Pit Mad: Are You Doing it Right and is it Worth It?

Here’s a timely little post for you today, which marks my third PitMad experience. Despite little to show for the last go-around, I once again cast my line into the Twittersphere to try to hook a literary agent. Was it worth it? Keep reading.

Have you participated in this quarterly Twitter pitch party? According to creators at PitchWars.org, #PitMad is the original Twitter pitch event, where writers tweet a 280-character pitch for their completed, polished, unpublished manuscripts. Agents and acquiring editors make requests by liking/favoriting the tweeted pitch. Any unagented writer is welcome to pitch. All genres and categories are welcome. It happens once a quarter for 24-hours and each writer has three chances to pitch per event.

Sounds easy enough–and there are plenty of success stories out there–but how do you ensure your three allotted pitches don’t get lost in the sea of tens of thousands of posts? Here are some tricks I’ve learned.

Craft the Perfect Pitch

You thought writing your query letter was hard? Just wait until you sit down to write your Twitter pitch. Boiling down your novel’s plot into 280 characters was tricky for me. There are so many resources out there to help guide you, but after trial and error, I’ve found a specific formula is the most common format out there.

When + [adjective] + [character description] + [inciting incident] + [goal or deepest desire], but [main conflict]. After + [dramatic turn of events], + he/she/they must choose… + [decision and/or stakes].

“When an awkward 90’s teen falls for her bully’s boyfriend she longs to reinvent herself, but a spot on the cheer squad only magnifies her insecurities. After a very public humiliation, she must choose… Give up now? Or glow up?”

Keep in mind, I am no expert! But if you’re new to #PitMad, this may save you a lot of time and research. It also helps to have a great premise. I find pitching a character-driven story with more of a literary bent is tougher to condense into a couple of sentences.

Use Comps

If you have room in your tweet, try adding comparable book titles, movies or TV shows in ALL CAPS. This gives people an immediate connection to your work. Here are some I’ve seen on Twitter today.

  • SIXTEEN CANDLES x CLUELESS
  • 99 DAYS X GOSSIP GIRL
  • CROSSROADS + HILL HOUSE
  • A CURSE SO DARK & LONELY + GRACELING
  • GOT X THE WITCHER X FF9

You instantly get the concept behind the novel, right? And, it’s fun.

Hashtag the Heck Out of It

Using the proper hashtags are a must. Agents will search the #PitMad pile for age categories of the work they represent (#YA for young adult, #A for adult, #C for children’s, etc.). They’ll seek out specific genres with hashtags (#CON for contemporary, #F for fantasy, #MH for mental health topics, etc..). Agents search with certain authors in mind (#BVM for black voices matter, #OWN for own voices, #LGTB for LGTBQIA+).

Here’s a list of the proper hashtags authors use to try to get their posts in front of the right agents.

You can put the hashtags at the top or bottom of your tweet. For my young adult romance, I used these hashtags: #PitMad #CON #YA #R #MH

Ask for Retweets

Luckily, if you follow #writingcommunity on Twitter, there are plenty of fellow authors ready to roll up their sleeves and get to work retweeting your pitches. About a week before the event, people start building their retweet lists simply by asking the writing community, “Who needs a retweet?”

Don’t be shy! I’ve found people are happy to support your efforts, especially if you retweet their pitch in return. It’s just good manners.

Now that I’ve explained what #PitMad is and how to prepare for it, I’m dying to know…. have you tried it? How did it work for you?

I’m feeling kind of “meh” about it at the moment. Although my #PitMad tweets over the months have received likes, none of the likes were from an actual literary agent. Well-meaning Twitter users got my heart-racing and crushed my hopes in seconds flat. So a word of caution… DO NOT like other writer’s #PitMad tweets unless you are an actual agent asking them to submit a query letter. (Ahh… that feels better.)

The consensus among my Twitter “friends” after the last event in March was that fewer agents seemed to participate as in years past. There was not a lot of interaction with my network aside from the #writingcommunity batting around each other’s tweets. I think there is a real need for Black voices, own voices and LGTBQ+ voices right now. Maybe that is the sweet spot where certain authors may see more of a response? Also, I think I still have a lot to learn. I will keep doing these online pitch events, but I won’t give up the familiar query process I love to loathe. How about you?

Keep on keeping on! And, happy writing!

Marie

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