Undiscovered Voices is SCBWI British Isles' genius scheme to get twelve of its members' work under the noses of the biggest and best in children's publishing. With the 2012 competition kicking off in just a couple of weeks, Nick Cross – one of last year's winners – reports on the difference a year makes:
Twelve months after the launch of the Undiscovered Voices 2010 anthology, we winners are, quite frankly, old news. But that didn't stop us meeting up last weekend to practice those stories to tell our grandkids.
It was the first time that we'd all been together since the launch party, and the circumstances couldn't have been more different – a long lunch by the Thames and a chance to catch up.
|From left and round the table: Anne Anderson, Nick Cross, Emily George, Claire O'Brien, Graham, Lisa Joy Smith, Abbie Todd, Jane McLoughlin|
So, some awkwardness might have been expected when we all got together, especially after so long apart. But thanks to social networking and a shared sense of struggle, it felt like a meeting of old friends.
It was just a shame that geography conspired to keep Lauren Sabel and Yona Wiseman from joining us.
Of the twelve winners, six have so far signed with an agent and four have a book contracted for publication. That's a pretty good hit rate in a tough market and a figure I expect to be higher by the time the 2012 anthology is published.
Dave Cousins showed off some snazzy logo designs for gritty teen writing collective The Edge, which Paula is also a member of. Dave's YA novel Fifteen Days without a Head is due to be published by OUP early in 2012.
Claire O'Brien has two books coming out from Orchard within months of each other next year.
Jane McLoughlin has had a tough route to publication, but I'm very pleased to say that At Yellow Lake has found a home at Frances Lincoln. Jane is going to be a natural at school visits - her personality is so big we had to find it another chair!
Paula's even got this cool book trailer for her forthcoming book!
I received some gentle ribbing for the over-excited blogging I did in the early days after our win, depicting the race between us to get published. I think we've all learnt a huge amount in the last year – one thing I've definitely learnt is that writing and getting published is a marathon, not a sprint.
It was such a pleasure to chat with the writers who I hadn't had much contact with at the launch, like Anne Anderson, Jude Ensnaff and Emily George.
We compared scars and told war stories, such as the agent who looked dead bored when I pitched to her and who later told one of us that her book "wasn't as funny as I expected."
Abbie Todd talked about her agent's steely determination to get her a book deal, which bodes well for her future prospects. Despite the caprices of the publishing industry, there was a lot of optimism in the room – there have been inevitable disappointments, but we've all collected a lot of goodwill and good contacts.
|Sara Grant and Sara O'Connor|
This is despite Sara O'Connor leaving Working Partners to become a big shot at Hodder Children's books and Sara Grant celebrating the imminent publication of her own debut novel Dark Parties.
Undiscovered Voices transformed the lives of twelve debut authors in 2008 and again in 2010. Next time, it may well be you.
After appearing in Undiscovered Voices, Nick Cross signed with agent Jenny Savill of Andrew Nurnberg Associates. He blogs about writing every Friday at whoatemybrain.com. Nick is currently writing a brand new 9-12 adventure novel that he promises will "knock your mind and blow your socks off."
|Nick Cross won his place in Undiscovered Voices with his novel Back from the Dead. Nick also writes a blog called Who Ate My Brain.|