WBEZ | pitchapalooza naperville anderson's bookshop http://www.wbez.org/tags/pitchapalooza-naperville-andersons-bookshop Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Pitchapalooza lets aspring authors try out their ideas on publishing pros http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/pitchapalooza-lets-aspring-authors-try-out-their-ideas-publishing-pros-105133 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F76336957&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/pitchapalooza.jpg" style="height: 233px; width: 310px; float: left; margin: 1px;" title="(James Kruth) A Pitchapalooza hopeful takes her turn in front of judges Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry" /></div>At first glance, the scene inside Anderson&rsquo;s Bookshop, a cozy store in downtown Naperville, looked like any other author appearance.</div><p>The author David Henry Sterry sat before a small crowd at a table stacked high with copies of his novella, <em>Confessions of a Sex Maniac</em>.</p><p>With a title like that, you might say he knows a thing or two about about pitching a book idea. Which, as it turned out, is why he was there.</p><p>&quot;Thank you all, welcome to Pitchapalooza,&quot; Sterry said. &quot;We love Naperville! Woohoo!&quot;</p><p>Sterry is also the author of <em>The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published,</em> which he wrote with his wife, literary agent Arielle Eckstut. The husband-wife team calls themselves &quot;The Book Doctors.&quot;</p><p>Five years ago they started Pitchapalooza, which is a little like <em>American Idol</em> for aspiring authors. Instead of hearing singer tryouts, a panel of four judges listens to 20 randomly selected writers pitch their book ideas. In Naperville, the judges included Loyola Press Executive Editor Joe Durepos and children&#39;s author Andrea Beaty.</p><p>&quot;You will get one minute. You will literally be cut off mid-syllable at one minute,&quot; Sterry warned the crowd.</p><p>These guys are nicer than Simon Cowell, but they&rsquo;re still tough. After hosting Pitchapalooza in bookstores all over the country, Eckstut said they&rsquo;re not easily impressed.</p><p>&quot;We hear lots of men in their 40s and 50s pitching books for adults about super heroes who have lost all their powers,&quot; Eckstut laughed.</p><p>There weren&rsquo;t any fallen superheroes in Naperville, but there was this pitch from medieval history buff Jessica Knauss: &quot;<em>The Seven Noble Knights of Lara</em> is a medieval epic with strong women, valiant knights, and a bloody cucumber.&quot;</p><p>And there was this one from a curly-haired editor named Nora Long, who wrote her entire pitch while she was waiting to see if her name would be called.</p><p>&quot;Lillith&rsquo;s story begins the day her boyfriend puts a gun in his mouth,&quot; Long said.</p><p>That one got the judges&#39; attention.</p><p>&quot;Now what I loved about that pitch, and this is for everybody, it started off with a bang, literally,&quot; Sterry said.</p><p>Everyone who was here had a different reason for wanting to publish a book. Some want to write picture books for their grandchildren. Others are bored with their day jobs and need an escape.</p><p>Julie Trapp, a consultant who brought her two young children along, said writing is just something she has to do.</p><p>&quot;I just feel like it&rsquo;s that little voice in your head that says &#39;This is a calling, there&rsquo;s some reason for this,&#39;&quot; Trapp said. &quot;For some reason, a story needs to get out.&nbsp; It&rsquo;s bigger than me, it&rsquo;s not about me.&quot;</p><p>The story Julie needed to tell was about her personal triumph over scoliosis. And she plans to use the judges&rsquo; advice to actually get it out there.</p><p>&quot;They&rsquo;re spot on with what needs to be done, so I agreed with all their comments,&quot; Trapp said.</p><p>Then there was Michael Gurley. This guy was serious. Not only did he bring mock-ups of a potential book cover, but he already has a pen name in mind. Dressed in a gray argyle sweater, Gurley stepped up to the microphone:</p><p>&quot;In roaring 20s Chicago, hockey superstar Brett Bennett is drafted to the big leagues, to the city&rsquo;s first-ever team. Secret passion catches fire when he meets dashing goalie Jean-Paul Moreau,&quot; Gurley said.</p><p>The judges heard a lot of pitches that day, but none went over quite as well as Gurley&rsquo;s.</p><p>&quot;We&rsquo;ve heard 10,000 pitches. I have never heard a gay hockey roaring 20s Chicago story,&quot; Sterry marveled. &quot;It&rsquo;s fantastic.&quot;</p><p>Gurley&rsquo;s winning book idea is called <em>Boy Afraid</em>.</p><p>&quot;Lots of pucks and sticks, ladies and gentlemen. Oh yeah!&quot; said Sterry.</p><p>For his prize, Gurley gets to meet a literary agent or publisher &ndash; a real coup for an aspiring author.&nbsp;</p><p>But in a world where anyone can publish a book, the pitch is just the first hurdle. The real question may be how do you get people to, well, read your book? Sterry said it helps to understand what&rsquo;s already out there.</p><p>&quot;You saw today so many people didn&rsquo;t even know where their book was going to fit in a bookstore. You need to know that, you need to figure that out,&quot; Sterry said. &quot;Because if you don&rsquo;t know, how&rsquo;s an agent going to know? How&rsquo;s an editor going to know? How&rsquo;s a reader going to know?&quot;</p><p>But Michael Gurley has even bigger ambitions than that. When asked where, ideally, he would like to see his book go, Gurley had this to say: &quot;I want J.K. Rowling to read it and think, &lsquo;Wow, I could have wrote that.&#39;&quot;</p><p><em>Correction: &nbsp;This article has been updated to reflect corrected material. The story mistakenly stated that Michael Gurley was the writer&#39;s pen name rather than his given name.&nbsp;</em></p><p><em>To hear Michael Gurley&#39;s complete winning pitch, <a href="https://soundcloud.com/wbez/michael-gurleys-winning-pitch">click here</a>.</em></p><p><em>To hear pitching tips from David Henry Sterry,<a href="https://soundcloud.com/wbez/pitchapalooza-co-founder"> click here</a>.</em></p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 25 Jan 2013 08:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/pitchapalooza-lets-aspring-authors-try-out-their-ideas-publishing-pros-105133