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Mar 22

Everyone has a book in them

“If there’s a book you really want to read but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” – Toni Morrison

Nearly every one of us at some point in our lives has said, “I am going to write a book about that.”

Most of us never do.

Yet, the romantic notion remains for some of us. It is the doing, however, that is our bugaboo.

Pitchapalooza to the rescue!

This week I took a ‘leap of faith’ and attended “Pitchapalooza Redux – The Book Doctors Return”, sponsored by Rainy Day Books at Unity on the Plaza.

Yes, I have a book idea, one that has simmered for quite awhile.

At “Pitchapalooza”, panel of publishing experts give a limited number of participants one minute to pitch their book ideas. Think of it as Shark Tank, ABC reality television show in which amateur business entrepreneurs pitch their plan to successful business magnates. Contestants hope that they will get a ‘leg up’ on the competition from these shark-like moguls, but mostly are pitching for big time investment cash.

Or, think of Pitchapalooza as American Idol for books, not as lively granted, but for authors, just as good.

Typically, one would go prepared for such an event and write out one’s one-minute pitch ahead of time.

I did not.

Truth is, I was not planning on making a pitch so I came unprepared. Nevertheless, the excitement of the moment pushed me to sign my name on the list, the last one of 25 would-be authors to make a 60-second speech.

I sat there for an hour-and-a-half with my good friend watching 24 writers go before me. They were good.

Other writers brought notes, laptops and iPads from which to read their pitch.

In our precious minute, we were advised to include the type of book we wanted to pitch, for example, an historical novel, a personal memoir, biography or how-to book.

The panel admonished us that we must give the plot, explain who’s story it is, describe characters, show the panel we can write and let them know what is new and different about what we have to say in 60 seconds.

That is a tall order even if one is prepared. If one isn’t, let us just say it is not for the ‘faint of heart’.

As we watched the participants give well-prepared pitches selling their ideas strongly and effectively, my friend begged me to write something down. “Hurry,” she said, “it’s not too late. You can write something down at least before they call you. Try and make a list of key points.”

She was right, of course, but I could not focus and knew I had no choice but to wing it. Nerves had already set in.

When it was my turn, I stepped to the mic as the last wannabe on the program and began setting up my book idea, giving the basic plot, and a little about the characters as I tried to beat the clock.

I went too long.

To my surprise however, my story idea seemed to touch the audience and spawned a series of questions from the panel ending in a rousing round of applause from throughout the auditorium.

The panel of publishing experts sent me home with this stern advise–go home tonight and make the changes we suggest because you must write this book now.

Long story short—a published author won the evening’s contest after giving a perfect pitch about her next book in the exact amount of time allotted. Her well-deserved prize won her a meeting with a publisher.

The rest of us were awarded a 20-minute consultation with literary agent Arielle Eckstut and husband and author of 13 books, David Henry Sterry. The pair published “The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published” in 2010 and currently consult with folks like me and speak at events around the country similar “Pitchapalooza”.

If you, too, have a book idea burning inside you, please let me know. I would love to hear your 60-second pitch, but a word of advise first, you might want to write it down.