Established in 2012, the New Visions Award is given biennially to an unpublished writer of color or Native/Indigenous writer for a middle grade or young adult novel or graphic novel manuscript.

New Visions Award winners receive a standard publication contract, including Lee & Low Books’s basic royalties for a first-time author and an advance in the amount of $15,000.

Winners are also given close publishing mentorship as they work to develop their book for publication. Nurturing manuscripts takes time, and Lee & Low's commitment to this contest represents over a decade of dedication. We are in this for the long haul! We ask for the same commitment and courtesy from applicants. Please make sure you are able to abide by the eligibility and manuscript submission guidelines before entering.

Past winners include Ink and Ashes by Valynne Maetani, an Asian/Pacific American Honor for Literature; Rebel Seoul by Axie Oh, which received three starred reviews and is a Junior Library Guild selection; Ahimsa by Supriya Kelkar, which received two starred reviews and is listed as a Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People; The Wind Called My Name by Mary Louise Sanchez; and Julieta and the Diamond Enigma by Luisana Duarte Armendáriz.

Check out the New Visions Award Frequently Asked Questions.

Read the complete contest rules.


  • Open to writers of color and Native/Indigenous writers who at the time of entry are 18 years of age or older (or the legal age of majority in his/her state of legal residence, whichever is older) and a legal resident of the 50 United States or the District of Columbia. Writers located outside the 50 United States or the District of Columbia are not eligible. In order to enter the contest or receive the prize award, you must fully comply with the Official Rules and, by entering, you represent and warrant that you agree to be bound by these Official Rules and the decisions of Lee & Low Books, whose decisions shall be binding and final in all respects relating to this Contest.
  • To be eligible for participation in the contest, writers cannot have had a middle grade or young adult novel or graphic novel traditionally published.
  • Writers who have published work in other genres (including children’s magazines or adult fiction/nonfiction) are eligible to enter. Authors of self-published books may also enter but must submit a new manuscript rather than a project or manuscript that has already been self-published.
  • Only manuscripts from unagented writers will be considered, but if Lee & Low Books (in its sole and absolute discretion) extends an offer for publication to a winner, winner will be given one month from the date of winner notification to consult with an agent if winner so chooses. 
  • Manuscripts previously submitted for the New Visions Award or to Lee & Low Books by other means will not be considered for the contest.


  • Manuscripts should address the needs of children and teens of color, and Native/Indigenous children and teens, by providing stories with which they can identify and relate and which promote a greater understanding of one another. Themes relating to different family structures, gender identity, LGBTQ+ communities, or disabilities may also be included.
  • Manuscripts may consist of either novel or graphic novel manuscripts and may be FICTION, NARRATIVE NONFICTION, or WORKS IN VERSE for middle grade readers ages 8 to 12 and young adult readers ages 12 to 18. We are interested in contemporary or historical fiction, literary fantasy, science fiction, mystery, suspense, and genre fusions. Graphic novel scripts and novels in verse for these categories are also welcome. Picture books and short stories will not be accepted.
  • Narrative nonfiction projects should have strong educational appeal, centered around a person or people from marginalized groups. Instructional or reference nonfiction (e.g. cookbooks, encyclopedias, etc.) will not be considered. Please include a preliminary bibliography and an explanation of how you came to write the book with your manuscript.
  • Manuscripts and graphic novel scripts must be written in English and should be typed, double-spaced, composed in a clear 12-point font, and saved as a Word document. Graphic novel submissions should include 6 to 10 pages of final art samples and optional character sketches in PDF format only if you are an author/illustrator.
  • Middle grade novels should not exceed 75,000 words in length; young adult novels should not exceed 95,000 words in length; graphic novel manuscripts should not exceed 150 scripted pages.
  • All submissions must be accompanied by a cover letter that includes the author’s name, address, phone number, email address, brief biographical note, relevant cultural, ethnic, and any other background information, how the author heard about the contest, and publication history, if any.
  • Submissions that have been submitted to other publishers or writing contests are not eligible. Submissions may not be sent to other publishers, mentorship, contests, or writing contests while under consideration for this contest.
  • No automatic, programmed, robotic, mechanically altered, or reproduced entries are permitted, and any such entries will be deemed void and disqualified. Manuscripts must be your original written work product; plagiarism of any kind will result in disqualification.
  • Artificial Intelligence: The use of generative artificial intelligence (“AI”) of any kind to create a Manuscript or any portion thereof for this Contest, whether in the writing or editing phase, is strictly prohibited and will result in disqualification. In this context, AI includes, but is not limited to, ChatGPT, Zoom AI Companion, Bing AI, Google Bard, Microsoft’s CoPilot, Jasper, Westlaw Precision, and Lexis+AI. Note that for these purposes, AI does not include basic tools for checking grammar, spelling, references, etc. Lee & Low Books reserves the right to screen Submissions for use of AI through an AI detector. Entrants utilizing AI to generate their work product in whole or in part will be disqualified. If it is determined after the winner is announced and the prize is awarded that the winning entrant utilized AI to generate the written submission in whole or in part, then the entrant will forfeit the winning designation and shall return any advance or royalty payments that have already been paid at the time of such forfeiture. In Lee & Low Books’s sole and unfettered discretion, a new winner may then be selected from all other non-suspect eligible submissions.
  • Be sure to leave sufficient time to resubmit your submission if technical difficulties occur. Lee & Low Books is not responsible for late, lost, or incorrectly submitted Manuscripts.


  • All manuscripts must be submitted between April 1, 2024 at 12:01 a.m. Eastern Time and June 30, 2024 at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time.
  • Manuscripts must comply with the Submission Instructions/Requirements to be eligible for entry.
  • Limited to no more than 2 submissions per entrant, provided, however, that each submission must be submitted separately.
  • Submissions will not be acknowledged or returned.
  • Click here to enter your manuscript.


  • After the close of the submission period, Lee & Low Books will judge all eligible submissions based on the following equally-weighted judging criteria: (i) originality, (ii) strength of voice, (iii) appeal to readers between the ages of 8 to 18, and (iv) thought-provoking themes.
  • On or about September 30, 2024, up to 5 to 10 semi-finalists will be chosen based on the above-mentioned judging criteria. In or about mid-October, an editor will contact each semi-finalist to schedule a one-on-one video conference meeting to discuss their submission. Up to 3 to 5 finalists will be chosen from the semi-finalists based upon the above-mentioned judging criteria and the one-on-one video conference meeting. Lee & Low Books reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to select less than 5 to 10 semi-finalists and less than 3 to 5 finalists.
  • On or about December 13, 2024, the finalists will go on to a finalist meeting to be discussed by the Lee & Low’s judging committee. Each finalist submission will be re-judged to select 1 winner on the equally-weighted criteria listed above.
  • Lee & Low Books reserves the right, in its sole discretion, not to choose an Award winner.
  • If a winner is chosen, they will be contacted by Lee & Low Books after January 6, 2025 with an advance offer and standard contract. If an offer is extended, it does not need to be immediately accepted by the winner. The winner may evaluate the details of the offer if/when it is made and consult an agent.
  • The potential winner (and/or agent if applicable) will be required to respond by no later than the ordinary close of business on February 6, 2025 with the intent of moving forward with signing the publication contract or officially declining the offer and publication. If the potential winner declines the offer, Lee & Low Books reserves the right to offer the same publication terms to another finalist, as selected using the same judging criteria set forth above for determination of a winner.
  • In the unlikely event of a tie in the selection of either semi-finalists, finalists or the winner, the tied submissions will be re-judged using the judging criteria.
  • Odds of winning the Award will depend upon the nature, quality, and total number of eligible Submissions received.
  • The decisions of Lee & Low Books are final and binding in all matters relating to this Contest, including, but not limited to, interpretation and application of these Official Rules. By entering the Contest, you fully and unconditionally agree to be bound by these rules and the decisions of the Sponsor and its designated judges, which will be final and binding in all matters relating to the Contest, including but not limited to, the selection of the Award winner, and such decisions cannot be appealed.

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2021 New Visions Award Winners
Nicki Jay won the New Visions Award for her manuscript, The Marassa: Birth*Life*Death Book I.

2020 New Visions Award Winners
Tiffany Golden won the New Visions Award for her manuscript, Rikki and Rai: The Everyday and Sometimes Epic Adventures of the Tucker Sisters. The honor goes to Ana Rodriguez Ellickson for Roman the Renegade.

2019 New Visions Award Winner
Author Tracy Occomy Crowder has won the New Visions Award for her manuscript, Montgomery and the Case of the Golden Key.

2018 New Visions Award Winners
Author Monica Zepeda has won the New Visions Award for her manuscript, Boys of the Beast. Michelle Jones Coles’ manuscript Woke received the New Visions Award Honor.

2017 New Visions Award Winners
Author Olivia Abtahi and Luisana Duarte Armendáriz have won the fifth annual New Visions Award for their novels, Twin Flames and The Regent Enigma, respectively.

2016 New Visions Award Winners
Author Charlotte Sun and Mary Louise Sanchez have won the fourth annual New Visions Award for their historical middle-grade novels, Escape from Tiananmen Square, and The Wind Called My Name, respectively.

2015 New Visions Award Winners
Author Supriya Kelkar has won the third annual New Visions Award for her historical fiction novel, Ahimsa.

2014 New Visions Award Winners
Author Axie Oh has won the second annual New Visions Award for her science fiction novel, The Amaterasu Project.

2013 New Visions Award Winners
Author Valynne Maetani has won the first annual New Visions Award for her young adult mystery novel, Remnants of the Rising Sun.