Last night I ventured out to Brooklyn for Pitchapalooza, a sink-or-swim book idea slam organized by “The Book Doctors,” David Henry Sterry and Arielle Eckstut, authors of The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published. The venue was the Green Light Bookstore and featured celebrity guest judges Richard Nash and Jason Pinter.
There must’ve been 100 eager authors crammed into the indy Ft. Green store, each nervously clutching their script and editing on the spot. The format provided one minute to spill your spiel, followed by feedback from the panel. Writers were not permitted to respond to their feedback or otherwise defend themselves. About 20 writers were randomly selected and offered the opportunity to pitch their books. I was one of the fortunate few.
I managed to get through about 99% of my pitch before the buzzer. When I first uttered the word “menopause,” there was a collective audible gasp. What can I say? It’s not a popular topic. Men don’t want to hear about it. Period. Just like they don’t want to hear about periods. Or anything else “feminine and messy.” And women, unless they’ve actually been through it — though sometimes not even then! — really, REALLY don’t want to hear about it! Females of every generation are terrified of getting old, of becoming invisible and irrelevant, of reaching an age when they can no longer trade on their sexuality or femininity, thereby negating everything society has been teaching us for the first 50 years of our lives. So I was proud of myself for even giving it a shot. I wasn’t at a woo-woo women’s support group; it was a retail establishment stuffed with my “I wanna get published!” competition. If I had to guess, I’d say there were maybe 10 women in the room who could even vaguely relate to me.
My paraphrased feedback:
Arielle began, “When you first started, I thought, ‘Oh, no, here we go again.’ I’ve heard hundreds of pitches for ‘funny’ menopause books. There are a million of them out there. But then you got specific about the kind of rock ‘n’ roll people you’d be targeting and I got it!” I’m pleased that she “got it,” but I’m not necessarily targeting just rockers. I’m going after badasses of every genre. And all you need to do is Google menopause books to learn that there are not anywhere near a million “funny” menopause books. She may have heard a million pitches for them but, for whatever reason, no one’s published them. Which is a shame, because I sure could’ve used one. All there was when I went looking was Menopause for Dummies, Menopause Sucks: What to Do When Hot Flashes and Hormones Make You and Everyone Else Miserable and Is it Hot In Here? Or is it me? The Complete Guide to Menopause. There are, of course, the Christian Northrup books and Our Bodies, Ourselves: Menopause, which are not, in my opinion, either entertaining or even remotely badass.
Richard Nash suggested I come up with some catchy phrases that would really sum up the intended demographic, such as “The menopause book for the CBGB’s generation,” — which I immediately appropriated, by the way — though again, I’m hoping the book will have a bit more reach than that. Sure, the broads who are “still out clubbing til 3am” would be my primary market, but ideally everyone who doesn’t feel like part of the hippy-dippy purple caftan demographic will want to read my book!
Jason Pinter read a few notes that were primarily words of encouragement. Thank you, Jason!
Wrapping up, David added, “You said this was a funny book. Where were the jokes? You didn’t make me laugh.” Well, given that all I had was one minute, there wasn’t much time for stand-up. But more specifically, this is not a humor book. It’s an informational book, written with a sense of humor. Will it make people laugh? I hope so. But I won’t be telling jokes; I’ll be cracking wise. And doing my best to help my readers to not jump off a building in despair.
The panel also let me know it was a bad idea to say that 50% of the planet would be interested in my book, since that wasn’t accurate. They were in agreement that I should’ve mentioned other menopause books and how mine was different. I had avoided that in an effort to not come off sounding negative — easily remedied. But they all seemed to believe I have a viable book!
Fortunately, seconds after I ceded the mic to the next pitcher, a handsome young reporter beckoned. “We’d like to shoot your book pitch for NBC news,” he informed me. I couldn’t believe my luck! How many potential viewers would I reach with my idea? And my newly appropriated CBGB’s catch phrase? I threw my motorcycle jacket back on to appear appropriately badass. The segment seemed to go smoothly; I think I got my message across with an appealing amount of humor. I’ll look forward to seeing if I make the cut and whatever resulting adulation transpires.
While my first real “pitch” may have been a total strikeout, at least I had the nerve to attend the event and enough luck to be picked — and filmed! Since I bought the book, I get to schedule a 20-minute consultation with David and Arielle. I’ll be sure to re-work my pitch, taking all their constructive criticism into consideration. If I could pack a pitch into a minute, 20 will feel like forever!
The One-Minute Book Pitch
I’ve got a book that’s relevant to a mere 50% of the people on the planet. That’s right, every woman in the world will go through menopause! And there simply isn’t enough information about it out there, not even on the almighty internet.
The Badass Babe’s Guide to Menopause will fix that and crack you up! Hardcore medical facts with a rock ‘n’ roll sense of humor will explain what the hell is happening with your hormones and how to handle it with dignity.
The book will debunk myths and offer realistic coping strategies without resorting to hippy-dippy lavender caftan homilies or telling you that old age is the best part of life!
Beyond all the hilarious straight talk you’ll get quotes and stories from the world’s biggest badasses: Joan Jett! Chrissy Hynde! Tina Turner! Whoopie! Madonna!
And why should I write this book? I have decades of experience waiting in a comical, conversational style about sexuality, kink and other taboo topics. And hey, why not me?
You’ll want to buy this book because either you’ll eventually want to read it or someone you love will!