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Printers Row Lit Fest Preview: Pitchapalooza

By Betsy Mikel in Arts & Entertainment on May 31, 2011 6:00PM

Printers Row Lit Fest is this weekend. As usual, there’s not a second of free time in this weekend’s schedule. No one person can see and do it all, so it just depends on what you’re interested in. If you’re planning on attending this weekend, you’ve probably already reserved tickets for events you’re interested in. But if you’re looking for some direction, we’ll be serving up some suggestions throughout the week. A lot of events are full, but there’s still some good stuff. Up first: Pitchapalooza


Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry, authors of The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published and brains behind Pitchapalooza.
Ever read the SlushPile Hell Tumblr? “One grumpy literary agent, a sea of query fails, and other publishing nonsense.” It’s just a small sampling of what the day in a life of a literary agent looks like. Spend just a few minutes on there, and you’ll quickly see why this bunch is so... erm... jaded (to put it nicely).

Pitchapalooza isn’t the ultimate solution to getting your idea in front of an agent, but if you have a book proposal, it’s certainly worth a shot. The best way to describe it is as the American Idol of books. Writers get a minute to pitch their book idea in front of Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry, authors of The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published. At Lit Fest, the panel will only be hearing 20 randomly selected pitches, so writers will have to put their name on a list for a chance to participate. Out of all the pitches, Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry will select one winner, and set that person up with an agent or publisher for his or her book.

Also, if you don’t get to pitch your idea, there’s this: “Plus, anyone who buys a book gets a free 20-minute consultation worth $100.” Why not? The price of a book for a consultation?

Courtesy of an article — Pitchapalooza 2010: Tips for Perfecting Your Book Pitch — published by Publishing Perspectives last fall, Here are six tips from the Arielle Eckstut and David Henry on how to perfect your pitch:

  1. 1. A pitch is like a poem. Every word counts.
  2. 2. It’s always better to present specific images than make general, generic statements.
  3. 3. Don’t tell us it’s funny, make us laugh. Don’t tell us it’s scary, scare us. Don’t tell us it’s lyrical, wow us with your poetry. It’s like those people who wear T-shirts that say SEXY. Please, let us be the judge of that.
  4. 4. Don’t oversell. Claiming to have written the next Eat Pray Love or Harry Potter only makes a writer look like a deluded amateur.
  5. 5. Never say that your book is like no book ever written. That book will never be published. Publishers want books that are familiar but unique.
  6. 6. Develop an elevator pitch. An elevator pitch is a Hollywoodese short hand way of describing your book, where X meets Y. For example, Jaws in Outer Space=Alien. Ann Rice meets Gossip Girl=The Twilight Series. The elevator pitch for our book is the What To Expect When Your Expecting of publishing. Yes, we borrow from a title in an entirely different section of the bookstore, but you know exactly what you’re going to get from this elevator pitch.

Pitchapalooza, Printers Row Lit Fest, 4 p.m. Saturday, Center Stage, reserve free tickets at Eventbrite.