Welcome to the third 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!
1. Congratulations on receiving a publishing contract! Which conference did you pitch at and had you ever pitched before?
Thank You. I pitched Brumby’s Run at the 2011 RWA Conference in Melbourne, and no, I had never pitched before.
2. What was going through your mind before the pitch, and afterwards did you feel it had been a success?
I was absolutely terrified, much more nervous than I expected to be. But I had learned my pitch ad nauseum, so I didn’t really have to think about it too much. I pitched to Belinda Byrne of Penguin. She was so lovely, and did all she could to put me at my ease. Best of all, she asked for my full manuscript, so I felt the pitch had gone well.
3. How long did it take to hear back after your submission? What was the next step?
Belinda Byrne contacted me via email even before she’d finished reading, about three weeks after the August conference. Her comments were encouraging. Belinda rang to organise a meeting halfway through September, and by October I had a contract to publish Brumby’s Run.
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?
In October 2011 I received an email titled Penguin Letter of Offer for Brumby’s Run. This was based on the original manuscript that I’d pitched at the August RWA Conference. During my earlier meeting with Belinda Byrne however, she’d asked me how I felt about editing. She’d explained that she had some problems with the ending, feeling it had been rushed (which was true!) I told her that I would look forward to working with an experienced editor to improve my manuscript.
5. How did it feel when you received an offer of publication?
I literally couldn’t believe it. I printed the letter of offer and carried it around with me for weeks, checking occasionally to see if it was real. Brumby’s Run was published in July, in time for the 2012 RWA Conference, but sometimes I still think it was all a dream.
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?
Firstly, make it easy for the publisher or agent by categorising your book for them.
- i.e. Brumby’s Run is a 90,000 word contemporary rural romance set in Victoria’s beautiful upper Murray region.
Then tell them briefly what your story is about.
- i.e. Samantha Carmichael is a spoilt city girl who wants to build a new future high in the Victorian alps, even if it means stealing her sister’s life.
Only then should you give the longer version, no more than a few hundred words. Remember that you might be asked questions. My other tip is to practice your pitch, until it becomes automatic. Then if your nerves fail, you are more likely to remember it, and not ramble on describing your whole plot. There’s no time for that. If you’ve already pitched and haven’t heard, I think it’s fine to send an email reminder after a few weeks. If a publisher or agent shows interest, indicate that you welcome editing, and will be easy to work with.
As a result of last year’s pitch, Brumby’s Run was published in July 2012. My new novel, Firewater, will be out with Penguin in July 2013
A blissful carefree summer beckons for Samantha Carmichael. But her world is turned on its head when she learns she’s adopted – and that she has a twin sister, Charlie, who is critically ill.
While Charlie recovers in hospital, Sam offers to look after Brumby’s Run, her sister’s home high in the Victorian Alps. Within days city girl Sam finds herself breaking brumbies and running cattle with the help of handsome neighbour Drew Chandler, her sister’s erstwhile boyfriend.
A daunting challenge soon becomes a wholehearted tree change as Sam begins to fall in love with Brumby’s Run – and with Drew. But what will happen when Charlie comes back to claim what is rightfully hers?
Set among the hauntingly beautiful ghost gums and wild horses of the high country, Brumby’s Run is a heartfelt, romantic novel about families and secrets, love and envy and, most especially, the bonds of sisterhood.
Thanks for sharing your experience with us today!