Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Indie-500 Challenge

Date(s) - 01/27/2023 - 01/29/2023
7:00 pm - 11:59 pm


Indi-500 (word) Challenge

Start your creative engines; it’s time for a contest! Race down to your writer’s desk, whip out your art supplies, and put aside your day job to spend 48 hours creating a new story or illustration that will win you fame and fortune—or at least a free critique from an industry professional. The winning piece even gets a place of honor in our February newsletter.

Tell me more! The live kick-off event will take place on January 27. All completed stories (maximum 500 words) and illustrations will be due by 11:59 p.m. (Central Time) on January 29. Entries will be judged by three Regional Advisors or Illustration Coordinators from other regions. 

What can I win? The selected winners receive a free 15-minute Zoom critique from an industry professional. The winner of the writing contest will meet with Atheneum Books for Young Readers editor Feather Flores. The winner of the illustration contest will get a portfolio review with Aram Kim, Art Director at Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group. Both winning entries will be featured in our February newsletter. Runners-up will win a free webinar of their choice (offered by any SCBWI region).


This contest is restricted to members of the Nebraska region of SCBWI. Make sure your membership is up-to-date or join if you’re not yet a member.  Participants will receive an email containing the passcode to access registration. If you haven’t received that email by noon on January 27, check with Jennie Gollehon (

To participate, you must be a Nebraska member and register below. Only those who have registered will receive the link to access the kick-off event and have their entries considered for the contest.

Attend the Zoom kick-off event at 7:00 p.m. (Central) on January 27 to get the assigned theme and two required word prompts. These will be drawn during the event and your story or illustration MUST include all three items or it will be disqualified. (If you can’t attend the kick-off event live but still want to participate in the contest, email Judith Snyder at

Spend the next 48 hours crafting a 500-word (max) story or an illustration for kids or teens. Be sure to proofread, revise as needed, check spelling and grammar, get a quality scan/photo, paint all your finishing touches, and generally make sure you’re submitting good quality work. Let’s impress our judges!

HAVE FUN! Sure, it’s a contest, but it’s also a chance to spur some creative expression during the darkest month of the year. Have fun with it.


Submit your final piece as a Word doc or PDF using 12-point Times New Roman font, double-spaced with one-inch margins. Include a title at the top but NOT your name (entries will be judged anonymously). Put INDIE-500_[firstname-lastname]_[title] in the filename. (Replace [firstname-lastname] with your actual name and [title] with your actual story title.) We will replace names with ID numbers before sending entries to our judges.


Create your artwork as a black-and-white vignette or half-page illustration in any media of your choice.

Submit your final artwork as a PDF (no larger than 10 MB please). 

Name your PDF file INDIE-500_[yourfirstname-yourlastname]. (Replace [yourname] with your actual name.) We will replace names with ID numbers before sending entries to our judges. 

Get your submission in before 11:59 p.m. (Central) on January 29. Those who have registered will receive information on where to send their submissions.