The Essential Guide Tour Pitchapalooza, Long Island #17: White Knuckles, Crime & Punishment, and Transcendent Triumph in Long Island
We hope and pray you never get stuck on Northern Blvd. in Long Island during rush hour when you have to be at your bookstore event by 7. It plum wears you out. It took us longer to travel 10 miles in Long Island than it did to get from New Jersey to Great Neck. At 6:48 David was into full-blown white-knuckle mode, and the knots in Arielle neck had migrated into her belly. Naturally, when we finally arrived, there was nowhere to park. But we finally slammed out of the car, and ran the two blocks back to the bookstore.
The second we entered Book Revue, all anxiety melted away. It was packed beyond the gills, ripe and swollen with 250 writers just waiting for us to hear them pitch their books. It was an absolute mob scene. From 12-year-olds to 90-year-olds, pierced to permed, ex-junkie to a man who’s run marathons in every state.
We were again blessed with a fantastic panel: James Levine, founder of the Levine Greenberg Literary Agency, author, golfer, and a man who’s helped dozens and dozens and dozens of writers, thinkers and businessmen become successfully published authors; and one of the great book dudes in the business, Mauro DiPreta, Executive Editor at It Books/HarperCollins, who has shepherd mega-bestsellers like Marley and Me onto the New York Times bestseller list. Oh, and he’s also a children’s book author. Not only are these men spectacularly articulate about the book business, they both have a ribald sense of humor. It was kind of like getting to have Derek Jeter and Tom Brady both on your team.
And then it was ON! A rhyming scratch’n’sniff pitch. A weight loss pitch with a bold new twist. A literary novel that was somehow Portnoy’s Complaint meeting Crime and Punishment. Swami Pajamananda dispensing equal parts spiritual wisdom and comedy. The winner gave a beautiful pitch about plunging from business executive to homeless heroin addict. Arielle had welled up by the end of the pitch. The whole thing was yet another vivid illustration of just how many Americans, from every walk of life imaginable, have books inside them that they desperately want to share with the world. Looking out over that vast sea of aspiring writer faces, our hearts and minds were filled with a real sense of happy accomplishment.
The pitches went by so fast, all of a sudden it was 8:30–time to wrap it up. Only about 20 people got pitch, and an audible groan came up from the crowd when we announced our last pitcher. But we offered up a new deal: anyone who buys a copy of our book gets a free consultation, and this seemed to soothe the savage beast. Julianne, the events coordinator, who was in large part responsible for getting the word out about this event, whisked us upstairs to a signing table. The line to buy the book literally went around two different corners and down a flight of stairs.
We ended up selling 100 books. If you’ve never actually tried to sell a book, that might not seem like much. But this is a niche reference book, on a Thursday night, in the middle of Long Island. It was the closest we’ve come to being Justin Bieber.
Spent and drained, but gratified and ecstatic, we hauled our asses back to Montclair, New Jersey. In half the time it took us to get to Long Island. But we were reminded how the hundreds and hundreds of hours spent writing the book, sending out the e-mails, putting together the website, the often dull, tedious, frankly painful work that’s gone into making and marketing this book, can sometimes, when the stars line up just right, lead to a transcendent triumph that lifts the spirit high, higher, highest.
Pitchapalooza Comes to Huntington
By Ashley Milligan
More than 100 aspiring authors filled the Book Revue Thursday night, hoping to get the opportunity to pitch their book idea to a panel of people in the publishing industry.
The event, known as Pitchapalooza, is the brainchild of literary agent Arielle Eckstut and author David Henry Sterry. Eckstut and Sterry, who are married, have also co-authored a book together, “The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published.”
While Pitchapalooza has been happening across the country for the past decade, this Thursday marked the first Pitchapalooza event in Huntington. Two guest panelists joined Eckstut and Sterry: James Levine, founder of the Levine Greenberg Literary Agency and Mauro DiPreta, vice president and associate publisher of It Books.
The rules of the event were simple. Audience members were chosen at random from the event’s sign-up sheet. If selected, guests had exactly one minute to pitch their idea to the panel. The four judges then offered feedback to each contestant, ultimately selecting a winner at the end of the two-hour event. The winner would receive an introduction to a literary agent best suited for the genre of their book.
There was no shortage of original and captivating material pitched by contestants. Pitches ranged from funny to serious, fictional to deeply personal and children’s stories to self-help guidebooks. Highlights included Amber Jones’ scratch-and-sniff children’s book about New York City smells, autistic teenager T.J. Dassua’s collection of short stories and Gerald Rosen’s personal account of completing a marathon in each state.
While the panel offered contestants insightful and constructive feedback about each individual pitch, they also gave general pointers for the audience as a whole.
“A nice way to leave a pitch is have it so we don’t know what choice the protagonist is going to make. It keeps people interested,” Eckstut said.
Levine added, “When you make a pitch to the editor, you want to make them feel confident you know where the story is headed.”
The panel also advised hopefuls to give specifics in their pitches, convey the voice of their book within the pitch and use “comp titles,” or reference books similar to theirs, if applicable.
Ultimately, the panel selected Suzanne Wells of Kings Park as the winner of Pitchapalooza. Wells, a yoga, zumba and pilates instructor, as well as freelance writer, so convincingly pitched her personal account of overcoming addiction, divorce and poverty that she left Eckstut in tears.
“I’m totally intrigued,” Eckstut said after Wells finished her pitch.
Wells now has the opportunity to meet with a literary agent to discuss her memoir, tentatively titled “One Wing-The Book.”
Click here for article.
Litquake Pitchapalooza had many amazing book pitches but this was the best. Here’s Nura Maznavi rocking it hard.“>