At Lee & Low Books we are always interested in biographies of unsung heroes. Stories of lesser-known individuals who used their talents and overcame obstacles to achieve their dreams and serve their society fill our shelves of published titles. Each year our New Voices Award judges consider dozens of biographical submissions on the lookout for a winning combination of compelling characters and well-researched storytelling. But how do these components come together to create a manuscript? How does a writer condense someone’s entire life into a picture book? Does the writer or editor decide what information goes in the story and back matter? What is back matter, anyway? To answer these questions, and for an inside look at the editorial process, we interviewed Andrea Loney, author of the 2014 New Voices Award-winning biography Take A Picture of Me, James VanDerZee! and Jessica Echeverria, our Senior Editor who helped turn Andrea’s manuscript into an absorbing debut!
Summer is officially here, which means lots of warm weather, longer days, and receiving submissions for our New Voices and New Visions Awards! Our annual awards encourage writers of color to submit their work to a publisher that takes pride in nurturing new talent. As the number of diverse books increases, LEE & LOW BOOKS is dedicated to increasing the number of authors of color as well. Continue reading
Summer is officially here, which means the Lee & Low Books award season is upon us! The New Voices Award submissions window opened on May 1st and the contest is now in its eighteenth year! If you’re an unpublished children’s book writer interested in having your picture book manuscript considered for publication, you may be wondering how to make your submission standout from the competition. Whether it’s your first time submitting or your fourteenth, this blog post will help you craft a strong cover letter and manuscript that will help your submission rise to the top of the sea of entries.
Introducing your submission with a professional and thorough cover letter is a great way to make your submission stand out. The best cover letters provide the writer’s contact information (including email address and phone number), and answer all of the criteria listed in the New Voices Award submission guidelines. At Lee & Low we are very interested in the writers who participate in our contest. We use the information provided in their cover letters to learn more about who is interested in our company, where they are from, and what communities they represent. This information helps us determine how our contest has grown over the years and highlights which demographics we need to improve our outreach toward. When writers provide these details and discuss the inspirations behind their stories in their cover letter, it helps our judging committee get a better sense of who each writer is and connect them with their manuscript. Continue reading
Summer is right around the corner! That means the eighteenth annual NEW VOICES AWARD is now open for submissions. Established in 2000, the New Voices Award recognizes a picture book manuscript by an unpublished author of color. It was one of the first (and remains one of the only) writing contests specifically designed to help authors of color break into publishing, an industry in which they are still dramatically underrepresented. Continue reading
New York, NY—Children’s book publisher LEE & LOW BOOKS is thrilled to announce the results of its fourth annual New Visions Award for new authors of color. This year, in partnership with First Book and the NEA Foundation, the award expanded to two winning manuscripts: Operation Yellowbird, by Ming and Wah Chen, and The Wind Called My Name, by Mary Louise Sanchez.
New York, NY—January 23, 2017—LEE & LOW BOOKS is proud to announce that Roberto Peñas of Olathe, Kansas, is the winner of the company’s seventeenth annual New Voices Award. His manuscript, Pedro Flores: The Toymaker, is a biography of the inventor of the modern yo-yo. In the early 1900s, Flores emigrated from the Philippines to the United States, where he pursued an education and his entrepreneurial ambitions. After reading about a ball-and-string-like toy in the newspaper, Flores was reminded of a similar toy from his childhood. He redesigned the toy and named it “yo-yo” (Tagalog for “come back”). It wasn’t long before the yo-yo became a popular toy. Continue reading
WASHINGTON – The NEA Foundation and publisher Lee & Low Books have joined forces with First Book, a nonprofit social enterprise, to expand the Stories for All ProjectTM, First Book’s groundbreaking initiative to increase the diversity in children’s books. The new two-year collaboration, supported with funding from the NEA Foundation, includes the publication of a brand new book by a never-before-published author of color, and the production of thousands of diverse books, companion tipsheets and funds available for educators working with children from low-income families. Continue reading
It’s September! And with the opening of a new school year comes the closing of the New Voices Award submissions window. With the deadline just weeks away on September 30, participating writers are putting the finishing touches on their submissions. The ready-to-submit writer has read August’s post about the importance of revision, and revised their cover letter and manuscript correcting all grammatical errors as well as strengthening the voice and structure of their story. If you’re a ready-to-submit writer enthusiastic about sending off your submission, that’s fantastic! But what if you’re a ready-to-submit writer who doesn’t feel ready? Continue reading
It’s August and with the New Voices Award deadline approaching in just seven weeks, participating writers may be starting to feel the heat. No sweat! The New Voices Award blog post series has got you covered from the summer sun of stress.
At this stage, you’ve probably got your cover letter and story written down. You’ve also read July’s post on the importance of voice in a story and made your narrative even more engaging to readers. Congrats! That’s two essential checks on the New Voices To-do list –but don’t seal the envelope just yet! Now that your story is down it’s time to begin the revision process.
Revision is an important part of the writing experience. It’s about revisiting what you’ve written, identifying what needs to be strengthened, and rewriting to improve your story. Every writer’s revision process is different so to provide some guidance we interviewed two New Voices Award Winners, Linda Boyden (The Blue Roses) and Jennifer Torres (Finding the Music/ En pos de la musica), about how their revision processes helped them prepare their stories for the New Voices Award.
The New Visions Award, given annually by our Tu Books imprint, honors a middle grade or young adult novel for young readers by an author of color who has not previously published a novel for that age group. It was established to encourage new talent and to offer authors of color a chance to break into a tough and predominantly white market.
In addition to our New Visions Award Winner and Honor, this year there were three New Visions Award finalists: Alex Brown (Hate Crime), Hilda Burgos (The Castle of Kings), and Elizabeth Stephens (The Rougarou). Below, they share their writing experience, what inspires them, and what they hope readers will take away from their stories. We are thrilled to introduce readers to these talented writers and can’t wait to see how their careers take shape!