We Need Diverse Books (“WNDB”) is a grassroots organization created to address the lack of diverse, non-majority narratives in children’s literature. WNDB is committed to the ideal that embracing diversity will lead to acceptance, empathy, and ultimately equality. We recognize all diverse experiences, including (but not limited to) LGBTQIA, people of color, gender diversity, people with disabilities, and ethnic, cultural, and religious minorities. Our mission is putting more books featuring diverse characters into the hands of all children.
WNDB is proud to announce that Phoebe Yeh, VP/Publisher of Crown Books for Young Readers/Random House, has acquired publication rights to a Young Adult WNDB Anthology titled LIFT OFF. Lamar Giles, Senior Vice President of Communications for WNDB, will edit the anthology, which will have a Summer 2018 release date.
The anthology will be in memory of Walter Dean Myers and it will be inspired by his quote: “We need to bring our young people into the fullness of America’s promise and to do that we must rediscover who they are and who we are and be prepared to make the journey with them whatever it takes. My conceit is that literature can be a small path along that journey.”
The anthology will have one story reserved for a previously unpublished diverse author. WNDB will fill that slot via a short story contest. The winner will be included in the anthology and will receive a payment of $1,000.00 US.
General Contest Submission Rules
Entries will be accepted after 9:00AM EDT on July 5th until 5:00PM EDT on July 18th, 2016. Any submission made prior to or after the entry period will not be considered.
Entry is free.
All submission emails must include THREE (3) Separate File Attachments to be considered:
- A short story of 4,000 words or less, attached as a .doc, .docx, or .txt file.
A 75 words or less bio that includes an explanation of how the applicant is diverse (as described above and here), attached as a .doc, .docx, or .txt file.
A photo/headshot, attached as a .jpg or .png file.
Submissions will not be returned.
Winner will be announced on October 1, 2016.
Short Story Rules
All submissions must be in English and never before published in any medium, print or digital, or in a foreign language.
Submissions must be no longer than 4000 words.
All submissions must be electronic and sent to the following email address as a .doc, .docx, or .txt file attachment: firstname.lastname@example.org
All submissions must also be appropriate for a young adult audience, ages 13 to 18.
Open to diverse writers 18 years of age or older from all diverse backgrounds (as defined above and here). Applicants must include this information in their bio.
Open to diverse writers who have not published a short story or novel length work previously in any format, print or digital, this includes: self-published, independents, small and medium publishing houses, in all genres whether for the children’s or adult market.
International writers welcome.
The contest winner will receive an award of $1,000.00 US plus their entry will be published as part of the WNDB Anthology to be released by Crown Books for Young Readers/Random House Children’s Books in Summer 2018.
Who can apply?
We recognize anyone from a diverse background, including but not limited to, LGBTQIA, people of color, gender diversity, people with disabilities, and ethnic, cultural, and religious minorities currently marginalized in North America. If your entry does not include an attached bio explaining how you meet the above criteria *and* photo, it will not be read
What should the story be about?
It can be about a diverse experience inspired by this quote from Walter Dean Myers: “We need to bring our young people into the fullness of America’s promise and to do that we must rediscover who they are and who we are and be prepared to make the journey with them whatever it takes. My conceit is that literature can be a small path along that journey.”
The story must also be appropriate for a young adult audience, ages 13 to 18.
What about a submission in verse?
We accept submissions in free verse only.
What about entries that are a combo of both text and graphics? For example, the Diary of a Wimpy Kid format? Are they acceptable?
No. All story entries must be text only.
Will you confirm that you’ve received my entry?
Once the submission window opens, all submissions will receive an auto-reply from the contest mailbox indicating that your email was received. No one on the contest team will confirm that your submission is correct/whole (3 separate attachments: story, bio, and photo/headshot), so please double check your entries for completeness BEFORE sending.
Do the winners get free copies of the book? How many?
The winner will receive 1 copy of the Anthology when it is published.
Are joint authors for a project okay?
As long as both authors are diverse (as defined above and here). Joint authors will share any prizes given by WNDB.
Is non-fiction acceptable?
What if I receive an offer to publish my short story or novel after I’ve submitted my contest entry?
If you plan to accept an offer for publication prior to the announcement of the contest winner, please notify our team at email@example.com
What if I’ll be 18 years of age before the end of the year, am I eligible to submit?
Contestants must be 18 years or older on or before Oct. 1 2016 when the contest winner is announced.
Can an adult author collaborate with a minor on a story submission?
In a collaboration, BOTH writers must be 18 years or older on or before Oct. 1 2016 when the contest winner is announced.
Can a single writer submit multiple stories?
No. We will only accept a single submission per author, so send your best story.
Should the attached bio be in 1st or 3rd person?
We prefer bios in 3rd person, but you will not be disqualified if you submit a 1st person bio. The important thing is your bio is submitted as anattachment and clearly states how you identify as diverse per the eligibility requirements above.
Will there be a general submission period for previously published writers who want to participate in the anthology?
No. We already have a full roster of previously published writers that will be announced soon. The only open slot that remains is for a previously unpublished diverse writer.
What if I have a question not covered in this FAQ?
You can email questions to anthologyquestions@