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.”
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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.