Increasingly, writers' societies are recognizing the value of self-published books. This year, the Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators is bestowing an annual award to "non-traditionally" published children books (picture, middle grade, YA) that meet SCBWI's standards for excellence.

If you have written a children's or YA book, and self-published it, this is a prize well worth pursuing. The SCBWI is a highly respected organization, one all children's book authors should join.

Spark Award

The Spark Award is an annual award that recognizes excellence in a children’s book published through a non-traditional publishing route.


Deadline for submission is December 31 for books published in that calendar year. Books published in previous years and re-issues are ineligible.



The winner and Honor Book recipients will receive a Spark seal to display on their book, a commemorative plaque and the opportunity to have their book featured at our Summer and Winter Conferences in Los Angeles and New York, in our SCBWI online bookstore and publicized through SCBWI social networking sites.


1. You must be a current SCBWI member with membership current through April of the following year to apply.  If you are a member now but your membership is scheduled to expire before that time, you will need to renew your membership in order to be eligible for the award. BOTH the author and illustrator (if applicable) must be members. In the case of co-authors, both must be members. If either case wins the award, two awards will be given.

2. You must have published a book intended for the children’s or YA market in one of the following categories: Board Book, Picture Book, Chapter Book, Middle Grade, or Young Adult.

3. The book may be fiction or non-fiction.

4. The book should have been self-published either through an established self-publishing enterprise or individually self-published.  The book cannot have been previously published in any print or digital form prior to the self-published form.

5. SCBWI reserves the right to disqualify books published by enterprises that we believe, in our discretion, operate in a predatory or unbusiness-like manner.

6. The entry must be submitted in traditionally bound form, contain an ISBN number, and provide evidence of Copyright Registration. For books originating outside the US you must follow the copyright rules of your country. Due to the government shutdown you will not be able to access the Copyright website, you may submit your email recipt as proof of copyright registration.

7. One winner and one Honor Book recipient will be chosen from two rounds of judging. The first round will be judged by an SCBWI panel; the second round will be judged by a panel selected from industry editors, agents, authors, illustrators and/or booksellers.

8. Books may be entered for either the Spark Award or The Golden Kite Award, but not both.

Judging will be based on a number of criteria, including but not limited to: quality of writing and concept, quality of illustrations (if applicable), professional presentation, editing and design, appropriateness of content for the targeted age group of the book.

Application Procedures:

You must include ALL of the following. Incomplete application packages will be automatically disqualified:

1. Cover letter with ALL of the following information:

-Your name

-Your SCBWI membership expiration date

-Name of your book

-Genre of your book

-Publishing method


-Synopsis of your book

2. Evidence of copyright registration. A completed pending application form is acceptable.

3. Two copies of a printed and bound copy of the book

Send application packages via a traceable mailing method (i.e. FedEx, UPS, US or International Mail with tracking number) to:

SCBWI Spark Award

8271 Beverly Blvd.

Los Angeles, CA 90048

Questions? Call us at 323-782-1010 or email the Grant Coordinator



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