Welcome to the webpage for the annual Just Write For Kids Australia Pitch It! Competition. The aim of the competition is for writers of children’s books to hone their pitches to publishers so that they are polished, well-crafted and submission-ready.

The pitch is like the eyes to your soul. It’s a short marketing advertisement for the manuscript you’ve poured your heart (and soul) into. It’s the face publishing editors will judge to understand what kind of writer they are dealing with – it’s the tone, the voice, the vision that elicits an emotion to what lies within. Sounds a bit heavy, but you know your story better than anyone else, so all you have to do is pitch it in its best light. You’ve got this! 


The Pitch It! Competition enables writers – emerging, experienced, published, or unpublished – the opportunity to craft their pitch in a concise, emotive and marketable way that aims to engage and persuade a publisher that their manuscript will be their next best-seller (without directly telling them so!). The practice of writing, and considering marketable elements in your pitch, can also help to refine your manuscript further with language or narrative gaps you didn’t consider earlier.

This competition is also an opportunity to take your pitch and manuscript, and creative career, further with fabulous prizes and professional support! Several of our past winners and runners up have gone on from their manuscript critiques from publishers to securing contracts. Just like our 2018 winner and past picture book judge, Stef Gemmill, and 2020 picture book winner, Cassy Polimeni! On that note, let’s meet the judging team…


In 2023, we have a fabulous line-up of judges, all with incredible experience, knowledge and merit in the children’s book industry.

Picture Book Judges:

Internationally published children’s author Amelia McInerney lives in Canberra, where she spends her days writing kids’ books, staring out the window thinking about kids’ books, and occasionally just plain staring out the window. When she’s not writing, thinking or staring, Amelia likes to help people whilst simultaneously playing with slime; an unusual combination that makes her other job doing ultrasounds perfect for her. But she likes writing even more! She also enjoys yoga and snorkelling, although not simultaneously. Amelia’s first picture book, The Book Chook, was a CBCA Notable Book 2020 and was also shortlisted for the Speech Pathology Australia Picture Book of the Year. Her subsequent titles include: Bad Crab, My Bird Bertie, Mary Had a Little Lamb: What Really Happened and Who Fed Zed? (shortlisted for Book of the Year in the Speech Pathology Australia awards 2022). By far, Amelia’s favourite vegetable is the potato and she has a penchant for it in all cooked forms. She also has three kids, two hermit crabs and a husband.

Find Amelia at: Author | Amelia Mcinerney

Debra Tidball is an award-winning author picture books, short stories, poems and plays for children. With a background in social work and an MA in children’s literature, Debra has a particular passion for picture books and the profound way they can touch children’s lives. She is a zealous supporter of Australian book creators and is the vice president of her local CBCA NSW sub-branch. Debra’s The Scared Book, which was a CBCA Notable Book and won the peer-voted SCBWI Crystal Kite award, was published after a successful ‘elevator’ pitch to the children’s publisher at an open day at the publishing house.

Find Debra at: Debra Tidball – Home

Junior Fiction / Middle Grade Judges:

Kate Gordon grew up in a small town by the sea in Tasmania. She is the author of six novels for teenagers, as well as the picture books, Bird on a Wire and Amira’s Magpie, and the junior fiction series, Juno Jones. She now writes middle grade fiction. The Heartsong of Wonder Quinn was published by UQP, in 2020. Aster’s Good, Right Things was published by Riveted Press in 2020. The Ballad of Melodie Rose in 2021 and The Calling Of Jackdaw Hollow in 2022.

Kate has been long-listed in the 2019 CBCA Awards and shortlisted and longlisted in the 2021 awards. She received the 2016 IBBY Ena Noel Award. In 2018, Kate was shortlisted in the Dorothy Hewett Awards for an Unpublished Manuscript, and was commended in the 2018 Vogel’s Awards. In 2021, Aster’s Good, Right Things was shortlisted in the Speech Pathology Book of the Year Awards and won the CBCA Book of the Year for Younger Readers.

When not writing, Kate reads, listens to Josh Ritter, has grand adventures with her daughter, and her brand new baby.

Find Kate at: Kate Gordon

Crystal Corocher is as likely to be writing a children’s story as she is political satire, poetry or a dystopian fiction. She has been published in newspapers, radio, television, online, in magazines and now (and most excitedly) in books. Crystal studied journalism and children’s literature at Deakin and graduated with distinctions, which made all of the nights she studied while juggling the gig of solo parent and business owner completely worth it. 

In 2022 Crystal was shortlisted as a Rising Star of Australian Publishing at the Australian Book Industry Awards and was thrilled to be a panelist at the Bookup Conference in Sydney. She loves meeting aspiring and established creators in her role as Consulting Editor at Larrikin House, you can find Larrikin titles here.

Crystal owns a spoilt labradoodle named Luigi, she adores cooking and would love an enormous vegetable garden in the future.

Find Crystal at: About Crystal | Crystal Corocher Author


In 2023, we are fortunate to collaborate with the following industry professionals, who have generously provided invaluable opportunities for our winning, runners up, and highly commended entrants.

Briana Melideo – Books Publisher at CSIRO Publishing

Briana will be assessing the Picture Book winning manuscript. At CSIRO Publishing, their titles demonstrate the value of science and capture and share knowledge for future generations.

Mary Anastasiou – Managing Editor at Five Mile and Book Creative at Larrikin House

Mary will be assessing the Picture Book winning manuscript. She has 30 years of design and marketing experience, and works with authors and illustrators to help them realise their publishing goals.

Crystal Corocher – Commissioning Editor at Larrikin House

Crystal will be assessing the Junior Fiction winning manuscript. She loves to immerse herself in a world of Children’s Literature, Rhyme and Madness!

Jennifer Sharp – Commissioning Editor at Daisy Lane Publishing

Jennifer will be assessing the Picture Book, Junior Fiction and Middle Grade winning manuscripts. She is a dynamic wellness and confidence coach, speaker, educator and publisher of stories that inspire, inform, educate and empower.

Anouska Jones – Commissioning Editor at EK Books

Anouska will be assessing the Picture Book winning manuscript. As a publisher, editor, author and reviewer, her world is all about books and she enjoys stories where complex issues are made engaging and memorable for even the youngest readers.

Rowena Beresford – Commissioning Editor at Riveted Press

Rowena will be assessing the Junior Fiction and Middle Grade winning manuscripts. Riveted Press are actively looking for junior fiction, middle fiction, YA and graphic novels that remind readers of the good things they might have lost sight of in these tough times – like wonder, joy, hope, friendship, adventure, imagination, creativity and possibilities. 

Michelle Worthington – International multi award-winning author, screenwriter, business woman, and mentor at Share Your Story.

Michelle will be offering the Picture Book, Junior Fiction and Middle Grade winners a one-on-one, 30-minute coaching session to level up your pathway to publication.

Larrikin House – the publishing house with an unwavering commitment to creating quirky, edgy, original, funny kid-focused books that push boundaries.

Larrikin House’s School of Larrikins is their way of working with aspiring authors to smash (and survive) the slush pile! Each of our winners will receive a School of Larrikins voucher to attend a workshop of their choice.

Crystal Corocher – author, journalist, editor, presenter and mentor.

Crystal will be offering the Picture Book, Junior Fiction and Middle Grade second place runners up a one-on-one, 30-minute ‘Creative Hustle’ mentoring session.


Please send any questions to jwfkcompetition@gmail.com.


Need some inspiration for your pitch? Please have a look at Cassy Polimeni‘s winning pitch for her incredible real-life fairytale, The Garden at the End of the World from our 2020 Pitch It! Competition:

“At the end of the world is an island covered in ice. On the island is a mountain. Inside the mountain is a room. And inside the room are a million magic seeds.”
Isla and her mother are on a mission to deliver a package to the Global Seed Vault in Svalbard, Norway. With its polar nights and northern lights, the Arctic landscape provides food for Isla’s vivid imagination as they journey by plane, snowmobile and on foot and learn why a frozen mountain is the perfect place to keep seeds safe for future generations. With echoes of ‘One Small Island’ and ‘Where The Forest Meets The Sea’, ‘The Garden at the End of the World’ is a 466-word environmental picture book for 4-7 year olds, inspired by the real life ‘doomsday vault’ in Spitsbergen.

The Garden at the End of the World was published by UQP in April 2023.

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