Conference News | Secrets of a Successful Pitch

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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.

Good Luck!

Michelle Diener

Pitch Coordinator

RWA Conference Team Fremantle 2020


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