In this blog post, our editorial assistant Samantha shares her thoughts on the New Voices Award and what she’s looking for from this year’s submissions.
The beginning of summer is my favorite time of year. School’s out, the weather brightens up—although this year in New York, it’s been a bit shaky—and New Voices season begins. This year marks our 15th annual New Voices Award contest, and I can’t wait to watch the submissions come rolling in!
Over the last fourteen years, LEE & LOW BOOKS has published more than ten books that have come to us through the New Voices contest, including Sixteen Years in Sixteen Seconds by Paula Yoo (2003 Winner) and Seaside Dream by Janet Costa Bates (2006 Honor). It Jes’ Happened (2005 Honor) received three starred reviews, and author Don Tate won the Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Award Honor. And we’re very excited about several New Voices winners and honors that will be published in upcoming seasons. We just love reading the amazing stories that have been submitted to the contest, and it’s inspiring to us to work with first-time picture book authors.
Last year we were thrilled to receive 165 New Voices submissions from authors all across the Unites States. With so many great manuscripts to read, we look for stories that stand out from the crowd. We love to be surprised by a manuscript, whether it’s a biography of a fascinating but little known historical figure or an everyday story told from a unique perspective. A submission will catch our eye if it is something we haven’t seen before. Just as the New Voices contest seeks out talented new authors of color who might otherwise remain under the radar of mainstream publishing, we love to read stories about characters and subjects that are similarly underrepresented.
Another small but important detail that we appreciate when reading New Voices submissions is when an author pays close attention to the contest guidelines. It might seem trivial, but a good cover letter that follows the guideline requests—especially author information—creates a great first impression. You can see the full submission guidelines here and the answers to some frequently asked questions here.
We look forward to reading a great batch of stories this year and to discovering talented new authors through the New Voices contest. We hope you will help us spread the word to eligible authors!