Submission Requirements

Any original, unpublished piece not under contract with a publisher at the time of submission is eligible. Submissions must follow rules below to be considered for a prize.


Getting Started

  • Each entry must be accompanied by a non-refundable reading fee of $19 (credit card or debit card).
  • The entry fee will also entitle you to free entry to an instructional and educational webinar with the judge of the contest to be held after the winners have been chosen—usually within 90 days of the contest close date. You will have access to the replay for a limited time as well. Non-entrants must pay for their ticket to the webinar.
  • Entries are submitted online: We have developed a safe and secure web page for your contest submission. It is easy to use.
  • An “unpublished piece” means not published anywhere as of yet. Published work includes anything from your own blog, someone else’s, or through a magazine or book. The idea is to get you writing, stretching, and following submission guidelines with a new piece of writing.

Step One

Click the button at the bottom of this page to register and pay the $19 reading fee.

You can enter as many times as you wish, but each manuscript must be entered individually with its own reading fee.

How It Works

Step Two

After your purchase, you will be sent a welcome email with a link to the submission form.

Check your spam folder if you don’t see it in your inbox.

Step Three

You can submit your entry anytime before the deadline of the contest.

If you purchase your entry on the last day the contest is open, you will need to submit your entry that day.

Important Notes

  • When your manuscript is ready, use the submission form linked in the welcome email to upload your entry.
  • We cannot return submissions; please retain a copy of your manuscript.
  • All submissions must meet the entry deadline outlined in the contest.
  • Entries must be typed double-spaced.
  • Entries should be text only and may not include illustrations or photographs. Since we are a writing school, we are only judging writing.
  • No cover page is required for this contest. Each page should have a page number in the lower right corner.
  • Proofread your entry before submitting. Follow these contest rules, just as you would follow a publisher’s submission guidelines.
  • Entering this contest means you acknowledge and agree that, if you place in this contest, ICL may read aloud and critique your entry during the Winners Workshop where the winners will be announced. In addition, any positive comments made in the chat or about the webinar may be used as testimonials.
  • Your contest entry may be used to qualify you for other courses and products from the Institute of Children’s Literature/Institute for Writers.
  • The contest is open to writers 18-years-old and up. No minors may enter the contest.
  • A list of past winners can be found here.
NOTE: All submissions are final, once you click the submit button on the submissions form. If you send something incorrectly or without your name, etc., you must go through the process of submitting again, which includes another fee. Avoid errors by proofreading and taking your time to make sure everything is correct.

Our Standards

No entries containing violence or derogatory, racist, or sexist language or situations will be accepted, at the sole discretion of the judges. No employees, relatives of employees, or former employees of the Institute or its divisions are eligible.
International Submissions
If you are purchasing with an address outside of the US, please allow 1-2 business days to process your registration and receive the submission link. If, after 3 business days, you do not receive the submission link in your email, please contact info@instituteforwriters.com. International winners will receive a gift card equal to the cash prize.

Winners & Rights

The winners will be announced at the Winners Workshop, in our Facebook group and in our newsletters. We reserve the right to first publication of the winning entries in our newsletter, after which all rights revert to the authors. We do not own your work product in any way, shape, or form.


All entries will be read by faculty and editorial staff members of the Institute of Children’s Literature. Winners will be notified by email (or other means) approximately 90 days after the close of the contest. Once the winners are announced, all non-winning entries are released for submission elsewhere.

How to Format Your Work

  • Double space your manuscript.
  • Margins should be one inch all around.
  • Use Times New Roman or Courier, 12-point font.
  • Include your first and last name in the upper left corner of every page. (Do not include any other contact information on your manuscript.)
  • Word count only goes on the first page and should be located in the upper left corner under your name.
  • Number all pages in the lower right corner.
  • Check the current contest’s rules at the bottom of this page for the proper naming convention of your document.
  • Do not include a cover page with your entry.
  • Submissions will only be accepted as a PDF or Word document.

Here is a sample entry (This particular sample doesn’t rhyme, but this current contest, your entry must rhyme.):


Specific Rules for the Rhyming Animal Poetry Contest

  • Entries must be no more 110 words. (They can be fewer than 110 words. The title is not included in the word count.)
  • Entries must rhyme and showcase an animal (or animals).
  • The target reader’s age range is between 6 and 9 years old.
  • Entries must be unpublished and not under contract.
  • Do not submit illustrations. (This is a text only contest.)
  • Please save your document as follows: YourFirstName_YourLastName_Animal_Poetry_Contest.doc (or .pdf). If you have more than one entry, please add a 1, 2, 3, etc. to the end.
  • Entries must be submitted via our online form by midnight Pacific Time on March 15, 2024.
  • There is a $19 reading fee per manuscript to enter the contest.
  • You may enter more than one manuscript but each entry requires a $19 reading fee.
  • Add our email address (learn@instituteforwriters.com) to your list of contacts and/or safe senders so you can receive the email with the free entry information to our online workshop where we announce the winners. (Non-entrants pay $7.)

Deadline to submit: March 15, 2024

Enter the ICL Contest Today

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