Registration for Fremantle 2020 is coming up, and choosing a pitch appointment will be part of the registration process. Pitch registration will close at the end of the Early Bird registration offer this year.
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 (Saturday and Sunday) to be eligible for the opportunity to pitch your story, face to face with one of the business representatives, editors, and agents attending, and pitch registration will close at the end of the Early Bird registration offer.
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 before Early Bird registration opens.
How Pitching Will Work
Pitch appointments are scheduled to run as one-on-one sessions of approximately seven or eight minutes each, during which time you will need to “tell me what your story is about, how it fits in my line and what makes it stand out,” as one senior editor put it. Remember to leave time for the publisher/agent to ask any questions they have.
Make sure you have a business card in case you are asked for your contact details and rehearse your pitch at every opportunity. Subtly practice your pitch on friends, fellow writers and future readers.
Please be on time or early for your pitch sessions and other appointments. Be courteous and thoughtful of those you are pitching to, and to fellow delegates pitching.
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.
Business Appointments and Pitching at Fremantle 2020
Further Your Business Relationships:
We are happy to have both Dan Woods and Kevin Tumlinson from Draft2Digital available to take business appointments at Fremantle 2020. You can put in a request to meet with the Draft2Digital team to discuss any thing you’d like about self-publishing. Learn more about all the opportunities out there for your books in digital, print and audio or ask about the latest marketing tips.
Ricardo Fayet from Reedsy will also be available for appointments. As one of the founders of Reedsy, Ricardo has helped to create the world’s leading marketplace of publishing professionals — from editors to proofreaders, cover designers, book marketers and literary translators.Ricardo is happy to discuss any marketing or advertising-related topics, as well as offer guidance on hiring editors, designers, marketers, translators, assistants, etc. Also obviously happy to answer any questions about Reedsy and Reedsy Discovery.
We are also happy to welcome Melanie Cole from IngramSpark. IngramSpark provides print on demand and global distribution services for authors, and Melanie is happy to provide guidance on using Ingram Spark to self-publish their titles for those who book a business appointment with her.
We are so pleased to have Camille Kidson, Business Manager of Apple Books Australia and New Zealand joining us in Fremantle as well. Apple Books is on over 1 billion devices worldwide because it is the inbuilt reading app on all iPhones and iPads. Apple Books aim to find and promote books they think their customers will love and would love to talk to authors to help support them with ways they can work directly with Apple. Their primary focus is on customer experience: They want readers engaging with authors’ books on their devices. They’d like to talk to authors about all the ways in which they can succeed on Apple Books. They are happy to talk through any questions authors have on setting their book (or series of books) up on the Apple store or, more broadly, tips on how authors can work with them to succeed on Apple Books.
Find An Agent: Below we tell you about the agents taking pitches and what they are looking for, so you can find the best person to pitch your work to.
Alex Adsett is a literary agent specialising in fiction for all ages, as well as a freelance publishing consultant offering commercial contract advice to authors and publishers. She has more than twenty years’ experience working in the publishing and bookselling industry and has managed Alex Adsett Publishing Services since 2008. As a consultant, she has helped hundreds of authors review and negotiate their publishing deals, or strategise about their career path. As a literary agent, she is focused on finding exceptional fiction and non-fiction manuscripts for adults, young adults and children, with a focus on genre fiction. She represents more than forty authors including Melissa Lucashenko, Isobelle Carmody, Sasha Wasley, Leisl Leighton, Jodi McAlister and many more. She is often to be found on twitter at @alexadsett or via her website www.alexadsett.com.au.
What Alex is looking for:
Single title only (75k and upwards for adults) and 60,000 and upwards for YA.
What Alex isn’t looking for:
Not looking for urban fantasy or dystopian (I love it, but unless you have an incredible new angle, and I mean *incredible*, it is almost impossible to sell to publishers at the moment)
The genre or sub-genre Alex is particularly keen to see:
Romantic mysteries, with a really strong plot and wonderful characters. Bonus points for something set during the glamourous 1920s or 30s.
Science fiction or fantasy romances – particularly by authors from a diverse background (culturally, socially, economically, lifestyle etc)
What is Alex’s favourite genre:
Normally, I adore SFF romance, but right now I’m loving the brilliant rom coms like Red, White & Royal Blue, and The Hating Game.
What is Alex’s major turn-off in a book?
Stupid heroines, unequal relationships, and heroes who don’t listen or wait for consent.
What is likely to really knock Alex’s socks off besides an engaging voice and well-written book?
Strong characters interacting as equals. Friends to lovers. Bantering relationships that aren’t mean. Consent.
Alex’s advice to prospective pitchers:
Make sure your manuscript is finished (or as close to finished) as possible before you pitch. Write what you love, even if the trends are not supporting it at the moment.
Tanera Simons joined Darley Anderson in 2017 with a view to building their women’s fiction list. She is actively looking for stand-out stories and compelling voices in all areas of the genre, but particularly enjoys contemporary rom-coms, uplifting love stories, and sweeping historical romances. Tanera currently represents authors Beth O’Leary, Sandie Jones, Mandy Baggot, Claire Frost, Lauren North, Nicola Gill, and Mary Hargreaves, to name a few. Collectively, her authors have Sunday Times top 5 bestselling status, a Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick, and WHSmiths’ Fiction Book of the Year.
What Tanera is looking for:
We only take novels, no short stories/novellas.
What Tanera isn’t looking for:
I am not looking for fantasy, paranormal, sci-fi, or erotic romance.
The genre or sub-genre Tanera is particularly keen to see:
I would love a sweeping generational love story, a timeslip, or a historical romance as I don’t currently have anything similar on my list. I am also always on the look-out for an uplifting novel – rom-com, love story, historical – with a very clear pitch.
What is Tanera’s favourite genre:
Contemporary rom-com is a perennial favourite of mine, but it must have something that sets it apart: a unique hook, an edgy voice, etc.
What is Tanera’s major turn-off in a book?
It’s difficult to pin down: most of the manuscripts I turn down, I do so for a combination of small reasons (such as the voice being not quite engaging enough, there not being a really clear hook) as opposed to one major issue. If I had to give a more specific answer, I would say a cliched opening: the book starting with the protagonist waking up in the morning, stretching, looking out of her window whilst thinking about her day ahead, etc. The opening is so important because both agents and editors are extremely pushed for time: you want to grab their attention from page one and, if I’m not intrigued at the beginning of the book, it is unlikely this will change the more I read.
What is likely to really knock Tanera’s socks off besides an engaging voice and well-written book?
A book that delivers above and beyond its pitch: perhaps in terms of emotional depth within what I’d thought to be a light-hearted rom-com; or twists and turns that I didn’t see coming. If a book makes me cry, then I’m on to a winner!
Tanera’s advice to prospective pitchers:
Follow each agent’s submission guidelines (they are there for a reason!) and take your time over the submission: make sure you have edited the manuscript at least once, polished the opening chapters, and that your email is engaging and concise.
Find an editor who loves your work: below is a list of the editors attending Fremantle 2020 who will be taking pitches and what they are looking for, so you can find the best fit for your work.
Anna Boatman is the publisher across PCR Fiction. She oversees the Piatkus Fiction and
Constable Crime lists, which publish women’s fiction and crime fiction respectively, and has five editors across those imprints working for her. She began her career eleven years ago at Mills & Boon, so romance is her first love, and though she’s always on the lookout for books that might suit editors across the team, she directly acquires and edits commercial fiction for Piatkus, particularly all kinds of romance fiction. Her authors range from international bestsellers such as J. R. Ward, Julia Quinn, Mary Balogh, Sarah Maclean, Charlaine Harris and Christine Feehan to new authors across a whole range of genres, such as romantic comedy (Sally Thorne), fantasy (Maria Lewis), Historical fiction (Pamela Hart), or commercial fiction (Love Letters From Montmartre, a beautiful love story translated from the German). She’s always on the lookout for very commercial stories, fantastic characterisation and authors who have the ability to not only deliver consistently high-quality fiction but also to reach out directly to their fans. If it’s addictive, page-turning, uplifting, emotional and creates a world readers want to return to, she will want to read it!
Annette Barlow has worked at Allen & Unwin, Australia’s largest independent publishing house, for over twenty-five years. She has a wide and vibrant list of fiction and non-fiction, and is proud to publish Fleur McDonald, Karly Lane, Nicole Hurley-Moore, Maya Linnell, Lee Christine, Kate Morton, Kirsty Manning, Genevieve Gannon, Jessica Rowe and Minette Walters, among others.
What Annette is looking for:
Single title only (70 k and upwards).
What Annette isn’t looking for:
Fantasy and sci-fi, category romance.
The genre or sub-genre Annette is particularly keen to see:
I’d love to acquire another rural storyteller, optimistic in tone, with real rural issues in the narrative mix and engaging characters. There’s a big place in my heart for a gripping historical/contemporary dual narrative. And I’m also keen on acquiring contemporary domestic drama, like the works of Petronella McGovern, Genevieve Gannon and Charity Norman.
What is Annette’s favourite genre:
That’s a hard question. I love working with Fleur McDonald, Karly Lane, Nicole Hurley-Moore, Maya Linnell and Lee Christine on rural stories. And I also adore the satisfying weaving together of historical/contemporary narratives by authors such as Kate Morton and Kirsty Manning.
What is Annette’s major turn-off in a book?
Something that makes me yawn! Perhaps that’s caused by an information dump in the beginning pages or single-dimensional characters or cliched language.
What is likely to really knock Annette’s socks off besides an engaging voice and well-written book?
Well, if it has those two advantages already, I’m keen. But to really knock my socks off, I’d want to feel from the first page that I’m spending my time with a writer who has a talent for storytelling.
Annette’s advice to prospective pitchers:
Don’t be nervous, remember all of the people to whom you pitch really, really, really want your book to be fantastic. Know your market, know your competitors’ books and tell me why yours is going to stand out in the marketplace.
Rachel Donovan works with the Harlequin publishing team as a commissioning editor. She has been in the Australian publishing industry for over ten years and has worked in a variety of roles from administration and sales to editorial. She joined Hachette Australia as a division coordinator before branching out into product management and marketing in the heady days of YA Vampire romances. She crossed over into editorial with the local publishing division before moving to Allen & Unwin. There she worked with a creative and fun children’s publishing team as a children’s editor. Over the years she has helped create books of fantasy, moving memoirs, kids’ picture books and war stories; but fiction is her one true love. Now she is dedicated to hunting down those compelling stories filled with unforgettable characters that you can’t put down.
What Rachel is looking for:
For HQ Fiction and Mira imprints: Single title only (80k and upwards)
For HQ Fiction and Mira imprints: Erotica, Horror, YA and Children’s, Fantasy & Sci-Fi, Georgian/Regency/Scottish historical romance and non-fiction
Escape: must include a central romance or romantic elements focused on lead characters and an uplifting ending.
The genre or sub-genre Rachel is particularly keen to see:
Romance: rural, historical, suspense, contemporary — funny, sad and in between! — women’s life fiction, family saga and historical epics, particularly with Australian content.
What is Rachel’s favourite genre:
There are too many to count! Like most readers, I read widely.
What is Rachel’s major turn-off in a book?
Psychological tension and the connection between people is engrossing, but anything overly gory on the page is hard going.
What is likely to really knock Rachel’s socks off besides an engaging voice and well-written book?
Something that shows you more about the world around us or the universality of human experience without you even realising it as you’re too engrossed by the characters.
Rachel’s advice to prospective pitchers:
It’s easy to say, I know, but don’t be nervous. I want to hear all about you and your story, as we’re actively looking for novels by new local voices.
Jo Mackay has worked as a book editor then publisher for 25 years. Originally a journalist and reviewer, she was a senior editor for HarperCollins, a commissioning editor for ABC Books, a publisher for HarperCollins and is now head of local fiction for Harlequin (which became a division of HarperCollins) where she leads a team of publishers.
A publisher of numerous bestsellers, Jo is now proud to publish on her highly successful list some of the biggest and best authors in commercial fiction, including Tricia Stringer, Victoria Purman, Tea Cooper, Cassie Hamer, Darry Fraser, Diane Armstrong, Karen Brooks, Penelope Janu and Bronwyn Sell. She is passionate about fiction and putting great books in the hands of readers.
What Jo is looking for:
For MIRA, HQ and Escape: Single title only (80k and upwards)
Fantasy, horror, sci fi, children’s, young adult, non fiction, regency, category.
The genre or sub-genre Jo is particularly keen to see:
Crime (Dervla McTiernan), Uplit (Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine), detective (Kerry Greenwood, Phryne Fisher series) Rom Com (marian keyes), humorous community focused stories (After the Party, Single Ladies of the Jacaranda Retirement Village), quality crossover fiction (The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart), complex historicals (The Lake House, Tidelands)
What is Jo’s favourite genre:
At present, crime and romantic comedies.
What is Jo’s major turn-off in a book?
Feeble heroines, no psychological insights into character, slow pace, lack of craft, first drafts.
What is likely to really knock Jo’s socks off besides an engaging voice and well-written book?
Something that examines contemporary water cooler topics, no matter which genre, deep point of view, complex world building, clever plots.
Jo’s advice to prospective pitchers:
I would love to hear you read a short excerpt (100 words) of your book that you feel is typical of your writing style in your pitch. Only takes a minute to read but is a great indicator of whether your books is a good fit with our list.
We are happy to have Liz Pelletier, Chief Executive Officer and Publisher of Entangled Publishing, as one of our presenters for the Friday workshops. Liz co-founded Entangled Publishing in 2011. Over the past ten years, Entangled has gone from a small start-up to a bestselling romance publisher, with more than 18 NYT bestsellers and 71 USA Today bestsellers. Her out-of the-box approach to everything from pricing strategies to marketing to editorial allows Entangled to be both disruptive and agile within a dynamic publishing landscape. You can find her on Twitter at @Liz_Pelletier.
What Liz is looking for:
Romance for the adult and young adult market, both novellas and single title novels.
What Liz isn’t looking for:
We are not looking for memoirs or non-fiction of any sort, nor middle grade fiction at this time.
The genre or sub-genre Liz is particularly keen to see:
I would love to see more thrillers, historicals, and small town romances.
What is Liz’s favourite genre:
My favorite genre right now is RomCom but I also love an addictive YA or snarky historical.
What is Liz’s major turn-off in a book?
My major turn-off in a book is anything cliche. I really love it when an author finds a new way to say something, or a clever twist on an idea.
What is likely to really knock Liz’s socks off besides an engaging voice and well-written book?
If I can’t stop reading a book, even though I know I have a hundred other things I should be doing, then not only am I blown away but I know readers will be as well.
Liz’s advice to prospective pitchers:
Relax. As long as your book is a genre we publish, I’m going to request a full as the only real way to judge the quality of a manuscript is to read it. So relax. You already did the hard part. You wrote a book!
All the best to everyone who will be pitching at Fremantle 2020, I look forward to seeing you there!