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 They have a New Writers Scheme, where unpublished writers can join and submit a full manuscript before the 31 August that year.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!