Pitching the campaign: Juggle and struggle

Belinda Williams, The Pitch (3rd June)

Can you tell your readers something about why you chose this particular topic to write about? What appealed to you about it? Why do you think it is different and your approach is unique?

In The Pitch, my lead character, Madeleine, is faced with juggling her career and a potential relationship with her mentor, Paul. This topic appealed to me because, like Maddy, I’ve worked in marketing and understand the demands and challenges of the industry. My approach is unique in that I like to use humour to explore my themes. Even when dealing with some very serious challenges in Maddy’s life and career, I believe humour is a great tool to work through issues.

How long do you think about a topic before deciding to write about it? Do you have a set of notes or a note book where you write down topics that appeal before making a decision as to which topic this time?

I find I need to let story ideas take form in my mind before I put pen to paper, but it’s hard to put a time frame on it. Often I’ll start writing and all the while I’ll be working through the themes in my mind as I go. Sometimes I won’t really be able to get to the heart of the topic until I’m actually writing it. My process is very fluid. I’m not really a massive note taker, I’m more of a daydreamer. When I come up with a story idea I’ll write it down and file it, and then I wait to see which story is calling me in terms of which one I’m thinking about the most. That’s how I know what I’ve got to write next.

 How long does it take to research a topic before you write? And for this book?

I usually research as I go. If there’s something I come across as I write, then I’ll research it then and there, or make a note that I need to go back and flesh it out later. There wasn’t a huge amount of research required for The Pitch due to it being set in a world I was very familiar with. I had to check the terminology of Maddy’s medical condition and do some research around that, but again, I did this as I went.

What resources do you use? In general and for the last book that you wrote?

Did I mention I love the internet? World’s best research tool for writers! Failing that, I’ll usually seek out people who know more about the topic than I do, and corner them!

How helpful do you find authority figures such as the police when you say you want to write about them? Is there a good way to approach them in your experience?

So far I haven’t had to contact any authority figures in relation to my writing. I’ve just finished writing Scarlett’s story (the third book in the City Love series) and I needed to get a medical perspective on a scene that occurs in her book, so I spoke to a few nurses I know. Generally I find people are pretty open to talking to you as soon as they find out you’re writing a book!

 How many times have you been rejected before your first novel was accepted or before this book was accepted?

For this series, I was rejected a handful of times before it found a home with Momentum. I realise I’m very lucky, but I think there’s also a lot to be said for researching who you’re going to submit to. I’d always felt this series would sit well with a publisher like Momentum and to my delight, they thought so too!

Did you need to self-publish on e-books before a publisher took you up?

I self-published a paranormal romantic suspense called Radiant before writing this series and being traditionally published. It was listed as a top ten finalist in the Romance Writers of Australia Emerald award, which gave me the confidence to put it out there. I didn’t really submit it to many publishers because I was keen to try self-publishing due to my marketing background. I do think it made a difference when pitching my current series to publishers. They could see that not only was I committed and professional about my writing, but I also had a website and blog set up, a social media profile, and Radiant had received good reviews.

Would you recommend self-publishing and building an audience before approaching a publisher? If so, what benefits do you see that it might have for the aspiring novelist?

I don’t think there is a right or wrong way to do things in this industry. Self-publishing can certainly help prove to a publisher that you’re a good investment, but I don’t see it as a requirement. Some writers loathe the concept of self-publishing and I get that, I really do. Self-publishing takes a lot of work and it can be a lonely journey when you’re starting out. There’s a lot to be said for having a publisher behind you, and having a professional who believes in your work enough to put it out there on your behalf. I love the support I receive from my publisher and the relationship I have with them. All I’d say is that if you do choose to self-publish you better make sure the quality is up to scratch. Write the best book you can write, pay an editor and get a professionally produced cover. If you can’t make it look as professional as a traditionally published book, then I wouldn’t do it.

Does writing provide sufficient income to live on? And how long did it take before this happened?

Sadly, no, not yet, but I’m working towards this as a longer-term goal. I don’t think you can expect to achieve this with only one or two books out there (unless you are extremely lucky!)




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