May Picture Book Opportunities

Happy May! Here’s the roundup of online events. To see what’s available all year ’round, and what’s coming up the rest of the year, visit the PICTURE BOOK SUPPORT resource page.

Click the links to go directly to each list.




Fee or free? Here’s a key:
– no fee to enter or to participate
($) – fee to enter or to participate
(*See note) – look for *explanation within the blurb


Challenges, Contests, Mentorships, & Awards

Mermay Contest (free)
A month-long mermaid-themed illustration and animation challenge, with a different optional prompt for every day of the month. Post artwork on Instagram with challenge hashtags to be eligible for some serious prizes. May 1 – 31, 2023. Hosted by illustrator Tom Bancroft.

#KidLitVibes Writing Contest for Picture Book Authors (free)
Step right up to the WHEEL OF FEELS! What word did you spin? Your goal is to write a story that captures that vibe. May 12 – May 14, 2023; see website for rules, exact time of submission window, lists of prizes, and more! Hosted by the Frenzy Friends.

Children’s Literature Mentorship ($)
Noted children’s authors, editors, and master instructors Lisa Papademetriou, Gary Schmidt, Kathryn Erskine, and Shelley Tanaka team up for this unique online mentorship program designed for picture book, middle grade, and young adult authors. General Registration opens May 15, 2023 for Fall semester. From Whale Rock Workshops.

How to Make Children’s Books – Challenge Week (free)
Bring your picture book story to life in 2023! Learn how to write, illustrate, and publish children’s books. May 22 – 26, 2023, 10 – 11am Pacific Time daily. Hosted by Storyteller Academy.

AAAS/Subaru Prize for Excellence in Science Books
The AAAS/Subaru Book Prize aims to encourage the reading, writing, and publishing of quality science books for children. Four categories for published books. Nominations for 2024 are open from April 17 – July 10, 2023 for books published between July 1, 2022 and July 31, 2023.

New Voices Award (free)
Given annually by children’s book publisher Lee & Low for a children’s picture book manuscript by a writer of color or Native/Indigenous writer. Winners receives a $2,000 cash prize and a first time publishing contract with Lee & Low Books. Check link for updates. Submissions were open May to August in 2022; no updated info as of late April, 2023.

Key Colors Competition (*see note)
Clavis Publishing, New York launches Key Colors, the two-yearly national contest for illustrators of unpublished picture books. Winner receives $8000 and the winning work will be published by Clavis Publishing. Unclear from site if contest is happening in 2023, but check link. Open to residents of the United States and Canada only. *No entry fee listed.


Webinars & Conferences

Events lasting from an hour to a few days, in mostly chronological order.

Getting Strategic About Social Media For Illustrators ($)
Join webcomic team Lisa Burdige and John Hazard to learn how illustrators can get the most out of their posts without cannibalizing time to do their art! May 1 and 3, 2023, 7 – 8:15pm Eastern. From the Highlights Foundation.

What is Sensitivity Reading, and how it can help? ($)
Renee Harleston, sensitivity reader and founder of Writing Diversely, will share some insights, give tips on how to approach writing and illustrating outside of your own identity, and resources to answer your questions. May 2, 2023, 7:30-9pm Eastern. Hosted by SCBWI Metro-NY.

Rhyming Picture Books: A Two-Night Mini ($)
Take a look at stories that sing with rhythm and rhyme, and learn how to accomplish the structure and skills needed in your own work with Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen and Anne Marie Pace. May 2 and May 4, 2023, 7 – 8:15pm Eastern. From The Highlights Foundation.

Foreign Rights 101 with Allison Hellegers ($)
Allison will walk through the process or selling rights from both the author and the rights seller point-of-views, from contracts and co-agents to influencers and book fairs. May 4, 2023 7pm. From KidLit Hive.

Writing Kidlit for the Educational Market ($)
Join Lisa Owens to learn about writing books for the children’s educational market. May 6, 2023 9am – 12noon Pacific Time. Hosted by SCBWI Western Washington.

Creating A Great Portfolio ($)
Veronique Sweet, Art Director at Penguin Random House, will discuss what it takes to make a great portfolio and will also provide advice about ways to promote your artwork. Registration closes May 4 for this event on May 6, 2023, 2-3pm Mountain Time. Portfolio critiques available separately. Hosted by Nevada SCBWI.

Rock Your Research & Proposals! A Two-Night Mini ($)
Join authors Stephanie Gibeault, Jolene Gutiérrez, and Anita Yasuda as they share the tools and strategies writers need to dig into research with confidence. May 8 and May 10, 2023, 7-8:15 pm Eastern. From The Highlights Foundation.

Writing Collaboratively: A talk with Keir Graff (free)
Working writers know it takes a village to make a book. Veteran collaborator Keir Graff discusses the many roles editors, agents, coauthors, and others can play in improving your work–and how you can let them help. May 10, 2023 7pm Central Time. Hosted by SCBWI-IL NSN.

Ask Us About It: Work for Hire Panel ($)
Work-for-hire is a great way to break into the publishing industry. Curious about what work-for-hire assignments entail? Join this panel from book production and educational market companies to learn more. Optional critiques available for additional fee. Registration will close May 14 for this event on May 17, 2023, 6:30 – 8pm Eastern Time. Hosted by SCBWI Maryland/Delaware/West Virginia.

Get Across the Finish Line: Revision Techniques for All Levels ($)
The picture book market grows more competitive by the day. Join author Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen as she discusses techniques to revise your drafts to perfection. May 16, 2023, 7:30-9:30 pm Eastern Time. Hosted by SCBWI New York: Westchester.

Turn Up the Volume on Quiet Picture Books: A Two-Night Mini ($)
Join award-winning author Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow to learn ways to embrace your “quiet” book, turning up the volume for your audiences. May 16 and May 18, 2023, 7-8:15 pm Eastern. From The Highlights Foundation.

So You Want To Be a Picture Book Writer ($)
Join Laurie Wallmark for a Craft Webinar that’s all about bringing your Picture Book ideas to life! May 20, 2023, 11 – 12:30pm Central Time. From The Writing Barn.

MayFest ($)
One-Day MayFest conference features a keynote speaker, an editor and an agent hour, and four craft-focused workshops. May 20, 2023, 8:45am – 4:30pm Pacific Time. Hosted by SCBWI California: San Diego.

JOHN HENDRIX: Book Jackets, Hand-Drawn Lettering, and Visual Storytelling ($)
Please join us to learn from this versatile, experienced, and highly-respected teacher! May 22, 2023, 6:30-7:30pm Central. Hosted by SCBWI Texas: Southwest.

Starting with Heart: Centering Your Writing on an Emotional Response ($)
Join author Lisa Rogers as she talks about starting with a deeply-felt emotion and how to keep that emotion top of mind during the entire writing process. May 23, 2023, 7-8:15pm Eastern Time. Hosted by SCBWI Mid-Atlantic.

Full STEAM Ahead ($)
Join us for a panel of five new and established authors and illustrators of nonfiction picture books whose work spans the gamut from rocks to robots to honey bees. May 31, 2023, 7-8:15pm Pacific Time. Hosted by SCBWI Oregon.

Multi-Week Courses

Courses and opportunities lasting more than a day or two.

Write (& Illustrate). Submit. Support. for Author/Illustrators ($)
Join Katy Tanis for a six-month exploration of your literary and artistic life via Write (& Illustrate). Submit. Support. for Author/Illustrators. Meets monthly on Sundays from May through October, 2023, 2 – 5 pm Central Time. From The Writing Barn.

Intensive Picture Book Workshop ($)
Work with a developmental editor in SIX 30-minute Zoom meetings as you write and revise your fiction or nonfiction picture book. May 1 – June 30, 2023. Led by Anastasia Suen, author (and ghostwriter) of 400+ books for children, teens, and adults.

Devouring the Elephant: Breaking Down the Enormous Task of Creating a Picture Book Dummy Into Digestible Bites ($)
Thinking about creating a picture book dummy can be daunting. Author/Illustrator Brian Lies takes students through the process the way you do devour an elephant: one bite at a time. Four Wednesdays, May 3 – 24, 2023, 7 – 9pm Eastern Time. Hosted by The KidLit Hive.

Picture Book Plotting A – Z ($)
Are you ready to do a deep, deep dive into picture book structure? This online course with Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen features pre-recorded and/or written assignments for each letter of the “Picture Book Alphabet,” plus weekly LIVE Zoom sessions for all of your course related questions. Thursdays and Fridays, May 5 – June 8, 2023. From The Highlights Foundation.

Inside the kidlit studio ($)
With Ame Dykman and Jenn Harney. May 16, 2023, 7 – 8:30pm Eastern Time. Hosted by The KidLit Hive.

A Deep Dive into Picture Books ($)
Join author Phyllis Root for a deep dive into picture books. Draft six picture-book manuscripts and complete one picture book dummy. Six Tuesdays, May 16 – June 20, 2023, 7:30 – 8:30pm Eastern. Hosted by Whale Rock Workshops.

Mastering Great Graphic Novels ($)
Graphic novels are one of the fastest-growing segments in children’s book publishing and yes, picture books can use a graphic novel format! This 4-week interactive course offers step-by-step lessons, tools, industry experts, critiques, submission opportunities, and more. Four weeks beginning May 29, 2023. From Children’s Book Academy.

The Crash Course in Children’s Book Publishing: Illustrator’s Edition ($)
At the end of the course, you will understand how the children’s book publishing industry works for illustrators and author/illustrators, including ways to build your portfolio and engage with art-directors. May 31, 2023 – July 26, 2023. From The Highlights Foundation.


For Both Illustrators and Writers

12 x 12 Picture Book Chat (free)
Join 12 x 12 Challenge Founder Julie Hedlund each month as she hosts picture book creators who read their books and discuss their path to publishing. Plus, they’ll answer your questions during a live Q&A session.

LitMingles (free)
Every month, the Los Angeles Region SCBWI hosts multiple LitMingles, opportunities to discuss topics of interest to kidlit writers and illustrators. For this month’s LitMingles calendar, go to the link above and then click the “LitMingle Calendar” link at the top of the landing page. Hosted by SCBWI Los Angeles, open to everyone via Zoom.

PBParty New Draft Challenge (free)
Usually the third Thursday of each month, unless it conflicts with a pitch party, so check web site. All day, Eastern Time. Hosted by Mindy Alyse Weiss.

PB Workshop Chat Group (free)
In the PB Workshop chat server you can discuss writing, ask for tips and opinions, share your favorite books, discuss events, etc. Hosted on the Discord App by author Chris Nantais.

Storytime Sprint (free)
A monthly, short and sweet, online event where an author (usually debut) reads their new picture book. Participants then have 24 hours to SPRINT to leave an honest review or a library purchase request in order to be entered into a drawing for a prize from the author. Hosted by Ryann Jones and Andi Chitty.

For Illustrators

Color Collective (free)
Weekly Twitter challenge for illustrators where you make work based on a single color.

#kidlitart (free)
Every Thursday
, 9pm Eastern Time (2am UTC), Twitter chat for children’s book illustrators & friends. Moderated by author/illustrators @RubinPingk and Charlene Chua (@charlenedraws).

Inktober 52 (free)
A weekly drawing challenge for the entire year: one prompt a week, 52 weeks in the year, 52 drawings. Hosted by illustrator Jake Parker.

Might Could Studiomates (free)
Tired of social media, but still want a space to share your art and be inspired? Meet artist friends and grow your art practice in this free, private online community. Founded by artist Christine Nishiyama.

SCBWI Draw This! Challenge (See note*)
Monthly challenge for illustrators with a new theme each month. Submit by the 20th for next month’s gallery. *No application fee, but must be a dues-paying member of SCBWI.

For Writers

Ditty of the Month Club (DMC) (free)
Practice writing in rhyme and submit your poem. A new challenge each month, plus interviews. Hosted by Michelle H. Barnes on Today’s Little Ditty website.

FireButtChallenge (free) (#FiBuCha)
About once a month, without warning, a #FiBuCha notice goes out on Twitter. You have 24 hours to write a new PB draft or revise an existing one. Grab a writing partner to keep yourselves accountable. Hosted by children’s authors Michal Babay and Katie Frawley.

#FirstDraftFriday (free)
The first Friday of each month, 8am-8pm Eastern Time (1pm-1am UTC), write a new picture book first draft with inspiration from the day’s blog post featuring guest authors, then enter to win a free MS critique. #FirstDraftFriday. Hosted by children’s writer Hollie Wolverton.

Making Picture Book Magic ($)
A 4-week course with short, daily lessons. Options for working with a small class or on your own. New enrollments begin the first of every month. Taught and hosted by children’s author Susanna Leonard Hill.

Monthly Twitter Writing Challenge (free)
Participants agree to aim for 500 words or 1 hour of editing each day for a month. Five hundred words? That’s a whole picture book. Founded by author Kristy Acevedo.

Penny’s Two Cents ($)
Picture book author Penny Parker Klostermann offers video chat sessions, small-group webinars, and packages that include feedback on picture book manuscripts. Contact Penny here to schedule.

Picture Book Power Hour (free)
PB Power Hour is “a Quick Moving Exercise-Based Hour” for picture book writers at all stages. It is free to attend, and occurs on the first Sunday of each month. Sign up here. Hosted by author Jamie Rodarte.

Picture Book Study Hall ($)
Marcie Colleen hosts this month-long online critique group for writers who have multiple picture book manuscripts to revise. New session starts each month.

South Asian Scribe Squad (free)
Nine agented writers of South Asian descent offer free weekly picture book critique opportunities on Twitter. The goal is to give back to the writing community that has helped all of us in our journey. The giveaways are open to all PB writers. Follow the South Asian Scribe Squad for opportunity alerts!

Do you, your local writing organization, SCBWI region, etc. host virtual events that are available to anyone with an internet connection? Would you like them listed here?  Please share the info in the comments, or use our Contact Form.

Months of a Year Banner Illustrations by Blue Ring Media, Shutterstock


  1. Let’s see if this goes through this way – been trying quite a bit and not able to respond to your question. Yes, it applies to PBs as well as MG, Chap. Books, and YA. It’s heavy on illustration lessons (Procreate and Adobe Photoshop for two), but writing techniques are also included. Fingers crossed this time makes it through to you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi All (Marianne, Joyce, Lexi, etc.)!

    I signed up to take a graphic novel creation class entitled Mastering Great Graphic Novels through the Children’s Book Academy (SCBWI is mentioned as well), starting on May 29th – all online it appears. So far it has been informative, with several pre-course materials available. Here is a link:

    One of the presenters, Mira Reisberg, asked that I spread the word, so I’m wondering if you’re able if you can do just that.

    Thanks and hoping you’re all well and enjoying spring!

    Kate Ross



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