Rubin Pfeffer from East/West Literary visited Florida SCBWI in January and shared the following pointers for evaluating picture book submissions. He credits the list to his friend, Andrea Welch of Beach Lane Books. A manuscript doesn't need all of these, but it should have several of them.
1. Who is the manuscript for? Is there a clear audience?
2. Is the manuscript emotionally engaging?
3. Does it meet a special childhood emotional need?
4. Is there a highly creative concept, structure, or execution?
5. Does the manuscript use clever, evocative language?
6. Is there a compelling narrative arc?
7. Does the manuscript have strong pacing? Fun page turns?
8. Word count...Keep it down! Has the author left enough room for the illustrator to bring it to life?
9. Are the characters memorable and relatable?
10. Is it a story kids will want to hear again and again?