New Visions Award FAQs

New Visions Award seal

The New Visions Award is open to all writers of color and Native/Indigenous authors who have not previously published a middle grade or young adult novel or graphic novel. The winner receives a standard publication contract, including an advance and royalties.

Watch Shaping Up Your Manuscript: A Conversation With Our Editors for more specific information on what we’re looking for in the craft department.

While most answers about the contest (like submissions qualifications and how to submit) can be found by thoroughly reading the complete rules on the New Visions Award page, below are some Frequently Asked Questions.

What does it mean to be a person of color?

We accept entries from writers who identify as Black/African, Asian/Pacific Islander, Latine/Latinx, Middle Eastern/North African, or Native American/Indigenous.

Why is the New Visions Award only open to people of color?

The New Visions Award was founded to encourage and support Indigenous authors and authors of color in a market where they’ve been traditionally excluded and underrepresented. That was true in 2012 when the award was created, and it’s still true today. (See the Cooperative Children’s Book Center’s Diversity Statistics regarding the representation gap in children’s literature.) The New Visions Award is one way we’re trying to close the gap.

I’m a citizen of a sovereign Native Nation, not of the US. May I submit to the New Visions Award?

Yes, if your Native Nation is within the contiguous United States.

Does Lee & Low Books only publish books by Indigenous people or people of color?

No! Anyone can submit a manuscript to us through an agent. We do make a special effort to work with creatives of color, or Indigenous writers and artists. We recognize that quality work is not dependent on an author’s race and ethnicity. If you have questions about how to write cross-culturally, see the list of links at this post.

I am a self-published author. May I still submit to the New Visions Award?

Yes, but not a manuscript that has been published before. All submissions to the New Visions Award must be previously unpublished.

What kind of manuscripts are you looking for?

Novel and graphic novel manuscripts may be fiction, narrative non-fiction, or works in verse. A middle grade submission should be aimed at readers between the ages of 8 to 12, and a young adult submission should be for readers 12 to 18 years old. Manuscripts should address the needs of children and teens of color or Indigenous children and teens by providing stories with which they can identify and relate, and promote a greater understanding of one another. Themes relating to different family structures, gender identity, LGBTQ+ communities, or disabilities are welcome, too. More guidelines on submissions can be found on the New Visions Award page.

We also recommend taking a look at the books we publish for a sense of the kind of stories we’re most strongly drawn to.

Is there a word count/length limit for our manuscripts?

In our submission guidelines we state:

  • Middle grade novels are not to exceed 75,000 words in length; young adult novels are not to exceed 95,000 words in length.
  • Graphic novels should not exceed 150 scripted pages. If you are an author-illustrator, you may include 6-10 pages of final art samples and optional character sketches in PDF format only.

When a novel manuscript is too short, it indicates to us that your manuscript is not yet fully developed. A writer who is familiar with the genre and category they’re writing in, whether novel or graphic novel, middle grade or young adult, will have a sense for what might be too short or too long in the category.

Why are you asking for the full manuscript?

This contest is an opportunity for authors to show that they have the skills to complete a fully executed manuscript. There are many folks with ideas for a good book, but it’s very different to write that book. It’s not an easy task, and writing requires a good deal of rewriting. We want to see that an author has put in the work and is ready for a publisher.

Can I submit more than one manuscript?

Yes, you can submit up to 2 manuscripts.

If I’ve submitted a manuscript to the New Visions Award before but did not win, can I resubmit? 

If you have submitted a specific manuscript to the New Visions Award, that manuscript is no longer eligible for a future year’s award cycle. However, you may submit a new manuscript if you are still eligible for the contest (that is, if you have not yet published a middle grade or young adult novel or graphic novel). 

Do I need to find an illustrator to go with my graphic novel manuscript?

No. In fact, you should not submit your manuscript with any illustrations unless you are also a professional illustrator. If a graphic novel manuscript wins, an illustrator will be chosen and paired with the manuscript at a later point. Professional illustrators who are also authors may include sample finished pages of a graphic novel. See the submission guidelines for more details.

Do I need an agent to submit my manuscript?

No. The New Visions Award contest was created to give unagented and unpublished authors an opportunity to break into the industry.

Can I receive confirmation my submission has been received?

After submitting, you should receive an auto reply email confirming receipt of your submission.

I write for younger readers. Is there a contest for me?

Yes! Our New Voices Award is for picture book manuscripts.

If you are submitting to the New Visions Award this year, best of luck and we look forward to receiving your submissions!

12 thoughts on “New Visions Award FAQs”

  1. I have a manuscript that was previously represented by an agent and was on sub. But the manuscript has evolved and become better since, and I had to part ways with the agent. However, my agency agreement still asks for 15% of royalties if the manuscript results in a sale. Is the manuscript still eligible for the contest? Please advise.

    1. Hi Eve! There is no word count restriction, but the synopsis should be brief–no longer than 3 pages.

    1. Hi Shay, Unfortunately, chapter books are not considered for the New Voices Award (we accept picture book submissions) or New Visions (middle grade and young adult submissions).

  2. Hello! I have written a story intended for ages 8-12. The word count is 6800 words. The guidelines state that “… it’s also a red flag for us when a novel manuscript is too short, as it indicates that your manuscript is not yet fully developed.” Is 6800 words alarmingly short? Thank you!

    1. Hi Marla! For a middle grade novel, 6800 words is too short. Generally, MG books are at least 30,000 words long. If there’s more of this story to be told, consider fleshing it out to a novel length. If not, we recommend starting a new story that would be long enough to fit the contest. Good luck!

      1. Hi Jalissa,

        Thank you so much for your response and that advice. I will expand the story to a novel length. Thanks again!

    1. Hi Sandra,

      The New Visions Award will be taking a hiatus in 2023 and will reopen for submissions in 2024. Please check back then.

      Thank you!

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