Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Duelling Illustrators Manuscript Contest

NEW – Visit this page to discover the finalists.


Do you have an unpublished picture book manuscript 350 words or less in length?

Would you like it read to the Bologna audience during the Duelling Illustrators sessions?

For the first time the SCBWI will be calling for submissions of unpublished picture book manuscripts for our famous Duelling Illustrators. The submissions will be evaluated by our judge (details below) and the selected manuscripts will be read during the duels at the Bologna Showcase. The #1 entry will receive a written critique and an invitation to submit their work to this year’s judge.

Bologna 2016

Call for Submissions

This opportunity is open to SCBWI members (PAL and non-PAL) from our worldwide membership.

Accompanying your payment and registration (links below) authors are requested to UPLOAD their manuscript following the directions provided. Manuscript submissions for the Duelling Illustrators will be open from January 17 to January 31, 2018 and limited to the first 100 entries only.

Manuscript submission criteria:

* Original, unpublished and uncontracted picture book manuscripts only (“Unpublished” includes both traditional and self-published).

* Suitable for traditional 32 page picture book and 3-8 age range and reading aloud during Duelling Illustrators at the SCBWI Bologna Booth.

* Work submitted will not have been accepted for publication or have won a prize in any other competition at time of submission.

* No longer than 350 words

* Only ONE ms per member.

* No illustrations or dummies to be included – text only.

* Open themed and fiction.

* Double spaced 12 point, typed, in either .doc or docx formats

* In the header include the manuscript TITLE

* At the end of the manuscript insert WORD COUNT: and the number

* The FILE NAME for the submitted manuscript must be the same as the title of your manuscript (no author’s names etc).

* Written in English.

* Do NOT include any identifying features e.g.: your name, email address etc. on any of the manuscript pages. This will remove your manuscript from consideration and there will be no refund.

* Entries must be received by 31 January, 2018 (or earlier if the total number of manuscripts are received).  (Manuscripts are uploaded – see “Submit” bullet below)

* The author must be a SCBWI member at the time of submission NOTE: Should your manuscript be one of the finalists chosen to be read at Bologna, you must also be a paid-up member through end April.

… using these guides the entire ms should be no longer than 1 1/2 pages.


All manuscripts submitted by the closing date meeting the above criteria will be reviewed for inclusion.

After the closing date, January 31, 2018, the judge will select up to six (6) entries to be read as part of the 2018 Bologna Duelling Illustrators. From these entries the judge will, at their discretion, select one winning entry.

Application for possible inclusion in the Duelling Illustrators Manuscript costs $20. The steps are:


** Register – Click here to register and pay  – NOTE – Registration is now sold out!

** Submit – *FOR MEMBERS WHO ARE ALREADY REGISTERED* – CLICK HERE to upload your manuscript via the Dueling Illustrator Manuscript Submission page.

(Note – All submissions are verified with the registered members.)


NOTE – The Submission Form is now ready.


(NOTE – Your manuscript MUST be submitted *AFTER* registration and payment. Manuscripts can only be submitted through the Manuscript Submission page – link above.)


Registrations opens January 17 and closes on January 31, 2018 (or earlier if the total number of manuscripts are received). 

The winner will be awarded a certificate at the 2018 New York SCBWI Winter Conference and their entry will be read with the other finalists at the Bologna Book Fair at the SCBWI booth.

The Winner:

* will receive a written critique from the judge

will receive a certificate

will be announced at New York Conference publicly and associated SCBWI promotions on our social media platforms (please note this has now been moved to late February for the announcement)

will have their manuscript read aloud during Duelling illustrators Manuscript @ Bologna

Five Finalists:

* will receive a completed judging sheet checklist on their manuscript

* will be publicly announced as honorable mentions,

* receive a certificate,


The Dates

September 18 – Duelling Manuscripts information released
January 17 – entry into Duelling Manuscripts open
January 31 – last date for registering and submitting manuscripts
February 16 – six finalists revealed here.
March (late) – Winner announced at our the Bologna Book Fair.

The Judge

​Introducing our very experienced, talented international judge:

Emma_snurtch_for_webEmma Ledbetter is Senior Editor at Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing. Emma is proud to have edited lots of stellar books for kids, including Super Manny Stands Up! by Kelly DiPucchio, illustrated by Stephanie Graegin, and Ida, Always by Caron Levis, illustrated by Charles Santoso, which The New York Times called “an example of children’s books at their best.” She looks for captivating voices, enchanting artwork, humor, and charm in a range of formats—particularly picture books and middle grade novels. She is especially fond of Edward Gorey, Clementine, and Frances the Badger.