Guest blog: Why Should I Enter Undiscovered Voices? (Claire Fayers)

Claire Fayers

As the competition deadline draws near, how are you feeling about your work? Full of confidence and eager to launch your writing career?

Or are you less certain, worried that you won’t be ready in time, that your writing isn’t good enough?

I fell firmly into that category in 2014 when I spotted the announcement for Undiscovered Voices and, on a whim, sent in my puns-and-pirates fantasy.  

My sixth book will be out later this year.

If you’re feeling unsure, this article is for you.

What’s the worst that can happen?

You send in your extract and it doesn’t come anywhere. You feel disappointed and discouraged. Agents across the world add you to their ‘bad writer’ list, and you might as well give up writing because nobody will consider anything from you ever again.

You already know the last part isn’t true, right? Which means, the worst that can happen is you suffer disappointment. You can survive that. If disappointment was fatal, there’d be dead authors lying about all over the place. At least now you can say that you’ve tried. You’ve put together a submission package and sent it off. If you did it once, you can do it again. You’re one step closer to your goal.

But what’s the worst thing that can happen if you don’t enter? I know that if I hadn’t made that decision to enter in 2014, I wouldn’t be writing now. The Accidental Pirates, Mirror Magic, Storm Hound, my Welsh Fairy Tales, none of them would exist.

I’m glad I entered.

Claire Fayers books
Claire Fayer’s books

What’s the best that can happen?

You’re chosen as a finalist. You get multiple offers of representation. You sign with your dream agent. Your book sells at auction in a three book deal with a six figure advance meaning you can give up work and write full-time.

This has literally happened. More than once.

Even better, all the way through the bewildering, exciting, terrifying process, you have the support of your fellow finalists and the UV organisers who are there to help you take your first steps as a published author.

That’s what makes Undiscovered Voices stand out from other competitions: the friendship and support you’ll discover as a finalist.

Maybe it won’t happen this time for you, but it could. The only way you’ll find out is if you enter.

SCBWI membership is expensive. Is it really worth it?

There are other articles about the benefits of SCBWI membership, so I’ll leave you to read those, but I would say an enthusiastic yes.

As authors we are generally very bad at investing in ourselves, and this investment goes a long way. There are also some schemes to pay for membership if you can’t afford it, so take a look at those if you need it.

I entered before and didn’t get anywhere so there’s no point.

As they like to say in the financial industries, past performance is not evidence of future results. This time, you’ll have a brand new novel, which is even better than your last one because you’re a better writer now. Each competition is a brand new chance, with new judges. This year the whole committee has changed, along with some of the competition rules.

There’s never been a better time to try again.

I’m not sure I’ll be ready in time.

My SCBWI crit group talks a lot about making time to write, because we all struggle with it. Some of us like to block out regular writing time every day, others snatch ten minutes here and there where they can, and those people are often surprised when they come to the end of the week and realise they’ve written a whole chapter.

One thing that always helps is a deadline. Such as the 20th July, which is the Undiscovered Voices deadline.

Why not invest in your writing this year? Make a commitment to yourself to finish your draft, polish up your opening and pitches and take the plunge. You never know what may happen.