Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Undiscovered Voices 2012 - How Published Writers Can Help You

I'm delighted to be kicking off the blog tour to celebrate yesterday's launch of the submissions process for Undiscovered Voices 2012, which will be published next year.  In case you don't know about it yet, Undiscovered Voices is the very successful joint publishing project between SCBWI British Isles and Working Partners which has now launched several writing careers. In fact, from SCBWI's first two Undiscovered Voices anthologies, 13 of the 24 selected authors have had publication contracts for their novels and most have signed with agents.  Well worth submitting then, I hope you'll agree!
So, as an undiscovered voice--an unpublished writer--how do you tap into the wisdom of those who have already overcome all those daunting hurdles that stand in the way of getting a publishing contract?  The good news is that it's a whole lot easier than it used to be.  Those of you who are regular readers of Scribble City Central will know that this is mostly due to that wonderful thing, The Author Platform.  Those of you who are new here--well, welcome, and hold onto your hats for the whirlwind tour!

Very briefly, The Author Platform means that published writers in all genres are out there in the virtual world of blogging, social networking and even on YouTube.  No longer are we stuck in a tiny garret, blowing on our frozen fingers, wrapped in shawls and never communicating with anyone except the characters in our heads (and occasionally our editors or agents).  No.  We are now get-attable.  Well, some of us are, anyway.  There are still those who think that all this internet stuff is the Work of the Devil, and prefer to stick to the old methods of pencil and paper and smoke signals.  I'm not one of them. I've embraced my author platform with great gusto (possibly rather too much gusto in fact--but that's another story entirely).  So.  How can published writers help you?  How does all this authory wisdom benefit you, the bright-eyed and bushy-tailed undiscovered voice?

  • Author blogs often have great advice, both on writing itself, and on the business of being published.  If you look to the right of this post, you'll see a page titled All the Writing 101 Productions.  That's my own rather odd and eccentric writing advice.  A couple of the very best 'getting published' author bloggers to check out are Nicola Morgan at Help! I Need a Publisher and Jane Smith at How Publishing Really Works, and of course there are all the other blogs on this tour to explore too. If you comment on author blogs, and ask short, intelligent and relevant questions about the post or something related to it, most authors will reply 9 times out of 10, and it can be an interesting and helpful dialogue to get into.  However, when I say relevant, I mean relevant!  Please don't go off on some long-winded spiel about your own manuscript here, as it won't be appreciated.
  • Twitter is a great place for chatting to authors.  Lots of us hang out in the enormous bookie community there (I'm at @lucycoats if you want to chat to me!), and there are publishers, agents, illustrators, booksellers and loads of other booktweeps as well.  Don't be afraid to jump in and comment on a conversation if it interests you.  That's what Twitter is, a big public conversation--and I have huge fun 'talking' to loads of people both about writing and other stuff--I find my Twitter friends a great source of support and comfort. For you as an undiscovered voice it can be equally nice to have some positive encouragement from the wider writing community, and also to see that us published people moan on about really crap writing days too (fairly often in my case) as well as talking about the happier (and considerably rarer) stuff like getting a new contract or a foreign rights deal! By the way, if you want to see this year's Undiscovered Voices story as it unfolds, why not follow @UndiscVoice2012 too?
  •  Author websites are always worth checking out.  Who do you admire as a writer?  Type their name into Google and see if they have their own site. Quite often there'll be a FAQ section which can have some interesting insights into the writing process.  You may also be able to email your favourite authors from here. However--another piece of 'don't advice' here, I'm afraid--if you send an email about your own work, don't expect a busy author to spend time critiquing your manuscript for free. There are other routes for that, so please don't ask or expect any author to do this for you gratis!
  • Facebook is where lots of authors have 'fan pages' as well as personal pages.  I'm not sure it's particularly useful in the context of this piece--though perhaps you might like to keep up with where various authors may be speaking or bookshop visiting if you want to go along and meet them.
  • YouTube may seem an odd place to hang out for an author, but it's where more and more of us are putting book trailers, or readings of our work, or, in my case, short video clips of school visits.  It's one to watch (excuse the horrid pun), because I think a lot of writers will be using it more and more to promote themselves.  There's no reason why an undiscovered writer shouldn't do this too.  If you're good at the techy film stuff, why not make a short video piece about your book or story?  At the very least, it is an exercise in how it sounds read out loud!  If you make it quirky or witty or viewable enough, you never know who might be watching! Stranger things have happened.
In short, the virtual landscape means that as a fledgling writer you no longer have to feel that you're alone in a scary world where you have no idea how to take the next step.  With all the wealth of author platform wisdom now at your disposal, you can find out anything and everything you need to know about the long hard process of turning your undiscovered gem into a publishable work (or even a bestseller!).  Good luck!

The blog tour continues tomorrow when Keren David will be giving more helpful advice to aspiring writers at Almost True

You can find out about the submission rules for Undiscovered Voices HERE


karen said...

All fantastic advice! A real gem for authors looking how to make their own platforms and network wisely. Thank you so much, Lucy!

Sara OC said...

Some very good pointers here! There is a ton of support to be found online. And... if you are a member of SCBWI, you'll find e-critique groups online (which may or may not have published writers in them) which are an excellent tool for all writers.

Unknown said...

As always, Lucy Wolfy, a great post full of brilliant authory advice!
And to echo SaraOC - yep, yep, join the ecritiques are a brilliant resource for writers, both published and unpublished! SCBWI-BI writers can contact me for more info via the SCBWI-BI webpage or the SCBWI-BI Ning group.

Lynn said...

Thank you for a terrific post!

I just spent far more than my allotted 15 take-a-breather-from-writing minutes reading through your "Writing 101" posts. Wonderful! Many thanks.

Tracy said...

Great advice, Lucy.
An exciting week for all things Undiscovered Voices...

Lucy Coats said...

Thanks for inviting me to take part, Karen.

Sarah and Nicky--thirded on the SCBWI e-critiques. And of course all budding kidlit writers should join SCBWI--I'd say essential.

Lynn--so glad you enjoyed the 101's--and sorry I seduced you away from the writing.

Tracy--yes--can't wait to read the other blogs on the tour. Let's hope it brings lots of new SCBWI members and lots of entries for UDV.

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This is truly a great read for me. I have bookmarked it and I am looking forward to reading new articles. Keep up the good work

Rebecca Brown said...

Hi Lucy! I'm actually re-reading this post as the first time I read it I went straight off to check out the Undiscovered Voices. Now I've decided to join SCBWI which I've been thinking about for ages and to take a chance in the competition thanks to you and the other bloggers. This is me doing some homework, re-reading the great posts about the comp!

Thanks so much!

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