Thursday, May 19, 2016

Tips from Meet the Publishers Day

A couple of weeks ago, I attended the Meet the Publishers Day at the State Library of Victoria. It was a wonderful day, full of catching up with friends, talking about writing, and hearing from publishers about what they are looking for in manuscripts.



While the focus was on publishing children's books, there was still a lot of advice that applies to everyone.

I came back with pages and pages of notes. Some of the tips include:


  • Different publishers have different personalities, they are looking for different things. A rejection from a publisher could be that you've submitted to the wrong publisher. Do your research as submitting to the right publisher will increase your chances of getting published.
  • Write the story you want to write rather than following trends in writing. If the story you want to write is on trend, still write it. Don't write a story that is on trend because you think it will be published. There is always room for a great story regardless of trends.
  • Every story needs a hook. There are a lot of sweet stories written that don't have a hook. They don't get picked up.
  • Publishing is a business. They need to know how they are going to sell your book.
  • Publishers are happy to see multiple manuscripts at once, just not too many! They want to know you have more than one story in you.
  • Find your writing DNA - if writing romance is your thing, then write it. Don't force writing a different genre because you think you should.
  • Don't be disheartened by closed doors, keep going to find an open one
  • Spend a lot of time on the opening of the manuscript
This is just a short summary of my notes.

Along with listing to panels of publishers, I also had the opportunity for a three minute pitch to a publisher. Some of the tips I have for these pitches are:

  • Write your pitch before the event, don't make it up on the spot
  • Time your pitch and make sure it is shorter than your time. When I practiced my pitch it was 1.5 minutes
  • Leave plenty of time for questions and discussion with the publisher
  • Take a relevant prop. I took a Rubik's cube as that is what my book was about. It helped to break the ice with the publisher and gave something to talk about, it also helped me feel less nervous
I really hope they run this event again next year. There were so many amazing people there and I learned so much from the publishers who were generous with their time and advice. The weekend also gave me renewed confidence in writing and submitting to publishers.


Melissa Gijsbers lives in Melbourne with her two sons and pet blue tongue lizard. During the day she works as business manager in the family business.

Follow her writing journey at www.melissawrites.com.au and www.melissagijsbers.com

12 comments:

  1. Sounds like a fantastic day, Melissa. And thanks for some great tips. I like your idea of bringing along a prop to the pitch :)

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    1. Thanks Jeanette. I found the prop helped me with nerves as before I went in, I was fiddling with the cube, though making sure I didn't scramble it as I can't solve it!!

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  2. Great post Melissa. Thanks so much for sharing. I am just about to dust off my older manuscripts and try a few new publishers so your tips were most welcome. Sounds like a fabulous day.

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    1. Thanks Anusha. All the best with your dusting :)

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  3. Good on you, Melissa, for fronting up to this event and also for pitching to a publisher! I have benefited from such events as this at the NSW Writers' Centre in the past. And your tips are all great--thank you.

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    1. Thanks Jo-Anne. It was a bit of a miracle I made it, on the Thursday night before I had no sleep as I was in emergency with my son! I'm so glad I made the effort to attend and pitch.

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  4. It sure was a day with lots to take away, thanks for you summary, Melissa - it was great to finally meet you!

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    1. It was an amazing day, I hope they do one next year :) It was great to finally meet you too.

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  5. Great common sense advice, Melissa.I've heard it referred to as an 'elevator pitch'. That is if you happened to share the space with a publisher, after introducing yourself, come out with it in the short time it takes to reach your floor. That idea helped me perfect my pitch.

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    1. I've found an elevator pitch for this sort of event is too short. With the time I had, I was able to come up with something I was happy with :)

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