How Pitchapalooza Led to a Book Deal

Pitchapalooza is a strange and unique event. Hosted by The Book Doctors, it offers the participants the opportunity for a one minute pitch. No more, no less, than one minute. After you have made your pitch, you are critiqued on it with the aim to help you make your pitch better. The winner gets a future meeting with an agent or publisher or editor uniquely qualified to assist.

You never know what it will lead to. This is my story.


It was at the KWA Scene Conference in 2012 that I participated. On this blog, I debated which of two pieces to pitch: a traditional neo-noir hardboiled mystery or an experimental piece of Transgressive fiction. I chose the latter. It was unique enough to stand out even though it might not be the most commercial piece to pitch.

I had looked up Pitchapalooza on YouTube and saw several examples. I wrote and re-wrote my pitch. I practiced. At the Friday night session, the twenty entrants were randomly drawn. I was confident going in. But as the participants came and went, I waited. And waited. And waited. Nerves were starting to settle in.

And then I was called. And, to be honest, I nailed it. I hit it out of the park. Pick your own analogy. But I did what I was supposed to do. I was ready for that cash bar.

At the end of the session, the five panelists excused themselves for a review/vote/consultation. They came back a short time later to announce that they had a winner AND an honorable mention. I knew from my research that was unheard of. They did not usually have Honorable Mentions. I was announced as that rare honoree. Initially I was disappointed but having been mentioned at all, to have been considered, WAS a victory.

One of the panelists was Dan Case of AWOC.COM Publishing who was quite taken with my pitch, my story, and me. I had a one-on-one session with him on Saturday as well as one with Arielle Eckstut, one of the Book Doctors.

Flash forward two months to the OWFI Conference. One of the sessions was on the Elevator Pitch. Again, my Transgressive work, having recently been perfected, was blurted out in a one sentence pitch. More applause and appreciation.

I run into Dan Case. He remembers me. He still wants to see what I’ve got up my sleeve. I send him both pieces that I pitched back at the KWA Scene Conference. We can flash forward some more. Because Dan Case decides to publish the neo-noir hardboiled mystery, “Swan Song”, currently available on Amazon Kindle and Paperback, Barnes and Noble Nook and Paperback, and Kobo e-books.

It’s really mind-boggling, amazing, fascinating, and fun, all at the same time. I keep thinking that Raymond Chandler published his first novel, “The Big Sleep”, when he was 51. I beat him by six months.

It’s only a start. I know that. I don’t know where it actually goes from here. But it all really started because of a crazy event called Pitchapalooza.



  1. Cindy Watson said,

    January 23, 2013 at 10:17 pm

    How exciting!!!! Woo Hoo!


  2. H.B. Berlow said,

    January 23, 2013 at 10:19 pm

    I’m Woo Hoo-ing too! (Almost sounds like something from Dr. Seuss.)


  3. Judy said,

    January 24, 2013 at 4:30 am

    Good for you HB! Your dad would be so proud.


    • H.B. Berlow said,

      January 24, 2013 at 9:00 pm

      I am glad I got a chance to mention it’s forthcoming publication to him. It’s a solace for me as I am sure it as for him.


  4. Webgoji said,

    January 24, 2013 at 11:39 am

    Hey H.B., I wanted to ask a little more about Pitchapalooza. I didn’t go to the scene conference last year because, after reading through everyone that would be there, I didn’t feel there would be a place for my style of writing (horror). Will the judges at Pitchapalooza listen to any pitch or is it limited to the detective/mystery theme of the SCENE Conference?


    • H.B. Berlow said,

      January 24, 2013 at 9:02 pm

      When The Book Doctors put on a Pitchapalooza, it is for any writer and any genre. The Scene Conference, unless otherwise specified, is no longer restricted to crime/mystery fiction. And as far as going to a conference where there might be what you consider a dearth of applicable speakers relating to your genre, you’d be surprised what you can learn and who you can meet. Why don’t you come to the February meeting where we’ll talk about conferences, their benefit, and what you can do to make an impression (other than wearing colorful Hawaiian shirts.)


  5. January 24, 2013 at 2:42 pm

    We’re thrilled for you H.B.!!! Woooohoooo!!!


    • H.B. Berlow said,

      January 24, 2013 at 9:03 pm

      I still have an audio file of our one-on-one from which I am STILL gleaning significant info. Thank you for the subtle push.


  6. Valerie Del Signore said,

    January 25, 2013 at 8:38 am

    You go Bro!!! So very proud of you!


  7. January 26, 2013 at 9:41 pm

    Strong work! Wishing you further success.


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