Thanks to all the great people in the very cool (who knew) Albany/Troy area
Thanks to Susan Novotny & all the great people from Book House & Market Block Books. The pitches were so good we had two winners!
Consider 25 Sophie’s Choices.
Consider 25 juicy, delicious pitches.
Consider that you only get to choose one.
We did. And after much consideration, we have chosen a winner. It was not an easy choice! There were just so many great pitches. But we kept coming back to one. And that one, as you may have guessed, is Sparrow Migrations by Cari Noga. Cari’s storytelling ability , strong voice, and her idea to revolve her book around an event that captured America, won us over. We really wanna read this book. Congratulations Cari!
As for the fan favorite, the fans have spoken and the winner is…drum roll… Out of the Woods by father-son team, David and Ben Ash. Congratulations guys!
Thank you all so much for participating in what, for us, has been a fabulously fun Pitchapalooza. We hope EVERYONE gets happily published!
You’ve finished your novel (or maybe not—that’s okay, too). What’s next? You gotta have a great pitch. Now you have the chance to test your pitch on The Book Doctors, aka, Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry, authors of The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published, who are holding a Pitchapalooza for NaNoWriMo participants only. Pitchapalooza is like American Idol for books—only without the Simon. Arielle and David have been hosting Pitchapaloozas all around the country, and they were recently featured in The New York Times. Dozens and dozens of writers who have participated in Pitchapaloozas have gone from being talented amateurs to professional, published authors.
How does this online Pitchapalooza work? Just send in your 200-word or less pitch to firstname.lastname@example.org by February 15th, 2011. Twenty-five pitches will be chosen randomly and critiqued by Arielle and David on their blog,www.thebookdoctors.com/blog. A winner will be chosen on March 1, 2011. The winner will receive an introduction to an appropriate agent or publisher for his/her book.
Plus, anyone who buys a copy of The Essential Guide To Getting Your Book Published gets a free consultation worth $100 (please send proof of purchase to email above).
And, for the first time ever, you have the opportunity to vote for your favorite pitch. Let Arielle & David know which pitch you like best by email@example.com. The fan favorite—if different from Arielle and David’s choice—will win a free copy of The Essential Guide To Getting Your Book Published and the accompanying free consultation.
Just send your pitch to firstname.lastname@example.org. See you in cyberspace!
Click here to go to The Office of Letters and Light.
How To Write 60 Books in 20 Years: The Book Doctors Interview Terry Whalin–Writer, Editor and Publisher Extraordinaire
1) You’ve written over 60–SIX ZERO!!!–books. How in the world did you accomplish such a feat? And what can other writers who have trouble writing learn from your ability to keep writing?
I often say writing a book is like eating an elephant. You do it one bite at a time. It’s the same with books. They are tackled one page at a time, one chapter at a time, one section at a time, one book at a time. One of the best ways to write a full length adult book (something with 40,000 words or more) is to set a daily word count then consistently day after day write 500 or 1,000 words or whatever makes sense for the type of writing that you do. In nonfiction (and all of my books have been nonfiction), I look at each chapter as a lengthy magazine article. In magazine writing, you need to have a beginning, middle and end plus you need to lead the reader to a particular point (call to action or takeaway it is often called). If you can write a successful magazine article and get that into print, then you can string 15 or 20 of those articles together into a single book.
While many writers want to produce a book, I always encourage writers to learn the craft of writing in the magazine world. I have written for more than 50 magazines and I’ve been a magazine editor. It is much better to learn this skill on a short magazine article than a long book. Also you can reach many more people with a magazine article than most books. I wrote many magazine articles before I ever tackled my first book, which was published in 1992. The same principles apply to writing books from my perspective.
I also love many different types of writing and books. Too many writers make a decision that they are only going to write nonfiction or fiction or children’s books or young adult books. It is almost like they are hitched to a plow trying to get through a muddy field and are constantly plodding forward. I’ve discovered great joy in the variety of the writing world. One day I was writing children’s material and another focused on a magazine article then a third day writing a chapter in a nonfiction book. The decision to write a certain type of material is to be made consciously—just like you can decide to write many different types of material.
2) Your books have been published by publishers big and small, general and niche. How did these experiences differ? What were the biggest pluses and minuses of each?
Each book and each publisher has a unique way of working. I’ve learned to ask a lot of questions before I turn in my manuscript to make sure I’ve met their expectations and I encourage them to voice as many of those expectations as possible so I deliver what they want. Some publishers expect you to be a mind-reader and I’ve learned that often I’m off base if I make assumptions and don’t ask expectations questions. This reality is true whether you are working with a large or small publisher.
The key from my perspective is building a relationship with the editor and also as many different people within the publisher as you can access such as marketing and sales and publicity. Position yourself as a proactive author who wants to come alongside and help each person in the house exceed expectations for the performance of your book. There is a fine line each time between proactive and high-maintenance (not where you want to be as an author).
Finally I advise authors to be open to many different ways of working with a publisher. Writers often have a pre-conceived way of working with a publisher. For example, many writers only want a royalty contract with a publisher and are turned off with the offer of a work-made-for-hire, all-rights contract. With that attitude, they walk away from a WMFH offer rather than take it. My literary attorney (notice I have one) says that I’ve signed more WMFH agreements than anyone she knows. I like to have book contracts and work as a writer. Many nonfiction writers don’t understand that about 90% of nonfiction books never earn back their advance. This figure isn’t my statistic but I learned it in a writing book (unfortunately I can’t remember the source). The statistic bears out in my own writing. I would rather be paid well WMFH for a short term book than not have my book earn out a royalty advance. For example, I wrote two devotion books on a very short-term deadline and each book sold 60,000 copies. My name is in the tiny print on the copyright page of those books since devotional books are topical and not author driven. It’s OK with me because I was paid a flat fee and gained a great writing credit that I can use to get other books. Many writers lose sight of such possibilities because they are focused on one way to publish when in fact there are many ways of working. Do not limit yourself.
3) We’ve entered a new age of publishing where the barriers have been ripped down and anyone can publish. Do you see this as a positive or negative for all of those out there that not only want to get published, but get published successfully? Please elaborate as much as possible!
The fact that everyone can get published online with a blog is great (a positive) but writers need to learn to tell good stories and not just write from a stream of consciousness (a negative). Every single book I know has a good target audience and delivers well-crafted stories and how-to information for that reader.
Whether publishing an ebook or manuscript, the successful authors know how to tell a good story and work on their visibility in the marketplace (platform) through speaking, an online presence or other aspects. I encourage writers to attend conferences and build relationships with other writers as well as with magazine and book editors. You never know when one of those relationships is going to lead you into a new publishing opportunity. The old saying is true, “Often it is not what you know but who you know.” What editor is thinking about you and going to pick up the phone or email you when they have a need that they believe you can fill for their publishing house? Much of writing is isolated and writers need to make the effort to get to conferences and continually build personal relationships.
Also writers need to join with other writers and take an active role in a writer’s organization like the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA) and The Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). They will grow as writers and learn a great deal from the experience. Like going to conferences, an active role in an organization will help any writer grow in their craft and abilities.
My final point is to encourage writers to establish their own independent publishing business. While building and working within the publishing structure, there is something refreshing and freeing about having your own ability to generate income and reach people through your own initiative. This step teaches you that writing is a business and you need to run it like a business but also this action removes the gatekeepers so you can interact directly with your target market. Establish your own free newsletter like my Right-Writing News. Give away part of your work to build your audience. As you sell products, you can collect the money directly from your reader rather than waiting for a magazine to pay or your book publisher. It will help you have an independent income stream as a writer and is vital for your on-going work in this market.
4) You’ve been both a writer and an editor/publisher. What did you learn about becoming a successful author from being an editor/publisher?
I’ve learned there are many options to get published. There are several keys: the right book for the right audience which is created right and has the right distribution to the bookstores and the right marketing behind it. I understand there are many “rights” in that last sentence. No one cares whether Doubleday or Podunk Press published your book if your book is edited, designed properly and has distribution and marketing. At Intermedia Publishing Group where I’m a Vice President and Publisher, we offer these services at an affordable price. I’ve signed several authors who have sold millions of books (no exaggeration) in the traditional market.
5) You established a strong niche for yourself by writing many of your books for a Christian audience. Do you think this helped your career? Did you ever felt you were the equivalent of type-cast?
A common saying to writers is to “write what you know.” I didn’t necessarily select the Christian audience but I was writing what I knew. The relationships I built were primarily with Christian editors and they gave me the opportunity to write for their magazines and book publishers (in many cases over and over).
There are merits to specialization but my writing is also diverse in the types of writing that I’ve done such as children’s books, young adult, biographies, how-to books, co-authored books, etc. Even within a particular category such as religious inspirational books, there is room for wide diversity. In my years in publishing, I’ve worked in many aspects such as a magazine editor, a book author, a literary agent, an acquisitions editor and now a book publisher. Each aspect has taught me something new and helped me grow as a writer. I’ve built many of the lessons from my diverse experience into my latest how-to book, Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams, Insider Secrets to Skyrocket Your Success.
Some great additional links from Terry:
1) The list of Terry’s published books online. Notice the diversity in his writing and the different categories he straddles.
4) Here’s a link to a free hour-long teleseminar that Terry did with editor, Diane Eble, talking about the changes in publishing and the differences between traditional publishing, independent publishing and self-publishing.
5) A free sample of Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams
6) The book trailer to Jumpstart on YouTube.
Bookbuzzr December 30th, 2010
We’ve been to almost 50 states talking to thousands of authors—amateurs and professionals—and we’re still shocked that one particular fantasy still exists and persists: “My publisher is going to put together and implement a publicity and marketing plan that will rocket my book to the top of bestseller lists.”
Clearly, most authors who still harbor this fantasy are unfamiliar with publishing in the 21st century (or publishing at any time, for that matter). To paraphrase best-selling author and marketing guru Seth Godin, the writer who starts developing her community as her book is coming out and just hopes that her publisher will get her on Oprah is in for a rude awakening. You simply cannot sit around waiting for your publisher to hand you a publicity and marketing plan, because there’s a good chance this publicity and marketing plan may never arrive. Except in rare circumstances, the authors that make it big (or just make it), are the ones who are busy planning their own publicity and marketing long before their books are published.
The relationship between author and publisher is much like a marriage. It usually starts with a great honeymoon phase, often cools when the partners see each other’s warts, only works with lots of give-and-take, and both sides take it for granted after a while. That’s why it’s important to go into your relationship with a sort of publicity-and-marketing “dowry.” The more you’ve done to beef up this dowry, the better things will go for your book. Yes, this publicity and marketing plan is a work in progress that will be revised and refined up until and even beyond your book’s publication. But it sets the bar for action on both sides.
So what do put in your marketing and publicity plan? Here’s a quick primer:
1) Your pitch. You know how to pitch your book better than anyone else—or you should. Hopefully, you’ve been developing your pitch from the moment you told someone you had an idea for a book and they asked, “So, what’s your book about?”
2) A summary of your strategy and goals for publication. What are your expectations? Just be sure these are realistic, not “Get me on Fresh Air and the cover of The New York Times Book Review while I am wooed by Hollywood.”
3) What you’ve done already to prime the pump. Do you have a social media following of any kind? Have you made contacts at local or national media? Do you have endorsers ready to blurb? Do you have a workshop schedule already in place? Display your platform proudly.
4) Identify media (traditional and social) opportunities—big and small. You know your subject and your audience better than your publisher does. Most trade publishers are generalists, and while they know how to get your book into trade publications and mainstream media (whether actually do so is another question!), they probably won’t know about the niche media, bloggers, tweeters, etc that are speaking to your audience every day.
5) Identify cross-promotional opportunities with other authors on your publisher’s list. It always helps to be in the company of more-established authors. Seek out other people who are doing similar work, especially on your publisher’s list. See if your publisher can put you on a panel with like-minded authors, ask if you can guest blog on another author’s site — anything that will help raise your profile, and get the word out.
Many authors to whom we deliver this primer look at us with bunny-in-headlights eyes and protest, “I’m no marketing expert!”. That may be true right now, but if you want your book to be the success you hoped for, you’re going to have to learn the particulars about your audience, and how to find, woo, and wow them. The good news is that if you do, and if you put this information into your publisher’s hands, they may even agree to do a big chunk of this work for you. As in marriage, if you pick the right partner you can give birth to a happy, healthy, thriving book that will give both of you pleasure and coin for decades to come.
ARIELLE ECKSTUT, cofounder of LittleMissMatched, an iconic brand with stores in Disneyland and Grand Central Station, is a writer, entrepreneur, and agent-at-large for the Levine Greenberg Literary Agency. She is the author of Pride and Promiscuity: The Lost Sex Scenes of Jane Austen
DAVID HENRY STERRY is the coeditor of Hos, Hookers, Call Girls, and Rent Boys (front page review, The New York Times Book Review) and author of Master of Ceremonies, Chicken, Satchel Sez, and most recently, The Glorious World Cup. He is also an actor, media coach, book doctor, Huffington Post regular and activist. The authors are married and live in Montclair, New Jersey,
This is from our Long Island Pitchapalooza at Book Revue in Huntington. The winner, Suzanne Wells, gives a beautiful & moving testimonial about what it meant for her to win. Newsday Video – http://www.newsday.com/video/newsday-video-1.1482431?idno=25019
Writer Gets a Chance at Pitchapalooza!
Posted on 12/08/2010 by Suzanne Wells
I practiced and practiced my pitch. I prepared supper for the kids, paced the kitchen floor and read and recited the pitch for my book in…ONE MINUTE! I got it down, I did – in 60 seconds. Nerve wracking for an author let me tell you!
This is the requirement to stand before a panel of judges from the publishing industry at Pitchapalooza, an American Idol concept for writers. Give your pitch in ONE MINUTE, and make it tantalizing, breathtaking and rapturous!
I’ve been writing this book for years. I’ve toiled and payed in blood, sweat and tears to get those words on the page – right. My kids have lived and breathed this thing with me. My laptop looks like its seen it – ALL. The keys have been tapped so many times, that this is a computer that’s LIVED. Lived it all.
And so has my book; since its a memior. A memior that fuses ‘Eat, Pray & Love” with “One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest“; with guitar and vocals. I did make the panel of judges cry, and I my heart pings for that; BUT HAVE NO FEAR cuz’ Woody Allen directs this little play I’ve been living and writing about.
So, I marched up that podium, heart racing, hands shaking, sweat at my temples and gave it to them; my life, my book, my heart: in ONE MINUTE.
And I did it. I said it just like I practiced. I finished, caught my breath, steadied my shaking hands and looked at the panel. There was a pause, a silence so deep I thought I might jump right into that void and rest a while. I wondered if one of them was disguised as Simon Cowell and I’d be headed to the doors any minute now, half-devastated and half-dancing for joy with thoughtful guidance that will make me better writer. They seem like nice people, my sisterly self whispers in my head to cheer me.
More silence then: “You made my wife cry” from one of the judges. Oh my Gosh, I think, I’ve been crying all the way through this thing. Now she’s crying! Maybe we should OM together or something. She should read my book. It has tips on this sort of thing. Like how to breathe when your crying.
“One Wing the Book”, does make you cry. And it makes you laugh too. It may make you sing as well. It will make you look at yourself and your life and locate all kinds of beautiful things you may have needed to remember. That’s what happened to me when I lived it. That’s why I made the choice to write it.
There were so many great writers and ideas that night. So much art and talent and love for writing. It was inspiring and lovely to be among like-minded artists gathering in a group, in reverence for their art.
I’m glad I came, I thought, as sat in the audience and I listened to the other authors give their pitches. The panel offered hints and ideas for us to move along, in this morphing world of publishing.
Then, they were ready to announce the winner. Big drum roll, authors poised, we all gaze up like little chicks: waiting, praying, hoping for a chance from the Mother hen. Then…
“Suzanne Wells is the winner tonight.“ It was surreal. The crowd looks my way and transforms with rising sounds of well wishes and pats on the shoulder for congratulations. A tribe! A tribe of writers wishing me well! So nice to be part of tribe of like-minded people collected in art. I always wanted to be part of a tribe. I write all about it in my book.
Then, I head up to the panel and I have this weird experience. Suddenly I hear the music from the Miss America Pageant playing on the speakers in my head! Startling! Then I imagine a gem-med crown floating in the air above my head! I smell the fragrant roses I’m carrying! I smile big.
I did win. And I cried – again! Uggh! Then I went home and kissed my kids.
“Mommy won something.” I whispered as I kissed them goodnight. Their eyes opened like saucers.
“You d-i-i-i d?!
“I did. I won a chance, for a better life, for that book I’ve been writing…and for us.” They smiled like Santa Clause was coming. They’ve watched me write this book; lived the hours invested in it with me. Our eyes met and I took in their shiny faces. My heart stirred. They were genuinely happy for me. Kids who can feel you. I raised kids who can feel you, I thought. This is a good thing. Hope returned.
“Work hard, remember your dreams, don’t ever give up on your self. Your good kids – the best! We’re going to be alright.“ I kissed their heads, tucked them in their blankets, so they would sleep warm and sound.
Then I padded up the stairs and wondered about that crown.
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.