Writer Criteria

The anthology will present a selection of novel extracts from 5+ through to Young Adult and be sent to editors and agents in the UK.

The anthology is produced thanks to the kind support of Working Partners Ltd. Please read the following criteria, rules and information to check you are eligible and to help you prepare your extract.

Submission Eligibility

  • You must be a member in good standing of SCBWI and reside in the UK or one of the current countries of the EU or the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries as listed here and here.
  • Only unagented writers may submit work for consideration. Writers must remain unagented until the anthology is officially released at the launch party in February 2024.
  • You must be an unpublished author. This means you have not had a book (including a picture book, novel, non-fiction book or collection of short stories) accepted for publication or currently published in any country. By ‘published’ we mean the author is credited on the front cover or title page of a book produced by a traditional publisher in any country. Authors who have only been published in newspapers, magazines, anthologies or non-print medium (i.e. radio, web, etc.) are eligible to submit.
  • Similarly, authors who have ghost-written for book packagers or have self-published may submit work (but not an extract from any self-published work).
  • Any submissions that do not follow the following guidelines or include the appropriate information will be disqualified.

Submission Rules

  • Your submission must be the opening of an already completed novel for children, aimed at any age from 5 years through to Young Adult.
  • You may submit up to 2,500 words – choosing a suitable place to stop your extract. We advise not ending mid-sentence.
  • No picture book texts will be considered.
  • Your submission must be written in English.
  • Only one submission per member.
  • You must fill in every required field in the online form.
  • You must submit a synopsis of your novel, which should be a maximum of 250 words, in the synopsis field of the online submission form.
  • You must submit an elevator pitch of your novel, which should be a maximum of 35 words, in the elevator section of the online submission form.
  • You must include a biography, maximum of 75 words, written in the third person. Should you be selected, this is how it will appear in the anthology.
  • The name on the file you submit must be the title of your novel. If your novel title is too long, please use a shortened version of the title. Please do not put your name on the file.
  • Ensure that the name of your novel appears at the top of the first page of your submission.
  • The author’s name must not appear anywhere on the extract, synopsis or elevator pitch– this includes the file name.
  • The document should be written in 12 point, with a page number on every page. Submissions should not include or require any graphic art or special fonts.
  • The document that is uploaded must be a .doc or .docx file and must not be protected.
  • You may not resubmit any extract from a novel you submitted for consideration in previous Undiscovered Voices anthologies – even if it has been significantly revised.
  • Authors and illustrators included in previous anthologies may not submit an entry for the current anthology. Honorary mentions from previous anthologies may submit, as long as it is from a different novel.
  • You may not submit an extract which has been previously represented or submitted to publishers by an agent, even if you not currently agented or represented.
  • Submissions must be entirely the original work of the author and must never have been published, self-published or published on any website.

Submission Information

  • The contest opens for entries on 15th June 2023. The deadline is midnight on 20th July 2023.
  • When submissions open, a link to an online form will appear on this website.
  • Submissions are only accepted by this means. They will not be accepted by email or by post.
  • By submitting your entry, you agree to give SCBWI-BI permission to publish and promote (both online and offline) the extract in the 2024 anthology together with your name, as it appears on the SCBWI roster, and email address. Please note in the specified field if you would prefer to use a pen name in the anthology.
  • A panel of children’s book editors and agents will make the final selection for the anthology, and the long-list will be announced in December 2023 and the selected entries will be revealed in January 2024.
  • The ebook will be produced in early 2024 and copies of the anthology will be distributed free of charge to a comprehensive list of UK children’s book editors and agents, as well as a select list of US agents and editors.
  • The authors of the selected works will receive one copy of the anthology (in ebook format). In addition, they will receive judges’ written comment sheets on their work.
  • Depending on any current government guidelines, the selected authors will be invited to attend a ‘getting discovered’ workshop in January 2024 and the book launch party in February 2024 to meet in person with the judges and other agents and editors who attend. We reserve the right to make alternative arrangements if it is not possible at the time of launch.
  • To become a member of SCBWI, visit https://www.scbwi.org/join-scbwi/. For membership queries, please email membership@scbwi.org. You can find out more information at www.scbwi.org or www.britishscbwi.org.
  • Copyright remains with the author.
  • The judges’ decision is final.
  • No corrections or alterations can be made to submissions after receipt. The selected pieces will be proofread prior to publication.
  • Entry implies acceptance of the rules and eligibility criteria, as listed above.
  • A list of selected authors and honorary mentions will be posted in the ‘Latest News’ section of this website once the judging is final and the results are compiled.
  • You can contact us with any queries about the anthology, the submissions process, rules or eligibility at: uv (at) britishscbwi.org


The Undiscovered Voices team is happy to answer any question related to the competition, however, you may find that your query has already been answered in our FAQs below. If not, please get in touch via the Contact Us page.

What do you mean by traditionally published?

If you have a contract and have been compensated by a publisher listed on SCBWI Published and Listed (PAL) list – found here: www.scbwi.org/list-of-pal-publishers then you are traditionally published. If your book is available through publishers who have charged you money to publish your book or organizations like Amazon which help you offer your book for sale then you are self-published, which is NOT considered traditionally published.

What if I’ve posted my manuscript on Wattpad or another similar website or app, am I still eligible? 

We consider you self-published if you have produced printed or electronic copies of your book and made them available to the public for free or for a price. You are still eligible to submit work to Undiscovered Voices, but you may NOT submit a piece of writing that has been self-published anywhere.

What if I’ve published non-fiction? Am I still eligible?

If your name appears on the spine of a traditionally published book, then you are ineligible. If you’ve had material included in a non-fiction book — so you are not the only author — or if you’ve been published in magazines or newspapers, you are still eligible.

What if I’ve been published by the education market with stories, scripts, etc. that have only been available to teachers and librarians?

If you have been compensated and your name appears on the cover/spine of a book published by a traditional publisher – whether it’s fiction, educational or non-fiction – then you are ineligible.

What if I’m an illustrator with an agent, can I still submit a novel extract to Undiscovered Voices?

If you have an agent for your illustration work then you are ineligible to enter Undiscovered Voices. The aim of the anthology is to give undiscovered talent a foot in the publishing door. If you have an agent then you have opportunities in the publishing industry.

What if I’ve submitted my manuscript to agents and editors already?

You may still submit an extract from a novel that has been on submission to editors and agents but is not under contract. If during the judging process and before the final shortlist announcement an agent wants to represent you or if an editor wants to purchase your work then you will need to contact us at uv@britishscbwi.org and withdrawal your submission to the anthology. Please do not submit an extract from a novel that has already been rejected by the editors and agents on the judging panel. Editors and agents remember submissions that they have rejected and will most likely not recommend your piece for the anthology.

The rules say that I may not resubmit any extract from a novel that I submitted for consideration in previous Undiscovered Voices anthologies. But what if I have revised my novel? Can I re-submit it then?

We have updated our criteria to exclude any work previously submitted to the anthology. 

Do I really need to have a completed novel?

When the anthology launches, editors and agents want to be able to sign up writers they like quickly. It is very rare for an editor or agent to do so on an extract. They will want to see what the whole book is like before agreeing to take you on. If your novel is not completed, then it will make it difficult for you to benefit from being a finalist. There is nothing more stressful than having an interested agent but nothing to send to them.

Is it okay if I send in an extract from a second or third book in a series?

As most readers would want to start at the beginning of the series, so would our judges. Nothing shows a writer’s promise more clearly than how they engage readers from that first page of the novel. We’d recommend holding off writing sequels until you have interest in the first book of a series.

Why aren’t illustrators included in Undiscovered Voices anymore?

The SCBWI illustrator team is developing a new, separate project tailored to the specific needs of illustrators. We have been thrilled by the success of the 32 illustrators featured in four of the anthologies, but the anthology hasn’t proven to be the best vehicle to showcase illustration talent. As a result, the SCBWI illustrator team is working on creating a programme that we hope will produce even better results for SCBWI illustrators. We look forward to hearing more about what they have planned.

Tips For Writers

The following tips were generated by reviewing previous submissions to Undiscovered Voices. Overall, the judges are looking for an original story with a fresh voice.

  • Submit work from a novel that is completed. Authors in the recent anthology were approached by interested agents and editors immediately after the anthology was launched. You should be prepared to send out the completed novel to editors and/or agents who request it.
  • Submit the first chapters (and prologue if applicable) of your completed novel. Chapters other than from the beginning ask the judges to fill in too many questions. If the first chapters aren’t the most compelling, you may want to consider revising the start to your novel.
  • Read your opening lines. Do they immediately grab the reader’s attention with a strong voice, intriguing mystery and/or a hint of the journey to come? Judges will read hundreds of pages, if you can hook them from the opening lines, you have a better chance of holding their attention and making your work memorable.
  • The anthology endeavours to showcase a variety of genres for a range of ages. We receive few extracts from novels for young readers. We would like to highlight more original fiction for ages five to nine. 
  • Don’t preach. It’s fine to have a theme or message but it should be subtly embedded in your story. Your story should be entertaining first and foremost.
  • Make a young person the focal point of your story. They should be active, make choices that affect the story and solve the problem.
  • Make the topic of your story appropriate for your target age range.
  • Your synopsis should be short and provide a hook. Don’t state themes. For example: ‘the story will consider the effects of global warming and demonstrate what readers can do to help’. Or ‘the story looks at the serious issue of bullying’. Statements like these may make the reader think that the theme will be too heavily handled in your story.
  • Think about your ‘one-liner’. If you can sum up your story in a line that is both succinct and interesting, this will help you market your story to editors, agents and ultimately readers. If you find it difficult to summarize your story, it may be a sign that the focus of your story is unclear.
  • Don’t follow the current market. Don’t write the next Harry Potter, Twilight or Hunger Games. Be original. What’s the next trend? Take risks. 
  • Do your research. Know what’s out there. We received some fantastic fiction for the previous anthologies that was not selected because there were already books or movies that were too similar.
  • Don’t submit a novel that you’ve already submitted to the judges. Editors and agents remember submissions – even ones they reject.
  • Spell check and proofread your work one last time before you send it in. Ask someone you trust to read it and check for errors and inconsistencies, as you will often be too close to the words to spot problems and typos.