Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Read Local Challenge: FAQ for Authors & Illustrators

Cropped US map with Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, Washington DC, and West Virginia highlighted, and the words "Take the Read Local Challenge!" in bold -- with the URL

I’m an author (or illustrator)! How can I participate in the Read Local Challenge?


* Have a traditionally-published book currently in print
* Live in Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia, Virginia or the District of Columbia
* Are a Published and Listed member of SCBWI (check your member profile for your membership level, if you are unsure)

If you are a Published and Listed member of SCBWI within the MD/DE/WV or Mid-Atlantic regions, you may click here to sign up for the next challenge! (You will need to provide the link to your SCBWI profile page to verify that you are a PAL member of our regions.)



My book is still in print, but it was published last year (or the year before… or even earlier). Can I participate?

Yes! We firmly believe that books never expire! And since our reach with the Read Local Challenge expands every year, there are always new readers to introduce your books to! Feel free to promote one of your backlist titles, if you would prefer, as long as it is in print, and available for bookstores/schools/libraries to order. – (Books must be in print, because you wouldn’t want readers to be frustrated if they can’t order copies of your book!)



I live in this region, and my book is traditionally published, but I’m not a member of SCBWI. Can I be a part of this challenge?

Unfortunately, no. Because the challenge is sponsored by our local SCBWI region and run exclusively by volunteers with day jobs, family commitments, and writing careers of our own to juggle, it is easiest for us to coordinate the challenge through established SCBWI channels. We will link to each participating author/illustrator’s SCBWI speaker profile to make it easy for schools/libraries to contact them, and for readers to find their books. If you aren’t a PAL member of SCBWI, even if we know and love your books, you won’t have the appropriate profile for us to link to … which means extra work for our volunteers.

But good news! It’s really easy to join SCBWI, and if your book for children has been published by a traditional publishing house that meets SCBWI’s PAL Publisher Guidelines (see SCBWI’s PAL Publishers list), you will automatically be granted Published and Listed status and be eligible for the Read Local Challenge.



My book is self-published, but it’s sold lots of copies, and it relates to real events that happened locally. Can I be a part of this challenge?

Your book sounds amazing, and we probably have it on our “To Be Read” lists, if we haven’t already read it! Unfortunately, most self-published books aren’t readily-accessible to schools and libraries for purchase, as they aren’t in the systems that these buyers typically use when creating their book purchasing plans. (This is the “listed” part of the “published and listed” designation.) It’s frustrating for readers and authors alike when a challenge book is difficult to find, and joining the Read Local Challenge wouldn’t be the best use of your marketing resources in this case.

But in promoting our challenge, we do sometimes have people reach out to us with opportunities to showcase indie authors! When this happens, we love to forward the invitations to the many talented, self-published folks in our area through our SCBWI regional emails and social media platforms.



My book is published by a small press that isn’t on SCBWI’s list, even though they deserve to be. I asked SCBWI to add them to the list, but they haven’t yet. I can prove that my publisher is legitimate. (I have receipts!) Can I be a part of this challenge? I don’t want to miss out on a chance to promote my book!

Your publisher might very well fit the criteria that SCBWI follows for the publishers on the list. And if that’s the case, they will be added once the very busy volunteers at SCBWI headquarters have a chance to finish researching/verifying the status.

Please be patient!

We understand that sometimes it feels like this is an arbitrary restriction meant to reward the “elite” authors who check off the right boxes, but I promise we have your best interests at heart! Unfortunately, not all small publishers (even legitimate ones!) have their systems set up for their books to be readily-accessible to schools and libraries for purchase. If they aren’t in the systems that these buyers use when creating their book purchasing plans, your book can’t be purchased, no matter how good it is. The volunteers at SCBWI headquarters have to make sure the systems are in place for this wide distribution before they verify the publisher on the list. And yes, sometimes it feels like this process takes forever, but patience really does pay off! Sometimes the delay is a result of the volunteers working together with your publisher behind the scenes to help them get set up properly to be on the list.

Believe us, it’s frustrating for readers and authors alike when a challenge book is difficult to find. And we would hate to have schools and libraries write you off completely because they couldn’t find you! Sometimes, it’s better to wait. (We’d love to have you join us next year!)



My book is out of print, but I bought out all of the remaining stock, so schools and libraries can still buy copies from me. Can I be a part of the challenge?

Unfortunately, no. Most school and library purchasing systems are not set up to buy books from individuals, so they won’t be able to take advantage of your generous offer. And as we mentioned above, it’s frustrating for readers when they can’t find the books listed in our challenge.

But don’t worry! When your next book is ready, you can join us again!



I was a part of the challenge last year. Can I sign up again?

Yes! Our connections with schools/libraries/bookstores are constantly growing, and there may be a new school/library participating this year that is looking for a book JUST LIKE YOURS!



Is there a cost to participate, as an author or illustrator?

Yes. There is a fee for all Read Local Challenge authors/illustrators to help offset the costs of the program. Some of these costs include:

* Full-color Read Local Challenge Posters (we generally print & distribute approximately 5,000 posters in a challenge year)
* Buttons, bookmarks, & stickers to promote the Read Local Challenge books (these will be used as prizes for the Kick-off Parties and as promotional giveaways at all SCBWI events throughout the challenge period).
* Creating downloadable games/activities for the Read Local Kick-off Parties/events
*Postage for sending Read Local materials to interested schools/libraries/bookstores, etc., as well as sending prizes to our challenge winners

(SCBWI MD/DE/WV has typically covered costs for the program above & beyond that which the collected fees pay for)



I have more than one book coming out this year. Can I sign up to feature two – or three – books?

Probably, but … it depends.

If you write for more than one age group, you MAY enter up to TWO books in TWO different challenge levels (PB & MG, for example). You will need to fill out the form TWICE (once for each book), and please enter the SAME information in the “about the author” section.

We want to feature as many different authors/illustrators as possible in each category, so if you have 2 picture books, or 2 middle grade novels, for example, we ask you to pick only ONE. We hope that the readers who take our challenge will enjoy your books enough to keep reading other titles you may have available, and we will list others in a “suggested reading” list, so your other book(s) may be included there.



What is required of me, as a Read Local Challenge Author or Illustrator?


* Offer a 10% discount on their speaking fees to anyone participating in the Read Local Challenge for the entire challenge period (October 1 – May 31) and 15% discount to the ONE (1) school that hosts them for a FREE Read Local Party during the current challenge year, if they are invited back for a paid visit.

* Provide ONE signed copy of their Read Local Challenge featured book to be used as a prize for challenge winners

* Attend at least ONE Free Read Local Party or Read Local Webinar/Skype visit as a Featured Author or Illustrator.

* Contribute to promoting ALL Read Local Authors/Illustrators throughout the challenge period as a member of one of our Read Local committees:

— Outreach – Help us contact schools/libraries/bookstores in your area to promote the Read Local Challenge & encourage them to sign up for events. (Can be done either in-person or online/via phone.)
— Events/Calendar – Help maintain and update the Read Local event calendar to highlight events where our Read Local authors/illustrators can be found. Help match authors/illustrators with the hosts requesting Read Local events.
— Kick-off Party Activities – Help us create the files that will be turned into downloadable activities.
— Kick-off Party Assembly & Mailing – (In-person commitment … But there will be fabulously-delicious cookies!!)



You need a signed copy of my book? Why?

We collect ONE signed copy of each book featured in the challenge to be used as prizes for our readers! We will set aside some of these books to be used for the winning school or library from the State-by-State Reading Race.

The remaining books will also be used as prizes: Each teacher or librarian who requests a Read Local Challenge Starter Kit will receive (along with the full-color posters, Read Local Challenge Passport Bookmarks, stickers, buttons, and small prizes) ONE signed book to use as a prize within their school/library/group. (Book prizes available while supplies last!)



Am I required to offer Skype visits if I sign up to participate in the challenge? I’ve never done this before, and I don’t know how.

We encourage you to offer virtual visits, as there may be some farther-outlying schools that are difficult for our authors to get to for an in-person Read Local Party. We know readers are excited to make these live connections with our authors/illustrators, and we would like to encourage this as much as possible. However, it is not required. If you would like to offer virtual visits, but you’re nervous about trying something new … don’t worry! It’s easy, and we can teach you how to do it. 🙂



What else do you need from me?

Please have the following available when you fill out the sign-up form:

* a high-resolution (300 dpi & at least 4-inches) author photo

* a high-resolution (300 dpi & at least 4-inches) image of your book cover

* book information (1-paragraph blurb, ISBN, plus 140-character 1-line description)

* author bio (plus 140-character author “fun fact”)

* your availability for events

* excerpts from your book (first line, favorite scene, etc.) for Kick-off party games (optional)

* payment confirmation



So that’s it? I just have to sign up, and you’ll promote my book and schedule events for me throughout the challenge period? This sounds too good to be true!

Wouldn’t it be great if it WAS that easy? The Read Local Challenge is a great way for local authors and illustrators in our region to connect with local readers, but there is a LOT of coordination that goes on behind the scenes to make this happen. It’s far too much work for any one person to handle alone! We all need to work together to make the challenge a success each year.

We will print up the full-color Read Local Challenge posters and distribute them to schools/libraries/booksellers within our challenge area. We offer FREE Read Local Starter Kits to any school/library/group who requests one, and FREE Read Local Parties to anyone who would like to host one, and we will coordinate requests with author/illustrator availability to match hosts with authors/illustrators for their events. We will also reach out to conferences and festivals, whenever possible.

However, the success of our challenge depends upon the participation of ALL of our featured authors/illustrators. Post the links on your websites/social media. Celebrate the successes of your fellow authors/illustrators. Talk up the challenge with your friends/neighbors/schools/libraries/favorite bookstores. (I even carry a stack of Read Local posters with me when I run errands. You never know when you might meet a reader while waiting in a long line at the grocery store!)


For General Read Local FAQs, click here!

Couldn’t find an answer to your question? Please email Veronica Bartles, Assistant Regional Advisor for SCBWI MD/DE/WV and Read Local Challenge Coordinator, at