Around the Writers’ Table

Pitching and publishing at Islanders Write.


Publisher’s Weekly, the trade magazine about the publishing industry, has a weekly column called “Book Deals.” Six books that had recently been acquired for publication were mentioned in this week’s column. Each of the books had a short — one or maybe two sentences — synopsis, an author’s bio that was culled down to bullet points of fabulousness, the name of the agent who made the deal, and the editor and publisher who acquired the book. And so it is that the marketing of each of these six books begins.

For many writers, the aspiring and the already published, the path from finishing your manuscript to getting a mention in PW’s “Book Deals” — if you are lucky enough to get one — is filled with unknowns. In order to help demystify an industry that is built on trying to anticipate people’s ever-shifting reading habits, two panels at this summer’s Islanders Write will be focused on publishing.

Islanders Write is the writers festival that takes place in August at Featherstone Center for the Arts, and is put on by The MV Times and MV Arts & Ideas Magazine. As the event producer for Islanders Write, I attempt to find a balance of different topics and genres to focus on each summer. This year we’re going to be digging a bit deeper than we’ve done in the past into the publishing piece of the puzzle.

The Pitch Panel — an Islanders Write favorite, where writers have an opportunity to pitch their books — will be returning, with more time for questions and answers. More about that, with details about how to submit your pitch in a bit.

In addition to the pitch panel, this year’s discussions will include a publishing panel made up of literary agents and editors — Emma Brodie, Susan Golumb, Adriana Stimola, and Gretchen Young. These industry insiders will reveal what they do and look for as editors and agents, discuss changes in publishing, and new trends and technologies, explain how they work with authors, and the path to getting your book on the PW list.

Emma Brodie wears multiple hats, as both an executive editor at Chronicle Books and as an author — if you’re on the Vineyard and looking for something to read, as I suspect most of you reading this column are — I highly recommend Brodie’s novel “Songs in Ursa Major” for a great Vineyard summer read.

Susan Golumb, an agent of literary fiction and nonfiction, who founded the Susan Golumb agency — her first client was Jonathan Franzen — and is now with Writers House, has decades of experience. Other authors Golumb represents include PEN/Faulkner awardwinner Imbolo Mbue, National Book Award nominee Nell Zink, and Charles Graeber, whose true-crime thriller “The Good Nurse” was adapted into a film.

Adriana Stimola, an agent with Stimola Literary Studio, focuses on adult nonfiction in the realms of food, mind-body-spirit, and lifestyle. Stimola works with authors to create books that nourish, make lasting impressions, and grow our cultural, social, and emotional intelligence.

Gretchen Young was until recently a vice president and executive editor at Grand Central Publishing, where she worked on more than 75 best-selling titles and many authors who are household names (or should be). Last September, Young launched Regalo Press, an imprint which unites philanthropy with the business of book publishing.

Young will also be returning as a valued member of the Islanders Write Pitch Panel, along with literary agent Rosemary Stimola, Stimola Literary Studio, who is agent to numerous best-selling and awardwinning children’s, middle-grade, and YA authors, novelist John Hough, Jr., whose books include “The Sweetest Days” and “The Fiction Writer’s Guide to Dialogue,” and panel moderator and publishing executive Torrey Oberfest.

Submissions for the Pitch Panel are now open.

If you are interested in pitching your book project at this summer’s Islanders Write, please send a brief synopsis of your book project and a one-paragraph bio to us online at, or email to Kate Feiffer at

Five projects from different genres will be selected. The writers of those projects will be given three minutes to pitch their book at Islanders Write. Following each pitch, the panel will provide constructive, and alway illuminating, feedback about the project and the pitch.

If your project is one of the five that is picked, you must be available to be at the Pitch Panel in person on Monday, August 21, at Featherstone Center for the Arts. Please do not submit a pitch if you can’t be at the event that day.

Writers will be informed if their pitch was selected on Friday, August 11. If you are selected, do not fret, you will receive more guidance about shaping your pitch for the event.

Please note that all the editors and agents speaking at Islanders Write 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, and are not seeking projects for themselves. We are thrilled to be able to spend some more time focusing on the business of publishing at this summer’s Islanders Write, and know that these panels will be instructive and illuminating for writers seeking publication.

Around the Writers’ Table is a column about writers and writing on the Vineyard. Please email with your writing-related news. Islanders Write is an event sponsored by MV Times and MV Arts & Ideas, and begins on Sunday, August 20, at 7:30 pm, and continues throughout the day of Monday, August 21. For more information, visit