Captured by a First Line: Sara Grant on Reading Submissions

Sara Grant

Sara Grant got her agent and ultimately her first book deal through Undiscovered Voices. Now she’s on the other side of the submissions process and part of the team of editors who do the initial read through of all the submissions before the illustrious judging panel get to read them.

As she writes: “I love quiet novels and action-packed thrillers. I adore literary novels as much as high concept stories. No matter the story you want to tell – you still have to hook me, entice me to read more from those first lines. I should be desperate to know what happens next. Each year there are those extracts that linger and sparkle and surprise. Even after eight years, I still remember the opening lines from the first Undiscovered Voices extracts:”

Visit Sara’s BookBound Blog for more of her words of wisdom here.


Sara Grant

Sara Grant worked on twelve different series and edited nearly 100 books when she worked as a senior commissioning editor for Working Partners. She writes edgy teen fiction (Half Lives being her latest) and a funny, magical series for young readers (Magic Trix). Sara is the co-creator and co-editor of Undiscovered Voices. Her YA novel Dark Parties won the SCBWI Crystal Award for Europe.

Guest Blog: Jane McLoughlin – UV’s “Awesomeness”

Jane McLoughlin 2015Last month I was delighted (and proud) to be attending SCBWI’s Undiscovered Voices launch at Foyles Books in London.

This competition (open to SCBWI members only—so join, why don’t you?) for unagented and unpublished children’s writers, seems to have more buzz about it every year. The number of authors who mention SCBWI and the UV editorial team in their acknowledgements is growing and growing, too.

At this year’s launch, the events room at Foyles was standing room only, and those in attendance got a mini-masterclass in how to enter the competition and how to submit to agents and picture editors and publishers in general. The event (free) was almost worth the price of the competition entry (oops, sorry…free again, as long as you are a member of SCBWI!)

So, what did winning UV 2010 do for me?

The Crowham Martyrs by Jane McLoughlinWell, I met my wonderful editors for my first book, At Yellow Lake, which was featured in the 2010 anthology, at the launch party.  And, I met my lovely agent (who has worked tirelessly to find my second novel The Crowham Martyrs a home) through Undiscovered Voices, though (typical for me) after I got the first book deal. I can’t say for certain that these books wouldn’t have been published without Undiscovered Voices, but, being included in the anthology has made a huge difference to me.

What else has winning UV 2010 done?

It’s made me feel part of a pretty cool group of children’s writers and illustrators.  There’s a camaraderie and closeness, and this support network has helped me cope with the ups and downs of trying to get published, and trying to stay published.  I am also proud vicariously, when another “Undiscovered Voice” gets an agent or a publishing deal. It’s wonderful to be able to share in the success of others who have been on a similar path.

Here’s an recent example of the awesomeness of UV winners…

As the UV 2016 launch was winding up, I was chatting to previous winners, Jane Hardstaff, Katie Dale and Sarwat Chadda.  A writer who was planning to enter the competition joined us, and asked a few questions. Jane, Katie and Sarwat were so encouraging and enthusiastic; all were happy to share their experiences and offer support. I know they would have been kind and helpful in any situation (like all SCBWI members, I hasten to add), but there is something about winning Undiscovered Voices that makes a writer doubly happy to support those who are at the beginning of the journey to publication. We are all so grateful to have been given this wonderful start.


  • Join SCBWI, if you aren’t already a member
  • Finish the book, hone your illustrations, give it your all!
  • Enter the competition

And finally…

Remember that even if you don’t win, even if you aren’t on the longlist (a fantastic achievement in itself), membership in SCBWI will be the best thing you can do for yourself as a children’s writer or illustrator.

Undiscovered Voices happens every two years, but SCBWI membership gives rewards every day of the year.

When it comes to SCBWI,  everybody wins!


At Yellow Lake by Jane McLoughlinJane is originally from Minnesota, in the USA, but has lived in the UK for over 25 years. At Yellow Lake was her first novel for young adults. It has been published in the UK, the USA, Australia, New Zealand and will be out soon in Brazil. It has also been nominated for the Carnegie Award 2013 and Branford Boase Award 2013. Her second novel, The Crowham Martyrs, will be published by Catnip Publishing this month!

UV2016 – Blog Round Up.

UV10A superb summary of the launch event by our friends at the SCBWI British Isles webzine Words and Pictures has appeared, with lots of advice from judging panels. Feast on these selected tips at Words and Pictures and you can look for more posts about UV on Words and Pictures on their special Undiscovered Voices feed.

We recently found Sarah Broadley blogging about attending the Undiscovered Voices launch earlier this month. She shared her thoughts on writing and what advice she took away from our panel. Check it out at the Great Big Jar blog.

Coming soon: Watch out for videos from the launch event featuring the best advice from our two judging panels.

UV 2016 Launch Event – Now Sold Out

The Undiscovered Voices 2016 launch at Foyles on Charing Cross Road, on 14th May 2015 at 6:30 p.m, is now SOLD OUT.

The team is hoping to pull together some short video of highlights of the evening which we will post on the website when they are available – sharing any important tips or pearls and wisdom to help any writer or illustrator thinking of submitting to the anthology.

UV 2016 Launch Event – 14th May 2015

The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) British Isles will once again help fresh, new voices in children’s literature find agents and publishers through its Undiscovered Voices project.

The Undiscovered Voices team will launch the project with an event at Foyles on Charing Cross Road on 14th May 2015 at 6:30 p.m. At the event, several of the judges will offer invaluable advice for writers and illustrators who plan to submit to the anthology.

Reserve your free ticket by visiting the Foyles event website at

The following judges will select the extracts and illustrations to be included in the anthology:

Jon Appleton, Hodder Children’s Books
Ali Ardington, Stripes Publishing
Ed Burns, Advocate Art Agency
Barry Cunningham, Chicken House
Sheri Gee, Folio Society
Jodie Hodges, United Agents
Rachel Mann, Simon and Schuster
Polly Nolan, The Greenhouse Literary Agency
Anna Power, Johnson & Alcock
Kate Shaw, The Viney Agency
Will Steele, Random House
Caroline Walsh, David Higham Associates

UV12’s Jane Hardstaff’s Debut – The Executioner’s Daughter!

The Executioner's Daughter
The Executioner’s Daughter by Jane Hardstaff

We’re excited to join in the celebration of the publication of Undiscovered Voices finalist 2012, Jane Hardstaff’s debut novel, The Executioner’s Daughter (which originally featured as an extract in the anthology!). Her fantasy adventure, set during the reign of Henry VIII, takes place in the Tower of London, in the glamorous world of King Henry’s court and along the banks of the river Thames, where orphaned children struggle to survive. Alex O’Connell writing for The Times has called it, “a strong, new voice in children’s fiction – draws a wonderfully authentic portrait of a wilful tween desperate to find out more about her origins and flee the house of death”.


Jane says, “It’s the sort of story I would have loved as an 11 or 12 year old – adventurous, a little bit shivery, with a fantasy undercurrent, I’ve interwoven the lives of my fictional characters with real events and people, so there is, I hope, much authentic historical detail to be absorbed. But mainly it’s an adventure – a story, of friendship and forgiveness in a harsh world where legends come to life and tough choices must be made to survive.”


The Executioner’s Daughter has been published by Egmont in the UK and USA.

Undiscovered Voices 2014: The Finalists!

SCBWI British Isles is proud to announce the promising, unpublished writers and illustrators who have been selected from hundreds of submissions to be included in Undiscovered Voices 2014.

SCBWI congratulates the following twelve authors whose novel extracts will be featured in the anthology:

  • Phoenix by Katrina Charman, Wokingham, Berkshire
  • This Grimm Life by Christian Colussi, London
  • Vickery Barnet Recurring by Sarah Dalkin, London
  • The Voyage of the Onion by Claire Fayers, Cardiff
  • The Wing Giver by Emma Higham, London
  • A Good Hiding by Shirley-Anne McMillan, Maghera Village, Castlewellan
  • Fire Girl by Matt Ralphs, Old Wives Lees, Kent
  • Traitor Girl by Rachel Rivett, Basingstoke, Hampshire
  • Atticus Trump and the Astro Fart by Bronwen Roscoe, Effingham, Surrey
  • Southend Loaded by Susan Sandercock, Canvey Island, Essex
  • The Stone Cutter by Tioka Tokedira, Paris, France
  • Shadow Inclusions by Imogen White, Hove, East Sussex

 The following five illustrators will have an illustration featured in the 2014 anthology. These artists created black and white drawings in response to a series of original scenes created by past Undiscovered Voices writers.

  • James Brown, Nottingham
  • Dave Gray, Coventry
  • Olivia Palmer, London
  • Sarah Palmer, Coventry
  • Julia Walther, Germany

For the first time the Undiscovered Voices anthology will be available to download for free from A printed copy of the anthology also will be available to purchase from Lulu. The anthology will be available from the website by the end of next week.

The submissions were anonymously selected by the following panel of editors, agents and art directors:

  • Gemma Cooper, Literary Agent, The Bent Agency
  • Helen Graham-Cameron, Graham-Cameron Illustration Agency
  • Ben Horslen, Editorial Director, Puffin
  • Sarah Lambert, Editorial Director, Quercus Children’s Books
  • Francis McKay, Francis McKay Illustration Agency
  • Polly Nolan, Literary Agent, The Greenhouse Literary Agency
  • Sara O’Connor, Editorial Director for Print & Digital, Hot Key Books
  • Martin Salisbury, Professor of Illustration; Course Leader, MA Children’s Book Illustration, and Director of The Centre for Children’s Book Studies
  • Samantha Smith, Fiction Publisher, Scholastic
  • Sallyanne Sweeney, Literary Agent, Mulcahy Associates
  • Ngheim Ta, Senior Designer/Digital Content Coordinator, Templar Books

Because the anthology is also designed to be a learning tool for up-and-coming children’s writers and artists, quotes from the judges – discussing the merits of each piece – are included at the end of each illustration and extract.

Working Partners Ltd, a London-based company that creates series fiction for children and teens, provided the financial support that made this anthology possible.

Congratulations to this year’s Undiscovered Voices writers and illustrators!

Keep coming back to see how they get on!

SCBWI British Isles is proud to announce the promising, unpublished writers and illustrators who have been selected from hundreds of submissions to be included in

Final Judge Announced: Agent Polly Nolan

Polly Nolan, Greenhouse Literary Agency
Polly Nolan, Greenhouse Literary Agency

We’re really pleased to announce our final judge for the fiction panel. Polly Nolan is the UK agent for the Greenhouse Literary Agency. She has worked in children’s books for all of her adult life, starting as an assistant in the Children’s Books Department of a major London store before taking her first job at what is now Egmont Press. She has commissioned for the children’s fiction lists at Orion, Oxford University Press, Scholastic (as Editorial Director) and, most recently, at Macmillan Children’s Books (as Associate Publishing Director, Fiction). Authors commissioned and edited by her include Liz Pichon, Roddy Doyle, Frank Cottrell Boyce, Kevin Brooks, Meg Cabot and Andrew Lane.

To see details of our entire judging panel, please follow this link.