Sarah told you a little bit about the publishing roundtable she took part in the other night, but Levi Asher of Literary Kicks was sitting in the audience, and files an eyewitness account that makes Sarah sound much more cold-hearted than I know her to be.
By a fun coincidence, Asher and his fellow Kick-er Caryn Thurman were also in Charlottesville last weekend, sitting in on a “Buzz That Book” workshop I co-anchored with Lynn Isenberg and Michele Martinez. (The three of us were last-minute fill-ins for an ailing M.J. Rose; the fact that it took three of us to replace her should give you an idea of her book marketing savvy…) Caryn mentions the panel in her account of the weekend. As she puts it, “audience members (mostly comprised of authors looking to promote, publish and sell their books) were randomly selected to ‘pitch’ their books for the panel…and then receive critique and advice.”
It was one of the most energetic hours of the conference, as far as I could tell, and we worked our way through about a dozen pitches, even though everybody kept going over the 30 seconds the moderator gave them for the “elevator pitch” presentation, and Lynn got justifiably ruthless in getting people to come up with the one-sentence hooks. The projects ranged from rough proposals to self-published kids’ books to an Earl Hamner biography I was actually interested in (too bad the author took his copy with him when he sat back down). Afterwards, one of the authors we hadn’t invited to speak, former Liberty University golf coach Frank Landrey, caught up with me to discuss why we kept picking up and putting down True Tales of College Golf; together we figured out the title really wasn’t an accurate reflection of the book’s religious message, so I told him to bump the subtitle up and gave him some advice on finding agents who would understand what he’s saying. And then, it being that sort of weekend, an agent came over to say hi to me, and Coach Landrey was able to leave with the name of somebody else at that fellow’s agency who might be willing to look the book over. Cool!