Written by Brenda Knight
California Governor Jerry Brown declared “the drought is over” this year and that is true in more ways than one. Pitch-O-Rama 2017 was awash with great book ideas and overflowing with keenly interested editors and agents, leaning in and listening intently to each other. With over 100 people in attendance, the legendary Women’s Building in San Francisco’s popular Mission District was filled with lively energy and buzzing, thanks to the one-on-one high quality meetings writers look forward to each year with book publishing professionals. One of the highlights was an aspiring teen writer, Anwesha, from San Jose who came with her mother and walked out with connections to a possible three-book deal and a gig as a middle-grade reader for a literary agency. This young author-to-be said it was “one of the best days of her life.”
The San Francisco Chapter of the Women’s National Book Association has held this annual event for many years and it has become an important part of the Bay Area’s literary community with many key players in attendance, including co-founder of the San Francisco Writers’ Conference, Michael Larsen, Brooke Warner, founder and publisher of She Writes Press, legendary bookseller cum agent Andy Ross, the editorial team from Parallax Press, Joan Gelfand representing Publishizer, Lee Douglass, founder of Carnation Books, Mango consultant Brenda Knight and Georgia Hughes of New World Library, Jennifer Chen Tran, who came down from Sacramento on behalf of Fuse Literary along with super agent Carlie Webber; and Jennifer March Soloway of the Andrea Brown Agency and Lisa Abellera representing the Kimberley Cameron Associates.
One theme from all the feedback received about Pitch-O-Rama 2017 was that the pre-pitch coaches, Betsy Graziani Fasbinder, Mary Knippel and Amanda McTigue, were “extraordinary,” “taught me so much about how to improve my pitches,” “invaluable,” and “helped me be successful the rest of the day” — and this is just a small sampling of the praise! The WNBA volunteer members were wonderful and kept the event flowing smoothly and served a delicious array of festive snacks and drinks. Many a member participated and received excellent input and interest from the agents and publishers in attendance.
Yet another bright spot in a brilliant day was the “From Page to Screen” class on how to turn your book or great idea into a screenplay for a feature film. It was taught by bestselling novelist Mary Mackey and Hollywood dynamo Renee De Palma, an award-winning screenwriter/director/producer and President of LA’s OneMotionPictures in Los Angeles with numerous films to her credit. This special feature of Pitch-O-Rama was brand new for this year and is one more way the WNBA-SF Chapter differs from any other workshop for writers in the area. Hollywood, here we come!
We’ll see you next year at the Women’s Building in March 2018 and maybe even on the red carpet!
WNBA-SF President Brenda Knight is the author of Wild Women and Books, Be a Good in the World, and Women of the Beat Generation, which won an American Book Award. She served as publisher of Cleis Press and was awarded IndieFab’s Publisher of the Year in 2014. She is a Publishing Consultant to Mango Media.