From Pitch to Publication (pt 2): Helene Young

Welcome to the second 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 multi award-winning author, Helene Young:

1. Congratulations on receiving a publishing contract! Which conference did you pitch at and had you ever pitched before?

I pitched at the 2008 RWA conference. I had pitched before in 2007 and also at the RWAmerica conference in 2008.

2. What was going through your mind before the pitch, and afterwards did you feel it had been a success?

I’d made sure I’d met Bernadette Foley before I pitched to her so I felt more relaxed. I was conscious I needed to sell her me as a marketable writer as well as my manuscript. When she asked for a full manuscript I floated out of the room on a high.

3. How long did it take to hear back after your submission? What was the next step?

It took two months for a response and it went something like this. ‘I think the novel could be on the way to something, but it’s not there yet.’ Bernadette then set out some very clear suggestions, which I took on board.

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?

It took me five months to rework the manuscript, chew my nails off, procrastinate and eventually hit send. Two months and one week after that Bernadette called me with an offer to publish.

5. How did it feel when you received an offer of publication?

I was elated. We were on holidays in the Whitsundays on a yacht and I know the smile lines ended up tanned into my face because I didn’t stop smiling for ten days!

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 those that are thinking of pitching – remember you are selling yourself as well as your story. Be friendly, engaging and remember to breathe!

For those who are waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting, I say get writing! Once you’ve been accepted for publication editing will take a large slice of your time. That means the waiting time is the best chance to get on with your new project – and it will stop you obsessively checking emails and/or the letterbox!! And also remember to decode the reply carefully. A rejection may in fact be an invite to work more on the manuscript using their directions 🙂

7. Which book got published as a result of your conference pitch? Can you give us a brief blurb?

Wings of Fear (Border Watch).

High above the crystal-blue waters of North Queensland, Captain Morgan Pentland patrols the vast Australian coastline. When Customs Agent Rafe Daniels joins her crew, she is immediately suspicious. Why is he boarding her plane when she isn’t there? And why is he asking so many questions?

What Morgan doesn’t know is that Rafe has her under surveillance. Critical information about their Border Watch operations is being leaked and she is the main suspect but when Morgan and Rafe are shot down in a tragic midair attack, they realise they have to start working together – and quickly. One of Australia’s most loved icons is the next target and they have only nine days to stop it.

Will they uncover details of the plot in time, or will the tension that is growing between them jeopardise everything?


Thanks for sharing your experience with us today!

Thanks for asking me 🙂

You can visit Helene at her website, and on Facebook and Twitter.

Leave a comment


  1. I’d love to see a photo of the tanned-in smile, Helene! 😉 This is such an encouraging story, not just for the successful pitch, but the succesful re-write as well. Just goes to show how every step of the process can be one step closer. And what a great book resulted! Thanks for sharing the story with us!

  2. Imelda, I have an entire album from that holiday and there are no photos where I’m NOT smiling 🙂

    I think decoding the rejection letter is an art form all of its own. A ‘no’ isn’t necessarily a ‘no’. If an editor/publisher is willing to spend their very precious time sending you their thoughts on reworking your manuscript then they’ve seen something that shows potential. Grab those thoughts with both hands and get editing!!


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