The Macmillan Prize 2018

12 January 2018

By Pan Macmillan

The Macmillan Prize For Children's Picture Book Illustration was established by Macmillan Children’s Books to stimulate new work from young illustrators in art schools, and to help them take the first steps in their professional lives. This coveted award, which is currently in its 33rd year, has discovered such talent as Emily Gravett, Gemma Merino and Bethan Woolvin, amongst many others.

Entries to the Macmillan Prize 2018 will open on 1st April 2018


All entrants must submit:

1. Pencil roughs or sketches for a children's picture book – cover to cover – including text or a clear indication of the story line

2. Finished artwork for at least four double-page spreads, or at least three spreads and a front cover

Entrants should bear in mind what is appropriate for the child reader.


Length: Picture books should be 32 pages long; this includes, the front and back endpapers, a title page and a copyright page. Books with novelty elements (e.g. flaps, fold-out pages) should not exceed 24 pages. Pop-up books should not exceed 6 double-page spreads

Size: The page size of the finished book should not exceed 300mm in width or height


The book may be fiction or non-fiction. The entrant may:

a) devise their own text/story or
b) collaborate with a writer or
c) use a traditional story (e.g. a fairy tale)

The text may be typed or clearly handwritten.

N.B. A published text that is in copyright would not be eligible


Size: Artwork may be prepared either to the same size, or up to 30% larger than the page size of the finished book. Corner marks to show the trim (i.e. the edge of the final printed page) should be clearly indicated outside the area of the actual artwork.

Bleed: Allow at least 5mm extra (after reduction) outside the trim if the artwork is to come to the edge of the printed page. Avoid putting important details within 5mm of the edge of the page, or where illustration crosses the spine.

Medium: Any medium may be used, but it is advisable to avoid luminous paint, fragile collage or other media that will not reproduce well.

Lettering: Any lettering should be in black, and should be put onto a transparent overlay, not directly onto the artwork.

Entrants should bear in mind that extremely fragile artwork may be damaged.
While every care is taken with all submitted work, Macmillan cannot be held responsible for any loss or damage.


The competition is for a series of outstanding illustrations that show that the artist understands how to match pictures to text. The pictures should also demonstrate the entrant’s grasp of narrative, pacing and characterisation.

The judges will focus on the quality of the illustrations rather than the standard of the writing. Good stories are welcome, but the text will not be the main criterion for judging.

Entrants should supply a well-produced rough dummy, which clearly shows how the style and layout of the illustrations contribute towards the development of the story and characterisation. It is important to avoid monotonous layouts with little contrast in composition or colour. Too many words can overwhelm the illustration.

The judges are ultimately looking for high-quality illustrations, suitable for children’s books, which are considered to be an original contribution to the field.


The judging panel will include leading contemporary children’s book creators, an experienced children’s bookseller, the Publisher and Editorial Director at Macmillan Children’s Books and the Children’s Art and Design Director.


First Prize: £1,000
Second Prize: £500
Third Prize: £250

Please note that the judges reserve the right:

  • To award a prize to more than one entrant, in which case the prize money may be split between two winners
  • Not to award a prize

The judges' decision will be final


The winners and shortlisted entrants will be notified by Friday 4th May 2018.

Please note that prizes will be awarded at the end of May. The prize-winners, plus the highly commended entrants and their tutors, will be invited to a reception where the winners’ and highly commended students' work will be exhibited.


Entries will be returned to the University/College campus by courier by Friday 27th July 2018. It is then your responsibilty to collect it from your tutor.


The competition is open to all students in higher education establishments in the United Kingdom during the academic year 2017/2018.


Macmillan Children’s Books will have the option to publish any of the prize winners. An offer to publish would be made and would include an advance against the royalties to be earned. This would be in addition to the prize money.

For further information email: [email protected]


Please note that the judges reserve the right:

1. To award a prize to more than one entrant, in which case the prize money may be split between two winners, at the judges’ discretion.

2. Not to award a prize.

The judges' decision will be final.


1. Entries must be submitted in a secure portfolio, preferably one that zips or poppers closed. Work not submitted in a portfolio cannot be accepted and will be returned to the entrant.

2. Entrants may submit more than one entry, but each entry must be in a separate portfolio.
Any portfolio which contains more than one entry will not be considered.

3. Each portfolio must be clearly labelled with an entry form attached to the front. [Click here to download the entry form] The entrant’s name and address, the name of the entrant’s college and both a home and college contact telephone number must be clear, along with the entrant’s email address. The entry form must be countersigned by the entrant’s college tutor, lecturer or course leader.

4. Every piece of artwork in the portfolio must be individually labelled on the back with the entrant’s name and college.

5. Entries, clearly marked ‘The Macmillan Prize’, should be sent, or delivered during normal office hours (9.30am to 5.30pm, excluding lunch 12:00pm-13:30pm), from Tuesday 17th April 2018 to Thursday 19th April 2018 inclusive, to:

Macmillan Children’s Books
20 New Wharf Road
N1 9RR

Tutors are encouraged to collect all portfolios from their students and have them delivered as a group submission from the university.


Please supply digital entries as one PDF file, with a separate page at the front that shows only your name, email address and telephone number.

The file name should only include your full name (Firstname_Lastname).

The digital entries will be viewed on a display 1920px X 1080px (150DPI) so we don't need print quality files and files larger than 10MB may not be uploaded correctly.

You do not need to supply the text on a separate layer within the pdf. Please include the text within the flattened image.

You don’t need to supply both the final colour and rough images for a spread. Final colour pages can appear alongside the rough pages in your book.

After entering you will receive a confirmation email within 2 hours - please check your junk folder before uploading again. 

You can submit your digital entry from 1st April 2018, until the final deadline of 5:30pm on Thursday 19th April 2018. Please ensure you allow yourself plenty of time to complete your submission before this deadline, as we will not accept entries after that time.  A submission form will be added below on the 1st April 2018.

If shortlisted, the entrant will need to supply the original artwork or high-quality print-outs suitable for exhibition by Friday 11th May 2018, this may be subject to change but the shortlisted applicant will be informed of any changes to dates.

Additional information: What is a standard picture book format?

We ask that submissions are 32 pages long as this is the standard picture book format.

The standard format for a 32 page self-ended picture book is as follows:

Page 1 stuck down

Pages 2/3 endpapers

Pages 4/5 imprint page and title page

12 story spreads

Pages 30/31 endpapers

Page 32 stuck down

This is a guideline. Provided the 32 pages include an imprint page and title page, students may wish to use the available pages differently.