Note: This post was originally written in 2010, however we continue to update the comments section with answers to your questions.
The New Voices Award is open to all authors of color who have not previously had a children’s picture book published. The winner receives a cash prize of $1000 and our standard publication contract, including our basic advance and royalties for a first time author. An Honor winner will receive a cash prize of $500.
We periodically get some questions about the Award, so I’d like to answer a few of them if I can:
What does it mean to be a person of color?
Well, that can be a pretty complicated question, but for the purposes of our New Voices Award specifically, we accept contest entries from people of African, Asian/Pacific Islander, Latin American, Middle Eastern, or Native American/Indigenous descent.
Why is the New Voices Award only open to people of color?
The New Voices Award was founded to encourage and support authors of color in a market where they’ve been traditionally excluded and underrepresented. That was true in 2000 when the award was started and it’s still true today (see these stats for some surprising figures about the number of books published by/for people of color). The New Voices Award is one of the ways in which we’re trying to close the gap.
Does Lee & Low only publish books by people of color?
No! Anyone can submit a manuscript to us through our general submissions. We make a special effort to work with writers and artists of color because they are still underrepresented, but we recognize that quality work is not dependent on an author’s ethnicity. For a good discussion about writing cross-culturally, see this post by Tu Books Editorial Director Stacy Whitman.
I am a self-published author. May I still submit to the New Voices Award?
No. Self-published children’s authors are welcome to submit through our general submissions, but only authors who have not been published before, either traditionally or through self-publishing, are eligible for this award.
Do I need to find an illustrator to go with my manuscript?
No. In fact, you should not submit your manuscript with any illustrations. The New Voices Award is for text only – if a book wins, an illustrator will be chosen and paired with the manuscript at a later point.
Do I need an agent to submit my manuscript?
No. In fact, only submissions from writers without agents are considered for the award. The New Voices Award is for unpublished children’s book writers who are trying to break into publishing.
How do I contact an Editor with my question?
Most answers about the contest can be found by thoroughly reading the contest guidelines. Please refer to the New Voices Award guidelines for complete information about the award, submission qualifications, and how to submit your manuscript.
Can I receive confirmation my submission has been received by Lee & Low Books?
If you wish to receive confirmation that we received your submission, please send it via a service (such as FedEx) that provides you with a tracking number or mail it with a US postal service return receipt attached. Both these provide you with a way of checking on the delivery of your submission.
For what kind of manuscripts are you looking?
Please refer to the Submissions section of our New Voices Award page for information regarding our manuscript interests.
But I write for older readers. Is there a contest for me?
Yes! Our annual New Visions Award is for middle grade and YA manuscripts. See the submission guidelines.
Here are some Lee & Low titles that started out as New Voices Award entries:
More questions? Leave ’em in the comments and we’ll try to answer them. And if you are submitting to the New Voices Award this year, best of luck and we look forward to receiving your submissions!