Writing Contests

Contests are a great way to sharpen your submission skills and get your work out there. Plus, you could win part of the $1,300 in prize money we award to our contest winners. Winning entries are critiqued in our Winners' Workshop where we announce the winners in a live webinar.

The Institute for Children's Literature and the Institute for Writers offer writing contests year around for various genres. Enter one of our current contests below:

ICL Bedtime Picture Book Contest

Snuggling up to read a book with a little one at bedtime can be the best part of the day. This contest is your chance to write a picture book for bedtime or inspired by bedtime. We're looking for your most original stories. (Remember, Goodnight Moon has already been written. Think beyond your first idea!) We want to see manuscripts that will make a child say, "Again! Again!" Use your imagination to craft a picture book manuscript aimed at children ages four to eight. Manuscripts must be previously unpublished and 500 words or less.

Deadline: March 31, 2020

Click here for more details.

IFW Photo Prompt Short Story Contest

Write a 1,000 word short story inspired by the photo above. Your story can be in any genre and aimed at audiences from YA to Adult.Your entry should be a full story with a beginning, middle, and end. Where will these sunglasses take you?

Deadline: February 29, 2020

Click here for more details.

Contest rules available here:

IFW Contest Rules

ICL Contest Rules

Add yourself to our weekly newsletter to hear when our Winners Workshops and upcoming contests are announced.

Institute for Children's Literature Newsletter

Institute for Writers Newsletter


For tips on how to improve your contest entries (and possibly win!), check out these resources from ICL and IFW:


How to Win a Contest by ICL Instructor Nancy Coffelt

Tighten Up Your Weakest Link for a Contest Win by ICL contributor Jan Fields

Why a Contest? Seven Lucky Reasons to Enter by ICL Contributor Jan Fields

Why Entering a Contest Helps YOU! with Katie Davis and Nancy Coffelt


Past Winners:


Sign up for our weekly tips & market leads. 

If you write for children, sign up for our ICL newsletter.

Writing for adults? Sign up for the IFW newsletter.