Author Outreach from CreateSpace: Pitch 2.0

by Joel Friedlander on December 16, 2011 · 8 comments

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Last week I had the good fortune to be invited to participate in Pitch 2.0, the first-ever community outreach event on the part of CreateSpace, Amazon.com’s print on demand division.

(Disclosure: I write articles for CreateSpace’s community forums as a freelance writer.)

Actually CreateSpace is a lot more than print on demand, since they also offer publishing and distribution options for musicians and filmmakers, but let’s stick with the books for now.

The team at CreateSpace assembled a group of editors, mostly from the Pacific Northwest, to act as advisors and “pitch consultants” for any authors who wanted to sign up for the free event.

I’ve never seen a pitch event that didn’t sell out, and this one was no exception. Unlike other events, however, where authors don’t know until they arrive whether they will actually get to pitch or not, CreateSpace decided to create a reservation system. People coming in had already been assigned to groups, and everyone with a reservation got to do their pitch.

And not just do their pitch, but do it twice, to two different editors. This was another great innovation, as it insulated authors from getting just one opinion. No editor can be equally familiar with all genres, and having two opinions is a great way to give the author more balanced feedback.

In fact, some authors adjusted and improved their pitches between “performances” and so were able to use the input they were getting on the spot.

The Order of Festivities

Since the event started at 5:30 p.m. at Seattle’s Asian Art Museum, our hosts were kind enough to also supply dinner in the form of sandwiches and other treats. Nice touch.

We then had an opening session and a panel discussion led by author and book reviewer Jeff Ayers, and including legendary editor Alan Rinzler, Seattle-based developmental editor Jason Black, and yours truly.

CreateSpace Pitch 2.0 Seattle Panel

Moderator Jeff Ayers with panelists Alan Rinzler, Jason Black and Joel Friedlander at CreateSpace’s Pitch 2.0 conference

Except for one instance in which, for some reason, I got into a rave about someone publishing books about “trumpet polishing” the panel was energetic and informative, holding the attention of the packed auditorium.

This was followed by a presentation by Amazon’s Jon Fine who walked through all the ways in which Amazon and CreateSpace can help authors publish and promote their print and e-books.

We then separated into groups, with each editor (and there were 10 or 11 of us) assigned to 8 authors who had come to pitch.

I heard pitches about novels, fantasies, nonfiction books, children’s books and others. Were they any good?

The Problem with Pitching

Well, some were, but on the whole it became clear as the evening wore on that most authors didn’t really get what the pitch is and what to do with it. Instead, I heard a lot of

  • Book descriptions
  • Catalog copy
  • Plot summaries
  • and other non-pitch content.

Given that pitches are often confined to 30 seconds or so, these types of things won’t suffice. With a pitch you have to dive right in, get attention immediately. It’s an art that’s not easy to learn but will repay you many times over. A good pitch will position your book and, as I said on the panel, lead to the payoff, if it’s good.

What’s the payoff? When you get to the end of your pitch, you hear those three magic words: “Tell me more.”

Although this was a trial event for CreateSpace, it was run with a high degree of professionalism and respect for the authors involved, and I sincerely hope they decide it’s worthwhile to roll out to more locations.

When all your customers know you primarily through a website, events like this can go a long way toward putting a human face on the company and showing whole communities of writers that they are truly in a partnership with CreateSpace as their printer and distributor.

If you’re on the CreateSpace mail list and you get a notice about one of these Pitch 2.0 events happening near you, I would book in right away, it’s a great opportunity.

Resources

Getting the right Pitch 2.0
Pitch 2.0 – What is it? And how do I make it work for me?
CreateSpace and Amazon’s Pitch 2.0: Completely Worth It
Why Your Book Pitch Matters (Even If You Don’t Want an Agent)
Basics of Book Marketing for the Beginning Self-Publisher
Pitchapalooza 2010: Tips for Perfecting Your Book Pitch
Book Marketing: A Perfect Elevator Pitch

Panel photo by Craig Spence.

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    { 5 comments… read them below or add one }

    Michael N. Marcus December 16, 2011 at 1:54 am

    Some ancient history:

    In 1972, while I was audio-video editor at Rolling Stone, your panel-mate Alan Rinzler headed their book-publishing division, Straight Arrow Books.

    Straight Arrow wanted me to write a book about hi-fi, but I wasn’t impressed with the advance and the royalty rates they offered me.

    My contact at Straight Arrow insisted that it was the “best deal” they had offered anyone, and said he would mail me a contract.

    Someone at Straight Arrow goofed up, and put another author’s contract in the envelope which was mailed to me. He was getting a much better deal, so I refused to do business with the company.

    Four years later, my first book was published by Doubleday. I didn’t make much money from that deal, or from the book I wrote in 1996. It’s much better having my own little publishing company.

    Michael N. Marcus

    – Just out: deluxe hardcover edition of “Stories I’d Tell My Children (but maybe not until they’re adults),” http://www.amazon.com/dp/0983057249

    http://www.BookMakingBlog.blogspot.com
    http://www.BookFur.com (information, help and book reviews for authors)
    – Create Better Books, with the Silver Sands Publishing Series: http://www.silversandsbooks.com/booksaboutpublishing.html

    Reply

    Ryan Bradshaw December 16, 2011 at 5:07 am

    Sounds like a lot of fun! I would have enjoyed this event very much. Have a great weekend, Joel (and all the other self-pub champs out there).

    Ryan

    Reply

    Sonia Marsh/Gutsy Living December 17, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    Joel,

    I wish you had given us your top 3 favorite pitches so we could see specific examples of “tell me more.”

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander December 17, 2011 at 4:14 pm

    Sonia, great idea, but it would have been difficult. Most authors brought handwritten pitches that they read, and although I listened to them, I didn’t get a copy. But it does give me an idea for another blog post, so thanks for that.

    Reply

    Sonia Marsh/Gutsy Living December 18, 2011 at 7:54 am

    Glad to inspire a new article and look forward to reading it. Sonia.

    Reply

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