Nikola Tesla – The Book

Nikola Tesla[Update: The book is coming out in spring 2013. The following was written in February 2012.]

I’m currently in discussions with a literary agent and a publisher regarding the writing of a book on Nikola Tesla.

The story is an interesting one. In late December I came across an announcement for a writer’s conference in New York City, to be held in January.  On a lark I decided to pay the rather steep registration fee and hotel costs to attend.  And that’s when the fun started.

In attendance were about 450 writers and writers-wannabes.  There were keynote speakers and sessions over the course of two and a half days on what turned out to be a freak snowy weekend.  But the highlight was the “pitch slam.”

The best way to describe the pitch slam is to say it is speed dating for agents.  About 50 or so literary agents were spread around several large rooms, each with their little tables stretched menacingly between them and you.  Hoards of us lined up to give our pitch, and when it was our turn we had a grand total of 90 seconds to make the agent beg to represent you.  Another 90 seconds was allotted for Q&A (or to be sent packing if your pitch failed to impress).

What the heck.  Let’s give it a shot.  I have my Lincoln book in mind so let me pitch it and see what kind of feedback I get.  Of the five agents I pitched, five asked me to send them a proposal.  But more on that later.  This piece is about Tesla.

To my surprise the second agent I pitched not only liked my Lincoln book idea but asked if I knew anyone that would be interested in writing a book about Nikola Tesla, the great inventor.  Or better yet, she added, would I be interested? Hmmm.  I’ll think about it, I said, feeling more than a little impressed with myself but nonetheless skeptical.  Two days passed and I receive a call from the agent’s office – am I interested? They have a publisher who is champing at the bit to have someone write a book on Tesla.  And quick.  Can I send them a brief proposal and a bio? How about a writing sample?

Two more weeks pass. My skepticism kicks back in. Hard.  And then – “The publisher loved your proposals and is working up the financials for an offer. We should have something in the next few days.”

That was yesterday. Then I went to an Indian buffet for lunch, and wouldn’t you know it there is a new Tesla electric automobile showroom that just opened up two blocks from my office in downtown DC.