Spark Award

An annual award that recognizes excellence in a children’s book published through a non-traditional publishing route.

Submissions OPEN from November 1 through November 30.

Access the submission form through the AWARDS tab on your MEMBER HOME.

Award info

The Spark Award is an annual award that recognizes excellence in a children’s book published through a non-traditional publishing route. The Spark winner will receive a $1,000 cash prize. The winner and honor recipients (if applicable) will receive: Spark seals to display on their book, the opportunity to teach a digital workshop about their publishing journey, the chance to be featured in the SCBWI online bookstore and publicized through SCBWI social networking sites. The winners will also get the opportunity to attend any virtual conference of their choice tuition-free (other than for extras such as critiques and intensives). SCBWI reserves the right not to award a SPARK AWARD in any given year.

Submission guidelines

You must be a current SCBWI member to apply.

You may only submit one title for each award period.

Both the author and illustrator (if the illustrator’s name appears on cover of the book) must be members to apply.

You must have published a book intended for the children’s or YA market in one of the following categories:

Board Book

Picture Book

Chapter Book

Middle Grade

Graphic Novel

Young Adult

The book may be fiction or nonfiction.

The book should have been self-published either from an established self-publishing enterprise or individually self-published. The book cannot have been previously published in any print or digital form prior to the self-published form.

SCBWI reserves the right to disqualify books published by enterprises that we believe, in our discretion, operate in a predatory or unbusinesslike manner.

The book must exist in traditionally bound form, contain an ISBN number, and copyright date of the current year.

All applicants must include a cover letter with your name, the name of your book, the genre of your. book, the publishing method for your book (including the name of any editor/copyeditor/designer who was retained in the creation of the book), your book’s ISBN, and a synopsis of your book.

As of November 2020, submission to the Spark Award is DIGITAL ONLY.

One winner and up to two Honor Book recipients will be chosen in two categories:

Books for Older Readers: This includes middle grade and young adult fiction and nonfiction.

Illustrated Books: This includes board books, picture books, readers, chapter books, and novelty books.

Books entered in the Spark Award are not eligible for the Golden Kite Award or Sid Fleischman Award.

Judging will be based on a number of criteria, including, but not limited to: quality of writing and concept, quality of illustrations (if applicable), professional presentation, editing and design, appropriateness of content for the targeted age group of the book.

Books are evaluated by a panel of English-speaking judges. All books entered must be written in English or be submitted with an English translation.

Questions? Please email Sarah Diamond at

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See all Awards & Grants for Independently Published Authors