its market placement and saleability. W.I.N.K.S has given me a rare insight into exactly what a publisher looks for when they read a manuscript. I'll be using W.I.N.K.S when I'm writing new stories to ensure I have ticked off all the elements needed to make my story shine – or wink!

Catherine MeatheringhamChildren's Author and SCBWI ACT Committee Member

I recently had a manuscript critique with James and found it both insightful and practical. James used a specially designed rubric to assess my manuscript against his W.I.N.K.S criteria. He gave me honest and positive feedback and an understanding of the publishing industry, particularly focussing on one of the most important aspects for publishers - marketability. James was personable and friendly, the session gave me the knowledge of where I could improve and the confidence to keep submitting.

JACINTA FROUDChildren's Author

I've been submitting manuscripts to publishers for the past nine years. It's a tough gig. It's a tough gig because you never really have any idea whether you're an inch, a mile or an entire solar system away from snagging a book deal. The feedback you receive (if you're lucky enough to receive any at all) from most publishers is vague at best. The W.I.N.K.S system James Layton uses is not vague. It is specific and professionally honest; a breath of fresh air to any aspiring author who is serious about honing their craft. You won't wait months for a response either. I submitted a manuscript and within a week received the most detailed analysis of my work I've ever read. As an extra happy bonus, James was so impressed with my submission that he offered me a publishing contract for the story I sent in. I couldn't recommend this service more highly.

SEAN E AVERYAuthor/Illustrator

Larrikin’s Assessment service is unique in that it clearly sets out the strengths and weaknesses of your manuscript, according to specified criteria (the rubric). The rubric has clearly been developed with an in-depth understanding of the commercial realities of the industry. In addition to helping you improve the specific manuscript, the assessment informs your future work. I frequently refer back to the rubric and believe it has made me a better writer. It is also an opportunity to have your work considered by a fantastic publisher, who may (as they did with me) work with you to get your manuscript to publishable standard. Apart from all that, James is honest, encouraging and great to deal with!


James’ W.I.N.K.S rubric is clear and comprehensive, and he clearly knows the publishing industry inside and out. His assessment feedback was detailed, practical and encouraging, and was delivered with a healthy dose of good humour, living up to the Larrikin name. As a newbie author, I was thrilled to have the opportunity for him to critique my manuscript… and to my surprise and delight, he offered me my very first publishing contract a week later!


Hi James,

Thank you for your amazing feedback. I love the W.I.N.K.S Manuscript Assessment Rubric that you have used as it covers everything so clearly and is easy to follow and apply to my work for improvement. You have definitely given me a lot to work with in order to improve my story. I will definitely take all of your suggestions on board.


James, I’m very impressed with your assessment! You outlined some really big points that I need to consider. I can see how well researched and knowledgable you are and coming from a book selling/marketing background you have the credentials! You have given me a lot to think about. Thanks again for your time.


Hi James I just wanted to write to say thank you for the feedback you sent me. While I was nervous about getting assessed in the first place, the whole process turned out to be a very positive one. Your rubric, detailed comments and scores are so helpful, and our zoom discussion was inspiring. Thank you once again for your assessment process - I highly recommend it!


Straight From The Larrikin’s Mouth!

James Layton


James Layton has 30 years experience as a children’s bookseller in the Australian education market. He’s also the Publisher at Larrikin House, so his perspective is unique.

James has developed his own unique assessment rubric based on five key macros and 15 individual micro elements. His specialty is concept, so over and above the usual assessment, there’s every chance James will have a breakthrough idea during your zoom session that could transform your story into something viable.

Like most publishers, we just don’t have the time or resources to send feedback on manuscripts. However, by going through the assessment process, you’ll be given very specific and comprehensive feedback on your story. You will also have the opportunity to workshop the possibilities with James during the zoom meeting. This is always where the best stuff happens. – according to James 🙂

Zoom meetings are recorded so you can refer back to them anytime you like.

You’ll also be given the rubric to help you with future story creation and subsequent submissions to publishers.