Getting Ready for UV2020 – Guest Blog with Sarah Merrett

In our first guest blog by past finalists, Sarah Merrett (UV2018), whose extract was called The Darlington Miracles, talks about how being short-listed opened doors for her and shares tips to get your extract in shape before you’re ready to submit. 

 

 

Preparing your UV submission: things to ask yourself

So, you’re thinking of entering Undiscovered Voices 2020. Should you go for it? Most definitely. It was the best decision I ever made for my writing career. Becoming a winning finalist in 2018 was the stuff of dreams. It really opened doors for me. I had agents asking to see my book without even sending out a query. Lots of agents. I was lucky enough to be offered representation from my dream agency before the UV launch party had even started. I still pinch myself sometimes.

I hope that’s tempted you into giving this a go. After all, you have nothing to lose. So what now? How do you prepare your submission to make it the best it can possibly be? Here are a few questions you might like to ask yourself:

Your first line

  • Is your first line attention grabbing enough? Does it entice your reader by posing a question such as why, what or how?
  • Analyse the opening lines of some successful children’s books. Why are they strong? How do they lure you in?

Your opening scene

  • Could your opening scene be improved by adding more drama, excitement or mystery?
  • Have you shown the unique and interesting aspect of your main character?
  • What’s at stake for the main character if they don’t achieve their goal?
  • Have you portrayed strong emotions?

Your first chapter

  • By the end of chapter one, what has happened to lure your reader into the next chapter?
  • Have you ended with a strong enough hook or cliffhanger?

Your extract

  • Have enough story events happened in your extract?
  • Are things moving along quickly enough?
  • Where have you ended your extract? Is this stopping point the best place in order to leave your reader wanting more?

Your pitch

  • What makes your story different to others in the same genre?
  • You don’t need to summarise the entire plot of your book. Give a sense of the story and its genre, what’s special about it, and give an intriguing hook

And finally

  • Edit, edit, and edit again
  • Put your story away for as long as you can bear, then read it with fresh eyes. Weak areas should become much clearer after a break
  • Proofread, and if possible, get someone else to proofread too
  • Submit and give yourself a well-earned treat
  • Try not to stew over the outcome. Why not start your next story? It’s a great way to set aside your emotions for your competition entry

Very best of luck!

Sarah Merrett

Online Event to Kick off the 7th Undiscovered Voices Anthology

Once again SCBWI British Isles plans to help fresh, new voices in children’s literature find agents and publishers through its Undiscovered Voices project. Authors and illustrators from the six previous anthologies have received publishing contracts for nearly 250 books and have been nominated for or won more than 150 of literary prizes: including the Carnegie Medal, Waterstone’s Children’s Book Prize, Branford Boase Award, Blue Peter Award, the SCBWI Crystal Kite Award, and more than 30 regional awards. Click here to discover more about our previous finalists.

The Undiscovered Voices team will launch Undiscovered Voices 2020 with a free, online event on Facebook:

  • Thursday 9 May 2019
  • 7 – 8 p.m.
  • On the SCBWI TV British Isles Facebook Page

The event will consist of a panel discussion with the judges, who will offer valuable advice for those planning to submit to the anthology. To attend, you must be a member of SCBWI in the UK or EU and sign up for the event on the British SCBWI website: Sign up here!

 

We are thrilled to announce this year’s stellar judging panel:

  • Helen Boyle, Literary and Illustration Agent at Pickled Ink
  • Aimée Felone, Co-founder of Knights Of
  • Annalie Grainger, Senior Commissioning Editor at Walker Books
  • Stephanie King, Commissioning Fiction Editor at Usborne Publishing
  • Polly Nolan, Literary Agent at Greenhouse Literary Agency
  • Alice Sutherland-Hawes, Children’s Agent at Madeleine Milburn Literary Agency
  • Clare Wallace, Literary Agent at Darley Anderson Children’s Book Agency
  • Discover more about our judging panel here.

The Undiscovered Voices anthology will include at least twelve fiction extracts – from early readers up through young adult novels – from SCBWI members in the UK and EU. The anthology will be published in February 2020 and sent free of charge to editors and agents whose focus is children’s literature. The book is produced with the financial support of Working Partners Ltd, a London-based company that creates series fiction.

This Undiscovered Voices anthology will not include illustrations this time. The SCBWI illustrator team is working on creating a programme specifically designed to support SCBWI illustrators.

Submissions will be accepted between 1stJune to 15thJuly 2019 via an online submissions process. There is no submissions’ fee, but only unagented and unpublished members of SCBWI living in the UK and Europe (writing in the English language) are eligible.