Preparing your application...

Because applicants are paired one-on-one with professionals who have volunteered their time for the conference, we can only accept as many applicants as we have mentors. The number of applicants has grown in recent years, increasing the competition. Acceptance is based on the strength and quality of the applicant's work, so be sure the manuscript pages or the artwork that you send are your strongest and best. Writing samples and illustrations must be unpublished and not under contract.

Young adult, middle grade, chapter book and easy reader authors: please submit the first five pages of your story. We ask you to submit the opening pages of your manuscript because we want to replicate how an editor or agent would read if you submitted your work to a publisher or agency. You want those pages to be strong and engaging enough to keep the editor or agent reading. You may also include a one-page plot synopsis. Graphic novel authors who are not illustrators may submit their manuscript pages to either the young adult or middle grade categories.  Picture book authors may submit one complete manuscript. Illustrators and author-illustrators should submit five illustration samples, with the option of adding either a complete picture book dummy or the first 7 pages of a graphic novel dummy. (adding a dummy to your five samples is NOT required.) Please submit to one category only.

Format: Writing samples must be double-spaced in 12 point Times New Roman with one-inch margins on all sides.

It is OK to submit work that you have previously sent to publishers or agents. If so, please include a brief submission history on the application form's designated area. This information will assist us in making the best possible mentor/mentee match.

After sending us your application and work sample, it is recommended that you do not submit this work to names on our 2023 mentor list prior to the conference, as mentor/mentee matches are solely at the discretion of RUCCL, and we are unable to accommodate requests for specific mentors or changes.

Please include a cover letter that tells us about your professional writing or illustrating career. Have you submitted your work? Where? Have you had anything published (including stories, articles, textbook pieces, etc.)? Have you attended professional workshops or academic writing programs? Also include in your cover a 3-5 sentence summary of your submission. The cover letter format can be a brief synopsis, a resume, or a letter. The most important piece of information you can provide will be the five-page sample of your writing or illustrations.

Please do NOT send original art. We cannot return, and are not responsible for, any materials submitted. Color copies are fine.

The 2023 conference fee is $295 and includes a continental breakfast and a buffet lunch.  Three scholarships are available for promising authors and illustrators who might otherwise be unable to attend. 

Please don't wait until the last minute to mail your application. The earlier you send your application, the better.

Council members will review applications and sample submissions following the July deadline. Applicants will be notified by late August whether or not their application has been accepted.

As a proud and enthusiastic supporter of #WeNeedDiverseBooks, the Rutgers University Council for Children's Literature strongly encourages applications from diverse authors and voices.

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