Welcome to the first in a series of special guest interviews with authors who received a publishing contract after pitching their manuscript at an RWA conference. I hope these interviews motivate and inspire you with the knowledge that pitching appointments can and do lead to publication!
Please welcome our first author, Jennifer Kloester:
1. Congratulations on receiving a publishing contract! Which conference did you pitch at and had you ever pitched before?
I pitched at the RWAustralia Melbourne conference in August 2011. Only the month before I’d done my first ever pitch at the RWAmerica conference in New York but the Melbourne one felt quite different.
2. What was going through your mind before the pitch, and afterwards did you feel it had been a success?
I remember feeling really relaxed (which I was not at the New York conference pitching session). I went in knowing that I really loved my manuscript and that even if no one was interested I’d written a book from my heart. I had a lovely time with Sarah Fairhall from Penguin. She was friendly and engaged and she seemed really keen to read the book after I’d pitched it so I felt like I must’ve done something right.
3. How long did it take to hear back after your submission? What was the next step?
That was the amazing part. Penguin got back to me really quickly – in September, in fact. Trouble was, I didn’t get any of their emails. It took three weeks for one to finally come through asking me to phone them. It was pretty amusing when I rang the publisher, Jane Godwin, and told her she must have thought I was the coolest of aspiring authors because I hadn’t replied to their emails!
4. After submitting your full manuscript, did you get a call with an offer of publication, or did you have to make changes to your manuscript first?
They told me straight up that they really loved my book and offered me a contract. That didn’t mean I didn’t have to make changes though. I cut 35,000 words out of the manuscript almost immediately (a great learning opportunity) and in the past two months I’ve added some words while still cutting so have effectively cut another 5,000 words from the book. I’ve also reduced the POVs to one (my heroine’s). I had terrific editorial guidance from my editor at Penguin and I was happy to do (almost) everything she suggested. The joy of writing on a computer means that you can try anything and if you don’t like it you can always revert to the previous document. Having completed this latest rounds of edits I’m happy to say that my editor was really on the money and I think the book is better for the revisions.
5. How did it feel when you received an offer of publication?
Amazing, wonderful, fabulous, super exciting. I waddled round the house like a Penguin for a while and let myself absorb the thrill of it all.
6. Do you have any advice for writers who are thinking of pitching at the next conference, or for writers who have already pitched and are anxiously awaiting the results after sending in their submissions?
For the American RWA conference I’d done heaps of research about how to pitch and what to say and it was all really useful BUT in the end I think I was too worried about getting it all word perfect and came across stiff and awkward. I got requests for the manuscript but I think that was standard; I’m certain I didn’t get them because I’d conveyed my passion and enthusiasm for my novel.
The other thing I had at the Melbourne conference was a strong logline for my book: ‘It’s Cinderella meets the Prince and the Pauper in a modern setting with lots of fashion, romance and intrigue.’ That definitely got the editor’s attention.
7. Which book got (or is getting) published as a result of your conference pitch? Can you give us a brief blurb?
It’s called The Cinderella Moment and it comes out with Penguin Australia next August (so exciting!)
Sixteen-year-old Angel Moncoeur, daughter of a housekeeper, dreams of winning the Teen Couture competition so she can go to Paris to train with her idol, famed fashion designer Antoine Vidal. Disaster strikes when she discovers that Kristal Kane, the snooty daughter of her mother’s employer’s girlfriend, has stolen her designs and plans to pass them off as her own. Just when Angel thinks things cannot get any worse, her mother Simone becomes very sick and Kristal’s mother threatens to stop paying the hospital bills if Angel exposes Kristal’s deceit.
Angel’s best friend Lily de Tourney, who despises her father’s new girlfriend and her daughter, devises a plan for Angel to switch places with her so Angel can visit Lily’s estranged grandmother in Paris and secretly right Kristal’s wrong, while Lily fulfills her own dream of attending theatre school in London. Angel soon finds herself in the middle of a Summer Season filled with rich teens, haute couture, fancy parties, a Comtesse for a grandmother with whom she develops an unexpected bond—and her very own Prince Charming.
When Angel and Lily’s plot begins to unravel, Angel must prove to everyone that true talent and inspiration cannot be faked, and that a housekeeper’s daughter can truly be the belle of the ball.
Thanks for sharing your experience with us today!
**Stay tuned for the next Pitch to Publication interview on 15th Oct!