Author: Donna

Conference News | Secrets of a Successful Pitch

Registration for Fremantle 2020 is coming up, and choosing a pitch appointment will be part of the registration process. Things will be a little different now we’ve gone virtual due to Covid-19.

Pitching is obviously going to look different at this year’s conference, because we won’t be able to have the traditional face to face meetings.

However, as pitch coordinator, I’ve been in touch with the wonderful pitch takers we had lined up for Fremantle, and most of them are happy to go ahead with pitching in a different form.

I don’t have full details from everyone yet –  as you can imagine things are not business as usual at the moment – but most of the editors and agents are willing to either set up Zoom meetings with members or offer advice on a blurb and first chapter in a phone call.

The process of registering your interest and allocating pitches will stay much the same from previous conferences and the conference team will give further details about the process closer to the date.

Pitch takers are working with the team and have indicated that allocated pitch sessions will  be conducted in the work week and during office hours, depending on the time zones the editors and agents are in.

Pitch appointments may be scheduled before or after the actual online conference, depending on the availability of the parties involved. Also, most editors and agents will create and manage the Zoom meetings and phone calls themselves, and will invite the pitchee to join, with a volunteer from the conference team available in case of technical failure.

We are still busy gathering all the pitch takers preferred means of taking pitches, and will let you know what the situation is as soon as possible. Please be aware that where editors and agents have indicated they want a blurb and first chapter (of around 2500 words in total) before the pitch appointment, they would need to receive them a month in advance.

This means those members who are interested in a pitch session and who are successful in getting a slot will most likely need to have their blurb and chapter ready to send in to the conference team around 1 July.

As per the original conference rules, only those registered for conference will be eligible to apply for a pitch session.

Pitching

For those who want to pitch, remember that a short, simple, but most of all interesting description of the essence of your book isn’t enough. You need to be able to follow through, with a book ready to send out if the editor or agent requests the full.

In creating your pitch, think about the premise of your story, the themes and the hook. Write them down, and play with them until you feel you have a handle on them. Also, if you have critique partners or beta readers, ask them what they think the premise and hook of your story is. Quite often you may be too close to easily see it, and someone else with more distance can help narrow things down.

A good way to approach things when you start to work with the rough notes you’ve got on premise, hook and theme is to look at the back page blurb of books that are similar to yours, or books whose blurb really jumped out at you. Study how they are put together, what you like, what you don’t like, and start to put something unique together for your story.

Be able to succinctly describe who your characters are and have a short punchy explanation of their goals, motivations and conflicts (internal and external).Try to include the emotional highs, lows and major plot points. It might look like this:

“When (hero/heroine), a (role) who (empathy/setup) is (opportunity), she/he decides to (new situation/preliminary goal). But when (change of plans)she/he now must (outer motivation/primary goal) by (hero’s plan/deadline) as well as (secondary goal) in spite of the fact that (outer conflict).”

Don’t forget: You are the expert on your story. If you love it, go in confident that you will get your goal, a request for submission of part of your story.

The Pitch Process

RWA’s mission is to promote excellence in romantic fiction, to help aspiring writers become published and published authors to maintain and establish their careers, and to provide continuing support for romance writers – whatever their genre – within the romance publishing industry.

One of the ways it achieves this mission is through the annual conference and the opportunity for its delegates to pitch to an editor or agent.

Before the Conference

You need to be registered for the core conference to be eligible for the opportunity to pitch your story, face to face with one of the business representatives, editors, and agents attending.

Make sure you understand the language of publishers/editors/agents before you begin. Knowing where your story belongs is crucial when you start looking at who to target. Is it a romance or is it a story with romantic elements? Stories suitable for one of Harlequin Mills & Boon’s category lines is unlikely to be of interest to someone looking for commercial women’s fiction. Don’t waste your time or theirs pitching to the wrong publishing house representative.

You will be asked to nominate your preferred option when pitching opens. To help you make this decision, read all the information on the agents / editors / publishers attending the conference included in this month’s Heart’s Talk.

Before you Register to Pitch

Read all of the information about pitch takers very carefully. You may want to supplement this with further research. We are giving you the opportunity to do your research by releasing the information on agents / editors / publishers taking pitches.

After the Conference

Make good on your promises. Get that submission in as soon as you go home. RWA is ready to encourage you, waiting to hear your call story, for your dream to come true.

Good Luck!

Michelle Diener

Pitch Coordinator

RWA Conference Team Fremantle 2020