CANVAS, as part of its mission, strives to open new opportunities for Filipino writers in the global market. We are therefore pleased to announce that our Story Writing for Young Readers Competition - where the top five stories will be read, reviewed and commented on by one of the top picture book literary agents in the US - is once again open for entries.
Even as the overall winner will receive a substantial cash prize, please note that it is notoriously difficult to even get stories considered for representation, much less publication, in the US. This opportunity to be reviewed (and possibly represented) by an experienced and highly regarded literary agent in the US is a difficult-to-overstate, no-lose, possible-huge-foot-in-the-door opportunity for Filipino writers. For this reason, we in CANVAS regard the review and feedback for the best five stories as the real prizes in this competition.
We therefore encourage you all to join. Please pass this information on to anyone who you think would be interested in joining this contest.
1. The CANVAS Storywriting for Young Readers Competition is open to all Filipinos.
2. Entries must not have been previously published, and all entrants must warrant the originality of their submitted entries.
3. Writers may submit only one entry, which must be written in English.
4. The target readers for the stories should be young children (age 4-8 years old).
We are looking for unique and creative stories that feature a strong central character (preferably, but not necessarily, a child) who faces and overcomes a challenge or obstacle. Ideally, it would speak about a universal theme or experience, even though the story itself may reflect Philippine culture or may be situated in a particular place, province or country. The best stories stretch a young reader's imagination and speak to children in an authentic voice. They evoke real emotion, whether it is humor, love, fear, or joy.
For further guidance, here are some pointers from Kelly Sonnack, the Agent for the Andrea Brown Literary Agency who will review the finalists:
- Length: Today’s picture books are short. Try to stay under 1,000 words. Those under 700 or 500 words are even better. Make sure each word is necessary to the telling of your story (and leave room for the illustrator who’s paired with your work later on to help tell parts of the story, too).
- Plot: Traditional picture books have a traditional story arc like any other genre of fiction: a beginning, middle and end that incorporates a conflict/obstacle, has the character overcoming that conflict, and also shows character growth as the character overcomes their problem. There are other types of picture book stories, but this is the most common formula.
- Character: The character of your picture book should be close to the age of the picture book reader (4-8 years old). And be sure to let your child character be the hero of his/her own story. Don’t let an adult, pet, older sibling, be the one to rescue the child. Let the character struggle and overcome the conflict he/she is faced with.
- Topic: Choose a topic that’s unique. Editors want to see things that are fresh, special, and new. There are some topics that have been visited countless times, which makes them hard to sell since a new one has so much competition. Some of these are: ABC or 123 books, books about new pets, books about Christmas, retold American fairy tales, and bedtime books.
- Rhyming: If you choose to write your manuscript in rhyme, make sure the rhyme is perfect (that includes pattern, beats, and rhyming scheme). Rhyming books are particularly tough to sell to publishers right now.
6. Entries shall be evaluated based on the following criteria:
- Originality and Storyline
- Quality of Writing
- Imagery (The story should be publishable as a picture book)
There shall be only one overall winner, who will receive Twenty Five Thousand Pesos (P25,000.00) in cash (less applicable withholding taxes).
Only the finalists will be given copies of the comments/feedback received on all the stories reviewed by the said Agency.
8. The winner shall grant to CANVAS all intellectual property and publication rights to the submitted story, including the right to translate, adapt and/or make modifications thereto. (Please click here to see our previous entry explaining the reason for this rule. Kindly scroll down to the bottom of the entry.)
In the event of publication by CANVAS of the story, it is hereby understood that the cash prize to be awarded to the winner shall include consideration of such intellectual property and publication rights to the story, and the writer shall not be entitled to any other royalties or fees from earnings, if any, that may result from future publication of, derivative works, licensing of, or other transactions on the same, except as provided in Rule 10 below.
9. By joining this competition, all entrants thereby agree that if selected as a finalist, CANVAS shall be authorized to post their winning stories on its website or blog, as CANVAS deems fit, and free from any payments, royalties or fees whatsoever.
10. Furthermore, all entrants agree that if selected as a finalist, and the Andrea Brown Literary Agency or any other Agency expresses an interest in representing their story for possible publication abroad, CANVAS shall be given full and exclusive control and discretion, and shall be their sole and exclusive representative insofar as their stories (including all intellectual property and derivative rights thereto) are concerned.
All revenues, fees, royalties and/or other earnings that may be received as a result of such representation or publication abroad shall be divided equally between the author, CANVAS and the eventual artist/illustrator (if selected or engaged by CANVAS).
CANVAS shall not have any interest or right in future stories of the concerned writers that they may later submit for consideration by the Andrea Brown Literary Agency. CANVAS’ only role with regard to such other future work shall be to introduce the writers to the Andrea Brown Literary Agency.
As a policy, CANVAS shall not directly introduce any writer to the Andrea Brown Literary Agency until and unless the said Agency has first expressed an interest in his/her work.
11. Entries must be submitted by email, as a Microsoft Word attachment, to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject heading “CANVAS Storywriting for Young Readers Competition.” Entrants must include a cover sheet with the title of the story, their real name, pseudonym (if any), mailing and email address, and telephone number. The deadline for submission of entries is 5:00 p.m. (Manila time), Friday, October 15, 2010.
Entries received after the deadline, even if sent earlier, will no longer be considered for the competition. CANVAS shall not be responsible for entries which are not received, or which are received after the deadline, due to technical failure or for any other reason whatsoever.
12. CANVAS hopes to announce the results of the Competition in or around the end of November 2010.
13. While it is the full intention and desire of CANVAS to publish the winning entry, neither CANVAS nor the Andrea Brown Literary Agency makes any such guarantee or commitment, and CANVAS reserves the right not to represent and/or publish the same for any reason whatsoever.
14. CANVAS reserves the right not to award the top competition prize in the unlikely event that the judges decide that no entry was received that is deserving of the top prize. In such event, however, CANVAS shall have no right whatsoever over all entries that were received; and shall not publish any entry, in its website or in any other venue, without the prior written consent or agreement of the author.
15. The decision of CANVAS shall be final, and no correspondence or inquiries into the same – including requests for comments/feedback on received entries that are not finalists – shall be entertained.
16. Officers, members of the Board of Trustees and Advisors, and employees of CANVAS, including the members of their immediate families are disqualified from participating in this Competition.
ABOUT KELLY SONNACK
Kelly Sonnack came to the Andrea Brown Literary Agency after nearly three years with the Sandra Dijkstra Agency. Prior to that, Kelly worked for the publishing giant Reed Elsevier, where she served as an Acquisitions Editor under the Academic Press imprint.
As an agent, Kelly specializes in all types of children's literature (picture books, middle grade, young adult, and graphic novels). In picture books and middle grade fiction, Kelly looks for a good sense of humor, stories that stretch a young reader's imagination, and an authentic voice. In young adult, she appreciates literary voices and and character-driven stories with heart but is also drawn to dystopian, light science-fiction, and other well-crafted fantasy. In non-fiction for children, she enjoys projects that inspire and stimulate the minds of our younger generations. At this time, Kelly is not accepting submissions of adult fiction or adult non-fiction.
Some of the titles Kelly has represented include Steve Watkins' 2008 Golden Kite Winner DOWN SAND MOUNTAIN and his next novel WHAT COMES AFTER (both with Candlewick); Neil Johnson & Joel Chin's THE FALLING RAINDROP (Tricycle Press); Candace Ryan's picture books ANIMAL HOUSE and RIBBIT RABBIT (both with Walker); Heather Leigh's HEY LITTLE BABY (S&S/Beach Lane Books); Carolyn Marsden's STARFIELDS (Candlewick); and James Burks' graphic novel GABBY AND GATOR (Hachette/Yen Press).
Kelly is a frequent speaker at conferences, including the San Diego State Writer's Conference and SCBWI's national and chapter conferences.
Kelly was recently named as one of the top 3 Picture Book Agents in Publishers Marketplace.
ABOUT THE ANDREA BROWN LITERARY AGENCY
The Andrea Brown Literary Agency was founded in August 1981 and has offices in the San Francisco Bay area, San Diego, Los Angeles, and Chicago.
The agency works to bring to light the voices and perspectives of new writers as well as to nurture and develop the careers of experienced authors. Its goal, whether seeking to secure a publishing contract for a first book or a fiftieth book, is to make sure that clients are not only published, but published well.
Its agents have backgrounds in New York publishing, editing, academia, business, teaching, writing and film, and one its clients have the benefit not only of their individual agent's expertise but of the combined experience and vision of the group.
As a West Coast based agency, they follow a tradition of West Coast innovation in their passion for discovering new voices.