Wednesday 23 March 2011

The Class of 2010: Undiscovered Voices One Year On

By Nick Cross
Guest Blogger

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:
Winners on the night of the Undiscovered Voices reception: Left to right foreground: Yona Wiseman, Lisa Joy Smith, David Cousins, Anne Anderson, Paula Rawsthorne; back row: Nick Cross, Melvin Burgess (who delivered the keynote), Jane McLoughlin, Lauren Sabel, Abbie Todd, Claire O'Brien, Emily George 

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
The only problem with the anthology launch party was that the authors were physically not allowed to talk to each other - as soon as we attempted it, someone from Working Partners would usher us off to network with another agent or editor.

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.

From left to right: Anne Anderson, Emily George, Paula Rawsthorne, Dave Cousins, Claire O'Brien, Graham (Lisa's partner), Lisa Smith, Abbie Todd, Jane McLoughln

Paula Rawsthorne will be the first to come to market this year with The Truth About Celia Frost. Paula showed us her hot-off-the-press cover design for the teen novel and I heard from a bookseller the next day that Usborne have already sent out bound proofs of the book. What was I saying about us being old news? IT WAS A LIE!

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
We're incredibly thankful for the hard work put in by Sara Grant and Sara O'Connor, who will again edit this year's anthology.

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 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


  1. Sara and Sara should have an awards ceremony all to themselves! They've done such an amazing job with Undiscovered Voices. Well done all of you successful people. What a fantastic result.

  2. so great to read about the journey and how everyone has travelled and is travelling the road to publication. Well done to everyone, again - and a rousing cheer for the Saras who always do such a great job!

  3. Great post, Nick. I'm looking forward to the next reunion already, when I'm sure we'll have even more to celebrate. Brilliant to see covers and videos starting to emerge. Eighteen months ago, none of us would have dreamed this would be happening. So I'm joining Nicky in her rousing cheer for SCBWI, the Saras and Undiscovered Voices. Marvellous!

  4. Excellent post, Nick. It's been an impressive 18 months and it looks like the class of 2010 is shaping up to be as good as the 2008 class. I guess the question now is - who's going to be the first one of you to do the US tour as per Sarwat!

  5. Reading this makes me realise how much there is about the SCBWI that I don't know. fascinating, and congratulations to all of you!

  6. What I really want to know, though, is: whose brain is in that jar?!

  7. Great to hear how it's all progressed since last year. Exciting times and experiences! :D

  8. Teri, it can't be my brain, because someone's eaten it!

  9. So lovely to hear about the succeses. This is such a brilliant scheme. Here's to the next bunch!

  10. Now am even more jealous I wasn't eligible to enter - you get lunch!

  11. @Nick I wouldn't use the word 'eaten' more like 'nibbled'

  12. Thanks for the inspiration Nick! Good things do happen to good people ;)

  13. This is really so encouraging for everyone.

  14. great stuff, Nick - I soooo wanted to be one of the UV gang!

  15. UV is a fantastic project, which really seems to have achieved what it set out to do. Many congratulations to everyone who has been involved, and here's hoping 2012 is even more successful!

  16. Lovely post Nick and so good to hear what everyone is doing. Trying round tables next time you all meet up!!


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