In our fourth guest blog by a past finalist, Katrina Charman, who was featured in the UV2014 anthology, talks about her UV experience.
Take a Chance
When I sat down to write this blog post I had part of an Abba song repeating in my head – Take a chance, take a chance, take a ch, ch, chance chance. I don’t even like Abba that much, but the point is that when I entered Undiscovered Voices 2014, I honestly didn’t think I had much of a chance. But if you don’t try you don’t get, right?
So I polished up my submission as best I could and sent it off and then went on to my next WIP to stop me from agonising about all of the mistakes I might have made or thoughts of should I have edited more, or changed the opening . . . and on and on.
Then I got THE CALL from the lovely Sara Grant, saying that I was one of the finalists and I honestly couldn’t believe it. Things moved very swiftly from the UV14 launch party to being offered representation from multiple agents and then signing with my fabulous agent Gemma Cooper at The Bent Agency.
But it was not all smooth sailing from there. My entry into the competition, a YA, went out on submission and it didn’t sell. I could have let it get to me (and believe me it hurt) but after a few weeks of feeling sorry for myself, I worked on something else.
Inspired by a workshop run at my agent’s writing retreat, and by my fellow Team Cooper writers, I wrote something completely new and different to my usual YA.
A picture book.
It sold at auction to Bloomsbury and is going to be illustrated by the inimitable Nick Sherratt. This spurred me on to try genres that I had never written in before and to write for different age groups, so I wrote another book – an early reader, and it sold. So I wrote something different, and when it didn’t sell, I wrote something else. Since Undiscovered Voices 2014, I have contracts for 15 books and counting. I am now able to write full time because of the opportunities that the SCBWI and Undiscovered Voices created.
If there is one piece of advice that I can give any aspiring writer or illustrator thinking of entering Undiscovered Voices (and you absolutely should!), it is to keep going. Don’t give up.
I’ve heard a lot of people say that writing is less about talent and more about luck and perseverance. If there is one piece of advice that I can give any aspiring writer or illustrator thinking of entering Undiscovered Voices (and you absolutely should!), it is to keep going. You will get rejections, over and over again. But don’t give up. Try something new – a different genre, age group, a poem. You never know what is going to get you there. Take every opportunity that comes your way, even if you think you have no chance.
You never know where it might lead you.
Take a chance*.
(*Apologies for the earworm!)
Katrina Charman is the author of eleven published books including The Ninjabread Man (Franklin Watts). Poppy’s Place series (Stripes), The Firehawk series (Scholastic) and two picture books to be announced. She lives in the middle of nowhere with her husband and three daughters. In 2013 she was a recipient of the SCBWI BI Margaret Carey scholarship and is lucky enough to be represented by super agent Gemma Cooper at The Bent Agency.
Submissions for UV2018 will open on 1st July 2017 and will close 15th August 2017. Why not sign up here for a reminder when submissions open?