Saturday, 8 October 2011

Getting your foot in the door

Lots of people have entered New Voices, some of you may still be preparing your entry – last year there were over 800 participants, with a flurry of entries on the last day.
Then we’ll all wait anxiously for the Top 20 to be announced.  But what happens if that’s not you?
New Voices is only the start of the journey.  For some people it may be the first time you’ve dared to submit.  Congratulations on taking the first step.  For others, you may be veterans and looking for some feedback.  And if you weren’t here last  year you should know that after the announcement of the Top Ten (it was ten last year, not twenty), Mills and Boon also published a list of entries they wanted to see more of. 
But for all of you that don’t make it on the top 20 list, and feel all sad and dejected – don’t be.  There are lots of opportunities out there to get your foot in the door!
It you haven’t had a chance to look at the harlequin website now is the time.  The Write Stuff is full of information for aspiring writers.  It also frequently features pitching opportunities – specific to individual lines across the harlequin series.  For those of you who’ve never tried a pitch, you write a brief paragraph about your story.  If you’re lucky enough to be chosen you get to have an online conversation with one of the editors for the line you are targeting.  The chances are they’ll ask you for a partial submission and you’ll have a real live editor to submit it to. 
In March 2010, there was an pitch opportunity for medical romance.  Myself and Wendy S Marcus were successful “pitchers”.  And after some hard work, we’ve both been published.  So, for those of you who are sceptical, it does happen.
The harlequin website also ran a Fast Track opportunity in August last year.  For one month anyone could submit to the medical line and hear back within a few days.  And for anyone that’s experienced going through the slush pile before that is like gold!
If you have a little money you can also join the professional organisation in your area.  Two years ago I joined the Romance Novelists Association.  They have a New Writers Scheme, where unpublished writers can join and submit a full manuscript before the 31 August that year.  Your manuscript will be read by a professional writer in the RNA and you will be given a detailed critique on your work.  If they like your manuscript, it will be sent on for a second read, and could be forwarded to a publisher.  Fiona Harper got published this way.  Her first book Blind Date Marriage was published by the Romance line at Mills and Boon.  Be warned!  The New Writers Scheme is only open to 250 writers every year, place are limited and you literally have to get your application form in on 1 January!  If you live in the US, the Romance Writers of America have a competition every year called the Golden Heart.  Unpublished writers can submit their manuscripts and have them judged.  Many people who have finalled in the Golden Heart and have gone on to be published. Historical author Jeannie Linn is one, and new Medical Author Tina Beckett is another.
And finally, there is the slush pile.  Let me tell you about another new medical author Louisa George.  She entered New Voices last year – didn’t final and didn’t get a mention in the call back list.  But she submitted her three chapters via slush and will be published in March 2012.  Maisey Yates, one of the Modern/Presents authors was pulled from the slush pile too, so it does happen!
So whatever happens in the next few weeks, think of New Voices as a first step, and keep writing!
And not sure whether blogger still hates me or not.  Last week no-one could post on my blog and I couldn't post on any others!


  1. Fabulous and inspiring post! AMEN to it all!

  2. What an inspiring post! I'm a mere reader but to anyone out there wanting to be published, your post was really inspiring Scarlet :)

  3. Tash - you're never a mere reader. Readers are the most important thing in the world, so thank you for being a reader!

  4. Thanks for this Scarlet, it's an inspiration to anyone who didn't make it with New Voices. I didn't have a go this year, it was pretty harrowing last year. Congrats on your lovely review by the way, well deserved.

  5. Great and very timely reminder, Scarlet, that as my grandmother says "there's more than one way to skin a chicken". Very wise ladies the both of you xxx

  6. Hi Cara, thanks for the comments on the review. I was delighted and a little relieved!

  7. Hi Catherine

    You know I loved your chapter so you are under strict instructions to keep writing!

  8. Great post Scarlet, thank you. Unfortunately I think some people aren't looking at this as a great opportunity, but their ONLY opportunity. I had a blast entering, met some fab people, and will continue to improve my writing. I'm putting on my gumboots/wellies because Slush here I come! ;-)

  9. Fantastic post, Scarlet. It is sad that some think this is the end. It is the beginning of a journey. If we persevere we will get to our destination! I really loved the feedback on NV.

  10. Mel good for you getting the gumboots on! Hope they are red!

  11. Annie, the feedback is great on New Voices. There always be a few people get annoyed with not-so-gleaming feedback, but, I've learned, it just prepares you for the bad reviews when you're published!

  12. Blogger hated me last week, too. Am hoping it will let me post today.

    I wussed out of entering this year - nerves couldn't stand it. But huge yays to ever single person who found the courage to submit their chapter.


  13. Typos allowed Suzanne - there is just relief in getting to post!
    Next year no wussing, I want to see an entry with your name on it!

  14. Blogger (or Blooger {rhymes with booger}, as I call it when it's being a pain) is so temperamental.

    I hadn't heard of New Voices. Sounds like a great thing!