Advice from #pitmad’s creator – An Interview with Brenda Drake

I had the chance to catch up with Brenda Drake, queen bee of #pitmad and #pitchwars after the latest #pitmad twitter event. She is a writer a social media guru (my words not hers) and a great advocate for writers. I talked with her about pitching on twitter and writing in general.

Brenda Drake. Thank you for having me on Novel Pitch today, Ralph. I’m thrilled to be here.

Novel Pitch.  Brenda, you have created a sensation for aspiring authors, first with #PitMad and now with #PitchWars! How was this brainchild born?

BD.  I had been doing contests for some time. Small ones, along with Pitch Madness. #PitMad came about during my Pitch Madness contests that used to happen every March and September and now happens only in March. It was a sort of consolation prize for writers who hadn’t made it into Pitch Madness, and it took off from there. When I was watching Cupcake Wars one day, I got the idea for Pitch Wars. While watching the teams working together to create beautiful, tasty cupcakes an idea hit me. What if there was a mentor who could help a writer get their manuscript agent ready? Someone who could help them figure out why agents were passing on their requested pages. And that’s how it all started.

NP.  What makes pitching on Twitter a unique opportunity for new writers?

BD.  Pitching on Twitter is a fun way to pitch agents and get to know the community. Sometimes it’s successful, sometimes not, but it’s great practice. Jumping in a bigger pool and seeing if any one bites, helps a writer see if they have their hook down. Also, it gets a writer to learn to focus on the main plot and how to pitch it. Sometimes an agent will favorite a pitch and the writer wasn’t aware this agent/publisher was into their premise. It helps bring agents and writers together.

NP.  How did you find your own Agent? Did you pitch him via twitter, or at a conference, or did you go the standard query route?

BD.  I had just parted ways with my previous agent and had noticed my current agent participating in #PitMad. I invited him to do a future contest and warned him I’d be querying him soon. He said he looked forward to it. But I did notice his likes during the Twitter pitch party and added him to my list of agents I wanted to query when I was ready, and the rest is history.

NP.  Why do you think so many agents are attracted to events like #PitMad and PitchWars? Is it just that they get to read pitches in their pajamas, or is there something more profound happening in the publishing industry?

BD. Participating in #PitMad allows the agent to find premises they’ve been looking for but haven’t received in their slush. Pitch Wars provides polished manuscripts for the premises that pique their interests. In contests like Pitch Wars and Pitch Madness, our readers/mentors have picked through the slush for the agents and presented them with the best writing and premises in our community. And agents want to find you and your amazing story.

NP.  So many people have found success through the twitter pitch opportunities you have set up. Do you have a favorite story of Pitching Success?

BD.  I think all of them are my favorites. Ha! I can’t choose. But I will say that it’s a thrill each time I hear of a new success.

NP.  I know lots of writers who are challenged to balance social media along with their other responsibilities (myself included). Do you have any tips for writers trying to stay up to date online while getting their writing careers going?

BD.  I would do only what you can. Your main focus should always be your home life first and your writing. I’m about schedules. What helps me is to hop on social media during my breaks from writing and when nothing is happening at home. I read links from the writing community with my morning coffee, answer tweets and emails, then write for a few hours, then do family things. I’m lucky not to have a day job, but I do have a lot going on with the family, so scheduling helps. Don’t get overwhelmed. Only do what you can. We only live once, right?

NP.  Tell me about your upcoming book! (add any event plugs you’d like to include)

BD.  TOUCHING FATE is the first book in The Fated Series releasing from Entangled Crave on October 12, 2015. It’s about a girl who can change fates, except for the boy’s she loves. It’s filled with romance, betrayal, curses, fates, friendships, family bonds, and a touch of magic. I’ll be part of a Facebook party with other authors releasing that month on October 29, 2015. There will be giveaways, and it should be tons of fun. Details will be on my blog soon.

NP.  Finally, if you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring author, what would it be?

BD.  Be kind on social media and don’t act entitled. You don’t know who is watching and who will judge you for your actions. You don’t want to get blackballed in the community. Though social media is large, the publishing community is small, you will be noticed for your actions–good or bad. Also, keep writing. I have had many heartaches and many missteps. I’ve been rejected (a lot). I’ve had to change my course (a few times). But giving up was never an option for me. Perseverance is the key to realizing your dreams.

NP.  And THANK YOU BRENDA!

Brenda Drake, the youngest of three children, grew up an Air Force brat and the continual new kid at school until her family settled in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Brenda’s fondest memories growing up is of her eccentric, Irish grandmother’s animated tales, which gave her a strong love for storytelling. So it was only fitting that she would choose to write young adult and middle grade novels with a bend toward the fantastical. When Brenda’s not writing or doing the social media thing, she’s haunting libraries, bookstores, and coffee shops or reading someplace quiet and not at all exotic (much to her disappointment). You can find out more about her, her books and her contests at http://www.brenda-drake.com/ or just search the hashtags #pitmad or #pitchwars to see what the fuss is all about.

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