Undiscovered Voices 2012
In 2008 I became one of the first winners of the brand new Undiscovered Voices competition.
I had written a Middle Grade novel called Windrunner’s Daughter (sort of Anne Macaffrey meets Margaret Atwood, on hang-gliders) and following a whole bunch of rejections I bought a report from Cornerstones Literary Consultancy.
It was Kathryn at Cornerstones who suggested I enter the competition and I’m very glad I did. There were 12 winners of Undiscovered Voices back in 2008 and the prize was to have the first part of your novel published in a book which would be sent to all agents and publishers in the country. There was also a winner’s party at which you would be able to meet said agents and editors. So not only did entering the competition get my novel in front of the judges (who are a group of real industry movers and shakers – editors and agents) but I was able to actually meet said agents and editors in person and see my work in print for the very first time.
OK, I’ll admit instead of a traditional elevator pitch, I wrote and memorised a POEM which I thought was quite humourous, which told the storyline of my book and which, I hoped, would be both different and memorable. The only person who actually heard said poem, was my husband, who accompanied me to the party. I was too nervous to actually speak to ANY industry experts and basically leaned on my crutch in the corner, gripping a glass of wine as if someone would steal it from me and glaring at my husband who kept elbowing me and saying things like ‘What about the woman in red? She looks nice’.
However, I did meet the other winners, with whom I have formed lasting friendships and professional connections. Sarwat Chadda helped me with an early critique of Angel’s Fury and I am now part of a writers group called The Edge which was set up by Sara Grant and which includes several UV winners.
I got my agent, Sam Copeland at RCW, very shortly after winning the competition and although Windrunner’s Daughter never did get published (I’m rewriting at the moment) my next book is out with Egmont on 4th July and I believe publishers were more open to me having seen my UV win.
I don’t have the statistics to hand, but I believe that all of the UV 2008 winners now have publishing deals. Some of them have more than one (Sarwat Chadda, Sara Grant and Harriet Goodwin come to mind).
So if you are a writer for children / teens, have no agent and are unpublished … if you feel you are struggling to get out of the slushpile, enter Undiscovered Voices 2012. It costs nothing but your membership of SCBWI (an excellent community and worth joining anyway) and there’s a good chance it’ll give you the boost that gets your head above the parapet. If you want to know more, check out the Undiscovered Voices Website or follow on Twitter – @UndiscVoice2012