Wouldn’t it be cool if instead of sending out dozens (or hundreds) of queries, writers could post their pitches in one spot for editors and agents to browse? A place where agents and editors could come shop for writers instead of writers shopping for them?
Oh wait, it exists. It’s pitching on Twitter. It’s how I found my agent, Rachel Brooks from the L. Perkins Agency, or rather, she found me. And good news? Like so many other agents and editors, she’s still shopping. And below I have details on what she’s looking for.
There’s many kinds of pitch parties, but #PitMad has its next pitch party this Thursday, September 10. If you have a “complete, polished, unpublished manuscript”, as Brenda Drake host of #PitMad says, then you’re ready to attend. (Though I confess, I spent an additional month after #PitMad “polishing” my manuscript before submitting it to Rachel…oops.)
How’s Does Twitter Pitching Work?
Tweet your pitch a maximum of twice per hour from 8:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m on the day of the party. If an agent or editor favorites your tweet, that’s an invitation to submit to them. In your tweet, include #PitMad and the genre hashtag listed on Brenda Drake’s site. Schedule tweets ahead of time using Tweet Deck. Vary your tweets because Twitter won’t let you tweet the same thing twice. Use the excel spreadsheet template from Diana Urban where she details how to do all of this.
What’s in the Tweet?
Fit the premise, pitch or “what’s your book about” into 140 characters. Here’s what agent Rachel Brooks said makes a great twitter pitch:
“Tweets I’ve gravitated toward in the past are ones that clearly establish the stakes. Vagueness is not your friend during #PitMad, when you need your pitch to stand out from thousands of tweets on concept alone. You don’t have the length of a query pitch or your kickass writing skills in sample pages to lure an agent or editor. You only have your concept, so you should make it shine. What makes your story unique? What are your characters trying to accomplish, what is standing in their way, and if they don’t succeed, what are the consequences?”
And to help communicate the high stakes Rachel looks for, put some solid GMC: Goal, Motivation, and Conflict in that tweet.
Here’s Some Examples
Rachel was kind enough to construct a sample tweet to demonstrate her point:
“As a rough made-up story example, tweeting “Teen must battle an ancient evil or his world will be forever changed #pitmad #YA,” is vague, not unique, and doesn’t grab my interest. (I wouldn’t favorite it!) Tweeting “Teen must battle the presumed dead dragon tamer and army of ice dragons, before his village and family are frozen forever #pitmad #YA,” is more specific. It shows what is at stake and the consequences of failing. However, it could be better, because I don’t know what’s standing in this teen’s way of being successful. But sometimes there isn’t room for everything in a tweet, so you have to pick and choose what components will make it the strongest and squeeze in as much as you can.”
There’s lots of GMC in the above tweet helping to communicate those high stakes that Rachel wants to see.
The hero’s goal: what does he want to do, “Battle the presumed dead dragon tamer”.
His motivation: why he wants to do it, “[To] save his village and family or they’ll be frozen”.
The conflict: what’s standing in his way, well, this is where Rachel points out, there’s a flaw in this tweet. “An army of icy dragons” almost cuts it, but it doesn’t tell me why he can’t pull out his sword and slay those dragons in chapter one.
The Twitter pitch of mine that Rachel favorited, I can’t share because it gives away the mystery of my book. But here’s another one of the twenty-four tweets I put out on #PitMad that day:
Can you tell why Rachel didn’t favorite this one? What’s missing? The uniqueness. This tweet is too general. The tweet I didn’t share, the one Rachel favorited, included the hero’s profession, and the specific thing that the hero did to the heroine that was his fault.
The above tweet does have the hero’s goals: the old one, “work hard party harder” and the new one, to help the heroine. The hero’s old motivation: to “forget how he ruined her life”, and his new motivation: “she’s desperate for his help”. And the conflict: “it’s his fault” that she needs his help.
Here’s tweets from three of Rachel clients whose pitches she favorited during #PitMad. Check out the uniqueness and the GMC in all three:
From Jenna Penrose:
From Jennifer Hesse, who now has a book deal with Kensington:
And from Kimberly Bell, who now has contracts with Penguin and Entangled:
An engagement of convenience to an arrogant Earl leaves Hannah trying to survive the London season without losing her heart. #pitmad #a
Kimberly Bell also points out that a good Twitter pitch contains an element of mystery. It leaves “delightful surprises, [for] when they actually get to reading the book”. She adds that it’s possible to use the need for multiple pitches over the twelve hour pitch party to your advantage, by including different facets of the story in different tweets.
Be Brave and Try It!
These are just examples of what one agent looks for in Twitter pitches. There’s more #PitMad success stories on Brenda Drake’s site. Other Twitter pitch parties exist. #SFFPit, for the science fiction and fantasy genre, and #AdPit, for adult fiction and nonfiction, where Rachel has also found clients.
For me, #PitMad was a horribly nerve wracking experience. The fear of not getting any favorites was very real. But be brave and do it. I have friends who, the first time around, they didn’t get the favorites they wanted, but they tried a second time, and got great favorites. Remember though, just because someone favorites your tweet, doesn’t mean you have to submit to them.
Have you done a Twitter pitch party? Successful or not, share your story and any tips with us!
Robin Lovett, also known as S.A. Lovett, writes contemporary romance, and her debut novel, Racing To You, will be released July of 2016. She is represented by Rachel Brooks of the L. Perkins Agency and has a forthcoming series releasing with SMP Swerve in the summer of 2017.
She writes romance to avoid the more unsavory things in life, like day jobs and housework. To feed her coffee and chocolate addictions, she loves overdosing on mochas. When not writing with her cat, you can find her somewhere in the outdoors with a laptop in her bag. Feel free to chat with her on Twitter.