Having returned last Sunday from the New York Pitch Conference I have only just achieved better sleeping habits. 🙂 What I learnt and the opportunities that opened up to me were even better than expected.
Thank you so much to the Sunshine Coast Council and Arts Queensland for the funding to attend the conference and the opening up of opportunities for pursuing publication for my novel Where the Sun Rises.
I am forever grateful for the help of Saffron Drew, from the Sunshine Coast Council for her help throughout the process in obtaining the funding. Thank you so much for taking the time and helping me. Alison Quigley came along with me to the conference and this was excellent being able to share all of this with a close friend and excellent writer as well. Thanks Ali, you’re a lovely friend to me!
At the conference we were divided into three different Workshop Groups with different leaders, we had an amazing Workshop Facilitator, Best Selling Author, Ann Garvin. Ann is the author of “I like you just fine when you’re not around” and was so supportive, knowledgeable and enthusiastic, she was our biggest fan. Which made such a difference to the whole process. We felt completely supported and like she was a lovely coach and believed in our ideas.
On the first day Ann heard our pitches we had already written and worked through them with us, providing diagnostic advice for our story ideas. This helped me in one area of my plot. Ann allowed us to practice our pitches in front of the whole group and then provided one on one advice about our specific novel ideas. This process was so good for me it helped me to make the pitch more punchy, emotional and provoking curiosity in the Editor to want to know more. Motivation of the characters was an important aspect of my novel that Ann highlighted.
On the second day we pitched to Editor Bess Cozby from Tor Forge Macmillan and she was so lovely advising us all of how our pitches were and what we needed to focus on more. These were great tips and we used this to rewrite our pitches overnight. Bess was so lovely and was encouraging about each of our ideas. She told me my book had a riveting plot and was very timely. This was very encouraging to me. At the end of the day Ann told us that Bess wanted to see 50 pages from each of us. This was such amazing news. I am very grateful for this opportunity. We were all very excited.
The following day we had to pitch to two different editors and I was less nervous now that I had pitched a few times. On this day we were pitching to Senior Editor, Chelsey Emmelhainz – Crooked Lane Books and Lauren Jablonski Assistant Editor St. Martins.
Chelsey advised us about how to make our stories bigger than they were. She made suggestions for how we could do this. Lauren was lovely as well, she asked about our story plots, rising action, climax and plotting. She told me I had a very good story and good structure.
Finally, on the last day, we pitched to Editor, Samantha Zukergood from St Martin’s Press. She asked questions about us and our social media platforms etc and wanted to know about us to market who we were.
Overall, the whole process was enlightening and encouraging and I learnt a lot from the other participants as well. We all bonded and encouraged each other and shared knowledge we had. From this I also have another opportunity to submit to a publisher.
Finally, I gained a third opportunity that arose simply from asking someone directions! I was walking from the Met to MOMA and I was trying to find the best subway station to go to, and I asked this woman for directions. She helped me and then we went separate ways. I told her I was going to Central Park and she said would also go to the park as well. We walked together and sat down together. We got chatting and she asked why I was here and I told her about my book and what it was about. She said “things happen for a reason.” And I was like what does she mean? Then she said, “My daughter works for a literary agency in the film section. I will tell her about you tonight and you can email her your pitch.” I was blown away. Wow! Thank you, God. Anyway, I was like “that sounds great! Thank you so much.” And now I have contacted her daughter at the literary agency and we are in communication. I am very thankful to have this opportunity and it was simply from asking directions!
So, all in all, there were many things I learnt from the conference, including making the stakes high, conveying what a character wants and how they can’t have it, motivation, and simplifying a pitch to make it concise and exciting. There were other aspects of the industry I learnt about in regard to how to go about things and what to expect when published or getting an agent as well.
I learnt so much through this trip. I gained some phenomenal friends from the conference as well. I am extremely grateful to the Sunshine Coast Council and Arts Queensland for assisting me to attend the New York Pitch Conference. It has opened up wonderful avenues for this novel and helped me to see how to move forward with this novel into the future. Thank you so much again! I am forever grateful.
This project is supported by the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland.
The Regional Arts Development Fund (RADF) is a partnership between the Queensland Government and Sunshine Coast Council to support local arts and culture in regional Queensland.