Business Appointments and Pitching at Love in Isolation, 2020

Update on Pitching at the Online Conference

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. We have left the information detailing the genre requirements of the editors, agents and business professionals who would have attended Fremantle in August below, as most have indicated they are happy to consider pitches in a virtual form. We will update you with a more definitive list as soon as we know more.

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.

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

Alex 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.

These are Alex’s requirements for anyone who wants to pitch to her:

– Finished manuscripts only

– 70,000 – 120,000 words

– Polished and ready-to-submit within 30 days

– Nothing already published (or anything that is in a series that has already been self-published)

– No urban fantasy (sorry I still love it, but not sellable at the moment)

– No contemporary or rural romance, unless it is also mystery/crime, suspense, SF or fantasy, or YA.

– Yes to science fiction, fantasy (except urban fantasy), crime and mystery, women’s fiction, historical, YA, cross genres.

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

Tanera 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

Anna 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!

What Anna is looking for:

I generally am looking for full length, over 80,000, but there isn’t a minimum word count as our publishing house has such a range of different lists. If something was brilliant but 60,000 words, or a selection of short stories, I would still look at it!

What Anna isn’t looking for:

I’m not looking for non-fiction or children’s, though am interested in very upper-end YA (16+). I’m also not looking for literary fiction. We have a lot of sagas on the list already, so it would need to be exceptional, and also the market is quite crowded for psychological suspense at present – same rules apply!

The genre or sub-genre Anna is particularly keen to see:

 Funny, thoughtful love stories where the protagonists are over 40!

What is Anna’s favourite genre?

I really don’t have one as I’ve always read and enjoyed books across a whole spectrum of fiction. I have a particular love of epic fantasy romance – great world building and great love stories – or books with a dystopian element that manage to remain uplifting, engaging and commercial. I also enjoy books that cross over lots of genres like Station Eleven.

What is Anna’s major turn-off in a book?

Inconsistent characters whose motivations don’t hang together.

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

Sorry to be boring, but back to the characters! If there’s an outstanding character with a great arc, someone whose fate I care about (whether they are a good person or not), then I’m generally hooked. I also really love seeing strong, chemistry-filled relationships between characters, where romantic or not.

Anna’s advice to prospective pitchers:

– The first few chapters are more important to me than the synopsis. Plot is fixable, tone of voice, characterisation and freshness of style is harder to improve.

– Get to know your characters really, really well – what do they think they want and what do they really want?

– Remember that in real life people very rarely say what they mean – for your dialogue to feel natural it’s important that you think not only about the words your characters are saying but also the things they can’t say, wish they could say, or are trying to hide.

Annette Barlow

Annette 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

Rachel 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 Escape: 40,000 – 80,000 (short novel) & 81,000 – 100,000 (novel)

What Rachel isn’t looking for:

For HQ Fiction and Mira imprints: Erotica, Horror, YA and Children’s, Fantasy & Sci-Fi, Georgina/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.

Nicola Robinson

Nicola Robinson is a commissioning editorat Harlequin Books.

Nicola is looking for historical fiction, contemporary fiction and cosy crime.

Length in all cases is 80K to 120K.

Nicola is not keen on fantasy or paranormal, and doesn’t publish YA. She loves a good Scots historical!

Liz Pelletier

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!

Harlequin

HarperCollins (Harlequin) has let us know they will be sending an international editor to the Fremantle 2020 Conference. Details coming as soon as possible.

All the best to everyone who will be pitching at Fremantle 2020, I look forward to seeing you there!

Michelle Diener

Pitch Coordinator

RWA Conference Team Fremantle 2020