Pitch Week


Pitch Week: 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!

Pitch Week XIV: Rolling Admissions through February 28, 2018.

Call our GM, Jill E. Riley, today to claim your spot in the try-outs at (443) 963-6440.


Dear Aspiring Author,Steve- Headshot 2

Publishing any book takes both action and skill. But, how often does the “action” part
overwhelm you? Calling agents, sending query letters, contacting publishers, and learning the social media and marketing aspect of publishing: we make it easy and seamless when you try out for Pitch Week.


Pitch Week is a juried competition for authors of promise. The winner receives the “Literary Trifecta,” a prize (valued at $150,000) that includes a traditional book publishing deal, the services of a literary agent and a national marketing campaign.

Win, lose or draw, the experience of collaboration will make you a better author and your book a better read. Our book coaches will guide you every step of the way. Yes, a book coach!  Exactly what you need to solve the confusing maze of the publishing world.

All finalists emerge with stronger manuscripts, compelling bios, snappy cover copy, better book-cover designs, strategies for marketing the book, and confidence to pitch before audiences.

By the time you’re done, you’ll have the credibility and presence you have hoped for vying for the dominant position, and strategizing on a first name basis with a literary agent, traditional publisher and national publicist.

Pitch Week is a national contest (USA, Canada and beyond)  for talented but yet to be fully recognized authors. While you can be a published author, at the point of your submission, your own book sales to date have not exceeded 5,000 books sold. However we encourage authors who have published short stories or the like in magazines whatever the circulation or have been in a support role as one of several writers  in anthologies or the like whatever the sales level…  in this case… you must assure  us that you were not the main draw.

It’s time to take action and throw your hat in the ring. Join the When Words Count Trials at When Words Count Retreat.

Call our GM, Jill E. Riley today to claim your spot in the try-outs at (443) 963-6440.

Don’t Take My Word For It…Please Listen to What the Winners Have to Say.

Vivian R Probst, Winner – Pitch Week I

Vivian R Probst- Pitch Week 1- cropVivian’s first published novel, Death by Roses, began after her older sister died of Lou Gehrig’s disease in 2008. She worked through her grief for five years as she wrote her novel.  She then submitted her manuscript to WWCR’s icon Pitch Week Competition and won!. Her hilarious novel, Death by Roses is now available in fine bookstores everywhere and at online retailers.

“During feedback, it wasn’t always easy to hear where the issues were in my story but it was important for me to hear.  At times, it felt like I was sort of swimming towards a shore and they were right there with me so I didn’t drown in the process.  If you’re serious and you really want to be nurtured and challenged to really complete your work and get into the marketplace, there is no better place that I can think of to accomplish this other than When Words Count Retreat.”

Meet our other Pitch Week I author finalists here.


Marie White Small, Winner – Pitch Week II 

Marie White Small- Crop

Light and air, the roar of the river, kids chasing paper airplanes on city blocks, and crows watching from the treetops — these are the backdrops of Marie White Small’s lyrical novel, Stony Kill.

“Many talented writers are never seen or heard…Pitch Week is a rare opportunity to solve both problems.”

Meet our other Pitch Week II author finalists here.



Lisa Smith, Winner – Pitch Week III

Lisa Smith- Pitch Week II- cropLisa Smith’s memoir, “Girl Walks Out of a Bar,” is a darkly comic and wrenchingly honest look at high-functioning addiction in the world of corporate law.

As a successful New York City lawyer, I had the means and the skills to hide my cocaine and alcohol addiction from close friends, family and co-workers.  One morning, something snapped – and I decided to stage my own intervention,” Smith explained.  “In telling my story, my hope is to inspire others like me, and to give them the courage to get help.” 

“It is so difficult for any new writer to get the attention of a literary agent, let alone a publisher. To have access to an A-team of publisher, literary agent and publicist, all working on my behalf, is extraordinary. And the support I have received from When Words Count Retreat has been tremendous. They gave me great feedback and encouragement throughout the process, and they are truly invested in helping to develop and promote undiscovered writers.”

Meet our other Pitch Week III finalists here.


Gary Vikan, Winner – Pitch Week IV

Gary Vikan Picture- Sq CropAuthor of Stolen and Sacred – The true-life adventures of museum director Gary Vikan as he deals with looted antiquities, crooked dealers, deluded collectors, and murky financial transactions are chronicled in an adventurous and insider’s look at a rarified world.

“Well that was really amazing. Thank you. I am very fond of the publishing team, and eager. There is magic in that green granite of Vermont where When Words Count makes it happen.”

Read more about Gary’s win in The Baltimore Sun.

Meet our other Pitch Week IV finalists here.


Charita Cole Brown, Winner – Pitch Week V

Charita Headshot- 10.27.15Author Brown takes us on her personal journey through her harrowing memoir, Defying the Verdict: My Bipolar Life. Charita Cole Brown was not expected to finish college, marry, and have children or a career. Yet Ms. Brown defied all the predictions. Walk these miles with this fiercely determined woman.

“Pitch Week V was an extremely harmonious group of contenders. We encouraged each other to present our ‘ A’ games. I personally benefited from the WWC expert coaching and editing services. I embraced the theater actor’s commitment to leave it all on the stage. And in a tight race won by two points.”

Meet our other Pitch Week V finalists here.


Camille Robinson, Winner – Pitch Week VI

Camille Robinson Photo- cropCamille Robinson takes our hearts on a soul-stirring journey through the trials and tribulations of a Louisiana mixed-race slave owner who falls for a free woman in his employ in her African American Historical Romance novel Unloved. 

“My experience was one that words cannot describe. I learned to hone my craft at WWC, while building dynamic relationships with talented authors. The journey was worth its weight in gold. The feedback and exposure to the judges were priceless. I’m more than grateful for having the opportunity to participate in such a life-altering competition.”

Meet our other Pitch Week VI finalists here.


Sally Newhart, Winner – Pitch Week VII

Sally Newhart photo- cropMule Tales from the French Quarter presents a concise history of the mule in the city of New Orleans, throughout the state of Louisiana and the United States.  It is interspersed with stories told to Sally by the carriage drivers of New Orleans who spend their days, and nights, driving locals and tourists to the Cemeteries, the Garden District and around the French Quarter. It is an adult, sometimes inebriated, version of “Kids Say the Darndest Things.”

“There were six talented writers in Pitch Week VII. Each of us had professional help over a period of months to edit, perfect an elevator pitch, design a cover, write cover copy, put together a marketing plan and develop a basic book presentation. I was fortunate enough to win the publishing deal, but we all were in a position to self-publish at the conclusion of the competition. Each of us left the process at the When Words Count Retreat with five new friends and a home in Vermont where we plan to return forever. I know I will.”

Meet our other Pitch Week VII finalists here.


James Hornor, Winner – Pitch Week VIII

In its exploration of American male stereotypes and in its suggestion of vulnerability as a key to masculine authenticity, James’s Victoria Falls dares to embrace those humane qualities of love, kindness, and creativity that have of late been extolled as the provenance of soul-searching women but have been largely ignored in American fiction about men.

“When Words Count Retreat is a place where the dreams of aspiring authors come true.  It is a place of expectation and encouragement, a place where writers hone their skill while working in a writing community, a place where the beauty of the natural surroundings inspires personal excellence.

I began with just an idea, but through successive visits to WWCR and the mentoring and coaching of resident experts, that idea became a novel, and that novel became the nexus for my personal transformation and new hope for the future.

All of us who participated in Pitch Week VIII are grateful for the friends we made and the life lessons that we shared together.”

Meet our other Pitch Week VIII finalists here.


Sarah Ward, Winner – Pitch Week IX

Sarah Ward’s inspiration for her current novel Aesop Lake was a local news story about a young man who was bullied for being gay. When her youngest child came out at the age of fourteen and faced issues of gay rights and bullying in rural Vermont, Sarah knew that she had to tell this story. Sarah is also the author of the self-published novel, Stone Sisters. In 2007, she won the New England Anthology of Poetry’s Editor’s Choice Award for her poem “Warmer Waters.”

“Pitch Week is a unique opportunity to develop yourself as an author and an entrepreneur. Learning the craft of pitching, how to become the brand and to market one’s art is truly valuable in an industry that can seem overwhelming to new authors. 

The coaching aspect of this competition makes all the difference.To be able to meet with the judges prior to the pitch week and learn from their feedback, with the support of two writing coaches makes this opportunity incomparable. I feel confident that my co-competitors will find great success in the publishing world and hope that we will remain friends for many years to come.

I am grateful for the opportunity that Pitch Week IX provided to bring Aesop Lake to life on the page.”

Meet our other Pitch Week IX finalists here.


Jen Epstein, Winner – Pitch Week X

Jen Epstein’s Don’t Get Too Excited: It’s Just About A Pair of Shoes and Other Laments From My Life is a collection of personal essays, harrowing and hilarious, in the David Sedaris vein about Jen’s struggles with OCD. The project came to fruition through her participation in a writers group founded by a coworker and close friend in the fall of 2012.  Through this writers group, Jen found a community of like-minded people and a strong support network that gave her the stamina and vision to keep writing.

Not unlike her experience in this writers group, When Words Count also introduced her to a wonderful, fun-loving, and nurturing group of writers, many of whom she expects will remain close friends for the rest of her life.

She is grateful for the opportunity to have heard their voices and be able to share her own with them.

Jen, while not excited, is greatly looking forward to the next steps in her journey towards publication and bringing her passion project to reality.

Meet our other Pitch Week X finalists here.

Meet Our Pitch Week XI Finalists!


Meet Our Pitch Week XII Finalists!



Here’s Exactly What You’ll Learn from Pitch Week!

  • How to write stronger manuscripts

  • The knowledge and skill to pitch your book to industry professionals

  • Better book-cover designs

  • How to structure compelling bios and cover copy

  • How to make your pitch using the right technology

  • Greater poise and self-confidence in pitching your work and leading public book readings

  • Broader and more effective strategies for marketing your book


Equally important, you’ll 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.

We look forward to meeting you and reading your novel!

If you decide to step up and enter Pitch Week, we will hold your feet to the fire as you achieve the greatness you’ve always had inside you.


Steven C. Eisner, CEO


Call Jill today to claim your spot in the try-outs at (443) 963-6440.