My heart pounds, my mouth is dry and my head swims as I imagine standing in front of a 200 strong crowd to deliver my manuscript pitch, and it’s still 5 days away. I am delighted and already feel like a winner having been selected to pitch my manuscript ‘Lost in Kakadu’ at the Bryon Bay Writers Festival. But of course I want to deliver a pitch that is both entertaining and gives me the best chance of a manuscript request from one or all three publishers that will be watching.
I agonised over the perfect words to deliver and thankfully the pitch workshop four days before the big event gave me focus, direction and some great tips. Last year’s pitcher – Neil Young told us of his experience and subsequent publication and Author Jesse Blackadder detailed the do’s and don’t of a perfect pitch. The evening was fun and informative and a great opportunity to meet the other five winners. For two days after that I rehearsed my pitch over and over until I knew it off by heart, but at the same time I was grateful that a rostrum would be on the stage to hold me up should my knees fail and hold my notes should I forget my speech.
Saturday morning rolls around fast and as the crowd gathers in the tent I am delighted by the energetic vibe and begin to relax, knowing that as long as I get my first sentence out I’ll be okay. The other five pitchers are just as nervous as I am and we are comforted by last year’s winner who assures us that the crowd wants us to do well.
After a brief introduction I’m finally on the stage, the publishers sit to my left and I realise that not only is every seat full but every available space in the marquee is occupied with someone standing. As I look around at the crowd I feel their genuine interest in my story and this is exactly what I’m here for – to get my novel into the public arena. I begin: “My name is Annette Kendall, and I’m passionate about our Australian wilderness and I love a thrilling adventure, this is why I wrote – Lost in Kakadu.” Great – the first sentence is out and I’m on my way. During my pitch I felt like I engaged the crowd, locking eyes with people who nod with interest, and they laugh when they were supposed to and everyone clapped with genuine applause at the end.
All three publishers gave me great feedback and John Hunter from UQ Press commented that my story was a cross between and I quote ‘Queer Eye for a Straight Guy, Masterchef and Survivor’ and he is spot on with this comment so I know my job here is done.
The whole experience was exhilarating and best of all, Allen and Unwin requested a copy of my manuscript. I would like to thank Northern Rivers Writers Centre and The Byron Bay Writers Festival for giving me this wonderful experience and I look forward to going to the festival again next year.