We are pleased to announce the October 2020 Slush Pile Challenge, set by Kate Shaw, of The Shaw Agency.

Kate Shaw The Viney Shaw Agency.jpg
Kate Shaw

Kate has spent practically all her career in publishing, first as a publicist at Penguin Books and Fourth Estate, and then as an agent at Aitken Alexander Associates and The Viney Agency, before founding The Shaw Agency in 2019.   

During Kate’s career in books she has promoted Booker-shortlisted authors, discovered Sunday Times-bestselling writers and represented multiple award-winning books that have sold millions of copies worldwide in dozens of languages and been optioned for film & TV. She represents the winner of the 2020 Blue Peter Best Story Prize Vashti Hardy and 30 other brilliant writers including Holly Smale, Fleur Hitchcock, James Nicol and Serena Patel.

Kate’s passions are stories that make her laugh or cry – preferably both.  She loves adventure and world-building in children’s and teen books, and is always looking for strong new characters and great hooks.


“Thank you for asking me to take part in this month’s challenge.

I’d like to meet your middle grade or teen protagonist, please.  I’d love them to make me laugh and/or get under my skin.  You can use voice, personality, action, wit, humour and/or intrigue.   Then please sell me a story that will knock my socks off!  Send 400-500 words about your character - preferably from the beginning of your manuscript - and a 100-150-word pitch for your story.

Please state what ages your story is aimed at, whether your manuscript is complete, its working title and what length it is.

Good luck and thank you for rising to my challenge!”


Kate will pick a winner. She will arrange to have a 30-minute meeting with the winner. It will be via Zoom or a phone call.




You need to be an un-agented, current SCBWI member, and resident in either the UK or Europe.

If you win a challenge, you can enter any other Slush Pile Challenges but not with the same manuscript.   

To join SCBWI and take advantage of the many opportunities to raise your profile, market your work, meet fellow writers, artists and the gatekeepers to publication, while being supported in the development and pursuit of your craft, visit

If, between submitting your entry and the winner being announced, you gain representation from an agent, please contact us at


1      Check that you are a paid-up member of SCBWI before submitting your entry by going to Any entries received where member's details cannot be found on SCBWI records will not be included as a valid entry. 

2      Send in your entry as a single Word Document to Submissions to the Slush Pile Challenge should not be sent direct to the agent/editor/judge.  

3       The document should only contain THE TITLE, 150-WORD PITCH and 500 WORDS the judge has requested. Do not include your name, address or email address in your word document or the document name. The word document should be named in the following format  'your title' October 2020 Slush Pile.doc

4      Please do not insert a header or footer in your submission. 

5       In the email please write your full name as it appears in SCBWI membership records and your email address. Also include the title of your work.

6       Shortly after you have submitted your entry you will receive an email from the competitions email address stating, 'Your entry has been received.' If you do not receive this message please send an email to competitions@britishscbwi.orgHowever, we cannot put entries through after the closing date unless your entry is received on or before the closing date. 

7      Only the first entry will be considered. Please do not send revisions, multiple entries or multiple attachments. 

8       Any entries received after the closing date will automatically be disqualified. 


As soon as the competition is closed, it is necessary to generate a random selection using a computer program. All valid and verified entries received will be included irrespective of whether the entry was received on the date of the launch of the competition or on the closing date, or whether the entrant has previously had their submissions seen by an agent/editor/judge. This has to be done to ensure that there is no bias or pre-judging from SCBWI BI/SCBWI BI Words &Pictures editorial team when sending the entries for judging. The terms of the competition are that the judge agrees to read a minimum of fifteen entries from the number of submissions. In many cases the agent/editor/ judge requests to read more. When an agent/editor/judge requests to read fifteen or another proportion of the total entries, those chosen as the first ones to be read by the computer will be sent to him/her. Sometimes the judge may request a further selection of valid and verified entries before making their decision. When this occurs, to avoid bias, the next group of entries from the initial computer generated random selection will be sent to the agent/editor/judge. There are times when the judge requests to read all the entries and these are then forwarded to him/her. 

The judge will pick a winner and also tell us why. Sometimes he/she may quote a few sentences or phrases from the winner's submission in the blog announcing the winner.  

The winner will be put in touch with the judge so they can arrange the 30-minute discussion by Zoom or on the phone.

Good Luck Everyone!

The Words & Pictures team are aware that our members write for different ages and genres. With this in mind, we endeavour to provide at least one Slush Pile Challenge a year that our un-agented members feel able to enter.  

Elaine Cline has been a SCBWI member for over six years and loves to write picture books, middle-grade and teen books. She lives by the sea and has one dog and one cat.

Elaine is a member of the Words & Pictures editorial team, managing The Slush Pile Challenge. 

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