Run by the SCBWI, this is a competition to showcase the work of unpublished and unagented authors and illustrators. I found out about it from Sarwat Chadda, a previous winner and now full-time writer whom I’ve worked with as a librarian. I really can’t stress enough how important these sort of showcase competitions are, just to help get your work noticed in a ridiculously crowded market.
The writing category is totally free reign, asking authors to sub an extract of a completed manuscript, though the illustrator category is more fixed, requesting a single piece of art based on one of the titles (invented for the competition) given. I was thrown a little at the launch when I was told that one entry is all you get (and since the entry is via society membership, no pen name entries). I really think that two entries should be allowed, at the very least so that the judges can assess consistancy in the work. On the other hand, the titles are good – spins on classic tales, as if with Once Upon A Time… I haven’t had my fill of alternative fairy tales this year – and my black and white pen work has never been stronger than it is at the moment. It’s also interesting that colour artwork is out – the industry is showing what the business is, e.g. colour art = too expensive outside of the picturebook world.
Though I doubt I can get anything completed to enter into the author category, I’ve just completed my entry for the illustrator category, choosing the title “Hansel and Gretel and the Great Witch Rescue” after taking into account the advice at the launch event, ‘play to your strengths’ – in this case witches, fast paced movement and quirky humour.
I had considered the title Alice of Wonderland Road – Remarkable Tales of a Runaway but decided that Tenniel’s illustrations would be just to memorable to let me get my style in – when a title has so many associations with classic artwork, your own interpretation will always be measured against it.
Best of luck…