Arbordale Publishing is a young company on a serious mission to create picture books that excite children’s imaginations, are artistically spectacular and have educational value. All of our books start with fun, warm stories—generally fiction with science, math or nature themes—and are brought to life by art. We then add a 3 to 5 page “For Creative Minds” section that includes fun facts, vocabulary and games to support National Science and Math Standards. Finally, each book is carefully vetted for scientific accuracy by experts in the field including scientists and educators from NASA, SeaWorld and the Houston Zoo.
These are not textbooks in the traditional sense, but rather fun picture books that a child will want to read over and over again. We think having a child excited about a book and its subject enhances the opportunity for parents and teachers to build on that interest and to strike while the learning iron is hot.
Arbordale Publishing’s Picture Book Writing Competition offers homeschooled students working at a high school level a unique opportunity to explore the world of children’s literature and try their hands at writing picture books. The winning author will receive a $200 prize, and the manuscript will be seriously considered for publication.
Because Publishers Lee and Donna German homeschooled their three daughters, they understand that each child learns at his or her own pace. As a result, this competition is open to any homeschooled student working at a high school level. Manuscripts from students of any age will be accepted as long as the appropriate level of study is presented.
Arbordale picture books are usually fictional stories that relate to animals, nature, the environment, science and math. Submitted manuscripts should fall into this description. All books should subtly convey an educational theme through a warm story that is fun to read and that will grab a child’s attention.
That said, we are NOT looking for manuscripts about:
pets (dogs or cats in particular) and/or new babies
local or state-specific book
young adult books or novels
Manuscripts that convey moral values within an educational context are acceptable.
Submissions must meet all of the following three criteria:
Fun to read – mostly fiction with non-fiction facts woven into the story
National or regional in scope
Must be able to tie into early elementary school curriculum in some way
* We encourage you to explore our Web site to learn more about our books. If you click the “Online Store” button on the left side of the homepage, a page will then display all of Arbordale’s titles. You can click on the title cover page of any of our printed books to be taken to that book’s page. From there, you can preview parts of the title and even see the accompanying “For Creative Minds” section.
Microsoft Word document ONLY
Font: Arial, size 12, black
Single line spacing
Manuscripts of more than 1,500 words will not be accepted.
Break your story into paragraphs only. Please do not distribute text into pages or chapters.
Please run spelling and grammar check and fix errors before submitting document.
Remember to put your name and the title of your manuscript at the top of the word document.
Arbordale will accept submissions between March 1 and March 31, 2008 only. Please do not submit your manuscript before March 1.
Contest submissions will be accepted via e-mail only to Maggiestuart@arbordalepublishing.com. Manuscripts are to be attached as a word document to the submission e-mail (see example below). An e-mail will be sent back to participants within a few days of their submission confirming their manuscript was received.
Submission E-mail Guidelines
The subject line must read “Homeschool Writing Contest Submission” and the manuscript title
The e-mail message MUST include all of the following information:
Participants first and last name
Word count of manuscript
Participant’s date of birth (month/day/year)
Home Phone Number
The following message (you can copy the following text and paste it into your e-mail message)
“I, (insert your name here), have read all competition submission guidelines with at least one parent/guardian. I understand that my manuscript must meet all of the criteria to be considered as one of the winning entries. My manuscript is entirely composed by my own effort.”
Parent or Guardian first and last name
Parent phone number
Address (if different from child)
E-mail address of parent or guardian
The following message (the text can be copied from here and pasted into the e-mail message)
“I have read all competition submission guidelines with my child and I understand his or her manuscript must meet all of the criteria to be considered as one of the winning entries. I agree with the guidelines. By allowing my child to enter into this competition gives Arbordale Publishing permission to include my child’s name, age, and city and state of residence in any press materials and on the Arbordale Publishing Web site.”
An example submission e-mail can be found below.
*Note: Arbordale Publishing will NEVER give you or your child’s detailed contact information or birth date to any other company, organization or individual. If your child is one of the finalists or the winner of the competition and a member of the press is interested in more information or desires an interview, we will only give the press contact the home phone number and parent’s e-mail address if asked.
One of our publishers' primary goals in developing this contest was to motivate homeschooling students to write. We've received many requests from local schools and other individuals in the past asking us to open the competition to public school students, but we are currently not capable of handling the thousands of entries that we would receive.
Should I include illustrations for my manuscript?
No. We will not be accepting any illustrations with submitted manuscripts. It is normal in the industry for authors to only submit the text. The publishers hire professional illustrators to complement the work.
Are you looking for manuscripts written for a particular age range?
We are looking for books written for age ranges: 3-7, 4-8, 5-9 or 6-10. As you write, try to zero-in on one of these four age groups and select age appropriate words. You can use the reading level presented in Microsoft Word’s “Readability Statistics” dialogue as an indicator.
Should I include a “For Creative Minds” educational section?
While every Arbordale title contains a “For Creative Minds” educational section, it is not necessary for students to submit one with their manuscript. We welcome all well-researched ideas for the section, but there is no obligation to send them. Traditionally it is the responsibility of Editor Donna German to compose the supplement. If you do chose to include potential ideas for a “For Creative Minds” section, do not include that information in the word count.
What length should I aim for?
Typically, picture books are less than 1,000 words.
Every Arbordale title is 32 pages, including the title page and the three to five page “For Creative Minds” educational section. As we review manuscripts from students, we are looking to be sure that the text fits into this format. But as we mentioned before, we will not be accepting manuscripts of over 1,500 words, and we would not like text to be broken into pages.
How can I find the word count for my manuscript?
In Microsoft Word, go to the Tools menu on the menu bar and click on “Word Count”. A document’s word count can also be found in the Readability Statistics dialogue box that should appear after the document as been checked for spelling and grammar errors.
Your manuscript’s approximate word count will serve as a general indication for Arbordale’s editor.
What if I don’t have Microsoft Word on my computer?
Your local public library will most likely have Microsoft Word on its computers. Consider typing the final draft of your manuscript at your local library or find a friend who will let you type the final draft on their computer.
Can I submit more than one manuscript?
No, select the best one to submit.
Can I submit the same or one of the same manuscripts that I submitted in last year’s competition?
Will I receive feedback or comments about my manuscript(s)?
The editor generally does not provide comments to authors about manuscripts they submitted.
When and how will the announcement be made?
The winner, 2nd and 3rd place participants and any honorable mention recipients will be contacted directly by e-mail. Their names will also be posted on the homeschool page of our Web site in late April.
Will I get to read some or part of the winning manuscript?
Arbordale may or may not post an excerpt from the first place or finalist manuscripts on the Arbordale Web site.
Can I be a judge?
Although we appreciate your interest, the Arbordale editorial staff will review each submission. You may be interested to know that Arbordale receives about 30 manuscripts a day from authors across the country. For this reason, we feel comfortable with the reviewing and judging process.
I have a question that you haven’t addresses, who do I contact?
We are happy to present the top three submissions from the 2007
Picture Book Writing Competition for Homeschooled Students.
First Place($200)Anthony Conroy and his Jumping Bugs. Anthony's manuscript will join other manuscripts received by Arbordale Publishing that will be considered for publication in the upcoming seasons.
Second Place($75)Our Walk in the Forest by Michaela Gneco
Third Place($75)Albert's Elements by Daniel Morin
Congratulations to the winners! We would also like to applaud each homeschooler who submitted a manuscript. Arbordale Publishing recognizes that the writers invested a significant amount of time and effort into their manuscripts, and we hope the competition was a rewarding experience for each of you. We look forward to hosting our competition again next year!
We have also awarded five additional authors honorable mentions and $25 prizes.