Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Let’s Get Back to Pitchapalooza!

I’ve written about Pitchapalooza before, but I haven’t covered the most important piece: How I prepared. I want to get back to that because I think it could be useful information for anyone who’s planning to attend in the future. And here’s the schedule of upcoming events by the way.

The minute I learned about a Pitchapalooza event within driving distance of my hometown, I knew I had to go. I was terrified, but it was as if knowing the opportunity existed left me no choice. Since I was stuck, I decided to prepare as much as possible, to avoid making a complete fool of myself. I’d read that Pitchapalooza was like American Idol without Simon, but I was skeptical. If there happened to be any Simon-like comments made, I wanted to be sure they weren’t directed at me.

So first I wrote my pitch. It was boring, rambling and made me realize I didn’t even have a handle on the book I was writing. This was not discouraging, but rather useful information. Next, I revised my pitch. And revised. And revised. And revised.

Now I was getting somewhere. But I was still nervous about delivering this pitch before a live audience of agents and publishing experts. I decided I needed to know more about Pitchapalooza. There had to be something on the Internet that would reassure me I wasn’t setting myself up for a verbal massacre.

Lo and behold, the Internet delivered! Go to YouTube and search for Pitchapalooza and you can get a preview of exactly what to expect at an event. They’re not all filmed, however, so you don’t have to freak out that live pitching means not only standing before an audience but also that you’ll be viewed internationally for years to come.

YouTube was useful and reassuring. But I wasn’t satisfied yet. I had specific questions about how to craft my pitch. How important was it to state my title? Should I give away the ending? I continued my Internet research and came up with this gem on The Book Doctors' website. Every question I had was answered in the comments on these 25 pitches. (Side note: You can also get these answers in… the book! Yes, The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published outlines how to write a pitch. But I was waiting to buy the book at the event, since it would come with a free consultation!)

After completing my research, I revised some more. And practiced out loud. And timed myself. And revised so endlessly that the revision process was not fully completed until minutes before I delivered my pitch. I wrote my new first line as an audience member and when I was next to go, I stood behind some bookshelves whispering the pitch so I wouldn’t stumble over my freshly written material.

The reward for all this work on a one-minute pitch? I was not “Simonized” (really, no one was) and I even came out a winner at the event. The lesson: Be prepared! You can't control everything when you put yourself and your ideas out there. You certainly can't control the panel's opinion of your book. But you can control how well you prepare. Take care of that piece, and you'll have the confidence to stand and deliver your best pitch.


  1. This is great advice, Heather! I attended (and won!) Pitchapalooza on July 8th and I was such a wreck prior that I almost didn't go. I completely agree with you, preparation is key. I wrote and rewrote my pitch for weeks before I really felt like I had a handle on what I wanted to put forth and then I practiced EVERYWHERE. I pitched to my friends, my family, in my car and in the shower until I was sick of the sound of my own voice but it paid off in the end. This event is wonderful and to have that kind of attention and feedback from professionals is so worth the nerves :) Congratulations to you and I would encourage anyone who is interested in putting pen to paper to attend Pitchapalooza.

  2. You won! I completely agree that it is so worth going, despite the nerves. Congratulations on your win!!