A panel of industry experts will choose 12 winning novel extracts (from age 5+ to Young Adult) which will be put into an anthology and sent out to editors and agents across the UK. All the submission guidelines can be found here, and you can even download a free copy of the 2012 anthology here. This is too good an opportunity to miss!
It is no exaggeration to say that Undiscovered Voices launched my writing career, and it has brought success and recognition to many other talented writers. In fact, from the first three anthologies, a mind-blowing
22 of the 36 winners
now have publishing contracts
for over 70 books!and have won or been nominated for a galaxy of awards, from the Waterstone's Children's Book Prize to the Blue Peter Awards! Read more here.
In fact 5 out of the 8 EDGE members are Undiscovered Voices winners, including
Sara Grant (DARK PARTIES, HALF LIVES, and the MAGIC TRIX series)
Dave Cousins (FIFTEEN DAYS WITHOUT A HEAD, WAITING FOR GONZO)
Bryony Pearce (ANGEL'S FURY, THE WEIGHT OF SOULS),
Paula Rawsthorne (THE TRUTH ABOUT CELIA FROST, BLOOD TRACKS)
So, are you ready? Are you? Before you press “send”, here are my Top 10 Tips, I learned from my own UV journey…
#1 DO ENTER UV – OR ANY WRITING COMPETITIONS. They offer incredible opportunities, force you to work to a deadline, and give you invaluable feedback from publishing experts.
#2 DO GO TRAVELLING – anything which broadens your experience enriches your writing.
#3 DO NOT DO BOTH AT THE SAME TIME!
I’ve always loved creating characters, whether through writing or acting, so imagine my euphoria when I received an email telling me that I had been chosen as a winner of the SCBWI 2008 Undiscovered Voices competition! How utterly amazing! The only problem? I was in Vietnam, having just started on a belated GAP Year trip. Oh, and I hadn’t finished the book…
#4 FINISH THE BOOK!
There followed a flurry of interest in my book (then entitled Someone Else’s Footprints) – but I’d only written about four chapters of it, as it had been a homework assignment whilst I was at university! Flummoxed, I tried valiantly to complete it whilst on various beaches/boats/elephants but ultimately decided it was best to wait until I got home.
#5: STRIKE WHILE THE IRON’S HOT!
When I finally got home, I got busy writing and eventually finished Someone Else’s Footprints...but no-one wanted it. Even the agents and editors who had contacted me after UV didn't now feel it was quite what they were looking for. It seemed I had missed the boat (figuratively and literally!).
#6: NEVER GIVE UP!
It's funny how life works, isn't it? Never in a straight line! Having finally finished writing my book, I contacted all the judges of UV, hoping they still remembered me, and the lovely Catherine Coe at Orchard Books replied to say how much she enjoyed my entry, but that her imprint didn't really deal with YAge – Drat.
But would I like to come in and meet the Orchard team and discuss other ideas? Would I?! I jumped at the chance, and immediately brainstormed a bunch of new ideas for younger readers…
I felt very nervous and excited arriving at the impressive Hachette headquarters, with all their famous books and authors on display, but Catherine was completely lovely and put me at ease. We discussed ideas for younger teen readers - but it was an idea for a rhyming fairytale series for their Crunchies imprint which really caught her interest (a story idea about Prince Charming that had actually been my homework in Year 6!) and she made me an offer for an eight book series! Hurray! My mum was thrilled and my Dad practically fainted (and finally put away the Tesco job application forms!)
#8 BE FLEXIBLE!
At moreorless the same time, having got my name from Working Partners, the amazing Tony Bradman (wow!) contacted me about an anthology Walker were putting together entitled 'How To Be A Boy'. My initial reaction was "Help! How do I write boy fiction?!" I've always written girl narrators, and was extremely nervous and apprehensive, but it was just too good an opportunity to pass up, so I gave it a go - and it was great fun! I discovered a writing style I'd never attempted before and really enjoyed it and - even better - Walker chose my story DEAR TADPOLE for inclusion in their anthology! - my first professional publication! Writing as a fifteen-year-old boy! Wonders never cease.
#9 IF AT FIRST YOU DON’T SUCCEED…
On the back of these successes, I decided now was the time to approach agents again. It certainly was! After previously being unable to attract/beg/bribe a single offer of representation, I ended up in the incredible position of being able to CHOOSE from FOUR wonderful agents! I was totally overwhelmed - it was a position I had never imagined in my wildest dreams! After meeting with them all, and after many hours of deliberation, I ultimately decided to go with the very lovely Jenny Savill, who came with rave references from Sara Grant, who had just sold her wonderful novel Dark Parties.
#10 WRITING IS REWRITING
There followed a blur of editing and cutting as Jenny tirelessly helped me edit, improve, and CUT (40,000 words!) the manuscript, until finally it was down to 100,000 words! Then we held our breaths as it went out to publishers...another rollercoaster-ride...!! After a lot of hard work, wishing, hoping, deformed fingers from keeping them crossed, and a slow succession of 'lovely' rejections (as lovely as rejections can be!) and near-misses, we ended up with THREE UK offers for Someone Else's Life - and a two-book deal! Hurray! I cannot describe the feeling - after standing on a knife-edge between success and failure - between wannabe and author - the sense of fulfilment and relief is the most amazing feeling in the world.
So, what are you waiting for?
Katie Dale is the author of YA books
SOMEONE ELSE'S LIFE and LITTLE WHITE LIES (Simon & Schuster)
& 5-8 series FAIRY TALE TWISTS (Orchard Books)