2020 Editors, Agent and Pitches

Know what to pitch—and to whom


As part of making your author dreams come true, during the RWNZ 2020 conference you are eligible to pitch your manuscripts to our visiting agents and editors.

Each pitch appointment is ten minutes, and you’ll be able to talk about your manuscript and ask questions. Everyone is very friendly, and they’re excited to meet you. Don’t be scared. We’ve included some tips for successful pitches at the bottom of the page.

Have a look at our list of agents and editors below and decide who’s a good fit for your book. When you register for conference, tick the box beside the agent/editor you’d like to pitch.

You’ll also be asked to confirm that you have a finished manuscript and if you’re a previously published author. Pitching slots are getting more popular every year. We try to fit everyone into their chosen pitches while also giving delegates enough time with each agent/editor. In the event we receive more requests than available slots, priority will be given to RWNZ members with a completed manuscript and/or are previously published authors.

Sammia Hamer

Editor, Lake Union Publishing and Montlake Romance

Sammia Hamer is a fiction editor for the Lake Union Publishing and Montlake Romance imprints in the UK, where she has brought to the list exciting authors such as Amanda Prowse and Janet MacLeod Trotter. She also looks after bestselling authors such as Eliza Graham and Nick Spalding. Sammia started her publishing career with a scholarship sponsored by the Arts Council England that led to her MA in publishing and roles at a number of different publishing houses. She then moved on to become an editor at HarperCollins in the UK, where she worked at commercial imprint Avon for six years. In her spare time, Sammia can normally be found hanging out with her husband and one-year-old son.

Sammia will be accepting pitches for Amazon Montlake and Lake Union Publishing

What she’s looking for:

Jim McCarthy

Agent, Dystel, Goderich & Bourret

Jim McCarthy is an agent and vice president at Dystel, Goderich & Bourret, where he’s been for 20 years. He represents adult, young adult, and middle grade, both literary and commercial, and is particularly interested in literary fiction, underrepresented voices, fantasy, mysteries, romance, anything unusual or unexpected, and any book that makes him cry or laugh out loud.

What he’s looking for:

YA or MG in any category, commercial women’s fiction, contemporary romance, paranormal romance, urban fantasy


Harlequin US/UK

Name and bio TBA. This editor will be accepting pitches for all Harlequin Mills & Boon lines.

What he/she is looking for

Nicola Robinson

Editor, Harlequin Australia

Once described as ‘the editor from heaven’ by a happy author. Nicola’s approach to the editorial process is driven by:

  1. an eye for the big picture as well as attention to detail
  2. respect for all involved
  3. creativity
  4. market-savvy.

She has edited Jimmy Barnes, Stan Grant, Tara Moss, Dervla McTiernan, Holly Ringland, Johnathan Thurston, Ali Cobby Eckermann, Larissa Behrendt, Carly Findlay and many more. That’s right, fiction and non-fiction. Love the mix. Love a challenge.

Nicola is accepting pitches for HQ, Mira, and Escape inprints.

What she’s looking for

MIRA – Compelling and evocative works of fiction, covering a variety of genres, e.g. contemporary and historical romance, and romantic suspense.

HQ – Quality works with a focus on great storytelling, empowerment and self-realisation. HQ Fiction publishes across genre, including women’s fiction, suspense, domestic noir, historical epics and family saga. HQ Non Fiction features women’s memoirs, women’s Australiana and selected well-being titles with a focus on women’s self-empowerment.

Tips for pitching agents and editors at conference

(Adapted from Jane Friedman’s excellent website).

It’s normal to be nervous. Compensate by overpreparing.

You might feel nervous, anxious, or unsure what to expect. Don’t worry – agents and editors know all about the pressure you feel, and they are the friendliest and kindest people you’ll ever meet. Make life easier on yourself by preparing your pitch in advance. You’re welcome to bring notes with you into the pitch to help you remember what you want to say.


Write an awesome pitch

Easier said then done, but you’ve got time before conference to work on your pitch, present it to friends and family, and hone it with other writers. A good pitch is the same as a good blurb or query letter – it has to hook and intrigue. Check out this article (and this one) on writing an awesome pitch.

Keep it short and sweet. Don’t talk for ten minutes about your book if you can present the idea in 30 seconds. Leave the agent/editor time to ask questions, and show you’re open to questions and feedback.


Give them the stats.

The agent/editor will want to know your book’s stats – how many words, what genre, who is the audience, and if there are any similar books published recently that have done well.


Bring along questions.

Remember that this is a two way relationship, and you’re also choosing an agent/editor who is the right fit for your work. Arm yourself with questions to help you decide if you’ve chosen the right person.

Alternatively, develop a specific list of questions that will help you understand the strengths and weaknesses of your project or position. Ask about what the market is like in your genre, for example. Even if the answer is no, you may find useful information about what to do next.


Don’t worry too much – this won’t make or break your career

Getting a request from an editor/agent after a pitch is an awesome feeling, and many authors have started their career that way. But it is not the only way, and the pitch is not the final word on whether you’re a good writer or not.

Only a small percentage of in-person pitches will result in an offer of representation/acquisition. The real benefit of pitching is getting feedback on your project and having a meaningful conversation with experts in the industry, and getting good at selling yourself and your work.


Give them what they want

You’ll see our editors and agents have listed what they’re looking to acquire. Choose the pitch opportunities that fit your book – no matter how good your historical romance, if the editor doesn’t publish historical romances, you are wasting their time, and yours.

Also, it’s much better to pitch once you have submission-ready material (a finished manuscript or a book proposal). If you don’t have this, you can still pitch (and it’s wonderful to have that conversation), but the process can’t go further until you have words to send in.

Whether your pitch is successful or not isn’t as important as the fact you put yourself out there, had a great conversation, and honed your skills. If you’re prepared for the pitch and you engage with the editor/agent, you’ll come away feeling empowered by the experience. And you never know…


Pitch Etiquette

If you need to change anything or the pitch coordinator has made a mistake, let them know as soon as possible. RWNZ wants to maintain our professional reputation with the agents and editors and so wish to minimise changes at the conference itself, but changes are better than just not showing up.

Please be very respectful of the amount of time you have to pitch. There is no time between the pitch sessions for anyone to run late and the next person will be waiting for you to finish.

Please arrive for your pitch appointment time 5 minutes early and leave the conference or workshop for your session as unobtrusively as possible. A chair closer to the exit might be a good idea.

You don’t need to get nervous. All of the editors and agents at the conference are LOVELY and will be used to meeting first-time pitchers.  Think of it as an opportunity to have an enthusiastic conversation about your book with a like-minded individual. It’s a long way to come to New Zealand and they are coming because they WANT to find the brightest and the best new manuscripts here. You are bypassing the slush pile. It’s all good!

Follow through after the conference. If you are asked to send something, that’s great! Make sure you undertake all agreed actions in a timely manner.


Happy pitching!