We are so excited you’re interested in the Inklings Book Contest!

The contest is for youth writers in grades 3-9 who are ready to be treated like a pro and increase their writing skills. Winners receive a two-session editorial mentorship with a professional mentor/writer, throughout which they will revise and polish their poem or story. The revised stories and poems are then published in the Inklings Book, which is distributed through various retail channels. Winners also receive their own copy of the Inklings Book as well as one for their school. All applicants receive feedback about their story or poem! For more information, visit www.younginklings.org/inklingsbookcontest.

You can also check out our free classroom version of the Inklings Book Contest Prep Course you can use with your students! Pick and choose lessons or run through them all. You’ll get a taste of Young Inklings and a little help for your students along the way.

Here are the contest guidelines:

  • Submissions may be made by young authors grades 3-9 (or equivalent grade levels in regions outside of the U. S.).
  • Submissions may be a single poem or a complete short story of any genre.
  • Limit 1 submission per person.
  • Submissions must be by one author only. Co-authored pieces will not be considered for winning slots.
  • Fan-fiction pieces cannot be considered for winning slots. Content must be original.
  • Submissions may be no longer than 3,750 words (about 15 pages double-spaced).
  • Submissions must be .pdf, .doc/.docx, or .rtf files and must be in manuscript format (click here for instructions). Please title your document file Student Name – X Grade – IBC 2023. So, for example, “Percy Jackson – 6th Grade – IBC 2023.”
  • Parents, teachers, or other adult caretakers may assist the youth writer with spelling, grammar, and other editing, but all content and ideas must be the youth writer’s own.
  • Submissions are due March 15, 2023.
  • If submission guidelines are not followed, your submission may not be eligible for adjudication in the contest. 
  • For the 2023 contest year, our funding allows us to accept up to 350 submissions. After 350 submissions, we will provide a waiting list and open up new slots as our funding permits.

Selection Process:

Entries will be reviewed by a committee of Young Inklings staff and Collaborating Artists. The committee will look for writing submissions that have a strong point of view and for writers who demonstrate readiness for the revision process. Up to ten winners will be chosen from grades 3-6 and up to ten winners will be chosen from grades 7-9.

We are committed to publishing stories and poems that impact the world in positive, transformational ways — works we would be excited to share with the full age range of young writers we serve. We do not publish work that promotes violence, cruelty, prejudice, reckless behavior, or any work containing sexual content.

Other criteria we look for include but are not limited to:

  • Originality
  • Interesting, active word choice
  • In stories: unique characters, settings, and plots
  • In poetry: strong imagery, unique metaphors and/or similes, a strong emotional connection
  • Demonstration, through story/poem and submission form, of readiness for the Inklings editorial mentorship.
  • All applicants will be notified of whether or not they were chosen for publishing by April 5, 2021. Notification will take place via email using the email address(es) provided in the application.

Winners will take part in a two-session editorial revision mentorship with a Society of Young Inklings mentor and will be published in our annual Inklings Book anthology. In this mentorship program, the youth writer and his or her mentor will prepare the winning submission for professional publishing. All mentorship sessions take place online via video chat. Details about the mentorship will be provided to winners after contest results are announced. Winners will receive two copies of the finished book – one for themselves and one for their classroom or school library.

Finalists will receive a revision letter and have the opportunity to be published on our website.

All applicants will receive personalized feedback from our mentor team.

You may submit your students’ work as a class set (see below) or you may direct them to submit individually at this link.


To submit a class set of stories and poems, please follow these next steps:

  1. Email sarahp (at) younginklings.org to let us know you plan on submitting a class set. We’ll need the following information: Your name and school, grade level of your students, approximate number of submissions.

  2. Please have all participating students fill out the online application with their parent/guardian. We cannot accept submissions without this application which includes parent permission for potential publication.

    Application Link: bit.ly/2023writingcontest

  3. Share a Google Drive folder of submissions and a document with listed student names and grades with sarahp (at) younginklings.org by March 15, 2023. We will review submissions and let you know if we’re missing any permission slips.


  4. By April 15, Winners and Finalists will be notified via email and will also be announced on our blog.

Should you need to request an alternate way to submit, we’re happy to work with you! Please contact sarahp (at) younginklings.org.