Pitching 2021

PITCHING TICKETS CLOSE JUNE 30

Due to the ongoing worldwide pandemic, our international and some local pitchers are unable to travel, therefore the pitch process will be a hybrid program and some pitches will be conducted via Zoom or over the phone. Online pitching will be August 25, 26, 27. Live pitches are indicated in each profile.

The list of agents and editors taking pitches are below

Pitches are allocated to people as they register – first come, first served. Choose your three preferences. We recommend anyone interested in pitching to register early. Those who want an opportunity to pitch, please make careful note of when registration opens and don’t delay in registering.

Most editors and agents will create and manage the Zoom meetings and phone calls themselves, and invite the pitchees to join. Pitch Coordinators will be available via email during appointment times.

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

THE 2021 PITCH TAKERS ARE

Agents:

Jessica Alvarez – Bookends Literary (USA) International Agent

After ten years as an editor, Jessica Alvarez joined BookEnds in April 2011. She began her publishing career in 2001 as an editorial assistant at Harlequin Books. There, she had the opportunity to acquire and edit a wide array of fiction, specializing in historical romance, romantic suspense, and inspirational romance. Jessica left Harlequin in 2008 to pursue a freelance editing career, and completed projects for Harlequin, Scholastic Books, Thomas Nelson, and independent writers. She is a member of AALA and uses her editorial background to help writers hone their skills and develop strong, marketable books.

Jessica read her first romance at the age of nine when she pilfered from a friend’s mother’s Harlequin Presents collection and was instantly hooked. Though her pilfering has passed, her weakness for alpha heroes and exotic settings remains.

A New Jersey native, Jessica still resides in the Garden State. She is perpetually over-caffeinated in an attempt to keep up with her son and three energetic dogs. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, swimming, watching bad (but oh so good!) television, and volunteering with Rescue Dogs Rock NYC.

Queries should be submitted here: https://querymanager.com/query/JessicaAlvarez.

Jessica is actively building her client list. Her areas of interest include most areas of romance, women’s fiction, and cozy mysteries. She’s also looking for select nonfiction.

The minimum word-count Jessica requires? I’m strictly looking for full-length projects, so 80,000-100,000 words, unless it’s category romance. In those cases, the word count guidelines for the target series should be followed. 

Sub-genres or genres Jessica is not looking for? No paranormals, fantasy, or sci-fi, please. I also tend not to be a fit for time-travel stories

Genre or sub-genre Jessica is particularly keen to see? I’m especially keen to see more romantic comedies and historical romance.

Personal favourite genre? I have to say, historical romance is my first love within the romance genre. I grew up reading Mary Jo Putney, Amanda Quick, Judith McNaught, Kathleen Woodiwiss, and I still look forward to getting swept away to different times and places.

Jessica’s major turn-off in a book? Oh, there are many. One thing that particularly bothers me is when the characters have a lack of agency. I need the characters to be active participants in what’s happening to them, and not just be passively reacting to events.

What is likely to really knock Jessica’s socks off besides an engaging voice and well-written book? A clever, fresh take on classic tropes is always appealing.

Advice to Jessica’s potential pitchers? Try to relax and introduce your book as if you were telling a friend about it, but keep it concise to maintain the pitchees’ attention. Use any extra time to ask those burning publishing questions you might have.

ONLINE PITCH

Alex Adsett – Adsett Agency (AUS) Local Agent

Alex Adsett is a literary agent and publishing consultant with almost 25 years’ experience working in the publishing and bookselling industry. She has managed Alex Adsett Literary since 2008, and has helped hundreds of authors review and negotiate their publishing deals. As an agent she represents more than 45 authors of all ages and genres, including Melissa Lucashenko, Pamela Hart, Sasha Wasley, Jodi McAlister, Hugh Breakey and Leisl Leighton.  She regularly speaks on copyright and contracts around Australia, is an alumni of the Australia Council Arts Leaders Program 2019, and serves on the board of the Small Publishers Network.  She is often to be found on twitter at @alexadsett or via her website www.alexadsett.com.au

The minimum word-count Alex requires? Single title 65k and upwards.

Sub-genres or genres Alex is not looking for? I am not looking for traditional urban fantasy or paranormal romances. I am also not looking for parody, satire, category romance, Australian historicals (1788 – 1945s), Mind Body Spirit, or memoir.

Genre or sub-genre Alex is particularly keen to see? Murder mystery romances, rom coms, science fiction romance, historical romances with a difference (eg. 1920s Egypt, Norse mythology), any kind of romance (even urban fantasy) from Asia Pacific region, especially Pacifika authors.

Personal favourite genre? Science fiction and fantasies are my first love, but at present I’m also loving rom coms (Red, White & Royal Blue, anything by Lucy Parker), 1920-30s murder mysteries (Miss Fisher, Sulari Gentill’s Rowly Sinclair series, Dorothy Sayers’ Peter Wimsey).

Alex’s major turn-off in a book? Dubcon, silly heroines without any agency, humour at the expense of plot, romance plot lines that revolve entirely around weddings, engagements, pregnancy or babies.

What is likely to really knock Alex’s socks off besides an engaging voice and well-written book? Empowered intelligent heroines and vulnerable heroes. Stakes that matter. Stories by underrepresented authors (eg BIPOC, LGBTIQA+, neuroatypical), And always, an amazing plot.

Advice to Alex’s potential pitchers? Come along and tell me about what you are writing. Be yourself, and try not to stress too much. Please do not sign up to pitch unless you fit some of the criteria I’m looking for, and have a finished manuscript or are at least close to finishing.

LIVE PITCH

Editors:

Announcing new pitch taker Cassandra Di Bello from Simon & Schuster. Announcements on how to secure a pitch with Cassandra will be emailed to all attendees soon. To book with Cassandra email pitch@romanceaustralia.com

Cassandra Di Bello – Simon & Schuster Australia Publisher Commercial Fiction

Cassandra Di Bello is the commercial fiction publisher at Simon & Schuster Australia. She joined the team in 2020 after making her mark in the UK publishing industry where she worked with big brand authors such as Diana Gabaldon, Harlan Coben, E.L. James and Lisa Jewell. She currently publishes Australian superstars Anita Heiss, Tania Blanchard and Lauren Chater and is keen to cultivate homegrown talent.

Simon & Schuster Australia

What Cass is acquiring?

Minimum word-count required?  Single title only (80k and upwards).

The sub-genres or genres Cass is not not looking for? Paranormal/SFF, YA, literary, erotica.

Genre or sub-genre Cass is particularly keen to see? Commercial up-lit and historical.

Personal favourite genre? Fantasy.

Cass’s major turn-off in a book?  Overwritten and two-dimensional characters.

What is likely to really knock Cass’s socks off besides an engaging voice and well-written book? A clear, compelling hook and the author’s background and how it applies to the novel (e.g. based on personal family history).

Cass’s advice to potential pitchers? Short and sweet! Really hone your elevator pitch and know where your book fits in the market.

LIVE PITCH

Deb Werksman – Sourcebooks Casablanca (USA) Editorial Director

Deb Werksman has been at Sourcebooks for the past twenty-three years, before which she had her own publishing company. She is the editorial director of romance fiction and acquires single title romance in all subgenres as well as romantic women’s fiction. Sourcebooks is largest woman-owned independent publishing house in the US. We’re known for our sales and marketing, as well as our focus on building authors’ careers.

What Deb is acquiring?

Minimum word-count required?  Single title only (80k and upwards). Also seeking Audible Originals of any length that don’t have a book planned yet.

The sub-genres or genres Deb is not not looking for? If it’s ok with you, I’d prefer NOT to answer this question. People don’t remember it’s what I DON’T want.

Genre or sub-genre Deb is particularly keen to see? Sexy Regency romance, Romcom, Historical and/or paranormal Romcom, Romantic women’s fiction, Momcom, small town contemporary romance, action/adventure romance, paranormal romance (especially shapeshifters or truly original vampires).

Personal favourite genre? I LOVE ALL MY GENRES.

Deb’s major turn-off in a book?  Again, I prefer to point toward what I want vs. what I don’t want.

What is likely to really knock Deb’s socks off besides an engaging voice and well-written book? The most important thing is the hook—I have to be able to talk about the book in 2-3 sentences in a way that communicates to the reader that it’s a MUST READ.

Deb’s advice to potential pitchers? 

It would be great to structure your pitch like this:

1. This [word-count] [subgenre] is a must read because: [HOOK—2 to 3 sentences]

2. I am a [debut, self-pubbed, hybrid, digi-first, traditionally pubbed] author with [#] books sold to readers

3. One paragraph about the main characters and the conflict.

Please remember that a pitch IS NOT a plot summary—if you’re telling me all about what’s happening in the story, that is not a pitch. Try to think about the READER and speak to that, because that’s what I’m listening for—how can I sell this to a very broad readership?

ONLINE PITCH

Carly Byrne – Harlequin Historical (UK) Editor

Carly Byrne is Editor for Harlequin Historical, as well as working with a number of authors across all four UK-acquired series lines. Carly joined the editorial team at Harlequin’s London office after completing an M.A. in popular literature, and what could be more popular than Harlequin romances! A diehard fan of everything romantic, with a particular penchant for a rugged hero, whether he’s wearing a Stetson, wielding a sword or wildly roaming the Highlands! Carly can’t believe she actually gets to read romances for a living! Find her on Twitter at @CarlyMByrne.

What Carly is acquiring?

I acquire for Mills & Boon’s Historical, Modern, Medical and Forever romance series. 

Across all these lines we’re looking for under-represented voices, own voices stories and diversity.  In addition, each series is looking for the following:

Modern – 50-55k words

  • Exciting, far-flung locations
  • Innovation in format or structure – tell us the story in an unexpected way!
  • The heroine driving the hooks – without impacting on her hero’s alpha status, of course
  • Twists on MOCs – this is probably our most commonly featured trope, so how to make it stand apart?
  • Attention-grabbing, super outrageous set-ups that hook the reader in from p1
  • Impulsive, messy, high-energy heroines who are no stranger to getting into trouble, and constantly challenge and provoke their heroes!

Historical – 70-75k

  • Regencies, Victorian, Vikings, Highlanders
  • Unusual time periods
  • Higher sensuality stories

Medical – 50-55k

  • Unique, medical and international locations – from the exotic to the less familiar eg Japan, Iceland, Thailand, Vietnam
  • Protagonists who work together in the Medical profession
  • Unique and innovative development of core themes – eg, pregnancy, babies,  
  • ER and other fast paced medicine, but also new and less familiar medical settings eg Children’s Transplant

Forever – 50-55k

  • Stories exploring a higher sensuality/higher level of sexual tension to help drive the conflict
  • Exotic, exciting and fresh locations
  • stories featuring glamour to create aspirational characters and settings.
  • Absolutely stand out editorial, with fresh and unique twists on popular themes.

Minimum word-count required?  50-75k (see above)

What is your major turn off in a book? A slow start with too much introspection or narrative – I like a story that starts with a bang and makes me want to read on!

What is likely to really knock your socks off besides an engaging voice and well-written book? A new, fresh twist on a classic romance trope! 

Any advice to your potential pitchers? Focus on your characters first, plot second.  Once you know who they are, what’s shaped then and what their journey is going to be – you can create the perfect plot to showcase this. 

ONLINE PITCH

Cat Clyne – Harlequin (USA) Editor

& Lynn Raposo (USA) Editorial Assistant 

Cat Clyne worked in academia and magazine publishing before moving to book publishing. Prior to joining Harlequin, Cat was an editor at Sourcebooks, where she built a diverse list of bestselling, midlist, and debut authors. For Graydon House, Cat acquires commercial and book club fiction, hooky women’s fiction, historical fiction, and thrillers. She is currently looking for strong, evocative stories that stay with the reader long after the last page. At the top of her wish list are diverse contemporaries and historicals by own-voiced authors. Found families and inter-generational immigrant sagas are of particular interest, as are international settings.

What Cat is acquiring?

Minimum word-count required?  Various

Genre or sub-genre Cat is particularly keen to see?  I’m looking for: Stories I haven’t heard before with a slam-dunk hook, punchy banter or a surprising take on evergreen tropes; smart rom-coms, fresh historicals with a modern feel and twisty psychological thrillers. Particularly interested in diverse or marginalized voices, swoon-worthy heroes who upset toxic masculinity and unforgettable characters.

Lynn Raposo started her publishing career in 2017 as an intern at Penguin Random House Canada and went on to roles at HarperCollins Canada and Harlequin, where she now works as an Editorial Assistant for Graydon House and HQN Books. She studied English, French, and Professional Writing at the University of Toronto before completing her publishing certificate at Humber College. She is a former bookseller and an avid piano player.

What Lynn is acquiring?

What is the minimum word-count your agency takes, or your publishing house requires?  Single title only (80k and upwards)

What are you acquiring?: Women’s fiction, contemporary romance, historical fiction, domestic suspense, romantic suspense. Book club-worthy fiction with strong commercial appeal for Graydon House, and fresh stories with a strong central romance for HQN. I’m keen on #OwnVoices stories as well!

What sub-genres or genres are you not looking for?

  • Non-fiction
  • Literary fiction
  • Young adult fiction
  • Poetry/novels in verse
  • Short story collections
  • Political thrillers/crime thrillers
  • Police procedurals (romantic suspense is okay though)
  • Sci-fi (fantasy is okay, as long as there is a focus on romance in the story)
  • Erotica

Is there a genre or sub-genre you’re particularly keen to see?

I’d love to see some smart romcoms.

What genre is your personal favourite?

Contemporary romance and women’s fiction. I love friendship stories, family stories (with bonds between siblings especially), and friends-to-lovers or enemies-to-lovers romance.

What is your major turn-off in a book?

Overly-villainized characters—I love a good antagonist, but they still have to be realistic! Same goes for any character with over-exaggerated qualities; balance and believability are key.

What is likely to really knock your socks off besides an engaging voice and well-written book?

A fresh hook or unique twist on a classic trope, and an atmospheric setting that really transports the reader.

Any advice to your potential pitchers?

A solid elevator pitch is very helpful, along with some comparative works to help me understand your vision for your work (that can include films/TV shows as well as books). If you love what you’re writing, your passion for it will come through naturally. I’m as excited to hear about your book as you are to pitch it!

COMBINED ONLINE PITCH

We usually make one-on-one appointments 15-30 minutes available specifically for BIPOC authors and other marginalized voices. Please select Cat/Lynn as your first preference when filling out the booking pitch form and email pitch@romanceaustralia.com so we know to schedule a longer appointment.

Annette Barlow – Allen & Unwin (Aus) Publisher/Editor

Annette Barlow has worked in the publishing industry for over 30 years, in bookshops, in sales, in editorial and for over 20 years as a publisher. Her list comprises fiction titles including many successful writers of commercial fiction such as Kate Morton, Fleur McDonald and Minette Walters. Her nonfiction titles are mostly memoir and include Jessica Rowe and Mary-Rose MacColl. Annette teaches at the Faber Writing at Allen & Unwin and is the publisher responsible for the annually awarded The Australian/Vogel’s Literary Award.

What Annette is acquiring?

Minimum word-count required?  Single title only (80k and upwards)

The sub-genres or genres Annette is not not looking for? I’m not on the lookout for category romance, sci-fi or novels with fantasy elements.

Genre or sub-genre Annette is particularly keen to see?  I’d love to find an author to join my list of talented rural romance writers, eg Karly Lane, Maya Linnell and Léonie Kelsall; rural crime would be great, eg Jane Harper, Chris Hammer and Lee Christine; cosier crime is also on my list, eg Kerry Greenwood and Sujata Massey. For the more literary authors among the RWA members, I’m looking for fascinating commercial women’s fiction, eg Kate Morton, Kirsty Manning, Monica McInerney and Natasha Lester; as well as gripping commercial suspense, eg Sally Hepworth, Petronella McGovern.

Personal favourite genre? Too hard! I enjoy so many and certainly all of the authors listed in the question above

Annette’s major turn-off in a book?  I am likely to put down a book that begins with a long set-up including lots of information dumps and lengthy explanations.

What is likely to really knock Annette’s socks off besides an engaging voice and well-written book? My favourite thing is a sense as I read that the writer is most definitely a storyteller. It’s impossible to define and the pitch coordinators have begged us to be specific so I’ll move on quickly to the next question.

Annette’s advice to potential pitchers? Try not to be nervous when you pitch. Remember publishers need you. We need to publish wonderful authors and why shouldn’t it be you this time?

LIVE PITCH

Beverley Cousins – Penguin Random House (Aus) Fiction Publisher

Beverley Cousins, Fiction Publisher at Penguin Random House Australia, had twenty years’ experience of London publishing before moving Down Under in 2007. During her career, she has worked with a number of international brand-name crime authors, including Minette Walters, Colin Dexter, Nicci French, Sue Grafton, James Patterson and Janet Evanovich, and is currently the publisher for bestselling authors Judy Nunn, M. L. Stedman, Candice Fox, Nicole Alexander, Minnie Darke and Deborah Rodriguez, among others.

www.penguin.com.au

Insta: @_bev_cousins

What Beverley is acquiring?

Minimum word-count required?  Single title only (80K words).

The sub-genres or genres Beverley is not not looking for? 

No science fiction, fantasy, horror. We do consider some dystopian novels, however.  No straight category romance.

Genre or sub-genre Beverley is particularly keen to see? 

Historical women’s fiction – World War I or World War II in particular (though not exclusively!). Cold War and 1960s also.

Psychological suspense with strong female lead.

Action thrillers.

Personal favourite genre? My personal favourite is psychological suspense and crime fiction.

Beverley’s major turn-off in a book?  Anything that is too over-stylised. To me, it comes across as trying too hard. Fresh, engaging, readable prose is all I’m really after!

What is likely to really knock Beverley’s socks off besides an engaging voice and well-written book? A clever plot that can tease the reader in a few lines. Perhaps a question, or a moral dilemma, for example. In other words, a strong hook that our marketing team can get their teeth into. Do think about what words (shoutline and/or blurb on the back) that would appear on the cover to entice a reader.

Beverley’s advice to potential pitchers? Please don’t spend the full pitch telling me the plot. A short summary of the plot is great – if I want to know how it ends (more usual for crime fiction) I will have the time to ask for that. Also talk about the readership you believe it will appeal to, perhaps suggest other authors it’s like, just so I can get a sense of how we would position it in the market. Also give a short bio and publishing history (if any).

ONLINE PITCH

Kelly Hunter – Tule Publishing Group (Aus) Editorial Director

Kelly Hunter is the Editorial Director of the Holiday imprint for Tule Publishing Group. Multi award-winning USA Today Bestselling author of short contemporary romance. 

Kelly is based in Australia, published internationally and has plenty of excellent industry reviews, awards and sales to boast of. She juggles editorial and writing duties to the best of her ability and tends to put social media last on her list of things to do. In recent years her scales have leaned towards editing, anticipating story market directions, and celebrating Tule’s talented author cohort. Kelly’s dream awards evening? When stories she’s had a hand in editing take out all the awards. Yes, all.  

What Kelly is acquiring?

Minimum word-count required?  50-60K wordcount.

The sub-genres or genres Kelly is looking for? At the moment, I’m NOT looking for one-off single title romance or women’s fiction stories.

Genre or sub-genre Kelly is particularly keen to see?  Short contemporary romance (50-60K wordcount) featuring compelling characters (particularly heroines), tense emotional situations and a strong sense of place. Australian and international settings welcome. A story world that can be built out to contain additional stories welcome. 

Personal favourite genre? Short contemporary romance with humour and heart. Not exactly rom-com but close. Also a fan of Australian Rural Romance.

Kelly’s major turn-off in a book?  When the author sets up a beautifully strong and compelling conflict and then chips away at the edges without ever digging in. Get the shovel out. Better still, bring the bobcat.

What is likely to really knock Kelly’s socks off besides an engaging voice and well-written book? A wholly unique premise and laughs on page one.

Kelly’s advice to potential pitchers? Relax. You’ve got this! I often sit on the author side of the pitching process. I often stuff up my story details completely because I lose my words and then get nervous and it’s all downhill from there. It’s really not all downhill from there–the person you’re pitching to wants you to succeed. Also, be passionate about your story, not diffident. This is not the time for typical Aussie downplaying of your skills, successes and the unique strengths you bring to your project.

ONLINE PITCH

Rachael Donovan – Harper Collins (AUS) Local Editor

Rachael Donovan is a publisher for Harlequin Books, a division of HarperCollins Publishers Australia. She has been in the Australian publishing industry for fifteen 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 the kinds of unforgettable characters that you can’t forget. 

The minimum word-count Rachael’s publishing house requires?

Single title only (80k and upwards).

Category length (45k-55k) – for Escape only.

Sub-genres or genres Rachael is not looking for?

For  Mira: Erotica, fantasy, paranormal, young adult, horror, contemporary romance set overseas, regency historical romance.

For Escape: Erotica, horror, gritty crime.

A genre or sub-genre Rachael is particularly keen to see? Strong sparkly romance, women’s life fiction, historical romance, cracking adventures, historical epics and family saga.

Personal favourite genre? Like most people who work in publishing, I’m first and foremost a reader – and a wide-ranging reader. Any genre is good, as long as it has great voice, a sense of freshness and makes for compulsive reading.

Rachael’s major turn-off in a book? Characters withholding information from the reader, while referring to the fact they’re keeping a secret.

What is likely to really knock Rachael’s socks off besides an engaging voice and well-written book?  Immersive world-building. Relatable characterisation and a cracking pace.

Rachael’s advice to potential pitchers? We’re keen to hear from you!

ONLINE PITCH

Rebecca Saunders – Hachette (AUS) Head of Fiction

Rebecca Saunders is the head editor for Hachette.

The minimum word-count Rebecca’s publishing house requires?

Single title but open to receiving word lengths from about 65k as I can work with the right author to develop the story.

Sub-genres or genres Rebecca is not looking for?

Genre romance, category romance, historical romance.

A genre or sub-genre Rebecca is particularly keen to see? Domestic psychological suspense, book-club or reading-group fiction.

Personal favourite genre? Psychological suspense, multi-generational family drama, general fiction.

What is likely to really knock Rebecca’s socks off besides an engaging voice and well-written book?  

A concept that can be communicated to readers within a couple of sentences.

If I asked you why you would recommend your book to a reader you could answer that question.

Rebecca’s advice to potential pitchers? No need to be nervous! We’re in this together. I also want to hear about you, not just your novel.

LIVE PITCH (FRIDAY ONLY)

Nicola Robinson – Harlequin Books (AUS) Acquiring Editor

Nicola Robinson is commissioning editor at Harlequin Australia, where she works with authors including Fiona McCallum, Alison Stuart, Sarah Barrie and Mary-Lou Stephens. Previously she was senior editor at HarperCollins Australia, where she edited fiction and non-fiction, including books by Dervla McTiernan, Holly Ringland, Jimmy Barnes and Stan Grant. Nicola is based in Sydney.

The minimum word-count Nicola’s publishing house requires?

Single title only (80k and upwards)  YES – for both our print and digital lists.

Category length (45k-55k) YES – for digital only.

Novella or less (40k down to short story) YES – for digital only.

Sub-genres or genres Nicola is not looking for?

Sci-Fi, Fantasy

A genre or sub-genre Nicola is particularly keen to see? Crime, Thriller, contemporary women’s fiction, historical.

Personal favourite genre? Toss up between crime and historical!

Nicola’s major turn-off in a book? Unconvincing dialogue.

What is likely to really knock Nicola’s socks off besides an engaging voice and well-written book?  Great ideas.

Nicola’s advice to potential pitchers? Don’t be nervous. (I am very nice.)

ONLINE PITCH

Nicole Fischer Avon Books (HarperCollins)

Editor Nicole Fischer has been on the hunt for the next great romance for as long as she can remember. From reading Jude Deveraux with a flashlight at 4am, to secretly ordering used Sandra Brown paperbacks with her mother’s credit card, she’s always had her nose buried in a love story—or what she wished was a love story (Nancy Drew and Ned Nickerson did not get enough action!).

ONLINE PITCH