writing life

Pitching a Novel in a Tweet? What is this, the technological dystopian future?

On January 30, 2020, I participated in my very first Twitter pitching event. And girl, do I have some THOUGHTS.

But first, maybe some definition of terms. I know not all of the people who read this blog are writers, and y’all might be thinking, what the heck is pitching?

When writers write a story, and want to turn that story into an actual, physical book via traditional publishing, they first have to convince someone it’s worth taking a risk on to edit, print, market, and distribute. This is sometimes done by a thing called “pitching.”

No sports involved, thank goodness. But the reality is much darker, and maybe even more difficult.

A pitch is a super-condensed version of a manuscript. Here’s an example Tomi Adeyemi gave on her own blog about pitching:

My book is a 77,000-word Middle Grade novel titled THE LION KING.

Simba is a rambunctious lion cub living in the animal kingdom of Tanzania. As heir to the throne, Simba can’t wait to surpass his father and become king. But when Scar, Simba’s evil uncle, uses Simba to lure the king into a death trap, Simba is overcome with guilt. Unable to deal with his role in the death of his father, Simba runs away and abandons his kingdom when they need him the most.

While Simba is away, Scar seizes the throne and drives the animal kingdom into the ground. When Simba finds out, he has to make a choice: continue his life in exile or overcome his guilt and battle Scar for control of the crown.

A writer will pitch their manuscript concept to an industry professional, usually a literary agent who is looking for new work to represent to publishers.

Pitching can happen in person, generally at a conference in a scheduled meeting. Pitch meetings at conferences are usually 5-10 minutes. Writers have to be able to articulate their novel-length stories in a way that entices the agent enough that they make a request: an ask for a certain number of pages from the manuscript. That’s the end game of the pitch. Not publication or even representation, but an agent’s attention and interest.

Pitching can also happen via the internet. Specifically, Twitter.

#SFFpit is a science-fiction-and-fantasy-focused Twitter pitching event. It runs two times a year. You have to pitch your book with the proper hashtags all in 280 characters. It USED to be the old 140 characters, and I am SO GLAD I didn’t try this back then.

In #SFFpit, you get 10 pitches over 10 hours. No more than one tweet for a single pitch. No more than one tweet per hour. The goal is to get a “like” from an agent or editor. This is a request for pages, according to each professional’s individual requirements, which are usually posted on their own Twitter accounts.

You can read more details about the rules and how things work on Dan Koboldt’s website; he started and maintains #SFFpit.

I wrote my pitches in advance, testing character counts and getting feedback from other Twitter users (yay! making friends!), and I used an app called Buffer to schedule my tweets, so I wouldn’t have to get on Twitter to tweet every hour.

But, of course, I ended up on Twitter all day anyway.

There’s lots to do on Twitter on a pitch day! Tweeting, asking for retweets, and retweeting others to boost algorithms…and wildly checking notifications every five minutes.

Some general takeaways.

  • Ten hours is too long to spend glued to the Twitter notification icon.
  • So many cool books! So many cool writers!
  • I wish I understood more about how Twitter works, or how to interpret analytics, or how to boost my own tweets.
  • This was EXHAUSTING.
  • My tweets did the best at 7am, 12pm, and 3pm.
  • Agent likes were few and far between.

But…

I did get an agent like! And even better, they work at an agency I had previously researched, and they seem like a really great fit for me and my work. So the day was worth it. Mission accomplished.

Of course, an agent like is no guarantee of representation or publication. But it’s encouraging, and a step in the right direction. Because it seemed like a good fit, my manuscript is on submission to the agent as we speak. I will be sure to update here if there is movement on that front.

There’s a bigger pitching event on the horizon! #PitMad is March 5, 2020. I’m planning on pitching then, and cold-querying agents after that.

Anybody else out there do Twitter pitching events? Thoughts? Advice? Hit me up with a follow, and we can support each other through this crazy search for representation.

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