Pitching a manuscript is the first step towards being published. It can be difficult, however, for new authors to promote themselves and their stories. As part of the Four Centres Emerging Writers Program, Fremantle Press hosted a pitching workshop on Friday 22 February.
During the workshop, Fremantle Press publisher Georgia Richter and marketing and communications manager Claire Miller shared their tips on pitching to publishers, readers and the media. Participants came from Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers' Centre (KSP), the Fellowship of Australian Writers WA (FAWWA), WA Poets Inc., and Peter Cowan Writers Centre.
Tell it as a story
A pitch needs to be engaging. It should have a beginning, a middle and an end. It is another form of storytelling, in which you describe who you are, what you are writing and why people need to read it. Workshop participant Kelly Van Nelson from KSP said she previously thought pitching to be a series of points, rather than a story. ‘You actually have to tell your story as a story and that is more interesting for the person you’re pitching to,’ she said.
Tailor your pitch
You wouldn’t try to convince a vegetarian to eat a steak, and the same goes for pitching a manuscript. You need to highlight particular elements and change your style based on who you are talking to and the environment in which you are pitching. Emma Young was one of the writers from KSP who received feedback on her pitch during the workshop. ‘I think it really drove home the message that you can’t just give the same pitch to everyone,’ she said. Jacquie Garton-Smith from FAWWA agreed, saying, ‘Claire’s encouragement to really target your pitching towards the audience you’re speaking with is really valuable.’
Make it conversational
It is important to hold a conversation when giving a pitch. Don’t simply bombard the listener with your story. Mel Hall from KSP said she learned during the workshop that pitching is ‘more about the flavour and the tone … Remember that you’re having a conversation with someone.’ Finding points of commonality with the person you are talking with can help too.
Inject personal details
Publishers, readers and the media want to know what influences your writing and what qualifies you to tell a story. Fable Goldsmith from WA Poets said their far-from-ordinary life drove their autobiographical collection of poetry. ‘I am a queer, gender-diverse mother and I have three children with special needs,’ they said. Including personal details in a pitch gives an inside look into your work and makes the pitch unique.
It is important not to waste any opportunity to pitch your manuscript. Georgia Richter described how she once accepted a manuscript after someone pitched it to her in the line for the toilets during Perth Festival Writers Week. A. J. Brian from WA Poets said, ‘I would never have thought to just go up to someone I’ve just met in a bathroom and be like, “Hey! How are you?” and then start a pitch.’ Boost your confidence levels by knowing your work thoroughly and practising often. That way, you’ll be ready when an opportunity presents itself.
The Fremantle Press pitch workshop was provided as part of the Four Centres Emerging Writers Program, which is supported by the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries.
About the author
Caitlyn Watts is currently based in Perth and writes on a freelance basis while completing her studies in Journalism and Professional Writing and Publishing. Her favourite topics to explore include travel, culture and food.