Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

WIP Award Frequently Asked Questions




Q. Can I submit more than one manuscript?

A. No, each member can only submit ONE manuscript to the WIP Award.

Q. But can I submit the same manuscript to multiple categories?

A. No, you can only submit one manuscript per year regardless of category. An exception is the Karen Cushman Award. This is a separate award. If you are over 50 you can submit your same manuscript to this award in addition to the WIP Award.

Q. Should the synopsis describe the entire work?

A. Yes. The purpose of the synopsis is to lay out the shape and construction of the entire work. Please keep it under 250 words.

Q. Should I still include a synopsis for a Picture Book?

A. Yes. Provide a brief description of the book and the intended audience. You can also include information about the market, but this is not required. Example: Hay is for Horses is the story of two country horses lost in the big city and is intended for children ages 3-8. It would be the only horse picture book on the market.

Q. In my synopsis for a nonfiction work can I include what else is available on the topic and why I think the topic is valuable?

A. Yes. You can also include back matter as part of your manuscript sample so long as your sample does not exceed 10 pages.

Q. Can the synopsis be single-spaced?

A. The synopsis must be double-spaced like the writing sample.

Q. Is it helpful to include a resume, C.V., or list of publications?

A. No.




Q. My manuscript is a picture book, should I include the entire text?

A. Yes. For a Picture Book application, you would include the entire work, fit into no more than 10 pages. If you want to indicate page breaks, you can do so but it is not necessary.

Q. I need to use an additional 1/2 page, page 11, to complete the chapter. Will I be disqualified?

A. Any application in excess of 11 pages total will be disqualified.

Q. My project is a novel in verse. Does my writing sample need to be double-spaced?

A. Poetry may be submitted single-spaced, which is the professional standard.

Q. Since a nonfiction proposal does not have all the research done, how much do the judges really expect to see on the writing sample?

A. Applicants must have completed sufficient research to write the initial chapters and provide a detailed synopsis.

Q. Do I need to include page numbers?

A. YES. Please include page numbers in the bottom corner.




Q. Can I still send in a paper application?

A. No. Only PDFs submitted via our WIP submission portal will be accepted.

Q. How do I turn my Word document into a PDF?

A. Go to “Save As” and select PDF from the drop-down menu. You can also click “Print” and select print to “PDF.”

Q. How do you define “underrepresented”?

A. For this award, underrepresented is defined in the traditional sense as ethnic/family culture. The manuscript must highlight characters/perspectives from an ethnic/cultural background that is traditionally underrepresented in children’s literature in American. (American Indian, Asian, Black or African American, Hispanic or Latinx, Pacific Islander)

Q. I am an author and illustrator. Should I submit to the WIP Picture Book category or Don Freeman grant?

A. If you feel your illustrations are your strong suit, we recommend applying for the Don Freeman Grant. If you feel you are more of an author, the Picture Book category is best. You cannot apply to both.

Q. I am an illustrator. What should I apply for?

A. You should apply for the Don Freeman Grant if you are submitting solely illustration or text and illustration. The Picture Book WIP Award is strictly for picture book text and no illustrations will be accepted.




Q. What does “Work-in-Progress” mean?

A. A work-in-progress (for purposes of this award) is a fully developed, polished piece of writing ready for editorial consideration.

Q. Doesn’t that mean a writer needs to do all the work before even applying for an award?

A. When we say “polished” what we mean is that the piece is not in first draft form or a loose idea for a story. We strongly recommend the manuscript has 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.

Q. I plan to join SCBWI but am not yet a member. Can I still apply?

A. No. You must first be a member. Click on the “Join Now” button in the top-right corner of our website to become a member instantly.

Q. My membership expires soon – can I still apply?

A. 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” on the left-hand side to renew.

Q. I am an SCBWI member but my writing partner is not. Can we still apply?

A. 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.

Q. 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 the WIP?

A. You can still apply, but if the project comes under contract before the award is announced, it is your responsibility to contact us and withdraw your application.

Q. Can I continue to circulate the project I submitted for a WIP Award?

A. Yes. However, if you receive a contract after the deadline but during the judging process, it is your responsibility to contact us and withdraw your application.