The other day I was introduced to a concept called PitMad. It’s things like this that truly make me feel my age even though I’m only in my mid-30s. PitMad, I thought, what the hell is that? Well, it’s an event that happens twice a year on Twitter where writers pitch their novels to interested publishers and literary agents in 140 characters or less including the phrase #pitmad.
I never understood the point of Twitter and never really learned how to use it. I mean I have a Twitter account but it usually sits in the corner mumbling while nursing a glass of whiskey. There were so many things about this concept that frightened me. First there’s the whole learning how to use a new social media aspect that can be pretty jarring. Since Facebook, which I use religiously, appears to be slowly turning itself into Twitter with its own use of hashtags, the ability to post on both forums at the same time and their recent facelift that’s had everyone screaming in recent weeks, I discovered Twitter wasn’t as difficult to use as I’d thought. So that was one hurdle down.
Then there was the more daunting task of writing that perfect pitch to get people interested again in less than 140 characters. For those of you who don’t understand just how short 140 characters actually is, check this out:
This is the name of my book. It is about this, set in this time period and the characters do this. The story is in this genre 5left #pitmad
See that? That is 140 characters. So the object of Pitmad and campaigns like it is, again, to make your novel appealing enough to get an inquiry from a literary agent or publisher. Not only that but because Twitter won’t post duplicate postings, you can’t just constantly post the same great over and over again. This means you need to come up with several decent pitches. At first I thought, oh hell, I can’t do that! Then I realized you’d better be able to do it because if you can’t figure out at least 10 different ways to show your creativity to entice someone enough to want to represent you or peddle your product, you don’t need to be writing!
So I did some research since I never experienced a Pitmad type of event before and found the following tips helped.
The following are abbreviated hashtags recognized by the literary community. They also attract agents and publishers who are interested only in certain genres and who don’t feel like wading through thousands of tweets that don’t pertain to them.
#YA = Young Adult
#MG = Middle Grade
#A = Adult
#NA = New Adult
#PB = Picture Book
#CB = Chapter Book
#NF = Non-fiction
Before tweeting make absolutely sure your manuscript is completely finished. Many times writers will tweet a pitch for a work in progress and when contacted, disappointment abounds for 9 times out of 10 these people are only interested in a finished product and now the aspiring writer has wasted an opportunity. Also, be sure to proofread your finished manuscript for typos, grammar and spelling errors. If your manuscript isn’t polished upon submission, it makes you look like the amateur you are and provides a lot of extra work that many agents and publishers may not want to do.
Don’t bombard the twitter verse with your pitches. Yes, with the hundreds of tweets marching past your feed, there’s the fear that yours will get swallowed up if you don’t. However, this is considered bad form and can be downright annoying. People searching for writers will find you via your hashtags and often times will scan the tweets once the event is over and the smoke has cleared. Your best bet is to tweet your pitch twice an hour and at less congested times. I noticed activity jumped on the hour, half and quarter hours so I chose to tweet during odd minutes like 2:17 or 4:49.
Also, while taking part in these pitch events you’re going to see a LOT of good tweets that you will like. Whatever you do, DON’T FAVORITE THEM! When an agent or publisher see a pitch they like they signal the writer by favoriting that pitch. The writer should then follow up by checking the submission preferences of said agent or publisher if the person didn’t already make that indication in a tweet. So when you, as a reader or another writer, favorite a tweet you get some aspiring hopeful jumping around, screaming, doing cartwheels etc. because ZOMG SOMEBODY WANTS TO REPRESENT ME only to find it was just some random Twittererer (Tweety?) who liked your pitch. Once the campaign is over, feel free to go back and favorite it otherwise, as one writer it happened to wrote, don’t give someone an unnecessary heart attack.
If you are lucky enough to get a legitimate favorite and that person didn’t tweet what their submission preferences or guidelines are, look up their agency to get that information. Then send an email with the subject PitMad Request: TITLE. Whatever you do, don’t send an unsolicited query unless of course an agent or publisher tweets that you can do so. Before doing this though, research the agent or publisher who contacted you. You want to make sure that #1 the person is legitimate since there are a lot of vanity presses masquerading as agents and publishers. You also want to know that the person you’re contacting can actually represent you and is interested in your genre.
I’m happy to say that on this, my very first pitmad experience, I was pinged by four different agents and publishers. While this put me on cloud nine for the rest of the day, upon further review I realized two of them just wouldn’t have made a good fit and would be a waste of both mine time and theirs to send a submission. The other two seemed to be more up my alley though so I contacted them. It’s times like this that I’m thankful for my 10 years as a military spouse for I am now well-versed in the game “Hurry up and wait.” The average wait time in the industry is two months.
So, as I wait to hear a yay or nay by Mid May (hey, that totally rhymes;) I shall busy myself with other things. I am currently working on a work of fiction focusing on the mother/daughter relationship under my new nom de plume, Vera Colon. Once I turned my attention to a new body of work the sequel to my manuscript, Conquest of a Queen, decided to speak up so I have also started writing that one. With my brain actively engaged I am also torturing my body while helping my husband train for the cycling trials of the upcoming Wounded Warrior Games. I recently discovered I could ride 13 miles without dropping dead. Go me!
Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed popping my pitch party cherry with the PitMad party and, should I not actually get a bite this time, I look forward to taking part in many more events like this.