Marci Moreau practiced her pitch on State Beach until her family started throwing sand at her. Moreau was one of six people selected to pitch their book projects at “Islanders Write” last summer, which meant that she was given three minutes to explain her idea for a book, in front of an audience, to four well-seasoned publishing professionals.
“My idea for a book had always been about people, life, and food, but how I’ve expressed that has changed over the years,” explained Moreau recently. In 1990, one of Moreau’s now-adult daughters was diagnosed with a rare form of pediatric cancer, and in 2016, she lost her husband to cancer. “I wanted to write about how I healed myself and everything I discovered through food,” she explained. “I first started writing a memoir, and over time I began integrating food. At one point I turned it into a cookbook, but it felt flat, and I decided that it needed to be more, so I changed the format to a cookbook-memoir.” At last summer’s “Islanders Write,” she pitched the latest iteration of her book project, “The Naked Baking Ladies Cookbook.”
This summer, our esteemed pitch panel will be returning to “Islanders Write.” We are currently accepting submissions for pitches in any genre, for either the adult or children’s market.
Those selected will be given three minutes to make their pitch. (We time you and we stop you if you run long). After each pitch, the panel provides feedback about the project and the pitch. Pitching your book to agents and editors is an important and sometimes overlooked part of the publishing process. The feedback and tips given will be useful to all writers interested in publication, as it can be applied to more than the specific projects being pitched.
For example, maybe you think selling yourself as the next J.K. Rowling is the way to go. Not a good idea, according to literary agent Rosemary Stimola: “I am immediately moved to pass when opening lines are filled with hyperbole…’a guaranteed bestseller…the next big movie franchise…”. Keep it straightforward…set up rationale for your book in the marketplace, provide brief synopsis and brief bio with any relevant information, and not necessarily in that order!”
We are delighted that our pitch-perfect pitch panel from last year is reuniting for a sought-after second season. They are agent Rosemary Stimola, editor Gretchen Young, novelist John Hough Jr. and publishing executive Torrey Oberfest, who will be moderating the panel. (Please note that the editor and agent on this panel have generously agreed to offer their advice in order to help writers better understand the process of getting editors and agents interested in their books; they are not here seeking projects for themselves.)
Rosemary Stimola founded the Stimola Literary Studio in 1997. Representing both fiction and nonfiction from preschool through young adult, she is honored to count among her clients many awardwinning authors and illustrators, including New York Times bestselling authors Suzanne Collins, Jodi Lynn Anderson, and Lisa Papademetriou; National Book Award and Newbery Honor Medalist Thanhha Lai; Coretta Scott King; author and Newbery Honor medalist Renee Watson; Caldecott medalist Matthew Cordell; Sibert medalist Tanya Lee Stone; and Edgar Award medalist James Ponti; among others.
Gretchen Young is vice president and executive editor at Grand Central Publishing. She has edited close to 60 New York Times bestsellers, including 12 books with Caroline Kennedy, and Elizabeth Alexander’s “The Light of the World,” which was a Pulitzer Prize finalist. Young has worked with a diverse group of authors including George Carlin, Ethan Hawke, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Congressman John Lewis, Google’s Eric Schmidt, MIT Media Lab’s Joi Ito, and the Pulitzer prizewinning novelist Oscar Hijuelos.
John Hough Jr. is the author of six novels and “The Fiction Writer’s Guide to Dialogue.” His most recent novel is “Little Bighorn.” For almost 20 years, he has been teaching creative writing to small classes in his living room.
Torrey Oberfest was until recently vice president of corporate strategy at Hachette Book Group. At HBG, Torrey focused on corporate acquisition and business strategy, identifying and pursuing acquisition targets, and managing the execution of HBG’s investment strategy activities.
If you are interested in making a pitch, email a paragraph about your book project and a short bio to firstname.lastname@example.org before Friday, July 27. You will be informed if your pitch was selected on Monday, July 30.
(As for Ms. Moreau’s book — while it still hasn’t sold, she says, “It is evolving, and I know it takes time.”)
“Islanders Write” takes place at the Grange Hall is West Tisbury on Monday, August 6. The pitch panel is from 10:30 to 11:30 am. For more information, visit islanderswrite.com.