Pitching successful manuscripts with Brigid Mullane

Julianna Toth  

Ahead of Between the Covers 2018, Brigid Mullane senior editor at Hachette publishing shares the inside scoop on how to pitch a successful manuscript.

When pitching manuscripts, it’s important to…

1. Remember that there are more ways than ever to get your manuscript read by a publisher.

While your first stop might be the submissions page of a publisher don’t forget about unpublished manuscript prizes, like the Richell Prize, and manuscript development programs like the Hachette QWC Manuscript Development Program, black&write! or Hard Copy.

2. Avoid taking things too personally. This can be difficult. Writing feels personal – and so can the rejection.

However much you might want to give the editor/publisher/agent a piece of your mind – don’t. Save your venting for over wine with friends. Stay calm and stay professional. When deciding whether to proceed with publication, how the writer will be to work with comes into consideration. The creation of a book can take many months and extensive collaboration between the author and the editorial team – it’s a better experience for everyone involved if the relationship is amiable and professional.

3. Consider the publisher you are pitching to. Don’t pitch a cookbook to the head of fiction, or spend hours crafting a beautiful pitch for your fantasy novel to an agent that doesn’t accept genre fiction.

Spend some time in bookstores. Find books that are in a similar field to yours and work out who publishes them. Once you have this knowledge, you can target specific publishers who have an interest in what you are doing, rather than take a scattershot approach.

4. Structure your pitch according to the submission guidelines. These might seem arbitrary but are in place for a reason. Each publisher will be slightly different but there will be a few constants that will make your pitch stand out if you are able to perfect them:

  • Synopsis
  • Biography
  • Cover letter.

5. Approach other writers. Talk to writers who have been there before and find out what worked for them. Start a writing group to workshop your writing. Swap your first draft with someone else’s and provide feedback. Other writers will be able to provide you with the honest, constructive criticism you need to improve your manuscript.

6. Present your work in its best light. Avoid sending first drafts or dashing off prize submissions on the night before the deadline. Pitching your manuscript is like going for a job interview – the more prepared and polished you are, the better your chances are of being successful.

Brigid Mullane will be speaking at Between the Covers 2018 this Thursday 22 March, 4pm AEDT.