Skip to content

How to win an author competition

For the second year in a row, our Ethicool Author Compeition was HUGE (like, it got on TV, radio and in print huge!), and while it was extremely close, we were overjoyed to announce that the winner was: Laura Wippell's Feeling Hopeful. 

Of course, while it was exciting to announce a winner, it was also heartbreaking to not be able to publish the books of the other two finalists ... as well as the 5000 + aspiring authors who submitted absolutely delightful stories. 

We've been asked numerous times for feedback and for tips on how aspiring authors could better their chances for next year, so here they are. 

We've got important feedback from two critical sources: one is our editor Leanne (who you might know from her brilliant children's book manuscript assessments), and the other is from the winner herself, Laura Wippell. 

So, without further ado, here is how you can be our winner next year: 

From Leanne

What five things should authors do next year to ensure their ensure their entry is the best it can be? 

1. Be as creative as possible 

We had a lot of very 'literal' entries this year! Authors should approach the prompt and theming less literally, and try to introduce new and exciting elements that feel related, but never forced. 

2. Be careful with language choices 

When writing for children, language is so important - children's books play a big part in how they learn language!

For this reason, a strong consideration of language choices is important, from dynamic verbs to beautiful yet brief descriptions.

For the winner this year, the narration style was engaging and packed a punch, which really brought the story to life. 

3. Try something other than a purely linear style 

Having a strong framework for the narrative that uses pattern and repetition rather than just following a completely linear style can really make a story stand out. 

Following the rule of three can also help really accentuate the main points of the narrative. 

4. Write for the illustrations (or at least, have the illustrations in mind) 

Ethicool is fast gaining a reputation as a publisher with some of the best illustrations in the entire industry, so if you're writing for our brand, it's really important you write for the illustrations (or at the very least, have illustrations in mind). 

In the competition this year, a lot of submissions used the library setting and were too afraid to deviate from that prompt. This meant that there were very few exciting scenes with a broader perspective, which is exactly what we need to make the illustrations in the book really pop. 

The winning manuscript took us soaring, which meant exploring different and exciting places that would make for fun illustrations. 

5. Use the prompt as a stepping stone 

With the competition, it's important that authors use the prompt as a stepping stone and a source of inspiration, not as a restrictive brief. 

A lot of submissions felt very forced and restricted, rather than being open and free-spirited. 

They took the characters in the prompt at face value and the library setting as the be all end all which made for narratives that weren't particularly engaging.

The winning story used the prompt as a point of reference and didn't allow it to restrict the development of the plot, setting, or characters. 

From Laura 

Here she is. Hi Laura! 


Laura, you're the winner of this year's Bee Ethicool Author Competition. Congratulations! 

What did you do to promote your entry? 

I have a background in education so I created a presentation for teachers.  It included my full story and supporting activities so I could get feedback on "Feeling Hopeful" from the most important source: children! 
They sent me the most beautiful drawings of what fear and hope look like to them.  Receiving those brought a lump to my throat and it gave me an important reminder about why I entered the competition in the first place.  
Aside from that, I did a lot of reaching out!  In particular, to:
  • The 2021 Bee Ethicool Finalists for advice.  Libby and Stacy were so lovely and gave me really helpful tips 
  • Various groups on Facebook
  • My professional network on LinkedIn
  • Podcasts and radio stations.  Thank you Totally Lit Podcast and ABC Southern Queensland Radio for interviewing me!
  • Book reviewers on Instagram
  • My incredibly supportive family, friends and community, who extend across different countries and languages
I also created an Instagram account to promote my story and journey as a writer, so if you'd like to see some of those adorable drawings I mentioned, you can take a look using the handle @laura.wippell. 

    Why do you think your entry in particular appealed to voters?

    I worked hard on coming up with a creative and engaging idea based on Stella's incredible illustration.  I tried to use it as inspiration, rather than taking it too literally or confining my story to that one particular setting in the library.   

    I believe the title, "Feeling Hopeful" stirred something inside readers, too.  As a global community we've had such a tough couple of years where we have all faced uncertainty and fear.  Despite this, we can still find many reasons to remain hopeful for the future.  

      Can you describe how you felt when you heard you'd won? 

      Because of the time difference between Australia and Chile, I woke up to the most magical email sitting in my inbox!  Receiving the news was an incredible way to start my day - I hugged my husband and danced with my kitten! 

      This has been a dream of mine since childhood so I was incredibly emotional.  I'm filled with energy and excitement about seeing the story come to life.  

      Woohoo! Follow Ethicool on Instagram for more news and updates about Laura's book. In the interim though, we're still accepting submissions! Submit your story now and undergo a manuscript assessment to increase your chances of being published. 


        There are no comments yet. Be the first one to post one!

        Leave a comment

        Please note, comments must be approved before they are published.