Emma Perry - Winner of the April 2016 Picture Book Slush Pile Challenge

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Emma Perry
  Emma Perry entered our July 2016 Slush Pile Challenge set by Helen Mackenzie Smith from Bell Lomax Moreton. 

Emma won this challenge by demonstrating she was able to produce a picture book text that covered one of life's important issues (including, but not remotely limited to: being kind, being truthful, being considerate/polite, showing love, showing perseverance, etc) in a way that was funny, but not overly didactic or cute. The agent/judge was keen to have a 'filip' or twist at the end, but that wasn't compulsory! 

Emma tells us why she entered the competition and all about her experience of discussing her submission with Helen. 

I'd been writing This Book Has Bears Alpacas and Bears for quite some time when the Slush Pile Challenge appeared. He'd undergone quite a huge re-draft thanks to a gentle nudge from my Golden Egg Academy Editor, and I was wondering what to do next. That's exactly when a Slush Pile Picture Book challenge popped up in my newsfeed. The timing seemed right, and so with one hand covering my eyes I quickly pressed that huge send button. Done. Breathe.

Hearing I'd won was just awesome.  

It was a huge boost, which sent me running and shouting down the stairs very early in the morning. My family were more shocked that I was up and out of bed at that time more than anything else. I swiftly decided that if the opportunity arose, I'd definitely try to meet Helen face-to-face. I didn't have long to wait. 

Helen was in touch very promptly, and swiftly set up a meeting in Covent Garden. She also kindly requested to see other Picture Book manuscripts - cue some very, very frantic re-editing, tweaking and panicking - obviously this all happened during the same week I started a new role at my local Primary School. It all came together thanks to plentiful supplies of chocolate and my very patient critique buddies.  

The meeting in Covent Garden went brilliantly - discounting a slightly soggy beginning thanks to a sudden downpour and a cheap umbrella refusing to go down as I dashed through the reception door. I made *cough* a bit of an entrance! 

Helen was incredibly generous with both her time and her comments. Receiving direct feedback from an industry professional was so valuable.  

I frantically made notes and soaked it all up.  

Helen really 'got' what I was trying to do on each one, and gave me heaps of valuable advice on how to make them stronger.  

A key piece of advice that I took away from my meeting with Helen, was that she'd ideally like submitting authors to have at least two polished manuscripts ready. 

At the end of the meeting I tucked my scripts and pencil scribbles back into my folder, grinning as Helen offered to look at them for a second time once I had made the suggested changes. 

Huge thanks to Helen, and the SCBWI team for creating this opportunity. 


Thanks Emma.  The Words and Pictures editorial team wish Emma all the best with polishing her manuscripts.  A special thanks to Helen Mackenzie Smith at Bell Lomax Moreton (www.belllomaxmoreton.co.uk) for setting, judging and providing such valuable feedback to Emma. 


  1. I very much hope that your Alpaca makes it into a book shop one day Emma :)


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