Pitchapalooza has come and gone, and sadly, I was not victorious. While I’m disappointed, I’m certainly not dismayed because the winner, Helen Reese, has some serious game. And if any agents out there have the opportunity to look at her book, Project Ex, you should look forward to an engaging read. I also want to reach out to Cathy and Main Point Books for putting this shindig together. It was educational, fun, and terrific practice for the next time I try to coerce an agent into picking up my novel.
The event was judged by Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry in support of their book, The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published. It’s a useful reference with a particularly informative section about promoting your work through social media.
What it is NOT is a book about writing, which is a positive for me. This is a book for writers who have written a book (or, at least, are well on their way) and how they can get it into print. There’s great information about how agents and the publishing agency work and what it takes to get your manuscript noticed. There’s also a section on self-publishing, but I haven’t looked at it (honestly, I’m not terribly interested in pursuing that avenue, but other writers might find it valuable).
On the downside, I feel the book suffers by trying to be everything to everybody. It covers fiction, non-fiction, and memoir, and I’m not convinced that the strategies to pursue a career in all three are interchangeable. Now, someone a little less dickish than me would simply say not to read the sections of the book that deal with non-fiction or memoir, and they would be correct, but the general chapters pepper in examples from all three careers, making it feel scattershot. Often, after explaining a theoretical aspect to publishing, the authors would reinforce it with a real-life example, and it would have been more helpful to me if all of those examples related to fiction instead of, say, talking about a self-help book for manta rays (or whatever).
That doesn’t make the book less helpful, only that you have to be selective while reading and constantly deciding whether a particular section applies to you. Ms. Eckstut is a professional agent (and author and entrepreneur), and Mr. Sterry has written eleven books, so these two unquestionably know what they’re talking about. And, clearly, they have a lot of friends in the industry, because they season the book with anecdotes from other professionals, and this is where the book shines for me. To read about the tribulations and successes of various authors, agents, and editors puts everything Eckstut and Sherry say into context. It’s an insightful book, and anyone interested in publishing should take a peek.