It’s no secret that my success with Catch Me When I Fall began with a Twitter pitch contest; I’ve mentioned it before in interviews and even wrote about the experience for Writer’s Digest. With the number of pitch contests growing—and the rate of success rising—I thought I would share my Twitter pitch and how you can craft a strong one that grabs all the requests.
I’m sure many of you have heard of the “elevator pitch.” For those who haven’t, an elevator pitch is a quick, one-to-two sentence summary of your book. Think of it in terms of its namesake: You’re in an elevator with an agent or an editor and have just a few seconds to entice them to read your book. That’s the idea behind an elevator pitch.
A Twitter pitch is pretty similar, except you’re limited to 140 characters.
Yep. 140 characters to hook an agent. And you need to leave enough room to include the contest’s hashtag at the end.
(Are your eyes bulging out of your head, yet? Mine certainly did the first time I tried to write one!)
So, where do you start? Here’s what I would suggest:
- Start with your query. In my opinion, it’s always best to start here, no matter what kind of pitch you’re creating—the book blurb, a one-paragraph pitch, an elevator pitch, etc. Once you perfect your query, you should pretty much understand how to hook an agent/editor/reader. The only difference between a query and an elevator pitch is the number of words you’re limited to, hence why I suggest starting with the query.
- Break it down. In queries, you have a chance to go into more detail about your characters, plot, and world. In elevator/Twitter pitches, you need to get to the point yet still be able to hook your audience. So, look at your query. In every query/pitch you need three things: (1) set up, (2) inciting incident, (3) stakes. Determine what those three things are and jot them down, then move on to #3.
- Shrink your pitch. Now that you know your three important pieces of your pitch, work on cutting and re-arranging words so that you include all three in one, exciting sentence. After you perfect your query, write your book blurb. Once you perfect your book blurb, write your one-paragraph pitch, then your elevator pitch, and, finally, your Twitter pitch. This takes time, but I promise it’s worth it.
- Finally, practice, practice, practice. I think I wrote about twenty versions of my Twitter pitch before I finally nailed the one that I used on Twitter. Get multiple eyes on your pitch to ensure it’s ready to go. (Rule of thumb: Most people will want to read your manuscript if your Twitter pitch is good.) Then stay confident in yourself and your book. If you want something badly enough, it’ll happen. And hard work always pays off.
So, what are some examples of Twitter pitches that work?
For a long list of Twitter pitch examples, you can check out various feeds on Twitter. The threads #pitmad and #pitchmas are good ones to check out, but there are several others. The examples I’m listing below I pulled directly from #pitmad. In my personal opinion, these are very well-written.
When Elsa discovers an evil dream hunter, she must enter her patient’s nightmares to save the girl’s life in the real world. – @SherriWoosley
When Rosen receives an Italian manuscript from a handsome stranger, her reality shifts from psych student to #1 on a hit list. – @R_EliseWrites
In 1920, a time-traveler is murdered over a cursed jewel. Thedilemma? Her killer has followed her back into her present life. – @RaquelleJaxon
As you can see, each of these has the three essential pieces—set-up, inciting incident, stakes—but they’re all written in different ways. Keep practicing until you find a pitch that works for you, and then own it. You’re already a rock star for putting yourself out there.
And in case you want to see the pitch that hooked an editor, here’s the one I used for Catch Me When I Fall in July 2013’s #pitchmas:
When a 17yo Dreamcatcher falls for his charge, he ends up in the middle of a witches war that will bring on the Apocalypse.
Adopted at three-days-old by a construction worker and a stay-at-home mom, Vicki Leigh grew up in a small suburb of Akron, Ohio where she learned to read by the age of four and considered being sent to her room for punishment as an opportunity to dive into another book. By the sixth grade, Vicki penned her first, full-length screenplay. If she couldn’t be a writer, Vicki would be a Hunter (think Dean and Sam Winchester) or a Jedi. Her favorite place on earth is Hogwarts (she refuses to believe it doesn’t exist), and her favorite dreams include solving cases alongside Sherlock Holmes.
Vicki is an editor for Month9Books and Curiosity Quills Press, an intern at TriadaUS Literary agency, and is represented by Sarah Negovetich of Corvisiero Literary Agency.