Overlooking the picturesque Swan River, the UWA Watersports Complex was the perfect venue for the annual Fremantle Press Breakfast. Supported by the Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund, the breakfast is an author pitching and networking event, and is an opportunity for event programmers, librarians and booksellers to discover upcoming authors and new books for 2019 to 2020.
Copyright Agency CEO Adam Suckling began the formal proceedings by stating that the event is ‘a great example of collaboration for the benefit of writers.’ He also stressed the importance of applying for the Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund grants, which are now open for applications until 30 March 2020.
Twenty-one Fremantle Press authors were given just two minutes to pitch themselves and their books. The speakers were all very unique and lively in their presentations, and gave excellent examples of how their skills, expertise and professional backgrounds could be beneficial for potential workshops, interviews, school events or book clubs.
From the comedic allure of Jon Doust, to the suspenseful drawl of Yuot A. Alaak, to the creative banner presentation by Elaine Forrestal, each pitch left me wanting more. Including books for children, memoirs and talks on climate change, there was a considerable diversity of pitches on offer for our guests. I also took note of how each author wove their chosen genres into what they could offer. For example, Shirley Marr’s Little Jiang, a novel for middle readers featuring a hopping vampire based on Chinese folklore, could be employed in a discussion on migration and cultural heritage, whereas Julie Sprigg’s memoir about working as a physiotherapist in Ethiopia, Small Steps, could be used to advocate for travel writing.
Alexander Thorpe had a stand-out pitch and left the whole room laughing at his line, ‘My book’s still in the process of being edited so, for now, if you imagine a book you’d like to buy … that’s what it looks like.’ Death at the Station will be out in October 2020. Personally, it was also an exciting moment for me to see Josephine Taylor spruik her debut novel Eye of a Rook (November 2020) since I had worked alongside her at Westerly last year. And I’m not ashamed to admit that after this event, my bank account is running a little dry from all the books I’ve bought. I am especially excited for Bron Bateman’s poetry book Of Memory and Furniture.
Although this event was explicitly for authors and event planners, there was the opportunity for everyone to learn something from each author’s delivery. About a dozen aspiring authors from the Four Centres Emerging Writers Program attended as part of their professional development. While networking, I overheard one of the emerging writers comment how they ‘learned 10 years worth of tips in 30 minutes’, which I think perfectly sums up the success of the event.
The opportunities and support the event provided were eloquently summed up by Josephine Taylor: ‘I’d been to the annual Fremantle Press Breakfast in the two years before 2020: first representing Westerly as an editor and publisher; and then from the Four Centres Emerging Writers Program, as well as for Westerly. I thought this year would be even more confusing now I was adding upcoming Fremantle Press author to that bundle, and pitching instead of watching, but somehow everything came together. Part of it, I think, is because the publication of my novel, Eye of a Rook, felt like the natural outcome of many years in those other roles ... But I felt held in another way too – by the whole Fremantle Press team, including the authors; by the organisations that support Fremantle Press; by the event organisers who attended; and by the generous celebration of other emerging writers.’
About the author
Jessica Checkland is a graduate of Edith Cowan University with a bachelor’s degree in writing. In 2016, she was awarded an ECU Excellence Scholarship. She has volunteered at the Peter Cowan Writers Centre and coordinated their 2018 Publication Event. She has written for Junkee Media (2017), worked as a sub-editor of literature and film at Dircksey Magazine (2019), and worked for Westerly Magazine (2019) through their internship program. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, writing, and indulging in tsundoku (book hoarding).
For more information on the Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund grants, please visit their website.