Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

2018-2019 Novel Mentorship Program

2018-2019 Novel Mentorship Program

We’re delighted to announce that SCBWI-MI will hold TWO novel mentorship competitions next year.


You will need a complete draft of your novel to enter either competition.


The Non-PAL mentorship with author Kelly Barson

This mentorship is open to full and associate SCBWI members who live in Michigan.

Kelly is the author of 45 POUNDS MORE OR LESS and CHARLOTTE CUTS IT OUT. Kelly’s books will make you laugh and cry. They’ll show you the truth. They may even give you a glimpse inside yourself. Kelly teaches classes on writing Middle Grade and Young Adult novels at UCLA Extension Writers’ Program.

Our interview with Kelly will be posted on May 4, 2018 on the Mitten blog.

The submission window will be June 4-25, 2018.

The PAL mentorship with author Leslie Connor

This mentorship is open to PAL SCBWI members who live in Michigan.

Leslie lives in Connecticut where she is the author of ALL RISE FOR THE HONORABLE PERRY T COOK, CRUNCH, WAITING FOR NORMAL, THE THINGS YOU KISS GOODBYE, DEAD ON TOWN LINE and MISS BRIDIE CHOSE A SHOVEL. Her latest Midgrade Novel, THE TRUTH AS TOLD BY MASON BUTTLE, hit the store shelves in January. Leslie’s books are written with so much heart that they’re likely to break the reader’s heart as well.

See our interview with Leslie on the Mitten Blog.

The submission window will be April 2-23, 2018.



Step 1: Figure out your membership status.

If you are pre-published, you are an associate member.

If you are published, it depends on the publisher.

If your publisher is on this list of traditional publishers, you are a PAL member.

If your publisher is not on that list, you are a full member.

To check your official membership status, go to and scroll down to the Member Search box. Click Advanced Search and enter your name to look yourself up. If your listed membership status is not correct, contact SCBWI by email at membership [at] scbwi [dot] org and explain the situation. 

Authors who have work under contract with a PAL publisher are considered PAL members.


Please contact the program coordinator, Ann Finkelstein at annf1234 [at] gmail [dot] com, if you have questions about eligibility or your membership status.


Step 2: Register for the correct mentorship program.

PAL members will register during their submission window: April 2-23, 2018.

Non-PAL members will register during their submission window:  June 4-25, 2018.

For both mentorships, the submission fee is a nonrefundable $20.

One entry per person.

To enter, you must have completed a draft of your novel.


The registration platform will go live for each submission window. Click here to register during your submission window. 


Submission instructions will be repeated on the last page of the registration form.

Submission of manuscripts will be by email to the mentorship coordinator, Ann Finkelstein, at  annf1234 [at] gmail [dot] com


Step 3: Submit your manuscript.

All submissions are sent by email to Ann Finkelstein at  annf1234 [at] gmail [dot] com

The subject line for your email should read: Submission: TITLE

In the body of the email, write:

  • Your name
  • The title of your manuscript
  • Your SCBWI membership status
  • The name you used for SCBWI membership, if different from above
  • Your email address
  • Your phone number

Attach your manuscript to the email as a Microsoft Word document. Use the following format:

  • Header: write the title of your manuscript and the page number
  • DO NOT put your name on the manuscript.
  • Leave the footer blank. The footer will be used for your identification number.
  • Use 12-point Times New Roman font.
  • Double space
  • Use 1-inch margins.
  • You will need to submit the first ten pages and a synopsis.
  • Start your manuscript on the first line of the first page. (There is no need to leave several blank lines at the beginning of this submission.)
  • If your first chapter is shorter than ten pages, double space and continue with chapter 2.
  • End your ten-page submission at the end of a sentence.
  • The eleventh page is the synopsis. The synopsis should be one page in length. The synopsis may be single-spaced.


Anonymity. To ensure an unbiased selection process, the manuscripts will be identified by number, not the author’s name. DO NOT put your name or any other identifying mark on your manuscript.

Feel free to announce the mentorship on social media. DO NOT mention that you entered the competition on social media.


Selection process. Our super-secret, superstar judges will evaluate the entries based on:

  • Appropriateness of Style, Language and Diction for Intended Audience

Are the characters’ voices distinct, consistent, believable and age-appropriate?

  • Development of Theme or Concept

Is the theme at least hinted at in the first ten pages?  Does it become clear in the    synopsis?

  • Development of Plot

Is the protagonist’s problem/quest defined in the opening of the novel?

Is the problem/quest compelling?

Is it clear what is at stake for the protagonist if he or she fails or does not   undertake the quest?

Are the first 10 pages an appropriate introduction to the narrative arc described in the synopsis?

  • Development of Characters

Can you tell from the first 10 pages what each important character wants?

Is the protagonist interesting/appealing enough to continue reading?

Does the protagonist have clear challenges either in the form of a mistaken belief, an antagonist or a situation that he or she wants to overcome?

Does the writer avoid stereotypes?

  • Pacing

Is there an appropriate balance between dialog, exposition and backstory?

  • Overall Impression/Originality

Are you eager to find out what happens next?

Does the novel present a unique or underrepresented personality, problem or point-of-view?


Judges will also make brief comments about how they feel the manuscript could be strengthened. Applicants will receive the judges’ comments but not the numerical scores. The mentor will make the final selection.


The winner of the PAL mentorship with Leslie Connor will be announced in mid-July.

The winner of the non-PAL mentorship with Kelly Barson will be announced in early September.


Read more about the SCBWI-MI mentorship and its past winners and mentors.



How much does it cost to enter?  $20 (non-refundable)

How do I pay the $20? You will be asked for credit/debit card information when you register.

Do I have to be a member of SCBWI? Yes.

Do I have to live in Michigan? Yes.

Can I apply if I only live in Michigan for part of the year? Sure.

Will I be notified when my manuscript has been received and is being considered? Yes. Mentorship Coordinator, Ann Finkelstein, will confirm receipt of manuscripts.

How long do I have between registering for the mentorship and uploading my manuscript? 24 hours.

Exactly what do you mean by anonymous submissions? Don’t put your name on the manuscript and don’t announce on social media that you are entering.

Can I enter if I already have a PAL book under contract? You can enter the PAL mentorship only.

What happens if I enter the non-PAL mentorship and I’m offered a contract while the evaluation process is going on? Contact Mentorship Coordinator, Ann Finkelstein to receive congratulations and discuss the situation.

What if I’m a PAL illustrator? If you’re a PAL member for illustration, but not for writing, apply for the non-PAL mentorship described here.

Do I have to write a synopsis? Yes. Please understand that we feel your pain. However, it is essential that the judges know the arc of your novel.

What if I have a question that’s not on this list? Contact Mentorship Coordinator, Ann Finkelstein at annf1234 [at] gmail [dot] com.