London Professional Series - Undiscovered Voices 2014 Evening

After the Undiscovered Voices official launch the previous Thursday, it was great to have a panel of UV winners (and a now published Honorary Mention) to speak to the London Professional Series meeting last Tuesday.

It gave us all who were there a big insight to what goes on behind the scenes and some good advice too.

The panel was authors Katie Dale, Dave Cousins and Helen Peters; illustrators Rachel Quarry and Shana Nieberg-Suschitzky and author and all-round UV person, Sara Grant.

Everyone present was impressed by their honest and helpful comments.

There were some similarities in each panellists’ background, whether an illustrator or an author. It was a long process before success. Many had worked on different projects over time, some of which will never see the light of day. Rejection was often a way of life, and they had all been busy in another life far away from writing or illustrating.

Had being a winner really changed their lives?

Shana, Katie and Dave
‘Oh, yes,’ said Dave Cousins. ‘As a winner, I soon realised that publishers and agents were now pitching to me! And now, as a fulltime writer my life is totally different.’

There were some scary moments on the way, such as a portfolio review meetings with interested agents and publishers; and having to pitch your ideas to industry professionals. But it was all part of the progress.

‘Being a UV winner helped me,’ revealed Rachel. ‘I was taken far more seriously when showing my portfolio that before the competition.’

We learned that for illustrators, things are a little different. Instead of a finished project or book to show, illustrators are looking to build a portfolio of work. And they need a professional attitude to achieve that.

Rachel and Helen

As an Honorary Mention, Helen Peters found the judges’ comments very helpful. ‘Of course, I wasn’t invited to the launch – but the personal feedback was so useful. It also helped with the submission process. I could refer to the UV competition and the comments made by the judges.’

The evening finished with questions to the panellists and some specific ones related to the 2014 Undiscovered Voices competition.

So, here are some tips that Sara gave on the night:-

Think about trying something different to your usual style of writing.

Be prepared to take a risk.

Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Undiscovered Voices is about finding new talent, we’re looking for promise, a story or a voice.

And remember that UV is only one opportunity. If you’re not selected, don’t give up. Try another avenue.

But keep on trying!

The next London Professional Series Meeting is on Tuesday 4 June 2013, 6.45 – 9pm: ‘Apps and Children’s Books – Friends, Foes or Opportunities?’


  1. David, thank you so much for this report of what must have an illuminating evening!

    1. Thanks Jan.
      It was good to chat to the published authors and illustrators and get some specific advice for this year's competition.
      They were very open and honest for us.
      I've been sharpening me pencils ever since!


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