WIP Frequently Asked Questions




Which Grant should I Apply For?

Barbara Karlin Grant: For picture book manuscripts

Contemporary: For YA novels (fiction)

General: For Middle Grade and younger fiction

Non-fiction: Any manuscript that is non-fiction and requires research

Multi-cultural: Any manuscript whose main character(s) are from a traditionally under-represented ethnic group in childrens literature.

Don Freeman Grant: For illustrations

How do you define "multi-cultural"? For this grant, multi-cultural is defined in the traditional sense as ethnic/family culture. The manuscript must highlight characters/perspectives from an ethnic and/or cultural background that is traditionally under-represented in children’s literature in America. (American Indian, Asian, Black or African American, Hispanic, Pacific Islander)

I have an historical fiction novel that requires abundant nonfiction research. May I use it to apply for the Nonfiction Research Grant? Though your need is for research, your project is fiction, so it must be submitted in the General category.

I am an author and illustrator should I apply for the Barbara Karlin or Don Freeman grant? If you feel your illustrations are your strong suit, you should apply for the Don Freeman grant, if you feel you are more of an author, the Barbara Karlin grant is best.

I am an illustrator what grant should I apply for? You should apply for the Don Freeman Work-In-Progress Grant if you are submitting solely illustration or text and illustration. The Barbara Karlin Work-In-Progress Grant is strictly for picture book text and no illustrations will be accepted.

I have a young adult fantasy novel, can I still apply for the "contemporary" category? Yes, the "contemporary" category is for all YA novels, regardless of subject or style.




Cover Letter

Should the synopsis be of the entire work? Yes. The purpose of the synopsis it to lay out the shape and construction of the entire work.

Can the synopsis exceed one page as long as the entire application is less than 10? No, the cover letter with synopsis can be no longer than a single page.

Can I include what else is available on the nonfiction topic and why I think the topic is valuable? Yes. 

Can the synopsis be single-spaced? The synopsis must be double-spaced like the writing sample.

Is it helpful to include a resume, C.V. or list of publications? No.

In the past I was asked to provide a career summary and statement of how I would use the money, where does that go now? You no longer need to provide your career summary or how you plan to use the money. The applications will be based on strength of writing alone.


Writing Sample

Do I need to put my name at the top of each page? No, because the entire appliation is saved as a single file you only need your name on the cover page and in the body of your email.

I need to use an additional ½ page, page 11, to complete the chapter. Will I be disqualified? Any application packet in excess of 11 pages total will be disqualified.

My project is a novel in poetry. Does my writing sample need to be double-spaced? Poetry may be submitted single-spaced, which is the professional standard.

Since a nonfiction proposal does not have all the research done, how much do the judges really expect to see on the writing sample? Applicants must have completed sufficient research to write the initial chapters and provide a detailed synopsis.



Can I still send in a paper application? No, only PDFs will be accepted

How do I turn my word document into a PDF? Go to "Save As" and select PDF from the drop-down menu

How should I submit my application? Email your application to the address that will be posted after March 1. You must send your application and materials as a single PDF. Title the PDF with your name (first_last.pdf). Make sure you put the category you are applying to (General, Contemporary, Multi-cultural, Nonfiction) in the subject line of the email.



What does “Work-in-Progress” mean? A work-in-progress (for purposes of this grant) is a fully developed, polished piece of writing ready for editorial consideration.

Doesn’t that mean a writer needs to do all the work before even applying for a grant?  When we say “polished” what we mean is that the piece is not in first draft form or just a loose idea for a story.  There should be a well thought-out synopsis and the first pages should be well-edited.  We strongly recommend the first pages have also been through at least one critique with the person’s critique group, writing partner or friend. By calling it a “work-in-progress” the writer acknowledges the fact that before publication, rewriting and perhaps additional research will be necessary.

I plan to join SCBWI but am not yet a member. Can I still apply for a grant? No. You must first be a member. Click on the “Join Now” button above to become a member instantly.

My membership will soon expire, can I still apply for a grant? Your membership must be active through September, when the award is granted, to be eligible to apply. Log in to your profile and click on "Membership Renewal" to renew.

I am an SCBWI member but my writing partner is not. Can we still apply for a grant? Yes. The SCBWI member would submit the application on behalf of the pair. If you are both SCBWI members, you would still only submit one application.

I have a book that editors are interested in, but no one has offered me a contract on it. Can I use it to apply for a WIP Grant? You can still apply but understand that if the project comes under contract before the grant is awarded you must withdraw your application.

Can I continue to circulate the project I submitted for a WIP Grant? Yes. However,  if you recieve a contract after the deadline but during the judging process you would need to withdraw your application.

How do I apply for the "unpublished author" award? You do not apply for this award directly.  You are automatically entered when you indicate "unpublished" on your cover letter for any of the Work-in-Progress grants.

If I have self-published a book can I say "unpublished"? Yes, for the purposes of this grant you are only considered "published" if you have had a book under contract with a PAL publisher.

I have published stories in several children's magazine (or had my art published in children's magazines) can I say "unpublished"? Yes, "published" refers to books only.

I’m supposed to use my name as listed by SCBWI, but the membership card is incorrect. What should I do? Please use the name on your membership card so that we can find you in the database. Alternately, you may log in at scbwi.org with your e-mail address and password and click on “Manage Profile” to change your name.

I have just sold my first children’s book but it will not be published until later this year. Am I published or unpublished? If you have a book under contract, you are considered “published.”

I have published puzzle and game books for children, on a work-for-hire basis, but never a novel. Am I considered “published?” If the project has taken the form of a book and been marketed for children or young adults, you are published.

I have written textbooks for children, for the educational market, but never published a trade book. Am I still unpublished? The educational market is quite separate from trade and mass market publishing, so you are, for purposes of the Work-In-Progress Grants, still unpublished.

Is it ok if I have self-published the work? No, the work cannot already be in published form.

What if I plan on self-publishing but haven't yet? Yes, you can use the grant money to self-publish.


HELP! I still have questions!  Feel free to email us!