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Pitch Slam at Storylines National Children's Writers and Illustrators Hui

Storylines National Writers and Illustrators' Hui
King's School, Remuera, Auckland, Friday 6 - Sunday 8 October 2017
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Morning and afternoon teas were great networking opportunities
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Hui volunteers take a break
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The Sunday afternoon Kaumātua Panel

The three-day hui in early October  2017 was an invaluable opportunity for creators of children's and YA material from across the country to exchange ideas, socialise, and learn from others. It continues the tradition of children’s authors’ hui which began with a gathering held at Joy Cowley’s home in the Marlborough Sounds in 1992. Similar hui have been held in Wellington and Christchurch in rotation with Auckland. One of the key events was an opportunity to pitch to publishers and agents.
Here's a report on the outcome:

Pitch Slam Results: The Pitch Fairy reports back

Around 57 delegates put their hands up to pitch to publishers and agents at the Storylines National Children’s Writers and Illustrators Hui. This was a rare opportunity in New Zealand – a chance to discuss writing projects or illustration skills with the people who might turn them into books.
Four agents from New Zealand, Australia and USA took part, along with six New Zealand publishers. A seventh publisher who was unable to attend the hui also accepted pitches by email. Most of those who pitched had multiple appointments, giving them several opportunities to interest publishers in their work. These pitches were also a chance to meet the agents and publishers and to practice the art of pitching one’s work, therefore offering potential long-term benefits.

Held over two hours with appointments at five-minute intervals, the pitching sessions were an energetic and intense hive of activity. People’s expressions were by turns anxious and relieved, but the general consensus seemed to be a positive one. In all, more than 100 pitches were made.

The hui was nine months ago now, and as the key convenor for the pitch sessions the Pitch Fairy wondered how people had got on. So I got in touch and asked. As is the nature of the publishing industry, a few people are still awaiting decisions on material sent to both publishers and agents. Good luck to those of you still waiting to hear. One respondent now has agent representation as a direct result of her pitch. Another found the pitch appointment the perfect opportunity to confirm her already suggested role as illustrator for a previously discussed project, and a delegate who pitched by email has just agreed to a co-publishing deal with a Wellington publisher for her collection of junior fiction. And in perhaps the most advanced result to date, illustrator Nicky Sievert, who pitched her skills to publisher One Tree House, has just illustrated the book Of Course You Can, which is out now and already getting a great reception, with reviewer Annemarie Florian having this to say about Nicky’s work:

"Nicky Sievert employs a range of equally understated illustration techniques and perspectives that move the story along with a good-natured ease, while additional visual narratives around everyday ephemera are to be found quietly humming along in the background. Given that this is her first book, she’s one to watch for the future." – Review from The Sapling,4  July 2018

Congratulations Nicky!

There might be other good results out there that we don’t know about. If there are, congratulations and we wish you every success with your project!! And if you want to let us know, we’d love to hear all about it. Email the Pitch Fairy at pitchnews@storylines.org.nz . I’d also like to commend everyone who pitched. It isn’t easy to distill the essence of your project and deliver it in three minutes to people you might not have met before. Excellent effort all round. If you couldn’t quite get across the line this time I hope you found the experience useful, and we wish you all the best for future submissions and pitches. It is a tough industry out there. Direct pitching represents a golden opportunity to access industry people, especially now a number of publishers are closed to unsolicited submission for part or all of the year, and we are really pleased to see these results are slightly better than what might be expected from unsolicited submissions to publishers and agents under normal conditions. There are so few chances these days to meet publishers and agents face to face, especially those from overseas, so we were very excited to be able to offer the Pitch Slam, and we hope we might be able to offer more of this kind of opportunity again in the future. Watch this space. And keep polishing those pitches.
For more information on submitting work to publishers read Melinda Szymanik's Top Ten Tips on this topic.

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Storylines Trust Chair Libby Limbrick hosts a discussion with international agents Kendra Macus and Pippa Masson
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Author/illustrator Donovan Bixley runs one of the workshops

Kings School Chapel was an ideal venue for plenary sessions.
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The Saturday evening banquet included a "guess the wine" competition.
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Guests at the Saturday evening banquet dinner.
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Check out our line-up of presenters and panellists and learn about their credentials.



Storylines Trust Te Whare Waituhi Tamariki and Friends of Storylines Te Pou o Te Whare Waituhi Tamariki together form New Zealand’s only national organisation working year-round to promote New Zealand children’s and young adult literature through activities that include a major national Story Tour to schools, early childhood centres and communities, and awards for writers, illustrators and those who work in the area of New Zealand children’s literature



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