Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Picture Book Dummy Challenge for Illustrators

Date(s) - 03/01/2018
12:00 am

Online Workshop
SCBWI - Carolinas, Webinar


The Carolinas Picture Book Dummy Challenge for Illustrators is a 28-week challenge (March 1-September 12) to build a picture book dummy for submission to an agent or editor.

See the Picture Book Dummy Challenge SCHEDULE for a step-by-step breakdown of topics covered.


Illustrators who are interested in writing and illustrating original picture books.

Although writers who are not illustrators may benefit from dummying their picture book manuscripts, the goal of this challenge is to create a submission-worthy, illustrated dummy for critique. Therefore, please register ONLY if you are an illustrator.

The challenge will be limited to 15 participants.


SCBWI-Carolinas will set up a password-protected blog for participants. At each of the eight steps of the challenge [see SCHEDULE], we will post a tutorial introducing the activities associated with that step. This post will include resources (book lists and links) for further study as well as optional activities. This is a self-guided challenge–you may navigate the steps at your own pace. Be aware, however, that webinars and in-oerson events are scheduled to coincide with the steps as posted.

There will also be a closed Facebook group for participants to share progress, ask questions and solicit comments on work in progress (if they choose—participants are not required to post any work online).

SCBWI-Carolinas will also host a series of three webinars and two online chats to enlarge upon the basic information provided via the blog posts. These webinars will be open to dummy challenge participants ONLY, and each will include a Q&A sessions in addition to the craft presentation. (The webinars will be archived and accessible until the close of the Dummy Challenge.)

At the close of the challenge, participants will have extra time to finish and format their dummies before presenting them at a special Picture Book Dummy Intensive to be held Friday morning, September 28, at the start of the 26th SCBWI-Carolinas Annual Conference in Charlotte, NC. The intensive workshop will be led by Alexandra Penfold of Upstart Crow Literary Agency, who represents illustrators and author-illustrators. During the course of the intensive workshop, participants will each have 10 minutes to present one dummy project to the agent and the class. YOU MUST HAVE A DUMMY TO PRESENT AT THE INTENSIVE. Be prepared to explain the inspiration for the project, how you developed your characters, your choice of medium, and other pertinent information. At the close of the workshop, printed dummies will be collected and sent to the agent for a written review.


SCBWI Members  $250*                                   Nonmembers  $275*


1) access to the challenge tutorials and resources covering the entire dummy process from idea through completion;

2) membership in the private FB group;

3) three online webinars on story, pacing and composition;

4) two online chats to discuss the mechanics of creating print and pdf dummies, and pitching your project;

5) a one-day Story Retreat with a picture book editor in Durham, NC, April 28;

6) a closing 4-hour Dummy Intensive with an agent at the SCBWI-Carolinas Conference in Charlotte, September 28;

7) AND a written critique of your completed dummy.

Take the Challenge and sign up for the 26th annual SCBWI C Conference:

SCBWI Members $415.00                               Nonmembers: $465.00

*Those who sign up for the program and BY WORD & BY LINE, 9/28-30/2018 at the same time will save $20.00 on the package cost for both. [You will receive a coupon to enable registration without paying conference tuition ]

SPECIAL OPTION: Illustrators who are unable to attend the in-person events in Durham and Charlotte may sign up for an online-only option. This option includes all the online components (tutorials, Facebook group, webinars and chats, PLUS the closing critique). NOT included: the all-day Story Retreat in Durham and the four-hour Dummy Intensive in Charlotte. The cost for this option is: $150 for SCBWI members; $180 for nonmembers.

We encourage illustrators to choose the more complete package if at all possible, however. In-person events have been added to the 2018 challenge to enhance the program and provide opportunities for live feedback that we believe will be of great value to the process of producing a submission-worthy dummy. If you would like to be put on a wait list for 10 additional online-only slots, please contact Bonnie Adamson, challenge coordinator.

The event fee is due at registration and is nonrefundable, so please make sure you intend to complete the challenge before enrolling. Please also note: only participants who have produced a finished dummy by the date of the closing event (September 28) will be eligible for the written review.

PLEASE NOTE: The two in-person events (the Story Retreat in Durham and the PB Dummy Intensive in Charlotte) are each one-day programs. If it is necessary to arrange accommodations for either event, participants should book directly with the hotel:

  • The Story Retreat in Durham, NC, on Saturday, April 28, begins at 9:00 am (coffee available in the meeting room); there is a break for lunch (included in the event cost), and we wrap up at 5:00 pm. Those who elect to stay Saturday night are invited to a wine and cheese reception that evening. Breakfast and wi-fi are included in the hotel rate.

Book your room for Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators

Group Code G-BOOK

Hyatt Place Durham Southpoint

7840 NC Hwy 751

Durham, NC, 27713

919.688.7800 option “0” to speak with our reservation team members

  • The four-hour PB Dummy Intensive will be held on Friday morning the weekend of the annual fall conference at the Crowne Plaza Executive Park in Charlotte, NC. Look for reservation information later in the year when plans for the conference are formalized.


Yes. Although writers may benefit from dummying their manuscripts as a tool to improve the flow of the text, the goal of this challenge is to create a submission-worthy illustrated dummy of an original story.


Sharing your work in progress with other challenge members is NOT a requirement of the challenge. Discussion among challenge participants is encouraged, however, and if you choose to do so, you may share your work with the group for informal critique among the members of the Facebook group.

You WILL be expected to share your storyboard with other participants at the Story Retreat in April, and your completed project during the closing Picture Book Dummy Intensive in September.



REMEMBER: Those who also opt to register for the 2018 conference at the same time will save $20 on the package (challenge + conference). If you register for the challenge ONLY, and decide later to attend the conference you will register separately at the regular member or nonmember conference rate.

Each participant will receive a password for the tutorial blog and an invitation to the closed FB group. The first tutorial will be posted to the blog on March 1, 2018 and at regular intervals thereafter.

PLEASE NOTE: You should NOT register for this challenge if you feel you will not be able to provide a manuscript and storyboard by April 28 (the date of the Story Retreat in Durham), and complete a dummy by September 28 (the date of the Picture Book Dummy Intensive in Charlotte). You MUST have a completed dummy* to share at the Intensive in order to attend and to be eligible for the written critique. There will be no refunds for failure to complete the program.

*At the close of the challenge, you may choose to present an existing dummy, or the one you completed during the challenge—but only one dummy per attendee.


January 15: Registration opens

March 1: First tutorial posted

March 14: Webinar on story with author Kristy Dempsey

April 18: Webinar on pacing with author Joan Holub

April 28: Story Retreat in Durham* with editor Sarah Jane Abbott (Paula Wiseman/Beach Lane)

May 9: Webinar on composition with illustrator Matt Myers

August 15: Chat on formatting for print and screen

September 12: Chat on pitching your project

September 28: Dummy Intensive in Charlotte* with agent Alexandra Penfold (Upstart Crow Literary)

*In-person events; all other challenge components are online.


Contact the SCBWI-Carolinas Picture Book Dummy Challenge Coordinators:

Bonnie Adamson (

Deb Johnson (


Terms & Conditions:

  • **SCBWI Members MUST login to receive member pricing. 
  • **There are no partial refunds for failure to login. 
  • **No credits will be given.
  • **Refunds
    • No refunds 
    • Cancelling a credit card charge could result in additional fees and/or cancelled registration 
  • **We are not responsible for any technical difficulties that may arise during registration.


This event is fully booked.