Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Many Voices W.I.P Mentorship


                                                                                                         illustration by Andrea Hill Fitzgerald



for their manuscript WILLOW’S NEW WORLD


The “Many Voices Work-In-Progress Mentorship” recognizes an exemplary work-in-progress from SCBWI-Illinois’ diverse and underrepresented creators. The mentorship winner receives a six month mentorship working with a seasoned author, illustrator, or author-illustrator. The inaugural 2021 mentor is award-winning author-illustrator….




Jan Spivey Gilchrist!


With over 96 books to her credit, Jan Spivey Gilchrist’s career as a fine artist has spanned a quarter of a century. She has exhibited extensively throughout the United States, Canada, Europe and the Caribbean. Dr. Gilchrist has won numerous awards and commissions throughout her career, including the Coretta Scott King Award for Nathaniel Talking, and a Coretta Scott King Honor Book for Night on Neighborhood Street. This book is also a Reading Rainbow Book. Ms. Gilchrist has also written picture books which she also illustrated, including  Obama: The Day the World Danced, the first picture book in the U.S. about the historical election. She also wrote and illustrated Indigo and Moonlight Gold, My America, A Voice as Soft as a Honey Bee’s Flutter and Madelia. Indigo and Moonlight Gold is treasured by many for its sensitive and moving text, as well as the striking illustrations, and Madelia is a beautifully illustrated story of an artistic young girl.



Jan is extremely excited to begin this journey! A note from Jan:

“I am excited to work with a new picture book writer / illustrator having mentored many. Having collaborated on over 100 of these and giving to others is  philosophy of my life. The feeling resulting from it is explainable. My parents gave us the “gift of giving when the older children were taught to make things for the little ones. Our gift was the good feeling we received from the act. My friends would tease that our parents had tricked us. Bless my parents, the trick worked! I have been a mentor and a teacher my entire life. ”







APPLICATION PERIOD FOR 2021 :   4.1.2021 – 4.11.2021
2021 Application period is closed





—Goals of the mentorship: 

(1) Help the mentee ready a picture book manuscript, book dummy or portfolio for editorial submission.

(2) Help authors, illustrators, and author-illustrators grow professionally.

(3) Provide an opportunity for underrepresented voices within our Illinois Region.

—Frequency of contest: Mentorship scheduled to repeat every 24 months.

—What the mentorship will look like: The mentor will work with the winner on one picture book manuscript, dummy, or portfolio over a six-month period. Mentor and mentee can schedule their time together as they see fit, although we suggest the following outline and a monthly correspondence.


May 2021
Receive review of your work-in-progress from the mentor

By June 1st, 2021
Receive written comments from the mentor and discuss via phone/ Zoom/another platform or in-person if permissible.

July 2021
Submit first revision by July 1
Receive review of first revision.

By August 1st 2021
Meeting regarding work-in-progress’ development (via phone/ Zoom/another platform or in-person if permissible.)
Receive further revision suggestions.

September 2021
Submit second revision by September 1st .
Complete a final discussion of work-in-progress by September 30th .



SCBWI members from underrepresented communities (authors, illustrators, and author-illustrators) interested in picture book publication who have never had a picture book traditionally published. Member’s region must be Illinois. Member must be at least 18 years in age. Member must keep SCBWI membership renewed through September 2021.


—Illinois uses the We Need Diverse Books Definition of Diversity.


—If you are not yet a member, you must become a member before submitting your application. If applicant is a duo, BOTH applicants must conform to eligibility requirements.


There is no application fee.  This prize is supported by the donation of a generous Illinois member & SCBWI-Illinois.  If you would like to contribute to future prizes, please email the Regional Advisor.



1. COVER PAGE including the following info:

—Full name

—Mailing Address

—E-mail address

—Phone number

—Underrepresented community with which  the applicant identifies.

—SCBWI Membership expiration date. To find this date log into your SCBWI webpage, go to MY HOME at the upper right.  This will take you to your MEMBER PROFILE page.  In the task bar at left, scroll down to MEMBERSHIP and click on Print Membership Card to see a .pdf of your card with your membership expiration date. Membership must be good through September 2021.  Click to renew your membership.

—50-100 words explaining how your work will bring forward an underrepresented voice 




PB Manuscript Formatting Guidelines for authors
Digital formatting requirements for your  Word document  are as follows:

—8.5 by 11 inches, 1-inch margins, 12-point standard font, double spaced. POETRY: Poetry submissions should conform to the guidelines; however, they may be single spaced with a double space between stanzas, per industry standards. Feel free to format your poetry to allow for a standard of approximately 250 words (e.g. putting verses into multiple columns, etc.).

—Your name should NOT appear on any pages of your work-in-progress.

—Title and word count; text may start immediately after 

—Submit entire picture book manuscript as a Word Doc using the following format: Last_first.doc or Last_first.docx ( ex. Celeste_Alina.docx )


PB Dummy Guidelines for author-illustrators
—40 pages maximum with 2 pages of finished art.

—All pages must be contained in a PDF not to exceed 12 inches in height (or width) or 20MB in file size.

—Name your FILE using the following format: LAST_First_Dummy.pdf

—Your name should NOT appear on any pages of your dummy

—Submit entire picture book dummy as a pdf using the following format: LAST_First_Dummy.pdf


Portfolio Guidelines for illustrators 

—Upload a PDF file containing 3-5 finished illustrations (all images should be in one file).

— All images must be contained in a PDF not to exceed 12 inches in height (or width) or 20MB in file size.

—Provide a link to your portfolio/ website/ Instagram.

—Your name should NOT appear on any image.

—Submit images as PDF using the following format: Last_first_illustrations.pdf


3. UPLOAD APPLICATION by Sunday, April 11 at 11:59PM—no exceptions.  PLEASE SEND YOUR DIGITAL SUBMISSION IN EARLY if you are unfamiliar with Dropbox.

—Applications accepted between April 1st – April 11th  (by 11:59 PM CST): No applications will be accepted outside this date range.

—The winner will be announced May 3rd, 2021 via taped address by Jan Spivey Gilchrist.



Application Questions? Email Alina Celeste SCBWI-IL Diversity Committee Member.
If you are having difficulty with the online submission process, please email Alina Celeste. We will consider the date stamp of your initial troubleshooting email to be your submission time while we work through any online application issues with you. SCBWI-Illinois appreciates your patience and help as we work together to make this process convenient and equitable for all users and improve the experience for future applicants.

 Many thanks to the generous SCBWI-IL Member who partially supports this prize.

Back to SCBWI-IL Diversity Initiatives