Pitch Preferences


(No pre-conference material required)

Best pitches are straight forward, to the point, no pyrotechnics. “I have written book about… set in this time period, this is the research I have done…” etc.



(No pre-conference material required)

I’d love writers to think about a couple things:

1) A one or two sentence pitch that sums up the hook of the book, that will help convince booksellers and readers why this book is unique.

2) A sense of who their readers are, what other authors their readers would be reading.



(No pre-conference material required)

As far as general suggestions for pitching to me:

1) Review my guidelines BEFORE the conference. Since I only represent romance and women’s fiction, pitching anything else to me will not work.

2) Stories must be finished. No exceptions.

3) Know your story. You don’t get to read anything with me during the pitch session.

4) Be prepared to discuss where you see your future with writing romance and women’s fiction.

5) Be professional. I view pitch sessions as a job interview!



(Please send 3 chapters and a brief, one page, synopsis before the pitches)

You may be very nervous pitching to an agent but it could be the most important meeting of your writing career. Is it worth the stress? Yes, absolutely.

Many conferences allow writers to schedule short face-to-face meetings with agents and editors. It’s a great opportunity to pitch one’s book. The best advice is to be prepared. Polish your submission to the very best standard and remove any silly mistakes. Show the agent that you mean business and you are professional. Be ready to describe your book clearly and briefly. If you can’t, how is the agent going to describe it to an editor, who in turn has to pitch the book to their teams and ultimately to the publisher’s sales force, which has to pitch the book to the buyers?

Before the conference, it helps to do a little homework about the agent, agency and the writers it represents. At minimum, know whether the agent represents your kind of book. Don’t pitch your young adult novel to an agent who handles only adult books.

One of the things authors fear in the pitch sessions with agents and editors is criticism of their work, but that’s part of the deal. You have to be prepared for honest answers and comments.

This feedback will help you get the novel right for publication.

Remember that the agents and editors attending conferences are there because they want to be there, even if they are not paid and have to give up their free time to do it, they are looking for talented writers that they wish to represent. A conference pitch session is an introduction but it isn’t the place where deals are closed. It is an opportunity which could be the beginning of something wonderful.  If you don’t ‘pitch’ up, you’ll never know.




(I would like to see the first 1000 words and a one-page synopsis, and I will read the material ahead of time, so would like to receive this a couple of weeks beforehand).

Each session is unique to the individual and his/her requirements – the only thing I would add is ‘don’t be nervous!’




(I would like to see the first page of each manuscript beforehand, as I do think that will make for a more fruitful meeting).

In order for this pitching process to be most successful, you should think about how to pitch your novel in one or two sentences, just because we have seven minutes doesn’t mean you should take seven minutes to pitch your book! These sentences should hook me as an editor, and will hopefully eventually hook your readers in the bookstore. I’d be happy to help refine the pitch, but I’d encourage you to go to the bookstore and pick up books that interest you and read the first sentence of the back jacket or flap copy, chances are that copy is a winning sentence that defines and “pitches” the book and will be a good example of how to formulate your own pitch. After that initial pitch, you should be able to dive into what makes this book different from others that have been written, e.g. Are you writing a novel about Anne Boleyn? What’s your take and why is it new and fresh? Make sure you’ve read other competing books in the genre so you are 100% clear about why yours is different (the answer cannot be “mine is better!”). Why are you the writer to tell this story? What research have you done? What inspired you to tell the story?

I’m sure I’ll have other questions after, but working hard to clarify your pitch before sitting down with an editor/agent will help get the most out of this quick session and will help you understand where your book fits amongst others in the genre.



(It would be useful to have a short (and I do mean short!) proposal about the author’s work beforehand, because then the pitching session can be more productive).

In terms of general advice, I think it’s always really useful, and persuasive, for us as publishers if an author has really thought about the competition in the market, the best home for their book, and how they would pitch their book to actual readers, and which readers (and retailers) they are aiming at. Writers really need to think commercially as well, and demonstrate why their book is a good commercial prospect for us as publishers to pay them an advance for it.




(I would like to see an opening chapter and/or synopsis in advance which can be emailed to me at my agency.  Please make sure it is clearly marked ‘HNS conference’).

Pitching is an invaluable way of getting feedback but don’t be heartbroken if your chosen agent doesn’t want to sign you up. It may be no reflection on your work but down to many factors including personal taste. If I’m to represent an author I need to be confident that I’m going to love reading everything they write for the next 20+ years.




(No pre-conference material required)

I would simply ask for a clear description of the project and the author’s influences and objectives, by way of an introduction.



(Would like to see pre-conference material)

Please send a one page synopsis and the first chapter of your book tobarbara.alderton.@googlemail.com at least three weeks before the conference date.



(No pre-conference material required)

1) Know what your book is; if you don’t, how will anyone else?

2) Take it seriously, and be professional. If it helps to think of this as a job interview, do so. But no need to wear a suit.

3) Be succinct. Words are your tool, so any sloppiness will appear symptomatic.

4) Most of all, relax – I don’t bite…