Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry know publishing from the inside out. Both are successful writers and “authorpreneurs.” Together, the married couple has produced the most current and practical guidebook for aspiring authors I’ve ever seen. “The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published: How to Write It, Sell It, and Market It . . . Successfully!” ($15.95 in paperback from Workman Publishing) is full of real-world examples, including the success of local author Susan Wooldridge, whose “Poemcrazy” is now in its umpty-umpth printing.
After years of promoting their own books, the authors found themselves in demand as “book doctors” for others. True to their own advice, they have plunged into social media with a website (www.thebookdoctors.com) and more. Now they are bringing their well-received “Pitchapalooza” workshop to Chico.
This free event will be held at the 1078 Gallery, 820 Broadway, on Tuesday, January 18 at 7:00 p.m., and is sponsored by Chico’s Lyon Books. According to publicity materials, local writers get sixty seconds to make their best pitch to a panel of experts, including the authors, who will provide feedback on the concept and its potential in the marketplace. The winner of the competition will receive an introduction to an agent.
“The Essential Guide” is divided into three sections. The first, “Setting Up Shop,” deals with the new world of social networking as well as book proposals and finding representation (Eckstut is herself a longtime literary agent). “Taking Care of Business” takes on contracts, working with a publisher, and self-publishing. “Getting the Word Out” concerns the fine art of selling. Key to the guidance is the importance of research. New writers simply have to know the terrain out there–which books might be competitors?–if they are to increase their chances of a sale. In fact, the reader is halfway through the book before the authors say it’s time to sit down and write.
Tips abound, like checking the acknowledgements page of similar books for possible contacts, but in the end a writer’s passion must carry the day. Eckstut and Sterry have the passion, and wit. Get the book.
PROGRAM NOTE: Please join host Nancy Wiegman and me for a live edition of Nancy’s Bookshelf tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m. on KCHO (Northstate Public Radio, 91.7FM)
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
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.”
there’s a nice mention of our events coming up on Thursday, January 6 at Anderson’s bookstore in Naperville. Thanks again to the Huffington Post!
Shaun Yu & David Henry Sterry talk about books on NPR
After a month of sleep deprivation, self-medication, and caffeine saturation, you wrote your 50,000-word novel. Now what? Do yourself a favor, before you rush to send that novel out, take a deep breath, let it out slowly, and come up with a strategic plan for getting your book successfully published. Because one of us is a writer, and the other is a literary agent, we thought we’d shed some light on this planning stage from both perspectives. Then we’ll give you 10 simple things you can do to increase your chances of success before you send your manuscript out into the cold cruel world.
DAVID, THE WRITER:
Before I shacked up with a literary agent, I had absolutely no idea of the sheer insurmountable massiveness of the Matterhorn Mountain of manuscripts that every agent faces every day. No matter how fast they reject manuscripts, they just keep coming. I always thought that agents would be excited to get my manuscript, would cherish the prospect of being able to get rich from it. But now that I’ve been living with an agent for over a decade, I realize what a fool I truly was. The great agents can barely service the clients they have. Even the bad agents have too many clients. If an agent is already established, they’re not hungry. If the agent is young and ravenous, they may not have the contacts necessary to lure the elusive golden ticket of a publishing contract.
Before I lived with an agent, I used to finish a piece of writing and send it everywhere. The problem, I now realize, was that I kept sending out a faulty product. One that hadn’t been road tested. That wasn’t finished. It’s as if I invited a guest over to my house for some delicious cake, and I only baked it for 40 minutes instead of an hour. All the ingredients would be there, but my guest would be forced to eat something all sloppy, gloppy, drippy and nasty. I’d say for every hundred manuscripts that arrive at our door every week, a good 85% of them are half-baked.
Now that I myself counsel so many writers trying to get published, I realize that many of them think, as I did, that an agent or publisher will help fix their manuscript. With the ever-shrinking publishing business in such turmoil, agents and editors must be absolutely passionate about a book. Or believe in their heart that it will make lots and lots and lots of money. Hopefully both. But because they have so many books to choose from, it only makes sense that they would be most attracted to the cakes that are beautifully baked and frosted. The ones that need no fixing.
ARIELLE, THE AGENT:
While it’s never overtly stated, agents and editors are trained to say “No”. You’re trained to look for reasons to turn a project down. To think of every objection anyone might possibly have. Uncover every reason a book might fail. In fact, because I have so little time as an agent, if a manuscript is just good or if it’s at all sloppy or if the writer doesn’t appear professional, the manuscript will go right in the trash.
But when a writer has done her research and perfected her craft, agents get excited. They can sniff a professional often in the very first paragraph of a query letter. And when they do, the thrill of the potential sale ping pongs through their bodies.
I love helping writers. I love working with writers. But it takes a lot of time, a lot of effort, often for very little reward. One of my great frustrations as an agent is that some of the very best books I’ve ever worked on never got published. It breaks my heart! That’s why agents are so very picky. And that’s why you have to anticipate every reason why an agent might say “no” before they can.
Now that you’ve heard both perspectives, here’s our top 10 list of things to do before sending your manuscript out. These tips are writer and agent friendly!
1) READERS & CRITIQUERS. Like a fine bottle of newly opened wine, let your manuscript breathe. While it’s breathing, get people to read it. You absolutely cannot be objective about your own work. Almost everyone thinks that their baby is the cutest, smartest, and most talented. For this reason, don’t depend on your family and/or people who love you as your readers. Look to your NaNoWriMo cohorts. Writer’s groups and workshops. Readers and writers on any of the gazillion websites where they congregate, like Goodreads, RedRoom, and Open Salon. Offer to read other writers’ work in exchange for them reading yours. Yes, of course, take all comments with several grains of salt. But if everyone says your ending sucks, there’s a very good chance that it does.
2) MOUNTING A PLATFORM. Nowadays, publishers don’t just want you to have a following, they expect it. How many eyeballs can you bring to the table? Relentlessly connect with your audience. For example, Lisa Genova, author of Still Alice, a novel about Alzheimer’s she originally self-published, hooked up with a major Alzheimer’s website. After much dedicated hard work, Lisa became a keynote speaker at a big annual Alzheimer’s convention. This led to the New York Times bestseller list, which led to a seven-figure two-book deal.
3) IDENTIFYING COMPETITION. Know your marketplace. Frequent your local bookstore. Live in the section where your book will land. Read everything. Befriend booksellers and pick their brains for comparable titles. Assemble a deep and elaborate comp list (this is industry lingo for comparative titles). When you go to an editor or agent, and they ask you about a book similar to yours, you better know that book, and know how yours is different. You also want to compare your book to others that have been successful in the marketplace.
4) FINDING BUYERS. Pinpoint books similar but not exactly like yours. Scour the acknowledgments. See if the agent and/or editor is named. Research these people. Find out everything you can about them. What other books do they represent or edit? Where did they go to high school, college, grad school? Are they horse people, cat people, Jane Austen people? All this will help you find the right buyer for your book when you go to sell it.
5) A PITCH-PERFECT PITCH. 1 minute or less. 1 page. 150 words. That’s all you get for a pitch. Read tons of flap copy of other books in your section of the bookstore. Use your comp titles to develop a 5-second elevator pitch, which will usually either end or begin your pitch. For example, we call our book the What to Expect When You are Expecting…of publishing. In other words, our book, like What To Expect promises to be a one stop shopping guide for everything you’ll need to know about the subject. It may seem cheesy and/or ridiculous, but this shorthand “sales handle” gives agents and editors a quick and easy way to understand and describe exactly what your book is. A pitch is like a poem. Every syllable counts.
6) MASTERFUL QUERY. 1 page. 3 paragraphs. The first paragraph establishes your connection with whomever you’re trying to hook with your book. The second is your pitch, condensed to one paragraph. The third is your bio, again shrink-wrapped so that it’s one short paragraph. This letter needs to establish who you are. If you’re writing a humor book, this letter better be funny. If you’re writing romance, there better be some sizzle. If you’re writing suspense, there better be a great cliffhanger somewhere in sight. Read your query out loud before you send it. Again, get others to read it. Sadly, this one page has a lot to do with your chances of getting successfully published.
7) GET PROFESSIONAL HELP. A great editor can make your book so much better. Our editor improved our book approximately 15,000 times. She kept challenging us to be more precise, to surgically remove unnecessary words, to say things with more clarity and concision. She could, in the words of editor/agent/author Betsy Lerner, see the forest for the trees. If you have the dinero, investing in your book early on in the process may save you time and money in the long run. If you don’t have a lot of spare change, you can ask a local bookseller to just read—not edit—your manuscript for a fee.
Originally posted at The Office of Letters and Light
Calling all NaNoWriMo Authors! Is your elevator pitch polished? Is it ready to tumble off your lips in an enthusiastic, one-minute explosive description of the next best seller?
If not, then get it ready! For on January 6, 2011, at 7 p.m. “Pitchapalooza!” is coming to Naperville!
Laura Goldberg contacted me from Workman Publishing, excited to discuss this book and the event.
“The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published: How to Write It, Sell It and Market It … Successfully!”
The authors, book agent Arielle Eckstut and author/book doctor David Henry Sterry are the hosts of Pitchapalooza! Which will be held at Anderson’s Bookshops, 123 W Jefferson Ave. in Naperville, IL.
Laura’s description of the event: “Pitchapalooza!” concept is like “American Idol” for books… Anyone with an idea for a book has the chance to pitch it to a panel of judges consisting of the authors plus guest industry insiders and/or local authors. Each “contestant” gets only one minute. The judges critique everything from idea to style to marketplace potential and more. Authors come away with concrete advice on how to improve their pitch…. At the end of each Pitchapalooza, the judges come together to pick a winner. The winner receives a personal introduction from Ecksut and Sterry to a literary agent who would be appropriate for their book idea.”
Laura, this sounds fantastic! Can anyone walk in and toss their pitch at you? Is there a fee? “It’s a free event and everyone can throw their hat in the ring for a potential pitch, but 20 will be selected from a random draw.”
“If you win at one of these events, it is a leg up on getting published — with, in this case, an introduction to a literary agent. (But) There isn’t a guarantee of a book deal.”
Laura Points out that “Eckstut and Sterry demystify every step of the publishing process, such as how to:
* Come up with a search-engine-friendly, blockbuster title
* Create a selling proposal
* Find the right agent
The book includes interviews with…
* Seth Godin, Neil Gaiman, Amy Bloom, Margaret Atwood, Larry Kirshbaum, and Leonard Lopate
* Plus agents, publicists, editors, booksellers, web wizards, and social networking gurus
* Sample proposals, query letters, and a feature-rich website and community for authors.”
You can follow The Book Doctors on Twitter.
Good luck at, “Pitchapalooza!” Hosted at Anderson’s Bookshops
“A must-have for every aspiring writer.” —Khaled Hosseini, New York Times bestselling author of The Kite Runner
“I started with nothing but an idea, and then I bought this book. Soon I had an A-list agent, a near-six-figure advance, and multiple TV deals in the works. . . . This little tome is the quiet secret of rock-star authors.” —Timothy Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9–5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich
Anderson’s Bookshops on Facebook
Excerpt of Chapter 2
See you there!
December 10, 2010
For Would-Be Authors, a Chance at a Happy Ending
By AILEEN JACOBSON
SUZANNE WELLS, a slight woman with a careworn face, looked a little shaky as she walked up to the podium and faced a table where four judges sat. To her left was an audience of more than 200 people, ready to listen to her bid to become a published author.
Glancing at her notes, Ms. Wells launched into a description of her life, which started in affluence and comfort and devolved into heroin addiction and poverty, including an excruciating evening “when I took my children to a housing shelter.”
That was one of the more dramatic moments of “Pitchapalooza!” an event at the Book Revue here during which would-be authors pitched book ideas to a panel of publishing experts. All the presenters got advice from the panelists; the winner was to receive an introduction to an agent.
Though only 25 people were chosen at random to make their pitches, 187 had signed up for the opportunity at the Dec. 2 event, which was part of a cross-country promotional tour by David Henry Sterry and his wife, Arielle Eckstut, the authors of “The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published: How to Write It, Sell It and Market It … Successfully!” The crowd in Huntington was the largest yet, they said.
“Who knew how many people on Long Island are looking to write a book?” said Mr. Sterry, of Montclair, N.J., who has written 12 of them. “There were so many different kinds of stories,” said Ms. Eckstut, a literary agent and writer, who said she had signed 97 copies of the book.
Each person who bought one was to receive a free telephone consultation with the authors, whose new book is a substantially revised version of “Putting Your Passion Into Print,” which they published in 2005. Both the number of books sold and the size of the crowd were unusually high for authors who aren’t celebrities, said Julianne Wernersbach, the Book Revue publicist who organized the event.
Each writer making a pitch was limited to one minute — timed and sometimes stopped mid-sentence — followed by comments from the authors and two other panelists, James Levine, founder of the Levine Greenberg Literary Agency, where Ms. Eckstut works, and Mauro DiPreta, associate publisher of It Books, a HarperCollins imprint, who lives in Port Washington.
“You choked me up,” said Ms. Eckstut after hearing the emotion-packed pitch by Ms. Wells, a former Fortune 500 company executive who is now a yoga teacher and mother of three living in the home where she grew up, in Fort Salonga.
Ms. Wells, who won the competition, said later that she had already written much of her memoir, called, “One Wing — The Book.”
On a decidedly lighter note, Amber Jones, a hotel concierge who lives in Flatbush, Brooklyn, delivered her idea for “New York, Phew York,” a scratch-and-sniff book for children, in rhyming couplets: “Smells of bagels and lox and stuffed garbage trucks;/because summer to winter these smells are in flux.”
Ms. Jones’s pitch was a close runner-up, Ms. Eckstut said, as was a proposal by Gerald M. Rosen of Lido Beach, who laid out his story of running a marathon in every state, even though he was 51 when he started training.
Melinda Ehrlich of East Norwich had the room in stitches when she started her presentation with a joke about a Jewish boy who tells his mother he’s going to marry a girl named Running Deer and has changed his own name to Sitting Bull. “I’ve taken on a new name, too,” the mother says. “Sitting Shiva.”
Mr. Levine said her book of humorous vignettes about sitting shiva and attending wakes would be “highly promotable on talk radio,” but cautioned that it might be tricky to get people to buy it as a gift.
T. J. Dassau, 18, of Huntington Station stood at the side of a family friend, Janet Murphy, as she explained that Mr. Dassau, who is autistic, had written a set of illustrated stories for children, “The Epic Adventures of Rampion.” The book, she said, looks at the world from the perspective of a tiny imp. “I love this idea,” said Mr. Sterry, who advised Mr. Dassau to start gathering a following by getting some of the stories published on Web sites and building liaisons with autism-related organizations.
Some would-be authors were gently encouraged to consider self-publishing, but no one got negative feedback. “We try to inspire people,” Mr. Sterry said. “We don’t want to step on people’s dreams — and you don’t know what will sell.”
Click here for article.