Around the Writers’ Table: The pitch panel returns to Islanders Write

Loren Ghiglione at 2023 Islanders Write. —Anthony Esposito

Veteran journalist and author Loren Ghiglione said he wasn’t nervous when he stood in front of last summer’s Islanders Write pitch panel and talked about the memoir he was working on. He was allotted a mere three minutes to explain what the book was about and why he was writing it, but he had rehearsed, and was feeling ready. 

I was delighted to hear Ghiglione’s feedback (I am the event producer for Islanders Write, which is put on by The MV Times). The point of the pitch panel is not to make people nervous; it’s to help them refine their book projects, and the way they pitch those book projects to industry professionals. 

“I think the pitch panel was very helpful,” Ghiglione said during a recent phone conversation. “It was very rewarding to get the assessment of pros.” Ghiglione, who is himself a pro — having worked for decades both as a journalist and a journalism professor, spoke at the Bunch of Grapes on Tuesday about his 2020 book “Genus Americanus: Hitting the Road in Search of America’s Identity,” with Dan Tham, one of the book’s co-authors. 

Ghiglione told me that while doing his final revisions, he thought a lot about the feedback he received from the pitch panel, particularly John Hough’s advice that he focus on the dramatic. Ghiglione and his wife moved to the Vineyard in 2017. A week later, their daughter and her five children moved in with them. His memoir, “Martha’s Vineyard Memoir: Learning Life Lessons from a Gaggle of Grandkids, a Golden Pond, Good Folks, and Glimpses of the End,” is currently being shopped around to publishers.


Pitch panel returns to Islanders Write 2024

Literary agent Rosemary Stimola, publisher and editor Gretchen Young, novelist John Hough, Jr., and publishing executive Torrey Oberfest will be returning to Islanders Write this August for the pitch panel. 

How to submit your pitch: Send a brief synopsis about your book project and a short bio to us through the Islanders Write website,, or email it to me directly at The deadline for pitch submissions is Friday, August 9. Writers will be informed if their pitch was selected on Sunday, August 11. If you are selected, do not fret; you will receive more guidance about shaping your pitch for the event. Please do not submit a pitch if you cannot be at the event that day.

How the pitch panel works: Five projects in different genres will be chosen from the submitted proposals to be pitched at Islanders Write, on Monday, August 19. Each of the five writers picked to pitch will have three minutes to explain what their book is about. Following their pitch, Stimola, Young, Hough, and Oberfest will weigh in. The writers pitching projects will have an opportunity to ask follow-up questions about their book projects. (Please note that while it is extremely helpful for the writers who are pitching to get feedback on their projects from industry professionals, the advice given applies to all of us out there working on book projects.)

Some advice on writing and delivering your pitch:

Rosemary Stimola: “With the increasing corporatization of publishing, it’s important to capture attention quickly. Your first sentence should be strong and focused, but not hyperbolic, describing the project and setting in the current marketplace. Do not begin with any personal history unless it is extremely relevant to the project at hand.”

Gretchen Young: “Don’t try to fit everything in one 60-second description. Edit yourself, and remember, not everything belongs in your log line. It’s all important to you, of course, but top-line it. Make it relatable, resonant, and compelling, so that no one can turn away and everyone wants to know more.”

John Hough, Jr.: “Speak slowly and clearly. A hasty reading of the pitch, even if audible, detracts from its heft and authority.” 

Torrey Oberfest: “While global pandemics, supply-chain challenges, interest rates, and corporate consolidation will always impact the business of book publishing, sales are measurably stronger than they were five years ago. This reminds us that the demand for entertaining, enlightening, and inspiring books remains strong. My advice to authors is to be persistent and optimistic, and to take advantage of the invaluable insider advice that is provided at the pitch panel!” 

Please note that the editors and agents speaking at Islanders Write have generously agreed to offer their advice in order to help us writers better understand the process of getting editors and agents interested in our books. They are not at the event seeking projects for themselves. We will also be having a separate panel with editors and agents focused on publishing at the event.

For more information on Islanders Write, go to Around the Writers’ Table is a column about writers and writing on the Vineyard. Please email with your writing-related or book news.