UNDISCOVERED VOICES 2020 Meet the volunteers

The launch of the seventh Undiscovered Voices project is almost here! 
Time to meet the volunteers who make it possible.
Over the past twelve years, Undiscovered Voices has launched the careers of 40 SCBWI members in the UK and Europe. You've got plenty of time to give your WIP a final polish ready to enter this year's competition for a chance to showcase your writing to agents and publishers.

The Undiscovered Voices team are:

Simon James Green, Sara Grant and Catherine Coe
Sara Grant – author of ten novels for children and teens, lecturer at Goldsmiths University, co-founder of Undiscovered Voices. www.sara-grant.com

Catherine Coe – freelance editor, mentor and author of over 30 books for children. www.catherine-coe.com

Simon James Green – screenwriter and the author of YA novels Noah Can’t Even and Noah Could Never, published by Scholastic. www.simonjamesgreen.com

Benjamin Scott – author of ten books for children, editorial coach, workshop leader and Undiscovered Voices volunteer. www.benjaminscott.net

Jenny Glencross – a freelance editor with over ten years’ experience in the children’s books industry, working with publishers, agents and writers. Mentor and editor for the Golden Egg Academy. Formerly commissioning editor at Orion Children’s Books.

Rosie Best – commissioning editor at Working Partners, author of Skulk and writer of thirteen other books for teens and children under various pseudonyms, including Erin Hunter's Survivors series.

Undiscovered Voices is one hundred percent volunteer-driven and the team gives hundreds of hours to this initiative every year. They’ve been working well together for many years. Sara Grant leads the team and oversees the submission and selection process. Catherine Coe orchestrates the publication of the book. Benjamin Scott manages the website. Jenny Glencross and Simon James Green promote the anthology and plan the launch party. Rosie Best is the liaison with Working Partners. Every team member also reads hundreds of submissions and chips in to do whatever is necessary.

Here are some of the reasons why they volunteer to help other authors get their work in front of agents and editors:

The route to publication can be tough and confusing! Volunteering for UV is extremely important to me because it offers an alternative route – which has seen great successes – while also helping to make the industry more transparent by offering advice and support.

For me it’s a real privilege to get to read all the different voices and stories, and to discover new talent. It’s always a wonderful feeling when UV writers or illustrators find success off the back of the competition, because we’ve played a part in that. But it’s also about giving something back – I’m very lucky to work in an industry I love, but I know it’s a mystery and can feel very closed to those on the outside, so it’s great to be able to open doors and demystify the publishing process a bit.

Aside from working with an amazing team, it’s great to give something back to the children’s book community. We all know how hard it is to get work closer to publication, either from personal experience or from knowing others, so it’s gratifying to be able to help others on their writing journey. In many ways, we’re a team of apprentice fairy godmothers. It’s also an amazing learning experience – every year I learn something about the craft of writing from reading submissions, hearing the rest of the team’s reactions and seeing the judges discuss the longlist. Seeing other writers succeed is also quite inspiring.

Undiscovered Voices kicked everything off for me, and within a couple of months of being in the anthology, I had an agent and a publishing deal. It’s an amazing opportunity that only exists because of the hard work of the volunteer committee, so I wanted to give something back.

I volunteer to help Undiscovered Voices get writers’ work in front of agents and editors, partly because they did that for me! So I know from both sides how satisfying it is when a writer meets up with the perfect agent, or hears for the first time from real industry professionals that their book sounds interesting or their writing is good. It’s a thrill to be able to keep helping to inject fresh voices and perspectives into the market.

I believe in giving back to an industry and organization that’s been very good to me. We’ve all been helped along the way and Undiscovered Voices is one way I can ‘pay it forward’.

The Undiscovered Voices anthology has gone from strength to strength.

Finalists have been responsible for 200 published books, they’ve been nominated for numerous awards from the Branford Boase to the Carnegie Medal. Some highlights include:

Sarwat Chadda (UV2008) signed a six-figure deal for his first series, has had ten books published with his next is due out in 2020.
Katie Dale (UV2008) has published 46 books since her young adult novel was featured in Undiscovered Voices.
David Cousins (UV2010) has won awards worldwide for his young adult novels.
David Hofmeyr won the Grand Prix de L’imaginaire 2016 and Prix Pepites 2015 at the Salon du Livre de Jeunesse de Montreuil for his debut Stone Rider.
Claire Fayers (UV2014) debut novel The Accidental Pirates: Voyage to Magical North was a Waterstones Children’s Book of the Month.
Sophie Cameron (UV2016) was nominated for the Carnegie Medal for Out of the Blue.

From the most recent anthology in 2018, four writers already have book deals. PM Freestone's book Shadowscent: The Darkest Bloom is out now and look out for forthcoming stories from Kathryn Kettle, Serena Patel and Nicola Penfold.

Undiscovered Voices is an anthology published every other year by the British SCBWI and aims to help fresh, new voices in children’s literature find agents, publishers and ultimately readers.

Undiscovered Voices has launched the careers of writers and illustrators who have gone on to publish more than 200 books. These authors have been nominated for, and won, an amazing array of literary prizes, including the Carnegie Medal, Waterstones Children’s Book Prize, Branford Boase Award, Blue Peter Award, the SCBWI Crystal Kite Award, and nearly 30 regional awards. Visit www.undiscoveredvoices.com for all the details. Submissions will open for the next anthology between 1st June to 15th July 2019 via an online submissions process. There is no
submission fee, but only unagented and unpublished members of SCBWI living in the UK
and Europe (writing in the English language) are eligible.

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