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 and young adult 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 those 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 Competition enables writers – emerging, experienced, published, or unpublished – the opportunity to craft their pitch in a concise, emotive and marketable way that aims to engage, and persuade, a publisher that your manuscript will be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.

It’s 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 picture book judge, Stef Gemmill! On that note, let’s meet the judging team…


In 2022, we have a fabulous line-up of judges, all with incredible experience, knowledge and merit in the children’s book industry.

Picture Book Judges:

Stef Gemmill is an award winning author of children’s picture books and middle grade fiction as well as a book reviewer and presenter.

Previously a Montessori teacher, music journalist and technical writer, she swapped the mosh-pit for toys and tantrums and has several published picture books – A Home for Luna (2020 International Rubery Book Awards – Winner children’s category), In My Dreams and Toy Mountain which had a pitch win first prize in the 2018 Pitch It! competition.  

Find Stef at: Stef Gemmill – children’s author

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? (currently 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 the author of award-winning picture books, and has short stories published in anthologies and accepted for The School Magazine She’s a kid’s book enthusiast who reviews books on the radio, and writes about her adventures in KidLitLand on her blog. A social worker who morphed into an author, Debra has an MA in children’s literature and is the secretary of her local CBCA NSW Sub-branch. Debra’s The Scared Book was published after a successful ‘elevator’ pitch to the children’s Publisher at an open day at Hachette.

Find Debra at: Debra Tidball – Home

Junior Fiction / Middle Grade and Young Adult 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 2022, 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.

Melinda Chandler – Communications Manager and Children’s Editor at CSIRO Publishing

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

Mary Anastasiou – Creative Director 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 – Publicist 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 / Middle Grade and Young Adult 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.

Rochelle Stephens – Commissioning Editor at Wombat Books / Rhiza Edge

Rochelle will be assessing the Picture Book and Junior Fiction winning manuscripts. As a publisher and author, Rochelle is seeking quality books to respect, love, share and connect with.

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 / Middle Grade and Young Adult winners a one-on-one, one hour coaching session to level up your pathway to publication.


Please send any questions to jwfkcompetition@gmail.com.


Need some inspiration for your pitch? Please have a look at Stef Gemmill’s winning pitch for her recently-released Toy Mountain from our 2018 Pitch It! Competition:

Toy Mountain is a 440-word picture book for 3-6 year olds. It’s a quirky, action packed story of 5-year old Sam’s chance to become a toy tester for the Tiny Hands Toy factory, reminiscent of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. After Sam signs up for his exciting new task, he quickly accumulates a pile of plastic, clunky toys, discarding his well-loved toys handed down to him from his Grandmother. Toy Mountain has an underlying theme of our world’s ‘war on waste’. In Australia, we generate 6.3 billion tonnes of plastic. Only 9% is recycled and 12% incinerated. The remainder goes into landfill polluting our precious environment. This story encourages the reader to cheer Sam along as he rescues his treasured old toys from being lost under a growing mound of broken plastic. Toy Mountain also draws on gatekeepers’ nostalgia for quality toys that can be cherished forever.

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