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Country Mouse: Review of Pitchapalooza, Part 1: Introduction

Guest blogger Amanda Socci from Alexandria, Virginia provides the first part of a 4-part review of the Pitchapalooza event for aspiring book authors.

Hello! My name is Amanda Socci.  I am a freelance writer from Alexandria, Va., currently blogging about faith with a blog called "A Slice of Faith."  I had approached Georgetown Patch Editor Shaun Courtney with a suggestion to provide coverage of a Washington, D.C. event.  That suggestion turned into me guest blogging on Georgetown Patch.

I have called my Georgetown blog "Country Mouse" as a cute nickname describing my reactions to D.C. events.  Although I lived in D.C. for many years, I moved to the D.C. suburbs and going back to D.C. now elicits reactions of tourist-like excitement and glee, hence, the nickname country mouse.

The following is a 4-part review of a D.C. event that took place on April 11.

Traveling to Pitchapalooza
On Wednesday, April 11, we left the house at 5 p.m. for a 7 p.m. event at the Politics & Prose bookstore in northwest D.C.  It would take us a full hour and 10 minutes to make the trek.  Thank goodness we found a parking spot behind the store!

My two girls, my husband, and I entered the bookstore through the lower level in the back, immediately greeted by whiffs of coffee and sandwiches.  The back entrance led us to a small eatery, where patrons sat half-eating, half-reading, and fully occupied, oblivious to passersby.

We cut through the eatery, walking through the narrow pathway, slowly making our way to the top level where all the action would soon be taking place.  My husband turned the corner and headed to a hidden elevator, taking the chunky stroller and our girls with him.  I proceeded straight up the narrow black stairs which were made more welcoming with its tasty visuals of book displays on both sides.

Everywhere that the eye could see, there were books and more books and beautiful pictures and many a sight that deserved far more attention that I could give it at that time.  You see, I was a can of nerves trying to hold my kooky plastic snakes contained.  I was preparing mentally for the very real possibility that I’d be called to action to deliver a 1-minute speech I had worked hard to prepare.

I finally arrived upstairs at the scene where Pitchapalooza was about to take place.  This was the spot typically reserved for book signings and author lectures.  That night, the podium turned away from the audience, facing a rectangular table where four judges would soon be listening to the book pitches.

What is Pitchapalooza?
Pitchapalooza is an event in which 20 hopefuls with dreams of authoring books get a coveted 60 seconds to deliver a book pitch that is effective, compelling and moving.  No small feat!

Pitchapalooza is repeatedly described as “the American Idol of books - without Simon Cowell.”  The Washington Post provided its own review of the exact Pitchapalooza event that I attended.  See here.

After attending this event, I can honestly say that Pitchapalooza is not like American Idol at all.  It is actually much kinder and pleasant and inviting, like a hip open-mic lovefest for aspiring writers. 

Pitchapalooza is a mighty, slow-winding train led by its founders Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry, the principals of New Jersey-based The Book Doctors.  The Book Doctors are a full-service firm providing the full spectrum of book publishing services, from conception of ideas to delivery of the final product.  They seek to make “better books. One author at a time” through workshops, particularly Pitchapalooza. 

Pitchapalooza began in 2007 and in five short years, has grown in popularity and has made multiple pit stops at independent bookstores throughout the United States.  Media outlets have caught notice and have written extensive reviews of Pitchapalooza events, proclaiming these to be the must-do events for writers seeking to publish books.

The Pitchapalooza event was advertised heavily in behemoths including the Washington Post as well as smaller circles on Twitter.  The advertising must have worked, because the event filled slowly, but quickly became standing-room only and was packed to the brim with people excited to hear the book pitches.

Tune in for Part 2 of the story on Tuesday.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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