Submissions for our twenty-third annual New Voices Award are now open! Do you or someone you know write for young readers? Are you a writer of color or Indigenous/Native writer hoping to break into the publishing industry for the first time? Then these resources are for you as you refine and finalize your manuscript. Read on for five tools from editors and writers!
Three editors—Cheryl Klein (Former Editorial Director), Stacy Whitman (Publisher of Tu Books), and Jessica Echeverria (Executive Editor of Lee & Low Books)—give advice on what makes a book great for Lee & Low specifically, as well as what makes a book great for any reader. They review past winners of both the New Voices (picture books) and New Visions (middle grade and young adult books) contests, showing concrete examples of how elements like great dialogue, fresh voices, and good pacing hooked them in. Lastly, they give detailed advice on different techniques to tackle the writing process for both picture books and novels.
These are common pitfalls that new writers often fall into, and that editors have seen come up frequently in submissions over the years. These issues take manuscripts out of the running almost automatically, so avoid them to make sure that your submission has the best chance possible!
The beginning, middle, and end of your story should all be very purposeful. If you don’t have a clear focus on where you want your story to go, it’s easy to have parts that drag, don’t contribute very much to the main storyline, or pack an overwhelming amount of action or information. Here, two of our New Voices winners share their approaches to shaping a plot to make sure that every page of a book meaningfully moves along the story they want to tell.
Even the most interesting stories can fall flat if the characters’ dialogue is stilted and awkward! It’s hard to become invested in characters that don’t feel real—this is one of the most common issues we see crop up in contest submissions. Here, we go over concrete advice to make sure your characters’ voices are natural and engaging.
Three New Voices winners share how they approach the crucial revision process—because the best writing comes from writers relentlessly chiseling and refining promising-but-rough writing. Whether they review drafts to make sure they’re using a lot of active language; share manuscripts with people whose opinions they trust; or put a story away for a while so they can get fresh eyes, their advice boils down to: revise, revise, revise!
You can find out more about both contests here. The deadline for both awards is August 1, 2022!
Building a Biography: An Interview with New Voices Award Winner Andrea Loney and Senior Editor Jessica Echeverria
How to Make Your New Voices Submission Stand Out
Submitting to our New Voices Award: Tips from an Editor
Interview: 2013 New Voices Award Winner Sylvia Liu