Posted by: Kathy Temean | April 5, 2010

No Fee Writing Contest

I am recommending that everyone who wants to write a picture book try their hand at this contest.  IMHO, I think it is a great excerise in developing your craft.  Who cares if you win, if you can take another step closer to your goal of getting published. is an exciting, independent and free online channel for kids (3 – 8 years old) to watch great new stories being read by other kids.

The nice thing about this is, it is a place for children’s story writers (published and unpublished, professional & amateur) to get their work published online, while retaining all rights. is offering US$1,500 worth of prize-money for the 5 best best stories submitted every month.  Entries accepted from anywhere in the world. Submission is free.

The current competition closes 30 April 2010.
The next competition closes 31 May 2010.
If you have a story send it in.  The worse that can happen is you don’t get picked, but for no out-of-pocket money, you have a chance to be seen and maybe win some cash.   


A shortlist of the 50 stories we like best will be announced on 05 May.
These 50 stories will then get narrated by kids, which we film.
The 50 films will randomly appear on on 01 June. 
Viewers will rate the stories .
After a month, 5 winners will be announced based on a combination of number of views and average ratings.
This cycle will be repeated every month.


First Prize: US$500
Second Prize: US$400
Third Prize: US$300
Fourth Prize: US$200
Fifth Prize: US$100

We are receiving submissions from all over the world. If you are a winner outside the US, the prize money will be converted into your local currency.


Not be longer than 750 (seven hundred and fifty) words. Text only, in English.
Must be fiction for children from 3 to 8 years old.
Poetry & rhyming stories may also be submitted.
You must be the writer or owner of the copyright.
A maximum of two stories per writer per month can be submitted.
Typos, syntax and grammatical errors will prejudice your chances of selection.
No redrafts accepted. Final versions only.


05 May 2010: Shortlist of the 50 stories announced.
01 June 2010: The completed films will simultaneously appear on the smories online channel.
30 June 2010: The 5 stories receiving the highest traffic & ratings over the preceding 30 days will win the prizes.

Here are some things to consider, before submitting your story.

Don’t use tricky words: You can be more ambitious with vocabulary in an illustrated book,
where a child will have a picture to give the word meaning/context.

The meaning must be obvious: With a conventional story book, the child can see the word, and go back to it, or ask an adult for meaning.  With smories the meaning of important words needs to be immediately obvious.

Beware of information overload: As above, it’s easier to introduce lots of characters/plot twists
in an illustrated book. Having too many characters/things happening can confuse the child.


1.  You will not have pictures to help tell your story.

2.  Three to eight year olds do not have long attention spans. 

3.  The video is going to be read by a child, so keep it short, punchy and easy to read. 

4.  Long paragraphs and complicated sentences can feel like they are dragging for the reader, which conveys itself to the viewer.

Perhaps you can find a young child to read your text to, so you can hear how it sounds before submitting.  Take a look at the first video posted and you will see what I am talking about.

Let me know if you give it a try and you think it helped your story.  I know I had to cut a ton of words to be able to submit something for the “Dear Lucky Contest” and I was surprised how much I could cut.  I probably will add a few words back to the final version of my book, but  I feel the excerise made my young adult novel a stronger story.  I suspect this will do the same for you.  So even if I don’t send in to the contest, it still was a valuable lesson.

Here is the link to submit.



  1. Thanks Kathy.I am going to try my best to submit.


    • Mary,

      That’s good! I think I will try to find some time to work on one of my picture books, too.



  2. Thanks Kathy – I just went to the website and entered. This sounds like an awesome contest!.


    • Michelle,

      That’s great! Good luck! I still have to follow my own advice.



  3. I could listen to this adorable child read all day! I just LOVE the UK accents!


    • Donna,

      She is adorable. And the accent is soooo cute.



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