the essential guide tour Pitchapalooza #13: coming home to Portland, autumn leaves, and packing ’em in at Powell’s
Portland, Oregon is one of our favorite cities in the world. In the name of full disclosure, David not only went to, but graduated from Reed College in Portland, and parts of his family has lived there on and off for a couple of decades. So it was a homecoming of sorts.
We landed in Portland on Tuesday or Wednesday afternoon. Frankly, we can’t remember which. Exhaustion was beginning to set in.
But as we deplaned, we witnessed a true miracle. Rain was not falling from the concrete Northwest sky. Our increasingly beloved travel agent put us in a gorgeous hotel right on the river, and the leaves were putting on a fireworks display of wild autumnal explosions.
Immediately we were struck by that unique combination of biking/hiking/outdoorsivity mixed with the attitude of chillaxation which makes Portland Portland. Plus the hotel had free, warm, fresh-out-of-the-oven chocolate chip cookies that made you feel all warm and happy and cozy. David’s sister Liz came down and we all had a lovely dinner, as she regaled us with hysterical stories of insanity from her gradeschool teaching. Then it was off to our gig, with Liz in charge of Olive while we were doing our thang. Olive is at that phase where almost everywhere we go, she looks around in bedazzled wonderment and exclaims joyously, “Wow, this is BEAUTIFUL!” Although it might seem counterintuitive to recommend taking a three-year-old with you on a book tour, I highly recommend it. She has already, at this point, become the go-to person when it came to keeping it real.
Powell’s Bookstore on Burnside may well be our favorite book emporium in the galaxy. David’s been going there since he was in undergraduate in the 1970s, soon after Michael Powell had the outrageous, outlandish, much-ridiculed idea of selling NEW books side-by-side with USED books. Gasp! What started as a cockeyed dream and a small room full of books, has become over the decades a mecca, shrine and heaven for books and those who love them, as well as an intellectual center in a city full of writers, artists, and musicians. This was David’s third event at Powells, and it’s always a transcendent thrill to be presenting his book in the very place he dreamed of being a writer when he was a bent and folded 18-year-old.
We were blessed with a truly top drawer all-star panel. Michael Schaub of Bookslut, Alison Hallett of the Portland Mercury, and Lee Montgomery, book guru of the venerable and influential Tin House (Sadly, Lee arrived after we took this photo).
They were assembled by one of our ATF* booksellers (and an excellent writer in his own right) Kevin Sampsell. To illustrate what a book mensch Kevin is, he proposed to his wife in front of 200 of his closest friends at the book release party for his memoir, right there at Powell’s.
As Olive was whisked away by David’s sisters Liz and Kate (who had joined us at the bookstores), to have her own book adventure, we were overwhelmed with gratification when 100 people showed up to pitch. Standing Room Only.
There was an apocalyptic kid’s book. A rhyming Christmas kid’s picture book. A cancer survivor looking to help sick kids book. An intelligence of Turtles book. A 15-year-old with a YA book about a pop star trying to find true love. But the winner was a young adult graphic novel about low riders in outer space. Full of beautiful poetry and wild action. The panel rocked HARD. The hour went by and about 10 minutes. Olive had a mad blast with her aunties. Portland, as usual, was everything we expected, and more.
*All-Time-Favorite for those of you without texting vocabulary
Join us on 11/30 at 2 ET, for a LIVE 2-hour event as we celebrate the close to another successful National Novel Writing Month by answering YOUR questions about how to pitch your latest finished manuscript to agents and editors — live on Twitter with the hashtag #novelpitch! We’ll also choose 20 participants at random to give 140-character pitches and get feedback — and one of those people will win the grand prize of a half-hour telephone consult with us.
Litquake Pitchapalooza had many amazing book pitches but this was the best. Here’s Nura Maznavi rocking it hard.“>
We are very excited to be coming to Book Revue in Huntington, Long Island, with Mauro DiPreta, Executive Editor, Vice-President at Harper Collins, and James Levine, of Levine Greenberg Literary Agency. Important change: Winner gets introduction to top agent. Everyone who buys a book gets a FREE CONSULTATION! http://long-island.newsday.com/events/book-doctors-will-diagnose-your-idea-at-book-revue-1.2489586
As Thanksgiving rolls its turkey neck towards us, Christmas looms ominously around the corner, and one more year of my life expires, we’re super stoked about the next stop on the Essential Guide Rocks America tour: We’ll be rocking LI, NY, Thursday, Dec 2, 7pm. Pitchapalooza: Book Revue in Huntington Long Island, with special All-Star publishing celebrity guests James Levine of the Levine Greenberg Literary Agency, and Mauro DiPreta, Vice President of It Books, ( HarperCollins). Everyone who buys a book gets a free consultation, worth $100.
It’s been an insane month, an insane fall, an insane year. We just performed in 13 cities over the course of three weeks: from the Big Apple to Tinseltown; Miami to Seattle; Portland to Pittsburgh; Denver to St. Louis to San Francisco. We had dizzying triumphs and brutal failures. Our book, The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published was officially released on November 3, and we haven’t even had time to celebrate yet. I’ve toured by myself, with the Sex Worker Arts Show, with Arielle, and with the stars from the Chippendale’s Male Strip Show. I’ve never toured with a three-year-old. Especially a three-year old who is Olive. She more fun than all of them. We were worried about what was going to be like to shlep her around America with us, but she proved by far the most resilient and cheerful member of the team. Here are our reports from the road, deep in the trenches of the publishing wars.
Denver Pitchapalooza on New Books West
Big Love from the Big Read Festival in St. Louis bit.ly/akI1Xg
Movie: Great Book Pitch: Winner of St Louis Pitchapalooza, Zach Stovall pitching his book about being a fat bald white guy
The Essential Guide Rocks America Tour Kicks Off
#2: 1st Stop Washington DC: the Borders Incident
#3: NPR Love in DC
#4: Pat Conroy & Scarlet O’Hara On the Road to Pittsburgh
#5: Death @ the Bookstore – The Murder of Joseph-Beth in Pitsburgh
#6: Miss Ida, Daryl & Olive Chilling in Steel Town
#7: The Beauty of Loganberry Books & the Universe’s Lollipop
#8: Dawn Cracks Early in Cleveland
#9: An NPR Homey, Finding Happiness @ Books & Co the Dayton Airport Blues
#10: Stuck in Dayton on the Day That Would Never End
Our awesome Editor Goddess Savanna calls it as she sees it on our Pitchapalooza Barnes & Noble, 86th St., with publishing titans Larry Kirschbaum and Bob Simon.
The Art of the Pitch and our B & N Manhattan Pitchapalooza on Publishers Perspective.
#11: I Love LA! –Hollywood & the Jewish Men-Scared
#12: Vromans Versus Dancing with the Stars, Riding a Donasaur, & a Minnie Mouse Who Needs $
Arielle talks about five books that will help you turn your passion into income, and dispenses wisdom from her years as a literary agent and entrepreneur on LearnVest.
Bradley Charbonneau of Likoma Island & the Book Doctors talk about Effective Author Websites
Arielle interviews Robert Grey of Shelf Awareness on seven ways to get an independent book store to stock your book.
With Thanksgiving a couple of days away, I feel very thankful. For our amazing publisher, Workman, our Editor Goddess, Savannah, and all of our family there, from Susie Bolotin to a beloved colleague who passed away recently, the extraordinary copyeditor Lynn Strong, http://bit.ly/gVdcz. Thankful for all the amazing panelists we had, Larry Kirschbaum of LKJ, Bob Miller new Publisher of Workman, Martha Moody, Nancy Martin, Lee Montgomery of Tin House, Michael Schaub of bookslut, and Alison Hallet of the Portland Mercury, Vince Rause, Anne Trubeck, Sharon Short, author of Death by Deep Dish Pie, Allan Fallow of AARP Electroboy himself Andy Behrman . Betsy Lerner, author of Forest for the Trees. Johnny Evison and Kurtis Lowe in Seattle. I’m thankful for the enormous kindness we received from our good friend Jessica Goldstein, who threw an amazing book party for us in Washington DC, and invited all for NPR friends. I’m also thankful for all the incredible booksellers and lovers who gave us so much generosity and expertise. Jim Levine of Levine Greenberg Literary Agency http://www.levinegreenberg.com/ Steven Sorrentino, Director of Author Promotions for Barnes & Noble, and Edwin Tucker, CRM of 86th St. B & N Harriet Logan of Loganberry Books Kevin Sampsell of Powell’s, Dayton NPR book guy Shaun Yu, Sharon Kelly Roth at Books and Company http://www.booksandco.com/ Ed Nowatski of Publishers Perspective , Mitchell Kaplan of Books and Books and the Miami International Book Festival. My sister Liz, Daisy White, and all the other great babysitters who help us out with Olive. Thanks to all the great writers for all their amazing pitches. And of course I give thanks for Olive and Arielle, my ex-agent and current wife.
Arielle, the brains behind the Book Doctors, dispenses wisdom from her years as a literary agent and a successful entrepreneur, on five books that will help turn your dreams into income on LearnVest.
In every profession there are people who have a profound effect on whatever is being created, but who go unsung not just by the outside world, but often by the people around them. In publishing, copyeditors are very often at the top of the list of those who don’t get noticed, or credit for their painstaking and incredibly valuable contributions.
For our first three books, we never got to meet our copyeditors. Nor did we think much about them. They did a nice polish on our books, but our editors didn’t even tell us their names. In the shuffle of getting a book published, we forgot to ask and not one of these good and talented people made it into any of our acknowledgments. This all changed when Workman bought Putting Your Passion into Print (FYI, this was the former title for The Essential Guide To Getting Your Book Published). Enter Lynn Strong, copywriter extraordinaire and one of the crown jewels of Workman.
Workman, for so many reasons, is unlike any other publisher out there. One of these reasons is that their copyeditors are VIPs. And Lynn was the queen of the copyeditors. When we were told that Lynn would copyedit our book, it was like being told that Meryl Streep would be playing you in the movie version of your life. And the best thing is that the lead-up was nothing compared to what was delivered. Lynn didn’t just polish our book, she transformed it. And she didn’t copyedit it once, but three times! Twice for our first edition and once more for our second edition. Sentences that we had struggled over draft after draft were transformed from awkward to elegant. Information was moved around to form just the perfect flow. And every misquoted fact, misspelling, and piece of misinformation was corrected by a mind that could clearly beat us at Trivial Pursuit even if we played two against one. On top of all this, she got us. She got our voice. And she managed to not only capture our idiosyncratic style, but to make it better.
We had gratitude pouring out of us and we wanted to thank Lynn in person. But we were told that she was a very shy person who preferred to stay inside her office than to hobnob with the authors whose books she was gracing with her red pencil. Finally, a copyeditor who gets the glory due her, but she doesn’t even want it! She was like the Lone Ranger, who rounds up the bad guys, saves the town, then rides off into the sunset without even waiting for a thank you. But we are pushy people. And, finally, one day while in the Workman offices, we did manage to meet Lynn.
Lynn was a notorious smoker, and her deep raspy voice was true to her habit. She was also every bit the introvert we had been told she was. But she was also warm and lovely. She told us how much she enjoyed working on our book and you could tell she was the kind of person who wouldn’t bullshit you. We left that day feeling like we really had a good book because Lynn had told us so.
Last week, Lynn passed away. For those who worked with her or were graced by her red pencil, her loss was deeply felt. Her loss also made us take a moment to think about the people around us who don’t get the proper appreciation and gratitude.
Lynn, thank you for helping us to become better writers and to realize our dream of creating an essential guide to how to get published. We think of you every time we read our book…