Secret Kids contest: write a book and win your own publication deal

Contests  /   /  By Stone Soup Editors
Stone Soup Magazine
March 2019

Stone Soup is working with MacKenzie Press, publisher of The Secret Series of children’s books, on an exciting new book-writing and book-illustrating contest. The winners of this children’s writing competition will be awarded their own book deal. Their books will be professionally published by MacKenzie Press, and offered for sale and distribution in bookstores. Aspiring young authors and illustrators can submit anything from children’s picture books, early readers books, middle grade fiction and chapter books, and young adult novels, entered in one of three age ranges: elementary school, middle school, and high school. Any form–from from text-only to illustrated book to graphic novel– or genre–from realistic fiction to fantasy or sci-fi–will be considered. Manuscripts will be judged by the MacKenzie Press publisher and Stone Soup editors. Finalists will then be chosen from each entry category who will work with MacKenzie Press to edit and rework their manuscripts. One winner(s) will be chosen from each age range.

Categories: There are three entry categories, based on the author/illustrator’s age. Entry age is based on your age as at September 1, 2018.

  • Elementary: Grades 1-5 (ages 5-10)
  • Middle school: Grades 6-8 (ages 11-13)
  • High school: Grades 9-12 (ages 14-18)

Length: Dependent on type of book and target audience. See details below and at the contest entry page.

Deadline: February 1, 2019, 11:59 p.m. (Pacific time).

Entry form: You must enter using the official contest entry form here (scroll to the bottom of that page). Please note that page still shows the old deadline date of January 1, but you will still be able to submit your entry up to the new closing date of February 1.

Entry fee: $30 per entry.

Finalists’ shortlist announced: April 15, 2019.

Winners announced: June 15, 2019.

Prizes: The following prize will be awarded to one winner in each of the three categories:

  • A book publishing deal from publisher MacKenzie Press.
  • A cash prize of $1,000
  • A one-year subscription to Stone Soup

Questions: If you have any pre-submission questions, please write to the contest organizers:


More information

Some of the types of book you might consider submitting:

  • Children’s picture books
    • Reader age range: 2-6 years old
    • Page count: 20-32 pages long
    • Word count: 0-600 words
    • We will accept: text-only stories, stories with illustrations and text, or illustrations-only (editor will assign illustrator to winner)
  • Early reader books
    • Reader age range: 4-8 years old
    • Page count: 40-80 pages long
    • Word count: 100-2500 words
    • We will accept: stories with illustrations and text, or text-only stories (editor will assign illustrator to winner)
  • Chapter books
    • Reader age range: 6-12 years old
    • Page count: 80-180 pages long
    • Word count: 4,000 for younger readers, up to 12,000 for advanced readers
    • We will accept: stories with illustrations and text, or text-only stories (editor will assign illustrator to winner)
  • Middle grade fiction
    • Reader age range: 12-16 years old
    • Page count: 80-240 pages long
    • Word count: 20,000-60,000 words
    • We will accept: stories with text-only (editor will assign illustrator to winner)
  • Young Adult fiction novels
    • Reader age range: 14+ years old
    • Page count: 80-240 pages long
    • Word count: 40,000-80,000 words (more for fantasy novels)
    • We will accept: text only
About the Author

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  1. Clare October 14, 2018 at 8:37 am Reply

    This is incredible! I can’t believe some lucky young person will get to have their book published and sold. Best wishes to everybody! 🙂

  2. SC January 9, 2019 at 9:06 am Reply

    How often do you have these contests ?

    • Sarah Ainsworth January 9, 2019 at 5:12 pm Reply


      This particular contest in partnership with MacKenzie press is our first that is novel-length and with these particular prizes, and we’re not sure that we will offer a similar one in the near future.

      We do hold several contests throughout the year, however, they are usually for short stories, poetry, or art. Last year we had a Short Short Fiction contest, a Science Fiction contest, and a Concrete Poetry contest. We will likely offer smaller-scale contests such as these this year.

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