Submission Guidelines, Writing Contests, and Resources

LEE & LOW BOOKS is a publisher that takes pride in nurturing new talent. In this section of our website, you'll find resources for book creators at all levels of experience. Take some time to read through and learn more about our editorial guidelines and what we are looking for.

Writing Contests

Lee & Low Books offers two annual writing contests for unpublished authors of color: our New Voices Award (picture book manuscripts) and our New Visions Award (middle grade and young adult manuscripts). Winners of each contest receive a cash prize of $2000 and a standard publishing contract with Lee & Low Books.

Writing Contests on Hiatus

The New Voices and New Visions writing contests are currently on a temporary hiatus. We remain ever committed to our mission to help diverse authors break into this industry. We will use this time to make improvements to the contest so we can continue to best serve debut authors in this ever-changing landscape of children’s publishing.

A heartfelt thanks to this incredible community of writers, educators, librarians, and readers for their continued support of the contests throughout these many years.

A follow-up announcement will come in 2024.

Submission Guidelines for Authors

Because we are a small publisher working through an extensive manuscript backlog, Lee & Low Books and Tu Books are both currently closed to unsolicited manuscript submissions until further notice. We still accept agented submissions and projects from writers’ conferences that Lee & Low editors have attended. In addition, For more details, click here.

Submission Guidelines for Illustrators

We are open to seeing work from professional illustrators and artists at all levels of experience. Illustrators who have worked in other fields and are interested in illustrating books are also welcome. We are particularly interested in hearing from illustrators whose cultural, ethnic, or racial backgrounds and experiences support their knowledge of diverse cultures. See our guidelines for submitting your art sample.

Resources for Creators

Our goal is to provide as much information as possible about children's book publishing. Included in this section are helpful articles written by editors, children’s literature experts, authors, illustrators, reviewers, and the LEE & LOW staff. Topics span the entire publishing process, from the period before a manuscript is acquired to the thrilling moment when the writer learns that the manuscript has been accepted for acquisition, from the moment of acquisition to the even more thrilling moment when the writer or illustrator first holds a bound copy of the book.

The articles in the Writers and Illustrators section, along with those in the Interviews section, demonstrate the collaborative process of publishing, including the time after a book is published, when the writer and illustrator join the publisher in publicizing, marketing, and promoting the book to help raise awareness and keep it alive. We hope that writers and illustrators find guidance and useful advice here, and that they will make a lifelong career of providing great stories for children.


The Truth About School Visits: Book Sales
By Alexis O'Neill
Selling books is all about making connections with kids, creating a fan base, and extending the educational – and personal – value of a school visit beyond that one day.
The Truth About School Visits: Increasing Invitations for Middle Grade and YA Writers
By Alexis O'Neill
Middle grade and YA writers sometimes complain that they don't get the volume of invitations to schools as their picture book writing colleagues.
Editor Interview: Louise May, Vice President/Editorial Director
By Cynthia Leitich Smith
An interview with LEE & LOW's Vice President/Editorial Director, Louise May.
The Truth About School Visits: Avoiding Bad Days
By Alexis O'Neill
Bad days. We all have them. But when the bad day is caused by a school visit, how you deal with it makes the difference between your hosts viewing you as a diva or a darling.
Hoops in Paris
By John Coy
As I shot a turnaround in the left corner, I thought what a wonderful gift to the world this game of basketball has been. What a wonderful gift for me to travel to new places and play a game, familiar, yet different, and experience the local variations of rhythm and flow. How wonderful to be a participant, not a tourist.
Working with Cause and Effect
By Laura Backes
When we write fiction, we see the story in our mind long before it's down on paper. We know why our characters are acting the way they do because we are familiar with their past and in control of their future. We understand the significance of every event in the plot. But sometimes we forget to tell our readers.
Breaking the Storytelling Mold
By Laura Backes
If your writing seems stuck in a rut, perhaps it's time to put that manuscript aside and watch some TV. Or go to the movies. Or read a comic book.
Twenty Tips for Writing Picture Books
By Pat Mora
How exciting that you want to write picture books! I became interested when my three children were little, and I’ve loved the genre ever since. Fair warning: they are like candy. Once you start, it’s difficult to stop.
Writing Powerful Endings
By Laura Backes
The first few lines of any story are the most important, and often the most difficult words you'll write. The next most challenging piecee of writing is the ending. Once you draw your readers in and take them through your story, you'll need to leave them with a satisfying conclusion.
Finding Your Voice
By Laura Backes
One of your most powerful tools as a writer is not your vocabulary, your mastery of grammar or even your fancy computer -- it's your voice.
The Voice that Speaks Best
By Elaine Marie Alphin
You've plotted your story. You know your characters and their conflict. You know how your viewpoint character will grow by achieving a resolution.
Voice as Background and Foundation
By Jean E. Karl
Recently a manuscript was sent to me that had a good story that was well worked out and told in a clear, straightforward way that made it easy to read and engaging. But the material will never find a publisher, at least not in its present form. Why?
Ask the Editors
By The editors of LEE & LOW BOOKS
First, we would like to thank everyone for participating. We received many interesting questions, and it was wonderful to see so much interest in children’s literature among new authors and illustrators.
How Can I Help My Publisher Promote My Book
By LEE & LOW's Marketing Department
As an author or illustrator you are capable of directly influencing the sales of your book through self-promotion -- so...promote, promote, promote!
The Virtually-Do-It-Yourself Book Tour
By Sue Corbett
People think that since I am a book reviewer, I had some secret shortcut to getting published and that, once published, I had no trouble getting attention for my first novel.
Recommended Books for the Children's Book Writer and Illustrator
By The editors of LEE & LOW BOOKS
There are several relatively new or reissued books about writing for children that have gotten good reviews, although they are not specifically about writing multicultural books.
Getting Published: Resources for Today's Tough Marketplace Part I
By The editors of LEE & LOW BOOKS
First-time authors and illustrators trying to break into children's book publishing are faced with fewer places to send their work as more publishers close their doors to unsolicited submissions. This means that the ubiquitous slush pile is now bigger and more competitive than ever.
Getting Published Part II: Independent Press vs. Large Press
By The editors of LEE & LOW BOOKS
A couple of years ago, while discussing a manuscript (unsolicited, by the way) with an author, she let drop a comment that drove home a troubling perception regarding Independent presses vs. Large Houses. While she knew her story "needed work," she thought she'd send it to us first for our comments before sending the story to "a REAL publisher" [emphasis is ours].
Getting Published: Resources on the Web
By LEE & LOW's Marketing Department
Getting published is an often discussed topic, especially here in LEE & LOW’s Writers & Illustrators Section. But there’s a big wide web world outside of here! Vast resources exist in web country -- finding what you want is of course THE adventure.
The Submission Process: A Demystification Part I
By The editors of LEE & LOW BOOKS
Lee & Low Books is one of the few children's book publishers still willing to consider unsolicited material. This means that rather than limiting our submissions to those from agents or previously published authors and illustrators, we welcome material from authors and artists at all levels of experience.
The Submission Process, Part II: Tips on Submitting Samples for Illustrators
By The editors of LEE & LOW BOOKS
As each and every illustration sample is opened at Lee & Low, we can only imagine the questions illustrators are asking: What happens to my samples once they reach a publisher? Will the Editor, Art Director or Designer even see them?
How Do We Choose Our Projects?
By The editors of LEE & LOW BOOKS
"How do you decide which projects to publish?" This is the question writers ask of editors everywhere, and LEE & LOW is no exception.
Is it a Story? Knowing when a Manuscript is Ready
By The editors of LEE & LOW BOOKS
As with any creative endeavor, there is no exact science when it comes to determining if a manuscript is ready for submission.

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