Pitch Week


Pitch Week V: Our Juried Competition for Authors of Promise.

Apply to Compete for: a Traditional Book Publishing Deal, a Literary Agent and a National Book-Launch PR Campaign!

The Pitch Week V Application Period Ends March 30th, 2015. Apply Below!

Today, almost anyone can publish a book, and hundreds of thousands of U.S. authors do it each year! But getting your new title noticed by influential reviewers and then promoted by top booksellers (online and offline) is another matter, entirely.

Success comes down to this: With only a few exceptions, authors still need enormous help to launch a book to greatness. Behind most bestsellers and breakout books, you will still find top literary agents, respected publishing houses and savvy book publicists — all working together to build the credibility, buzz and retail presence required to drive sales.

Without such a united, team effort, even great books can languish in obscurity. Yet how many authors do you know who can pull such a team together? That may explain why the average non-fiction title today sells fewer than 250 printed copies – and why less than 1 percent of all books will ever surpass the 5,000 mark in sales.

Witness the Pitch Week process. Click above to see highlights of a proposed online television series based on the “Pitch Week” Competitions.

Pitch Week: An Alternate Path to Traditional Publishing Success

When Words Count Retreat believes promising authors deserve a better shot at publishing’s brass ring. That’s why, in September of 2013, we launched and hosted the first of two, semi-annual Pitch Weeks – juried competitions, in which six finalists (all with books we believe in) come together to compete for what may be the best book-publishing prize ever offered: An all-star team, dedicated to making the winner’s book a huge success. We call this prize the “Literary Trifecta,” and it includes:


A three-judge panel of industry pros reads the best 25 sample manuscripts submitted by up to 100 Pitch Week applicants. The judges rate the entries, according to their quality and market appeal, to determine our six finalists and two alternates. Then, prior to Pitch Week, they read the finalists’ full manuscripts and grade them again, by secret ballot.

At the finals, the Pitch Week contestants compete, before the judges, in four additional areas:

  • Book packaging
  • Book marketing strategy
  • The author behind the book and
  • Book-tour presentation and communication skills

Our judges score each performance by secret ballot. Then, at an awards dinner attended by the judges and contestants, we open the sealed ballots, tally the scores and declare a winner.

Meet Our Six Pitch Week III Finalists

Congratulations to each of You!

  • Devi DiGuida. Suspense Novel/Love Story Cayman Hustle, is a contemporary suspense novel/love story about a 25-year-old, unemployed, down-on-his-luck, hearing-impaired college grad who is manipulated, by his ex-shrink, a best-selling sex novelist, into writing a graphic memoir that she plans to appropriate and publish as a novel. Events take a surprising turn, when he and his multicultural friends, from Montreal, discover a fortune in buried gold that is up for grabs on Grand Cayman, and when they expose the doctor’s sexually abusive past and present.
  • T.B. Groth. Senior Romance Novel Journey to Love.This novel, set in Maine, tells the story of a fateful, New Years Day walk that brings together two unsuspecting love interests: 53-year-old Jes Weaver, a content and successful woman entrepreneur, and Val Thomas, a 45-year-old transplant from the southwest, who has recently arrived in town and is gun-shy and jaded about the “dating scene.” Follow their story as the two discover the best is yet to come.
  • Omri Navot.Young Adult/SciFi The Fifth Immortal. Set on an island kingdom on another planet, The Fifth Immortal is the coming of age story of a young man who refuses to be discarded by his society after a pandemic renders him sterile. His solution: to discover and share the secret to immortality, by locating and confronting one of the four legendary “immortals” who inhabit his world.
  • Caleb Christian. Urban Drama: A Beautiful Struggle is an urban action drama about the difficulties a bright, talented African American male faces as he attempts to break free from criminal life and the dangers, demands and self-destructive pressures of street culture.
  • Cheryl Cranick.Emerging Women’s Fiction: Becoming tells the story of Claire Kelly’s struggle, through her undergraduate and graduate years, to cope with an initially misdiagnosed bi-polar disorder and the damage the wrong medications do to her body, and self-image, through uncontrolled weight gain. After a disastrous job interview at a prestigious New York ad agency, Claire enrolls in graduate school, but will the extra time and study be enough to fix her problems and place her on a better trajectory toward her dreams?
  • Lisa Smith.Memoir: Girl Walks Out of a Bar is Lisa Smith’s story of alcoholism and drug addiction that started early in life, but did not keep her off the fast track. Lisa became a successful young lawyer at a top New York City law firm. Like many professionals, she had the means and income to support her habits. She became so good at hiding her spiraling addiction that her close friends and family had no way of knowing the depth of her illness. One morning, fearing that she might die, Lisa decided to stage her own intervention. She inadvertently ended up in a seedy New York City psychiatric hospital, where she realized what her life had become. But could she change it?

Devi DiGuida

T.B. Groth

Omri Navot

Caleb Christian

Cheryl Cranick

Lisa Smith

Get the Full Pitch-Week Story. Click the Links Below to:

The Pitch Week Concept: Everyone Wins

Success, in today’s book-publishing world, depends, equally, on an author’s ability to write a great book and to promote it. Pitch Week acknowledges this new dynamic. It seeks to inspire authors to develop the necessary skill sets – and to reward those who excel at it.

The Pitch Week Competition Transforms Participating Authors.

Each contestant gets invaluable feedback from three judges – all of whom are high-level publishing industry pros, who have read their manuscripts from cover to cover. The judges listen to their pitches, view their proposed book titles and book-cover designs; consider their book marketing concepts and witness their book-tour presentation and interviewing skills. In addition, book coach Steve Eisner works closely with each contestant, helping to prepare them for the rigors of the actual competition.

All finalists emerge from the competition with:

  • Stronger manuscripts
  • More compelling bios and cover copy
  • Better book-cover designs
  • Broader and more effective strategies for marketing their books and
  • Greater poise and self-confidence in both pitching their work and in leading public book readings

Equally important, they have the opportunity to build personal relationships with the judges and to network with them. In other words, everyone wins. (And the better each contestant performs, the greater the likelihood that he or she might walk away with an offer of their own.)

How to Apply

Pitch Week is a “by invitation only” competition limited to writers we get to know, firsthand, as guests at the retreat. If you have not yet visited the retreat and are not contractually prohibited from benefiting from all aspects of our prize, then simply visit us before the end of March and share a sample of your work. (Limit: one manuscript submission per applicant). It’s a simple, 3 step process:

  • Step 1: Be one of the first 100 authors to book a three-day/two-night stay at the retreat between now and the March 30, 2015 deadline.) Call us today at: 443-963-6440 to make your arrangements. Only the first 100 applicants will be considered for Pitch Week IV. (Since we select semi-finalists on a rolling basis, it is wise to book your visit for as early a date as possible.
  • Step 2: Read us the first ten, typed, double-spaced pages of your manuscript and a 200 word synopsis of your book during one of our evening hash sessions. (See our manuscript submission guidelines for details on how to format your submission.)
  • Step 3:Learn if you and your book will advance as semi-finalists.Our book coaches, Steve and Jon, will take notes on your reading and then meet with you the next day to provide their live assessment of your sample and your synopsis. If they think you and your book have “Pitch Week Potential,” they could offer you one of 25 semi-finalist positions on the spot! Should they feel that your book needs additional work in order to compete successfully, they will offer suggestions for strengthening it. (The assessment is FREE but has a $200 retail value.)

Pitch Week Finalist/Alternate Selections

  • In November and December, our judges will read and independently score each submission and return their sealed ballots to When Words Count Retreat for tallying.
  • The six top-scoring semi-finalists become finalists and the seventh and eighth highest scoring contestants become alternates.
  • All finalists/alternates advance through the preliminary round in the Pitch Week training and manuscript development process, but alternates only go to the final round, when a finalist is unable to go the distance. Alternates who are prepared to compete in the finals, but who are not called upon to do so, will be offered slots in future Pitch Week competitions.

Apply Now, for Pitch Week V (September 2015)

If you think you and your book have “Pitch Week potential”, and you want your shot at The Literary Trifecta, then CALL 443-963-6440 IMMEDIATELY to schedule a three-day, two-night stay at the retreat.

Get the Full Pitch-Week Story. Click the Links Below to:


All Pitch Week Finalists are Required to Stay at the Retreat, at Their Expense, During:

  • A five-day, four-night preliminary meet-the-judges visit (several months prior to Pitch Week)
  • The actual, week-long (7-day, 6-night) Pitch Week competition

Any paid editorial, book coaching or design service assistance offered to finalists will be strictly voluntary, and optional, in nature. (Pitch Week competition rules may change at the sole discretion of When Words Count Retreat. Such changes shall be posted here, from time to time.)