Last 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 for unagented and unpublished children’s writers, seems to have more buzz about it every year.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?
Well, 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
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!
Jane 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!