Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

WIP Frequently Asked Questions

Can I submit more than one manuscript? No, each member can only submit ONE manuscript to the WIP awards.

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

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

Should I still include a synopsis for a Picture Book? Yes, just provide a brief description of the book and 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, it is intended for children ages 3-8. It would be the only horse picture book on the market.

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

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.

Writing or Translation Sample

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

I need to use an additional ½ page, page 11, to complete the chapter. Will I be disqualified? Any application 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.

Do I need to include page numbers? YES. Please include page numbers in the bottom corner.

Submitting by Email

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

How do I turn my word document into a PDF? Go to “Save As” and select PDF from the drop-down menu. You can also click “Print” and select print to “PDF.”

How should I submit my application? Email your application to You must send your application as a single PDF. Title the PDF with your category and name (MG first_last.pdf). Make sure you put the category you are applying to in the subject line of the email as well as the PDF. You do not need a cover letter in the body of the email.

How do you define “multicultural”? For this award, multicultural 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 am an author and illustrator. Should I apply for the Picture Book 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 Picture Book Work-in-Progress award is best. You cannot apply to both.

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

I have translated a text with multicultural themes, written by an author from an under-represented culture. Should I submit it in the Multicultural category or the Translation category? A translation into English of a text by an author from an under-represented culture, may be entered in the Multicultural category if the writer is the grant applicant and seeks support for writing (the translator should however be clearly identified). The translation should be submitted in the Translation category if the translator is the grant applicant, and seeks support for translation.



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

Doesn’t that mean a writer or translator needs to do all the work before even applying for a award?  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.  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 or translator 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? 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? 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? 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 the WIP? You can still apply but understand that if the project comes under contract before the award is announced you must withdraw your application.

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