Success Story from the Pitch
Editor's Note: Kathleen Peterson attended the last Pitch Conference. She came away from the experience with a success: the book she pitched was picked up by agent (and Loft founder) Marly Rusoff and will be published in summer 2017. We asked Kathleen a few questions about her experience. Remember: registration for the Pitch opens Nov 15 for members, and Nov 17 for general public! More info here.
The Loft: What were some highlights and/or biggest takeaways for you from the last Pitch conference?
Kathleen Peterson: It was really valuable to just chat with the agents and editors in casual settings. It was a great way to gain knowledge of industry terminology and see who had an interest or expertise in your genre. Also the panel discussions were great – fun but very informative. Also helped a lot to talk to other writers about their work – you learn that some are way beyond where you are with your project, and that others are not yet to the point you’ve reached. I find it extremely interesting to hear about other people’s projects and their writing and research styles.
L: Your manuscript that you pitched at the conference was taken on by agent and Loft founder Marly Rusoff -- what were your biggest takeaways from this experience?
KP: Marly was so approachable and warm. It helped with ‘the pitch’ that I didn’t feel I needed to give a polished / frenetic elevator speech. It was just a good conversation with a very engaged professional. It was encouraging and uplifting. I’ve been working on this novel for 12 years so I knew it inside out. Marly agreed to read the first 50 pages, then a few days later the entire manuscript. So that was exciting. Then she told me that she loved the book, which was amazing. Even if she hadn’t been able to sell it, the fact that someone so respected, talented, and experienced ‘fell in love’ with it was the most affirming moment of my writing life.
L: What has the process been like since then on your road to publication?
KP: Marly knew which editors she wanted to submit it to first, and Nan Talese at Doubleday took it. Nan is a LEGEND – I was very honored that she believed in my novel. So it was a whirlwind at first – and very exciting and surreal! But then a lot of patience was needed as contracting, proofs, graphics, etc. all took a number of months to progress. But having such a talented and experienced agent is very confidence building! Marly has been a huge help. Current estimate is that the book will come out Summer of 2017.
L: Any advice for other writers on a similar path?
KP: Never give up. I used to hear that and dismiss it as trite. But it’s true. After 12 years of rewrites and great beta-reader feedback, I felt this book was as good as I could make it. My hope was that a regional press might be interested. I always believed getting a book deal with a ‘big NY house’ wasn’t possible. But here I am. Believe in your work and make it the best you can. Definitely attend writer conferences that provide opportunities with meet with agents and editors. That one-on-one time is a real gift and actually gives context to your work for the publishing professionals since the author is sitting across from them.
L: Can you tell us about your upcoming book, please?
KP: The title is Girl on the Lee Side and it’s set in present day Ireland. Siobhan Doyle has been raised by her uncle in the west of Ireland. Due to their isolation and his over-protectiveness Siobhan is a socially crippled young woman. Siobhan’s mother was killed in an I.R.A. bombing in the north and her uncle has kept from her the fact that her biological father is still alive She is obsessed with ancient Irish poetry and folklore, a passion that her uncle instilled in her, and is content to live on “the lee side” of life, working in the pub, reading her literature, daydreaming, and writing her own poetry. Siobhan has very few friends, but has a close, life-long relationship with a group of travelers who visit the pub twice a year. The peace of her life is disturbed by a visit from an American scholar of Irish literature. His arrival awakens in Siobhan the first stirrings of interest in life beyond the Leeside Pub. When her biological father shows up soon after, Siobhan confronts her own history and gains new insight and perspective on who she is and what her future can be.
L: Anything else you'd like to add?
KP: I have always just written fiction because I love to write about characters, and tell their stories. Having the chance to be published is icing on the cake, but I would’ve kept writing without it.