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Pitch Your Book to Life Contest: Second Round of Entries and Feedback

Thanks to all our great entrants to the Pitch Your Book to Life Contest. Today, I’m providing feedback on 11 more pitches that prompted some ideas on my end. I’ll be posting more in the next few days, so if you don’t see yours here, don’t worry. Public voting begins April 13 and you’ll have the opportunity to invite your friends to vote for your book pitch. See pitches and my feedback below in blue.

Entry  1

It’s Simply…Serendipity: Unwavering Faith (One Woman’s Quest to Discovering Authenticity) by Cali Gilbert

A young entrepreneur with a colourful past, former athlete, magazine publisher experiences one year from HELL. She loses everything beginning with suffering a miscarriage, relationship fails, car dies, money runs out, loses home. Faced with two options, GIVE UP or START OVER, she chooses the ladder. An aspiring photographer and writer, she manages to self publish two books combining her passions on ZERO budget. Working solely on total belief in herself and unwavering faith, she discovers her true authentic self.

You clearly have an inspiring story. I’d like to see more about 1) who is your market 2) what makes this book particularly fresh–we hear a good deal about “authentic self” nowadays, so you need to make the pitch sound 100% fresh. See if you can come up with a final sentence that wow us. Be careful of spelling when pitching to agents. Spell check won’t catch words like “ladder” vs. “latter.” Though there’s potential for an accidental pun here about the corporate ladder, perhaps.

Entry 2

Lessons from Paradise by Bridget Skjordahl

What can be learned  from a tiny island in the Caribbean about living joyfully in challenging times? Share in my personal adventure, from the painful sacrifice of the life I knew, through the unexpected adversities of life in “paradise,” to the present as I live the life of my dreams. With the island and its West Indian culture as guides, each chapter illustrates one of fifteen timeless lessons that can help anyone live more joyfully.

I’d love to know a bit more about the island (its name, for instance) that would make it become more concrete and real for me. Even though you only had the opportunity for a short pitch–I’d love to see at least one or two quirky details that start to bring this to life. 

Entry 3

Dancing with Trees by Star Bear Lewis

Do you notice the trees in your life? Ever wonder about the Tree of Life? Take a walk or dance in the woods and discover your own meaning of trees along the path of your life journey. A photographic journey in rich full color with brilliant inspirational quotes, thoughts, ideas.

Sounds inviting. While photography can limit your options (it’s more expensive and so harder to get published), I know that some photographers are using campaigns like and to fund more expensive projects like photography books. Click here a blog post on crowdfunding that will provide more detail.

Entry 4

God Was Our Matchmaker by Alicia Parente

God’s hand in two people’s four year journey, after the death of a spouse, to meet, fall in love, get married, move out of state, and start a whole new life.  How impossible odds were overcome to move forward and move ahead when the world thought you should stay in one place.  God winks, power of positive thinking, law of attraction – whatever you want to call it – we know that God paved our way and we can prove it.

I’d like to get a sense of what the impossible odds refers to–and maybe more specificity about what this means:  “when the world thought you should stay in what place.”

Entry 5

Untitled by Nora Hall

Picture…if you will…Peter rising at 6 for golf and returning briefly before jogging––then Mary coming from work to a pile of sweaty clothing––or Paul, another new retiree, sleeping till 9, and dreaming of the lunch he wishes would be served.

Survive Your Husband’s Retirement looks at changes in a relationship––and the errant behavior that comes along with it––when a husband retires. Replete with couple’s stories, cartoons, Bliss Bits and Thoughts to Ponder, Survive prompts women to laugh, to cry, to think––and finally––take action to return bliss to the relationship.

Nora, Great details about the features of the book. I’m not sure the two examples give us enough of a sense of the tension or as much humor as I’ve seen from you in the past. But still, an effective pitch. Could also be valuable to include a sense of the size of this market.

Entry  6

The Mending Map – guideposts on the road back to health by Margery Phelps

If you were recovering from a serious injury or illness and having a variety of problems such as pain, insomnia, depression, finances, physical therapy, relationships, and nutrition, where would you go for help?  Medical doctors don’t have time, you don’t want to burden your family, and your best friend has never been sick and doesn’t know how it feels. Best-selling author, Margery Phelps, gives you practical advice for overcoming the mending roadblocks.  She not only survived a near-fatal illness, she has also overcome a broken neck.  Margery now enjoys great health and “The Mending Map” will show how you can, too!

I like the title, Margery. It’s a compelling idea. I think the subtitle could be improved–guideposts sounds weak–perhaps there is something stronger. Great also that you indicate you are a bestselling author. Nicely done.

Entry  7

Let’s Talk About …  Hormones  – A Life Changing Message by Jackie Harvey

Jackie Harvey has 20 years of experience communicating her “you can do it” message motivating women to create a lifestyle change and take control and responsibility for their own hormone health.  Let’s Talk About Hormones assumes this truth….everyone has hormones!  In a woman’s lifetime out-of-balance hormones produce symptoms that range from PMS in the teens and 20’s to infertility and cystic ovaries in the 30’s and 40’s to hot flashes and Breast Cancer in the 50’s and Osteoporisis in the 60’s! The lay person language of this book qualifies it as a must read for every women who intuitively senses that her hormones are out of balance and at the root of her symptoms. Implement the simple strategies laid out in a 5 Step Program to balance your hormones and hormone health and wellness will be yours.

This sounds to me like a book that could have a significant audience if you can make the title/subtitle more specific. Right now, it’s going to appeal to someone who already thinks they have a problem with hormones. I suspect your audience may be bigger than that. How can you capture a bigger audience? “Let’s Talk about Hormones…” while sounding conversational (which is good) could also be made more compelling as a title I think (clarify what problem it’s solving perhaps).

Entry  8

Self Care Yoga: Short Healing Lessons for Body, Mind, & Life! by Kate Forest, RYT

In my book, Self Care Yoga: Short Healing Lessons for Body, Mind, & Life!  I share five simple yoga routines and eighteen Self Care Skills that were designed to fit today’s busy lifestyle and relieve physical, mental, and emotional distress. The unique perspective of this self-paced program also shares personal experiences, compelling student stories, and self-reflective written exercises that inspire readers to live my Five Principles of Mindful Living on the yoga mat and in life, as a way to better support themselves, others, and the world. There are no pretzel-poses here, just healing postures with clear easy-to-follow instructions, full color photos, and chair variations for those needing or wanting to be even gentler with themselves, whether a beginner or long time yoga student. Included is a CD of my voice with calming music to guide readers, and perhaps a group of their friends, through the featured Self Care Yoga routines. I live these healing skills daily and as an advanced level yoga teacher and mindful living coach of twelve years, have shared these teachings with thousands of students in my classes, workshops, and Self Care retreats, and encourage readers to share these skills with others. (

Hi Kate, You’ve done a great job of capturing the needs of this audience.  The features make this sound like a very experiential and multidimensional book. Great that you also emphasize your expertise. Photos do make a book more expensive, but in the yoga community there is some demand for this type of book (with extensive photos). You may be able to interest a specialized publisher or consider crowd funding ( or if your platform is not big enough for a larger publisher.

Entry  9

Naked Before God: One Woman’s Journey Through the Wilderness of Bondage, Pornography and Internet Dating Into the Light of Liberation, Wholeness and True Love by Karen Schaefer

After years of fruitless searching for a soul mate in the vast desert of Southern California, Karen Schaefer gave up. When she stopped looking and least expected it, it still didn’t find her. Exacerbated but still hopeful, Karen set off on a journey as an art model, using her naked body as vehicle across the United States in her ultimate search for true love, but soon, her journey turned inward as each new location, colorful character and personal experience ranging from glorious and synchronistic to painful, abusive and ultimately deadly brought her to something sacred within. Bridging the gap between Chelsey Handler’s writing and Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Eat, Pray, Love”, this graphic and insightful memoir explodes with vulnerability as well as humor as it utterly demystifies the mystical experience, shedding a familiar light on beauty in the most shocking and unexpected places, namely the inner self. The daring and soul seeking reader will take heart in Karen’s personal motto, “I could run naked through the wilderness literally or figuratively, I chose literally” leading to the deepest understanding that when all else fails in life, sometimes the best thing to do is to get naked. Karen is further endeavoring towards being a transformational author and spiritual teacher and hence the title of this piece: Naked Before God.

Hi Karen, Your subtitle is a bit long–I would keep the parts that are more specific and unusual and cut some of the subtitle that sounds more generic. The pitch will also benefit from some fine tuning by cutting superfluous words. It seems you have a provocative story and by paring down, it will become more compelling. Agents and publishers are a bit jaded by comparisons to “Eat, Pray, Love” because they hear this every day, so you may want to find a fresher comparison, even if it may be a good one.

Entry  10

FROM CHAOS TO COMPASSION: A herstorical Vietnam-American War child-refugee-turned-MD’s odyssey in search of identity, HOME and healing by MAI-PHUONG NGUYEN MD

FROM CHAOS TO COMPASSION (FC2C) is a herstorical memoir that gives voice to the collective post 1975 Vietnamese-American experience through the lens of Mai-Phuong Nguyen, MD– a polyglottic, East-collides-with-West, multi-cultural humanist, community activist, physician lobbyist, educator and currently, social entrepreneur.  Told in flashback and flash-forward first person where time/place/space is blurred, FC2C chronicles Dr. Mai-Phuong’s Quixotic journey that spans 4 continents and several Pacific Islands in search of identity, home and healing for herself, her tribe and her cross-cultural global village.

4/29/12: FC2C’s Book proposal will be coming to a literary agent, editor or publisher NEAR YOU!

Mai Phuoung, you clearly have a powerful story with many themes. One of the biggest challenges of writing a memoir is deciding what to put in and what to leave out–and clarifying the central theme will help that. My colleague Stuart Horwitz has some excellent articles on the subject that may be helpful ( Selling the book will depend both on the quality of the writing/your story telling as well as your platform/marketing plan.  

Entry  11

The Great Secret by Kosi Arner

This book reveals the Great Secret. It begins with the death of Jesus, the sudden awakening of the Buddha, the startling realization of Guanyin, and the mysterious revelation of a young boy who would become one of the greatest saints of India has ever known.  The incredible stories of these well known men are irrevocably intertwined with a modern day true story of mystery and intrigue that leads you on amazing journey that delves deep into the heart of consciousness. This book not only reveals Great Secret, it quite literally has the power to change how you perceive your life, the world around you, and opens your heart to the truth of who you really are.

Books that are similar to this book are Conversations with God by Neal Donald Walsch, Jesus-A Story of Enlightenment by Deepak Chopra, and Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert.

The market potential for this book is simply huge.

Kosi, is the book creative nonfiction? Is it part memoir? I’d get a bit more specific on how your book is similar to the books you offer as complementary books–they all seem to be books that deal with spirituality but in different ways. Perhaps you can describe it as ____ meets _________? (fill in the blanks). I’d be careful of comparing a book to Eat, Pray, Love because publishers and agents read proposals every day that compare this particular book and they’re jaded when they read that.  


Contestants! As noted above, voting begins tomorrow (entries and revisions will still be allowed through the 15th). Below is a badge you can share on your blog, Facebook, Twitter, or other online sites to encourage your friends and family to vote for your entry.

We have also uploaded the badge to Photobucket for easy sharing options, please contact for any questions or to help setup the page on your page!

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Lisa Tener

Lisa Tener is an award-winning book writing coach who assists writers in all aspects of the writing process—from writing a book proposal and getting published to finding one’s creative voice. Her clients have appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, CBS Early Show, The Montel Williams Show, CNN, Fox News, New Morning and much more. They blog on sites like The Huffington Post, Psychology Today and WebMD.

Reader Interactions


  1. Cali says

    Lisa, Thanks so much to you Rusty and Michael for this great opportunity to pitch our books. This entire process was quite liberating for me. The last 2 years have been a bit of a rollercoaster ride and sharing my story with the world is both exciting and terrifying. I thank you so much for your comments as now I have a better idea of the direction I need to take. I am so ready to begin WRITING! Again, many thanks for your continued guidance and support.

  2. Lisa Tener says

    Cali, enjoy the writing process and I wish you much success and joy with it! I’m glad the feedback was helpful to you.

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