New Visions Award FAQs

New Visions Award sealThe New Visions Award is open to all authors of color who have not previously had a middle grade or young adult novel or graphic novel published. The winner receives a cash prize of $2000 and our standard publication contract, including our basic advance and royalties for a first writingtime author. An Honor winner will receive a cash prize of $1000.

In general, we are looking for novels and graphic novels for young readers that have a strong voice, a commercial hook with a strong institutional appeal, and an entrancing plot. Check out the archives of our webinar on preparing your manuscript for more specific information on what we’re looking for in the craft department. Here are answers to some of our most frequently asked questions:

What does it mean to be a person of color?

That can be a complicated question, but for the purposes of our New Visions Award, we accept contest entries from people of African, Asian/Pacific Islander, Latin American, Middle Eastern, or Native American/Indigenous descent.

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

The New Visions 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 2012 when the award was started and it’s still true today (see our most recent Diversity Gap Infographic regarding the diversity gap in children’s literature; most notably, even though the percentage of books about people of color have significantly increased over the last several years, Black, Latino, and Native authors combined wrote less than 6% of the new children’s books published in 2016). The New Visions Award is one way we’re trying to close the gap.

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


Does Tu Books 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 more information on how to write cross-culturally, see the list of links at this post and consider consulting sensitivity readers.

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.

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. Include 6-10 pages of final art samples and optional character sketches in PDF format only if you are an author/illustrator.

Note 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. A writer who is familiar with the genre and category they’re writing in, whether novel or graphic novel, MG or YA, will have a stronger sense for what might be too short or too long in the category.

Why are you asking for the full manuscript?

We changed our procedures to streamline the process so as not to request full manuscripts from finalists in the middle of the contest. All manuscripts must now be COMPLETED when submitted in the initial—and now only—round of submission.

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 not won, can I resubmit? What about something I’ve submitted to Tu Books before in general submissions?

If you have ever submitted a manuscript to us via either general submissions or 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, have not yet published a MG or YA 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. In fact, only submissions from writers without agents are considered for the award. The New Visions Award is for unpublished and unagented middle grade and YA 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 Visions Award guidelines for complete information about the award, submission qualifications, and how to submit your manuscript. If any questions remain, feel free to leave them in the comments section below and we’ll do our best to answer them.

Can I receive confirmation my submission has been received by Tu Books?

Every submission should receive an auto reply from the Submittable system, which is the online system we use for Tu Books submissions. If you do NOT receive an email saying that your submission has been received, please first check with Submittable to ensure everything is working with your account. Allow plenty of time before submitting your manuscript just in case of technical hiccups.

What kind of manuscripts are you looking for?

Please refer to the Submissions section of our New Visions Award page for information regarding our manuscript interests. Also take a look at the books we publish for a sense of the kind of books we’re most strongly drawn to.

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

Yes! Our annual New Voices Award is for picture book manuscripts. See the submission guidelines.

Here are some published books that started as New Visions Award entries:

Ink and Ashes

Ink and Ashes



Rebel Seoul

Rebel Seoul

More questions? Leave ’em in the comments and we’ll try to answer them. And if you are submitting to the New Visions Award this year, best of luck and we look forward to receiving your submissions!

10 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!

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