Saturday 9 April 2011

Undiscovered Voices: the Launch!

Undiscovered Voices 2012 is open for submissions! And it isn't just any writing competition. Thirteen of the twenty-four children's writers featured in the first two anthologies of winning fiction novels have since either published or are under contract. So join the SCBWI British Isles as quick as you can, and enter! The launch was Tuesday 5th April, and I was there.
We lurked at the bar, then staked out our seats. Waiting, and watching all arrivals: who would the judges be this year? When UV co-editor Sara O'Connor arrived, I was in awe at the number of computers she had secreted about her person to livestream the event for those who could not be there. In addition to being a computer whiz, a UV co-editor and senior editorial manager at Hodder Children's Books, she also introduced the judges and MC'd the evening.

And just who are the judges for 2012?

Apologies for the quality of my photographs! My photographer forgot her camera, so these were taken on my iPod. Left to right, we have:

Literary scout, Dagmar Gleditzsch; Catherine Pellegrino of literary agency Rogers, Coleridge and White, and Sara O'Connor running the show

Julia Churchill of the Greenhouse Literary Agency, and Amber Caraveo, editorial director at Orion Children's Books

Rachel Boden, commissioning editor at Egmont, and Jenny Savill, literary agent at Andrew Nurnberg Associates

Jasmine Richards, senior commissioning editor at Oxford University Press; Joanne Cocadiz, Foyles Children's Books buyer and seller; and reappearances by Dagmar and Catherine.

One big announcement of the evening is that the honorary chair will be none other than Malorie Blackman!

Sara O'Connor asked the judges questions, and we sat on the edges of our seats. Then questions were taken from both audiences - bums on seats, and livestream attendees, who may have been sitting, dancing, or in the bath. Details of the evening have been ably blogged throughout the known universe - I'll include some links at the end.

So I'll just touch on the things that really stuck in my brain.

  • they'd really like entries across all age ranges - not just Y.A.
  • Enid Blyton and titles with 'Tom' in had the most hits on the judges favourite books lists.
  • I'm dying to read The Magnificent Moon Hare, by Sue Monroe (out in Spring 2012): Rachel Boden's favourite recent acquisition. And it isn't just because there is a bunny in it, and it is despite the fact that it is aimed much younger than my usual YA focus. In fact, I'm dying to have Rachel be my editor one day, even it means an age range switch: she described it with such animation and delight.
  • books recommended to aspiring writers: Catherine Pellegrino picked one of my favourites, Meg Rosoff's How I Live Now; Jenny Savill, Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book; and Julia Churchill, instead of picking one title, said to read broadly - great advice!
  • Rachel Boden is looking for solid adventure with humour for girls and boys aged 8 to 10, and survival stories; she is not looking for straight historical fiction or high fantasy (Tolkien copies).
  • Dagmar Gleditzsch also wants adventure stories aged 8 to 10; also funny stories, but not too funny: humour must be able to translate to different languages.
  • Amber Caraveo has a gap for middle grade adventure series, and is also actively looking for YA for new imprint, Indigo.
  • beginnings are VERY important! - first paragraph, first page, first chapter.
  • Jenny Savill says common author pitfalls are too many words, not enough words, or not the right words.
  • Julia Churchill did FORTY rejections before coming along to the UV launch. She did look rather cheerful!
  • in your 4000 word entry, end in a logical place even if that makes it less than 4000 - end of a chapter, or ideal is on a hook or gasp moment.
  • Sara O'Connor will count the words in your biography (max 50 words) and synopsis (75 words): don't be tempted to try to squeeze more in, or you will be disqualified.
  • I can't get over that 'never sit in the front row' thing. Candy made me do it; I tried it; I'm sorry. It just feels inherently wrong.
To enter the 2012 UV competition, you must be a member of SCBWI British Isles; you must be unagented and unpublished; you must follow all the rules, and send in your submission by 1st June. The judges are all volunteers; co-editors of UV are Sara O'Connor, Sara Grant, Karen Ball and Elizabath Galloway. It has the financial support of Working Partners.

Links to blogs on Undiscovered Voices: let me know any I've missed and I'll add them in!

Follow UV on Facebook!
And Twitter, too.


  1. omg - I want to enter! Boo hoo! Whata fab line up - thanks so much for the blog from the front row, Teri!

  2. Well, it was extreme blogging dedication to sit in the front row, wasn't it? Especially since I'm not eligible to enter, either!

  3. How wonderful not to be eligible in the best way possible! This is where it begins, Teri. Thanks for the great write up and congratulations on signing with an agent!

  4. Great blog Teri. I'll pass on the link to the North East group. I've already had some non-scoobie members deciding to join because of the competition. Thanks for reporting back.

  5. Yes - those of us not eligible to enter must stop being jealous and just enjoy the ride of others! x

  6. I sometimes sit in the front row, but I have to say the second row is my favourite. Then again, all of the people behind who can only see the back of my head probably aren't so thrilled!

    I have to say, I looked around the room at the launch and a lot of the people I knew weren't eligible to enter! On the other hand, that probably means the winners will be a nice surprise.


  7. It was a great evening and the easiest one I've have to arrange - it was all done for me!

    Great blog, Teri and GOOD LUCK to all who enter!


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