Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Picture Book Party 2020 is Here

Mindy Alyse Weiss and I are so very happy to be back for our sixth year! We have fifteen agents and a few editors already signed up, and that number might grow. We will reveal the agents on March 2nd.

Please read all the information below carefully, and all the way to the end. We get lots of questions about this contest, most of which can be answered by reading everything. We are also including a FAQ below.

Picture Book Party (#PBParty) is a contest for writers and author/illustrators of chapter books and picture books. Unlike a twitter pitching event, your entries are sent to Mindy and Michelle (the two Ms) via Google form, and we pick a variety of genres for the agents/editors to read and hopefully request on Michelle's website

The day to submit your contest entry is Monday, March 9th at 3:30 pm Eastern time. New this year, You will submit by Google form. Please note we are not using email this year.

The submission window will stay open until 5:30 pm Eastern time. That way no one has to rush. 

Mindy and I will go through the entries and pick our 20 favorites over the next few days, plus our favorite illustrations for the art showcase. (We just might add a few additional ones--the amazing submissions make it hard to narrow down our final choices!)

Agents and editors then read the selected entries on Michelle's website and make requests* Wednesday, March 18th - Friday, March 20th. The illustration showcase will start a day later and run Thursday, March 19 - Friday, March 20th with the same agents/editors. Repeat, agents/editors will be announce March 2nd. 

*You are not obligated to send requests to any individual agent/editor. Do your own research.

During the submission and before the agent showcase, we have an actual party on twitter (#PBParty). Here we celebrate our love of writing and picture books with a variety of topics. It's a place to get to know your fellow writers of children books. Topics change each day. Examples include: share your favorite picture book, share where you get your writing inspiration. And so on.

Hopefully, this makes the waiting easier and more fun.

The Rules:

Please follow this blog by clicking the "Follow" button in the left sidebar under the Followers app. Or if that is stubborn and won't work, you can subscribe to Michelle's newsletter or follow @Michelle4Laughs and @MindyAlyseWeiss on twitter. If you aren't on twitter Mindy will have updates on her facebook. Or do all four options. We will be tweeting hints and advice as well as partying!

NEW THIS YEAR: You may send ONE entry and only one entry. We got so many entries last year (818!) that we need to scale down this year. Only one entry will be chosen per person, meaning if you are picked for the story part of the contest, you will not be picked for the art showcase. Any attempt to cheat will result in entries thrown out (and sadly it has happened in the past.) 

On March 9th at 3:30 pm Eastern the submission window opens and the Google form will go live for two hours. 

You should see a version of your entry when you hit submit as your confirmation.

1. This contest is for unagented writers and writer/illustrators with 
finished and polished manuscripts. They must be ready to submit if requested by an agent or editor. 

2. Also, if you have had an agent in the past, but no longer have one, you may enter. Or if you are traditionally published without an agent. 

3. If you have submissions, including fulls out, with other agents or editors, you may enter PB Party. But please let us know if you should get an offer during the contest time. This happened last year-we celebrated the great news and made room in the final round for a couple more dazzling entries!

4. If you have self-published other stories--but not this one--you may enter.

5. If a manuscript or illustration was featured in Picture Book Party or a previous contest showcase anywhere in the last year--congrats--but we'd rather not see it. Send us something agents haven't already seen in a contest. 

Things you need for the Google Form:

Your Title

Word Count (round to nearest ten, hundred for chapter books)

Genre Please include all genres for your manuscript—and be sure to let us know if it’s diverse or own voices. If you’re not sure about genre, maybe one of these will help: humor, character driven, metafiction, concept, STEM, STEAM, rhyming, lyrical, board book, fantasy, bedtime, historical fiction, contemporary.

If it’s non-fiction, what type of non-fiction (biography, narrative, etc.)  


Your entire query letter. Include your comps, bio, greeting, closing. Please be sure to note diversity and ownvoices in the query as well. (You may use whatever you want for a greeting. Dear Agent. Dear Michelle and Mindy.)

Here is your chance to make your entry shine and make the agents fall in love with your words.

Remember this is a query and not a pitch. Don't worry about including personal information like names, as that will not be copied into the showcase. If you include links in your bio, we will assume those can be made public.

The google form scrubs out italics so use all caps for comps. 

(Here's a trick to keep your paragraph spacing: copy and paste your entry into the form and then put in the line spaces. They seem to get lost when you copy and paste. It may look right but sending scrambles the spacing. Or copy from a Google Doc. We will still read your entry if the form messes up the formatting.)


Include your first 50-60 words for a picture book, 100 words for chapter books. Do not stop in the middle of a sentence. 

Do not go over 60 words (100 chapter book). 
Single space and put spaces in between paragraphs. 
No indents needed, but you may center or tab if appropriate.

For shorter picture books, less than 50 words may be submitted. *Do NOT enter a PB if over half of it is in the sample—you don’t want that much of your work online, even for a few days.

Art notes count toward your 50 words.

Repeat, Art notes count toward your 50 words.  

Also Michelle will delete parts of entries after the contest ends, if requested on twitter. For those writers uncomfortable with their work being out there for all to see.

Name In case we need to contact you.

Email Address Also in case we need to contact you.


New From Last Year: Author/Illustrators may upload two illustrations to the Google Form to show an example of your artwork. They should be from the same manuscript and must be illustrated by the author.

Important information: There will be a separate Google entry form just for author/illustrators. This is because uploading a file requires a Google account and we don't want to require everyone have a Google account. Make sure you are using the correct form.

We love artwork and can't wait to see yours! If you don't have artwork, don't worry, and don't upload anything. You will still be considered.

Mindy and I will pick our favorite illustrations to go into our Illustration showcase. This was a huge hit last year. This showcase will start one day later than the story showcase. 

Hopefully, these directions were clearer than mud, if not, read the FAQ below. Or you may leave questions in the comments or on Twitter. Please no DMs or emails. Don't forget the #PBParty hashtag. 

We can't wait to see all the heartwarming cuteness on March 9th! 


When do I post my pitch?

You don't. This isn't an online Twitter pitch event. Picture Book Party requires a query and your first fifty-sixty words. Entries are sent to us by Google Form. See above for more details. Selected finalists will be posted into an agent showcase on Michelle's website during specific dates. Agents and editors will then make requests. You decide whether to send the requests so research the agents when we post the list on March 2nd. 

Writers can watch my blog on March 17th for a list of the finalists selected before the showcase.

But it's called Picture Book Party. Where the party?

The party is on twitter under #PBParty. But it isn't a pitching party. It's more of a get to know you party. We tweet daily topics-- it's a great way to get to know other writers and make friends. Agents/editors might stop by. It's a place to hang out and have fun while the hosts read the entries. 

Everyone is welcome to join the #PBParty conversation, whether you write PB or not.

So there's two showcases for editors and agents?

Yes. There's a showcase that includes queries and excerpts and another showcase that includes just illustrations. Each illustration will be assigned a number and agents will request by that number. With tons of amazing entries and so few spots in the final round for samples/pitches, we’re thrilled to highlight more of our favorite art in the Illustration Showcase.

If you’re chosen for the sample and query part of the contest—yay, that’s awesome! You won’t be eligible for the Illustration Showcase, but plenty of agents and editors will see your entire submission in our final round.

Oops! I sent my entry using the author/illustrator form by mistake. Resend?

No. We will still read your entry and consider it the same as all the others.    

Do I have to limit myself to 50 words for the excerpt; Can I go over or under? What if I have a chapter book?

You may post less than 50 words. Or you may go up to 60 words to finish a sentence. Entries can't be more than 60 words, unless you have a chapter book. Chapters books may include 100 words. Remember: Single spaced. Space between paragraphs. 12 point font. Times New Roman or equivalent. 

Do art notes count toward the 50-60 words?


Can I send more than one entry?

No. This year we will only accept one entry per person, pen name, or giant octopus squid. All others will be disqualified. :-(

Can I send an illustration?

Yes! We encourage author/illustrators to do so, but it is not required. You may upload two illustrations per entry from the same manuscript to your Google form. Remember, there is a different Google form just for adding illustrations. This does not mean to send a storyboard. We will not be using storyboards or double spreads

Oh No! My italics and formatting keeps disappearing when I paste into the form.

Sadly, Google forms strips out bold and italics and other formatting. Nothing we can do about it. You can use all caps in place of italics and know that it is doing this to all the entries, making them all even.

I just learned about PB Party and missed the window. Can I send my entry late?

No. The Google form will close in two hours and that's it. You may find a friend/relative to send your entry if you are unavailable.

I have submissions out with agents/editors, can I enter?

Yes. Please let us know if you receive an offer.

I self-published this story already, but took it down, can I enter?

No. Not with that story.

I used to have an agent, but now I don't, can I enter?


I made a mistake--can I send my entry again?

No. Duplicate entries will disqualify you. We will read even with wonky formatting. Check and double check, then triple check before you hit submit.

Even though the Google form won’t be available ahead of time, you can create a file with everything you’ll need, then copy and paste it into the form. Now is the time to check every word, share with critique partners, and make sure it’s ready to dazzle. 

Will my name and twitter handle be up for everyone to see?

No. If selected, we will not include your name or twitter handle on the blog. That info is private for us only. Note: We do Not add you to our newsletters or give your info to anyone.  

Do I have to be on twitter to enter?

No. We do suggest it as great place to learn and where we will be tweeting out hints and tips. Also a great community to make friends because you need friends in this industry.

I didn't get a confirmation email. Should I resend?

Big no. Google forms will thank you for submitting to PBParty after you submit, so you know we have your entry and can’t wait to read it. 😊 

What greeting do I use in my query?

Whatever you want. Dear Michelle and Mindy. Hi gals. Dear Agents. Dear Beautiful Angels. Have fun with it. 

Should I include a closing?

You can include thanks, but no need to put your name, address, personal info. Those will be stripped out if posted to the showcase. If you want to include links to your illustrations or other identifying info in your query bio, that is up to you. We will assume you want us to leave any info in your bio. 

I don't see the email address for the contest. Where is it?

We switched to a Google form this year! It’s a great way to ensure everyone is able to enter and know it’s been received.  

Can we get feedback on our entry? 

We’re sorry, but we take a lot of time away from our own writing to run this contest and aren’t able to critique anything. But…during the #PBParty fun on Twitter, you can tweet that you’re looking for critique partners or a group and find some great matches! 

Since the sample word count is low, can I squish quotes from my manuscript into my query?

No. We're seeking samples and queries that look professional. When agents, editors, and other people look at the finalists, they should be great examples of eye-catching queries. Share an irresistible blurb with a great hook and awesome comps. DON'T try to make up for the short sample word count by sneaking chunks of your actual story into the blurb.

What's the hashtag again?


How do I know this is a good contest? Do you have any proof?

We have had several successful agent-writer matches and at least two books published so far. There are several other books that will release this year or next, including two that were 2019 finalists!

Dance like a Leaf by A.J. Irving sold to Barefoot Books. 

Flap Your Hands by Steve Asbell sold to Lee and Low by Christy Ewers.

A Flood of Kindness by Ellen Leventhal sold to WorthyKids (Hachette Book Group) by Mary Cummings.

Here's a picture of the two books published so far from earlier contests, The Diamond and the Boy and Betty Builds It. Feel free to support these writers! 

Now, if you read this giant post all the way to the end and are excited, please comment with your favorite type of cookie. Then pretend that Michelle sent that cookie to you. Was it good?

Who is ready for PBParty to begin?