Anderson’s Pitchapalooza Covered by Kim Lovejoy-Voss on Naperville Patch

Hopeful authors ‘pitch’ stories to editors Anderson’s Bookshop 123 W Jefferson Ave, Naperville, IL. Nearly 300 people attended a unique book signing at Anderson’s Book Shop in Naperville, where 25 prospective authors were able to receive feedback on their book ideas.
By Kim Lovejoy-Voss

Anderson’s Book Shop was packed with hopeful book authors who wanted their story ideas to be critiqued by a panel of editors.

Naperville offered a unique opportunity Thursday night. “Pitchapalooza” was held at Anderson’s Bookshop and featured Arielle Eckstut and her husband, David Henry Sterry, authors of a newly-released book, The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published.

While authors of recently published books are nothing new at Anderson’s, this signing was a little different. Anyone who purchased the book was given a number and a chance to pitch their book idea to the authors and a guest panel. Twenty-five hopeful authors heard their number called and then attempted to sell their story to the panel and nearly 300 guests who had packed into the shop on Jefferson Avenue.

“All three (of the editors on the guest panel) have fine, upstanding credentials and are good friends with Anderson’s,” said Gail Wetta, events and publicity person at the shop. “They are all local, and they came forward to help us out and create this wonderful program.”

Guests on the panel included Dominique Raccah, founder, president and publisher of Sourcebooks Inc., based in Naperville; Joe Durepos, senior acquisition editor at Loyola Press in Chicago; and Wendy McClure, senior editor at Albert Whitman and Co. in Park Ridge.

One-by-one the brave and optimistic souls came forward to try to sell their story ideas to the five judges. Children’s stories, gothic tales, science fiction, fairy tales and true life experiences were explained in a variety of ways.

I was one of those hopefuls standing in the audience. When my number was called I experienced a mixture of hope and complete and utter fear. My book idea has been tossed around in my head for nearly a decade and, just recently, has been growing in my computer. It has been fun to write the story, loosely based on me getting pregnant in my 40s and dealing with the burdens and trials of a pregnancy late in life while raising three rambunctious teenagers. But what would others think of the idea?

Well, I didn’t bomb. I carefully read my pitch, heard a little laughter at certain parts and then waited for the criticism to start. To my surprise, they actually liked what I had to say and how I presented my story, asked if it was based on my experiences and then said, although the presentation went well, my ending fell a little flat. Having worked with editors who have critiqued and changed my newspaper stories for over 30 years that was criticism I could live with.

After the 25 authors presented their ideas, Sterry explained that everyone who had purchased a book at Anderson’s Book Shop would receive the opportunity to speak with Eckstut or himself for 30 minutes during a phone interview to receive feedback on their book ideas, find out the next step to having a book published and to gain information regarding book publishing.

“This evening was done because of the release of the book,” Wetta explained. These authors “have quite the pedigree, and it is only logical to add (the pitching of stories) to their event. They are very committed to their craft.”

She added that Friday the shop had received numerous emails regarding the event, most expressing gratitude for the opportunity to sell their story, while others praised the panel.

“This was one of our larger (book signings),” Wetta said. “But it shows you the amount of talent that can be found right here in the Chicago area. You don’t need to go to New York or L.A. to find talent. We have plenty of it right here.”