Well I did it – I went speed dating and yes I’m happily married. But this was of the literary kind, not the romance kind, although I have to admit I wanted the person on the other side of table to like me and my big novel idea. But with three minutes to impress it was tricky!
The Australian Society of Authors hosted Literary Speed Dating at the NSW Writers’ Centre last Saturday – Read more about it here: Australian Society of Authors. If you are thinking of going next year get in early! I booked it at least 6 months ago and have gotten more nervous as November 15th crept closer and closer. I tried to pretend it wasn’t happening for a while there! My good friend Helen and I booked together and were spurring each other on – it was so good to have someone to talk to who is in the same boat! Thanks Helen for all of your help and Skype session to practice.
So, by Friday the 14th November I’d done as much as I could:
- I had a finished manuscript
- I’d completed ‘Perfecting Your Pitch’ at the Australian Society of Authors with Pan Macmillan editor Claire Craig (Read my post What is your Book about? Pitching and putting yourself out there as there are some fantastic tips about pitching your book – you’d think I would have remembered to read through them before Literary Speed Dating! Ha!)
- Written my pitch over and over again to the point where I almost went mad
- Practised reading the pitch over and over again to the point where I did go mad
- Printed off the first few chapters, attached business cards, put them in a fancy plastic folder from Office Works with a copy of my synopsis and Literary CV – which included the fact that I own three naughty dachshunds (extremely relevant)
And off I went – and was pleasantly surprised.
I was a little worried – for some reason I had visions of it being a bit chaotic but it wasn’t. It was very well organised and not overly crowded. I’m unsure of how many people were pitching (I was told 50 people by one person and 65 by another) but either way there was plenty of time to see everyone, had I wanted to. My book is children’s (middle grade) fantasy so obviously Harlequin weren’t going to be interested even though my 14-year-old character does get to have his first pash. But, there was a good selection of publishers and one agent.
- Random House (children/middle grade fiction)
- Walker Books (Children’s books picture/junior/middle grade)
- Pan MacMillan (Adult – all genres and Science fiction & Fantasy for Momentum Books)
- Hachette Australia (Adult all genres and memoir nonfiction no speculative fiction)
- Hachette Australia (Children picture books/children/young adult)
- Harlequin (Romance)
- Giramondo (Debut Literary, memoir, non fiction)
- Harper Collins were supposed to be there but were unable to make it – but we are able to send out pitches via email.
- Alex Adsett Publishing (Literary Agent – YA & Adult Genre fiction crime/mystery/SF/fantasy/Romance-women’s fiction & paranormal)
I was pretty nervous for the first pitch with Holly Toohey at Random House but I shouldn’t have been as she was very nice. I knew my story and had practiced the pitch until I knew it off by heart. I may have stumbled a couple of times but I got it all out. I thought I’d be more nervous about people standing in line behind me and staring a publisher in the eye while I rattled off the pitch, but you know what, it was ok – I did it! And, she took my lovely plastic folder from Office Works with my chapters! Yay!
Now the next one! I followed on with Mary Verney at Walker Books, who also took my chapters, and Suzanne O’Sullivan at Hachette who wasn’t taking hard copies on the day but gave me her card to send chapters to her. Double yay!
I have my fingers, toes and eyes crossed that the full manuscript is requested!
All in all – it was a great afternoon. Thank you to all the publishers who took the time to listen to my pitch – it is much appreciated. It may well be that nothing comes of this but either way it helped me overcome my nervousness about pitching and each publisher gave me different advice on the novel and the pitch, which I will put to good use.
I also met some great people, including Jeffery Doherty who ended up being my queuing buddy, and caught up with Robin Riedstra who I drank lots of champagne with at a weekend workshop with Kate Forsyth, as well as the author of a few pirate tales Rebecca Perry, Elizabeth Foster and of course Helen Petrovic, my pitching buddy and sounding board for all things writing! There were others I chatted to and said hello to Literary Speed Dating as well – good luck to you all!
For more great in-depth articles on the day check out these posts by my fellow speed daters:
Helen Petrovic ‘Literary Speed Dating, Sydney Writers’ Centre 2014 #ASA’