Q&A – Can I still pitch an Agent if I’ve already submitted to a Publisher?

I got a great question on Twitter yesterday:

Is it OK to pitch an agent even though you’ve submitted your manuscript to a publisher who requested it? – Janice F.

First off HOORAY! Shoot the fireworks off. You have a publisher who has requested your manuscript! That is fantastic. Well done. Seriously, it is a small step on a long road, but you should celebrate each step.

Second, lets get to your question. The short answer is Yes, it is usually OK to pitch an agent if you have submitted to a publisher. In fact you should be using that tidbit in your pitch! Saying that there is an acquiring editor who has requested your work can be a really valuable piece of information for any Agent. It immediately shows that this is not your first rodeo.

When I attended the New York Pitch Conference (amazing conference, you should go) I had the opportunity to pitch to Editors before I ever met an Agent. While I came away from the conference with major rewrites on my novel, I also knew that two editors were interested in my work. From that point forward I made sure to mention that nugget in both my pitch and my queries. You can see how I integrated it into the REBIRTH INTERRUPTED pitch.

Now here is the longer answer. Once you have a publisher interested it is your job to find appropriate representation. You don’t want to be in a situation where the publisher offers you a deal and you don’t know who to call for help with terms. I know some folks may disagree with this, but you will need a Lawyer/Agent BEFORE you sign any deal. For that reason, it is imperative that you continue to pitch and query.

But who? Which Agent should you pursue? I would recommend jumping on Publisher’s Marketplace to find out about who was involved in the last few deals this Publisher completed. (Get the full subscription, it is only $25 a month and you need the pro version to search all of the contacts and deals. This is a tool every writer needs when you are searching for representation) You can start to track which Agents and Agencies are working with this Publisher regularly, and even see if who the Acquisition Editor has worked with. Once you have that list of Agents, do your homework on each of them. Are they building or expanding their list of Authors? If not, is there a new Agent at their Agency who might be. Do they work in your genre? Are they going to any upcoming conferences? Look for overlaps and tailor your pitch or your query appropriately.

You may find that your dream Agent hasn’t worked with this publisher. That can still be OK, but it is better to know up front, then to be surprised later. If you aren’t sure don’t be shy about asking. When you are in a pitch session make it a point to ask the Agent about their experience with this publisher or others. Their insights will be invaluable.

Remember, when you query or pitch these Agents, or others, it is important that you tell them that your work was requested by a publisher. Let that be part of your hook, but you should expect to get a follow up questions about who you submitted to and where you are in the process.

Publishing is a small world. Make sure you put your best foot forward at each step.

As a reminder I’m just a writer like you. I am not an attorney or agent. If you have been given an agreement or a request for an exclusive review make sure you understand the terms of your agreement. If you don’t have anything on paper and you aren’t really sure of what has been implied, but sure to ask and clarify.

Thanks for your question Janice! I hope that helps. If anyone has a follow up, feel free to leave it in the comments below or reach out to me via twitter or email.

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14 Pitch Opportunities you shouldn’t miss in October!!

October is full of amazing opportunities to pitch your novel, both in person and online. Listed below are 14 events that you should consider checking out. They are spread out all over the country (even in Canada!). Pitch appointments fill up fast, so if you haven’t signed up yet be sure to register right away!

Good luck and be sure to come back and share your pitch testimonials!

OCTOBER 2015:
Oct. 1-4, 2015 – Moonlight and Magnolias romance writers’ conference in Norcross, Georgia; http://www.georgiaromancewriters.org/mm-conference/ **Note Pitch workshop and appointments are limited to 100 people. Sign up early.**

Oct. 8-10, 2015 – Ozark Creative Writers’ Conference, Eureka Springs, AR – http://ozarkcreativewriters.com **Note – One Day of Pitch appointments. Sign up early.**

October 8-11, 2015 – Women Writing the West conference, Eagle Truest Resort, Redmond, OR. www.womenwritingthewest.org. **Note – 10 minute pitch appointments. Sign up early.**

Oct. 9, 2015 – San Diego Writers’ Conference, San Diego, CA http://sandiegowritingworkshop.com/

Oct. 10, 2015 – The Writing Conference of Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA http://writingconferenceoflosangeles.com/

October 15-18, 2015 – Florida Writers Assoc. Annual Conference, Altamonte Springs, FL https://floridawriters.net/conferences/florida-writers-conference/

Oct. 16-17, 2015 – Put Your Heart in a Book, New Jersey Romance Writers Conference, Iselin, N.J. http://www.njromancewriters.org/conference.html

Oct. 16-18, 2015 – New York Fiction Writers Workshop, New York, NY http://www.newyorkwritersworkshop.com/fiction-pitch-conference/

Oct. 17, 2015 – #PitchSlam Online Pitching Event – Details at http://llmckinney.com/pitch-slam/

Oct. 24, 2015 – Indiana Writers’ Conference, Indianapolis, IN http://indianawritingworkshop.com/

Oct. 23-25, 2015 – Surrey International Writers Conference, Surrey, BC, Canada. http://www.siwc.ca/ 10 Minute 1 on 1 Pitch Sessions

Oct. 23-25, 2015 – Genre-LA: Memoir Writers Conference, Los Angeles, CA. http://www.wcwriters.com/ 1 on 1 Agent and Editor Consultations available

Oct. 29 – Nov. 1, 2015 – Killer Nashville, Nashville, TN. http://www.killernashville.com/conference/ Agent / Editor Round Tables

Oct. 30-31, 2015 – Indiana Faith and Writing Conference, Anderson, Ind. http://www.faithandwriting.com/ – Individual 15 minute consultations

A Note for Conference Organizers: If you have an update about your conference or pitch sessions please make a comment below. If you would like to promote another event or add an event please contact me  with more information.

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.

Flash Pitching Opportunity – Pitchapalooza 9/16 at the Brooklyn Public Library

Will you be in the NYC Area on September 16th? Don’t miss out on the next Pitchapalooza with The Book Doctors at the Brooklyn Public Library at 7:00 pm. Come ready with a ONE MINUTE PITCH! Details are here: http://www.thebookdoctors.com/the-book-doctors-bring-pitchapalooza-back-to-brooklyn-book-festival

Even if you aren’t ready to pitch, it is a great event to see what pitching is all about. Check it out!

5 Machines to Fix your Pitch by Rube Goldberg

Ok, I’ll admit it, I am a sucker for a good Rube Goldberg machine. The crazier the mechanism, the more interested I become. I am sure there is a screw loose somewhere that makes those things so attractive, but perhaps there is more to it. Fiction novels aren’t so dissimilar to a good Rube Goldberg. As writers we are trying to take something as simple as; ‘Girl saves Boy’ or ‘Man solves Mystery’ or ‘World is Saved’ and expand that simple idea into a fascinating story filled with drama, suspense, intrigue. In one sense we are all building these crazy Rube Goldberg Machines with our words.

Rube Goldberg machines are fascinating because they take simple everyday objects and use them together in unexpected ways, to achieve unexpected results. A really good Rube Goldberg machine is so interesting and curious that you can’t take your eyes off of it. Better yet, you want to see it again, and again. You want to show all of your friends. Doesn’t this sound like what we are all trying to do in our writing? Taking familiar language, characters, settings or even tropes and using them in unexpected and delightful ways to achieve unexpected results?

Instead of dismissing the Rube Goldberg, perhaps it is worthwhile to unpack it and learn a few things. Fast Company did a nice article with Hamster Wheel about how to design an Awesome Rube Goldberg Machine. You should read the article (and check out their awesome machine). I took their points below and applied them to creating a pitch for your novel. I think you will be surprised at how closely they align. I’ve even included a few Rube Goldberg Machines to show you how they work.

Take Stock

A great pitch is only as good as the sum of its parts. With limited time and limited word counts make sure you are assembling the most important parts of your book in your pitch, but you can’t include everything. One of my all time favorite Rube Goldberg Machines is Melvin the  Mini Machine by Studio HeyHeyHey. The whole machine fits into two suitcases. Your novel might fill a whole neighborhood or a whole world in your mind, but when you pitch you can only take a suitcase and a carry on for the trip. What would you pack?

Timing’s Everything

Rube Goldberg Machines are only really interesting when they are all fully set up and ready to go. Watching someone put dominos up for hours at a time, or finding the perfect balance between a bowling ball and a ball bearing is about as interesting as watching paint dry. It takes days, weeks, sometimes months to build one of those machines. Your novel surely took at least that long, and you will need to invest the time to write a great pitch. Once the machine is built and the action starts it has to be slow enough to follow and understand, but fast enough to keep things interesting. When you are writing and delivering a pitch the same rules apply. Your audience needs enough information to follow along, but the pitch has to move quickly and efficiently. Watching Honda’s The Cog commercial every moment almost feels too long, yet I keep going waiting for the payoff. The timing of that Rube Goldberg Machine is entrancing, and perfect.

Make Sure it works in One Take

There are no do-overs when you pitch. The appointment is finished, the bell rings, the elevator door opens, and your time is up. A great Rube Goldberg Machine works the same way. Practice as long and as often as you want, but when the cameras role, or you get in front of that Agent or Editor make it count. Be prepared to give your pitch as perfectly as you can. The team a Purdue knew they had to pull off one perfect take to get a world record with their Time Machine Rube Goldberg.

If you can make it repeatable

We all know that we won’t only pitch once. In fact, you should expect and hope to pitch many times. You will be telling this story to publishing professionals, but also to friends, loved ones, and to your audience (who will hopefully become fans) again and again. The pitch will transform based on the situation, but the guts of it should be the same. Get comfortable telling your pitch in a variety of situations.

Get outside feedback

The whole machine works! The marble made it to the end of the run! The match is lit! The postage stamp is one the letter! It works, but does it? Is it interesting? Is it fun? What could be better? Those lingering questions stick with designers just the way they do with writers. You will need feedback. We all do. When you are writing a pitch, build a feedback loop into your process.

While it is fun to see the finished product of all of these machines, take a look at this video on the Making of Honda’s The Cog. You’ll see the variety of people and voices that went into that Machine and that Ad. While this is a astray of the feedback you might get on your novel’s pitch it really shows the effort and care that went into creating that Machine for a great result.

Go out with a bang

I love this tip. Rube Goldberg Machines are well known for their big finish. Watching OK Go – This Too Shall Pass (Rube Goldberg Machine) I get lost in the video and can’t help but smile at their big finish. (I also love their story telling technique of giving a hint to the ending in the opening shot. Yes, watch it again, you’ll see it too.) Your pitch needs something that will grab an audience and make it memorable. Finishing the formal pitch strong is critical to cut through the noise. Bring the fireworks and the balloons and the Hollywood kiss. You’ll get some attention.

BANG

Do pitches really matter? Three questions with Chuck Sambuchino!

I had the pleasure of meeting Chuck Sambuchino at the Writer’s Digest Annual Conference this year and he has been gracious enough to give NovelPitch a few minutes of his time. Granted, it took every drink ticket I could scrounge, but his insights are worth it.

Chuck is a busy guy. He works for Writer’s Digest Publishing, his Guide to Literary Agents is one of the biggest blogs in publishing (you should be following it) and he is an accomplished author. Not many writers can boast releasing three books in the same month, but this September he is celebrating the release of 3 new books: the 2016 GUIDE TO LITERARY AGENTS, the 2016 CHILDREN’S WRITER’S & ILLUSTRATOR’S MARKET, and his new humor gift book, WHEN CLOWNS ATTACK: A SURVIVAL GUIDE (Ten Speed Press / Random House). He loves meeting writers and helping them get published. He hates clowns and garden gnomes.

Instead of three wishes, NovelPitch got three questions with Chuck.

NP. Do pitches really matter? What is the advantage of pitching an Agent or Editor over the traditional query route?

CS. The advantage is that you get to sit in front of an agent and let them put a friendly face to a name. It isn’t just the agent reading a cold letter — you get to engage in a valuable conversation. Talking about your book in person with an agent is great, but I’ve long said that just as valuable is what you say when you don’t pitch. If you can make the agent laugh, or chit-chat about a TV show that you both like, they will smile and remember you later. When you send the requested works to them, they’ll remember the pleasant conversation and actively hope your writing has something great.

Put yourself in an agent’s shoes with me for a moment, and we’ll examine an example real quick. Let’s say you’re a writer who has a big poetry blog. Every day, you get 15 cold emails that come in and say “Hi, please read my poetry for consideration of putting it on your big poetry blog.” You get those 15 cold emails day in and day out from countless people you don’t know and have never met. Then you go to a conference and have a sit-down with a poet. You have a nice conversation about writing and poetry. Then that poet writes you a few days later and says “Was great to meet you the other day! I am attaching some of my poetry here. Thanks for considering some of it for your blog.” I’m guessing that if you had a good conversation with that writer, you are going to give their work a longer consideration than an average cold submission — whether that longer look is based in true interest in the work, or just a feeling of obligation because you’ve met in person and enjoyed their company (i.e., instead of looking for a reason to say no, you’re looking for a reason to enjoy the writing and read on). If you show yourself to be a capable, passionate writer who has a handle on their book project and the pitch, that will register with an agent, consciously or subconsciously.

There is always going to be a percentage of agents out there who hate in-person pitches and speak out against the process, but the process does work. I myself found my own agent at a conference. After the recent Writer’s Digest Conference in NYC in August 2015, one agent and one editor who participated in the pitch slam both emailed within a week to tell me they found clients already. That was just after one week. A few years ago, I was moderating a huge panel of 12 agents at the San Francisco Writers Conference. I turned to the 6 agents on my right and asked all the agents who had found a client through a past SF conference in the past to raise their hands. All 6 raised their hands. That was a 100% success rate, and I only asked them about finding a past client at that specific SF event.

NP. You have the opportunity to attend many different pitching events throughout the year. Which events would you consider to be the ‘best’ opportunity for an aspiring author to improve their chances at finding a Literary Agent, and Why?

CS. Good question. When considering which event to attend to pitch agents, the two things I would look for, if I were in the writer’s shoes is: 1) how many agents will be present who represent my genre/category, and therefore would be an appropriate fit? And 2) how many of them seem to be actively building their client list? If one of your main goals at a conference is indeed pitching, it doesn’t make a ton of sense to attend an event where there are no agents (or editors) there who rep your type of book. By the way, I’ll be speaking soon at conferences (with agents) in Los Angeles, San Diego, New England, Houston, Florida, Atlanta and more. Find more information here.

NP. At pitch slams and similar events Literary Agents might hear up to 100 pitches in a single day. If you could give every author who pitches one tip on how to rise above the noise, what would it be?

CS. A good one-sentence hook or “X meets Y” can be effective. Like for example, if you start your pitch out by saying “It’s basically Die Hard on a space station,” then if an agent likes that hook line, they can remember that and not any more of the pitch, and still walk away thinking positively of the meeting.

After the recent WDC15 Conference, I approached a fiction agent and asked him how the pitches went. He said “Fine. It’s hard to tell until you see the writing, of course. But a few pitches sounded really interesting, especially [example example].” I won’t share the specifics of the example because that would be giving away the writer’s really good hook, but the point was this agent was impressed by the writer’s one-sentence summary of the hook/plot. If you have a really high-concept plot, such as a vampire who decides to be a vegetarian, or a disgruntled former president who decides to assassinate the current president, then a concise hook line alone can get an agent’s mind going because it’s short, sweet, and easy to remember amid all the pitches of the day.

If your book is not high-concept and cannot be explained quickly/easily, then my best advice, besides avoidance of a sprawling pitch, is to chat the agent up personally and just be warm and likable. Again, that will register with them. If they smile and like you as a person, they will want your work to be awesome later, and give it a longer look.

People who want to contact me can find info on my website, or reach out to me through Twitter. Thanks!

NP. And THANK YOU Chuck!

Chuck Sambuchino of Writer’s Digest Books edits the GUIDE TO LITERARY AGENTS and the CHILDREN’S WRITER’S & ILLUSTRATOR’S MARKET. His Guide to Literary Agents Blog is one of the largest blogs in publishing.

His 2010 humor book, HOW TO SURVIVE A GARDEN GNOME ATTACK, was optioned by Sony Pictures. His latest humor book, WHEN CLOWNS ATTACK: A SURVIVAL GUIDE (fall 2015), will protect people everywhere from malicious bozos and jokers who haunt our lives. His books have been mentioned in Reader’s Digest, USA Today, the New York Times, The Huffington Post, Variety, New York Magazine, and more.

Chuck has also written the writing guides FORMATTING & SUBMITTING YOUR MANUSCRIPT and CREATE YOUR WRITER PLATFORM (2012) and GET A LITERARY AGENT (Jan. 2015).

In 140 Characters or Less : #PitchingOnTwitter Part III

In 140 Characters or Less : #PitchingOnTwitter

Part III: 10 Tips to help your Twitter Pitch rise above the noise.

This post is the third in a three part series about pitching your book on Twitter. You can see Part I and Part II here.

We’ve been through the basics and have looked at a few pitches that worked. Now we need to stack the odds in our favor. Participating in #PitMad is exactly what it sounds like, Pitch Madness. There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of aspiring writers who participate in each of these events. Writers assemble from every genre, level of experience and part of the world to participate. There are thousands of tweets generated with this hashtag in the course of a single day.

Let’s take a moment, to bend a knee and say a resounding Thank You to Brenda Drake and the other Agents, Editors and Publishing Industry professionals who organize and participate in these events. It takes a tremendous amount of work to pull these events off. I personally appreciate that #PitMad is one of the most democratic and potentially diverse pitching events of the year. There is very little cost to participate (you just need access to a computer or smartphone and a twitter account). In many ways the event is blind, which is a wonderful attribute for the publishing industry.

But, let’s be honest, it is also a scrum. Everyone participating is throwing out a pitch in a loud noisy room full of other writers. We are all trying to get the attention of the Agents and Editors any way we can. So how do you rise about the noise? Here are a few tips for putting your best foot forward in #PitMad or any other Twitter Pitching contest.

  1. Write a great pitch. Don’t skimp on this step. Writer’s write, that is what makes us writers. Keep working on that great pitch until you know you have soaked everything you can out of those 140 characters, then rewrite it and try again.
  2. Rewrite a great pitch. It will take many drafts to get something that truly hangs together.
  3. Write a second great pitch. It is good to have a few different pitches all for the same book. You might want to try one that focuses on the first plot point, or create a cliffhanger in one pitch and develop your main character further in your second. Write a few and listen for words that sing.
  4. Hashtags matter. Make sure you know which hashtags are best for you and add them consistently. Get the genre and age group right to help Agents and Editors find something they want to represent.
  5. Schedule your pitches throughout the day. If you can’t sit at your computer all day and watch the crawl of pitches use Hootsuite or TweetDeck and set up a schedule. Pitch at least three times (morning, midday, afternoon) to get in front of the various folks who will be looking at different times. *** UPDATE – Some contests have changed their rules about the number of times you can tweet out your pitch. Make sure you check the rules BEFORE you tweet. ***
  6. Read other pitches. If you see something that sounds great, retweet it. After #PitMad it is fun to connect with other writers who have also participated to recap and pat each other on the back. (If you didn’t read Part II of this series, go back to see some great examples)
  7. Take note of the Agents and Editors who are participating. If you get tapped by one of them be sure to do your research about what they represent before submitting.
  8. Follow the rules. Please use the rules the organizers have set up so everyone has the best shot at getting attention. Be polite and gracious. Everyone is taking their own time make the most of this event.
  9. Have fun with it. While it can be stressful, these are great moments to participate in a larger writing community. Meet some new writers. Find your tribe.
  10. Celebrate your success. Even if no one responded to your pitch, you put yourself out there. Every time you share your work consider it an achievement. In general, pitching is really hard. Pitching on twitter is 140 characters hard is extremely hard. You did it, and you’ve grown from the experience. Take the lessons you’ve learned and keep writing.

I hope you have a great experience at #PitMad or any other twitter type pitch contest you participate in. Good luck, and share your experiences here at http://www.novelpitch.com!

Remember, it is all about writers helping writers.

In 140 Characters or Less : #PitchingOnTwitter Part II

In 140 Characters or Less : #PitchingOnTwitter

Part II: 9 Sample Twitter Pitches

This post is the second of a three part series about pitching your book on Twitter. Come back to www.novelpitch.com tommorow for Part III #novelpitch

With #PitMad just a week away I thought I would gather some good examples of Twitter pitches that got attention in past #PitMad events. The tweets below appeared during #PitMad on the date listed and received both favorites and retweets during the event. Of that group, I selected my personal favorites to give a range of examples. In most cases (but not all) these tweets translated into submission requests from Agents or Editors.

Please note, that in all cases I have reached out to the original author to obtain permission to reuse their tweet here. Their words are quoted in BOLD below and their twitter handle is provided if you’d like to find out more about them or their writing. I’ve added my own commentary in Italics to help you consider how you might use these techniques for your own pitch.

Sample Pitches from #pitmad June 4, 2015

 

@AshleyHearn

BEAUTY+BEAST w/ Gullah folklore. Family secrets. Haunted marshes. Breaking 16yo George’s curse will take more than true love’s kiss. #PitMad

This pitch is a good twist on a classic tale. Taking a good Comp (See my series about Comps) or a common story and turning on its head is smart way to attract attention. It has a nice hook at the end. One negative about this pitch is that it didn’t include a genre.

 

@AJH_Ray

Eliza can handle moonshine, vicious gossip, and her hound dog brother. She’s not so sure she can handle being an outlaw’s wife. #Pitmad #WF

In a single tweet she expresses her voice as a writer, rounds out the main character and adds a dilemma worth dwelling on. On top of that she includes a fun secondary character (hound dog brother). Fantastic pitch, one of my personal favorites.

 

@AlexS_Writes

#YA UNSPOKEN meets FROZEN: Lacey’s icy magic becomes a liability when rivals plot to grab her family’s territory & gothic estate. #pitmad

This pitch used excellent Comps to set the scene. The stakes are high and the combination of Icy Magic and Gothic Estate promises an interesting setting. Intriguing.

 

 

@MichelleHulse

#pitmad #CR While id’ing snakes in rural Louisiana, a naturalist finds death threats, a potential reward, and a second chance at first love.

Now I have to admit that I didn’t know what id’ing snakes meant when I read it, but it sounded authentic and made me curious. (It means Identifying. I might suggest using ID’ing instead). Regardless, the stakes are high, the setting is interesting and the pitch works.

 

@savina_cupps

WHERE’D YOU GO BERNADETTE/THE HUSBAND’S SECRET: a runaway teacher’s tragedy is unearthed by a lost student who tries to find her #Pitmad #A

Great title, high stakes, character potential.

 

@CaroBradAuthor

Grace can fix cars but broken hearts? Not so much. What happens when she gets under the hood of the hottest actor in Hollywood? #R/E #PitMad

Another favorite for me. This is a great main character pitch. The writer’s voice comes across and the situation leaves you wanting more.

 

@EtafRum

On the verge of an arranged marriage, 17yo girl is sent a package: her dead mother’s diary. Now everything’s changed. #PitMad #LF #YA

This pitch makes great use of a MacGuffin (the Dead Mother’s Diary). It is unique in that the pitch focuses on what you might expect to be the first plot point instead of the standard dilemma. Tricky approach for a tweet, but effective.

 

@sybilward

A mystery writer must give up her footy pajamas, solve a murder, deal with the ghost in her old trunk and, oh yeah, stay alive. #pitmad #A

And, oh yeah, added the stakes at the end of this fun character driven story. I loved this pitch, but would have loved it more if I knew it was a Thriller or a Mystery. It just needed a #T or #M to make it complete. Still, great pitch.

 

@LInna1029

After almost killing her best friend, Mara must flee Shadow’s Edge and control her magic or risk becoming a deadly Nightshade #PitMad #YA

This pitch captures the potential transformation of a Main Character. Like Etaf’s pitch above this is difficult to do in a few words, but can be powerful. The writer shows story potential by demonstrating the risk of her Main Character’s transformation. Well done.

 

Reading through these and other examples I took away a number of lessons about writing a solid twitter format pitch:

  1. Put the main character front and center. Who’s story is this anyway? Let the reader know either a name or attribute (or both) of this MC. We all want someone to root for.
  2. Main Characters eat steak. No, wait, Main Characters face stakes! If nothing else write about your main character and the stakes they face on their journey. There must be a risk or loss at stake, or the events of the book won’t matter to the reader.
  3. Key superlatives can give a pitch life. Footy pajamas, the hound dog brother, icy magic each helped me as a reader grasp the potential for the characters and the world. Try to be more specific, not less, to set your pitch apart.
  4. Get you key hashtags in first and work to a shorter character count. Don’t drop a genre hashtag to get in one more word. Make it work.
  5. What other lessons did you learn from this group of pitches? Please leave comments below.

Now that we have learned the basics (Part I) and have seen some examples (Part II) come back tomorrow to learn some technical tips and tricks that will help your Twitter Pitch shine.

In 140 Characters or Less : #PitchingOnTwitter Part I

Part 1: The Art of the Twitter Pitch

#PitchingOnTwitter Tell me your story, in one hundred and forty characters or less #novelpitch RT Please

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This post is the first of a 3 part series about pitching your book on Twitter. Come back Tues for Part II and Wed for Part III #novelpitch

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This should be my shortest post yet, but I am not sure I will be able to pull that off. #brevityrequired

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I am writing this post as I might post on Twitter, so please forgive the grammar, or lack thereof. #amwriting BUT Spelling still counts!

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There are many opportunities to pitch your book on Twitter. #Pitmad Search hashtags for examples and info. Click here for more Brenda Drake

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It isn’t as easy as it looks. You need to create a hook in 1-2 short sentences. Remember to include the correct hashtag ex #pitmad

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Hashtags are also a necessity for genre, ex: #SF #R and age group #MG #YA. See below for full list from Brenda Drake.

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Prepare ahead of time. Write your tweets and try them on a friend. (post them here if you like for feedback) #novelpitch

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Multiple tweets can be used, but assume they won’t be read together. You might want to write a cliffhanger… (1 of 2) #T #WF #pitmad

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… But the payoff might be read before the cliffhanger, spoiling the fun. Try different versions of the same hook. (2 of 2) #T #WF #pitmad

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Diana Urban wrote a great post about this (she initially got an agent via #Pitmad) #winner dianaurban

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#Pitmad is coming up on Sept 10th. Time to get to work on your micro pitches! #pitmad #novelpitch #amwriting RT

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Post your fav pitches here. Better yet, try to write a twitter pitch for a famous book. I’ll write a post about the best ones. #novelpitch

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Below is the full list of hashtags, as recommended by Brenda Drake. Come back tomorrow for (Part II) some sample pitches #novelpitch

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Sub-hashtags …

Categories:

#A = Adult

#CB = Chapter Book

#ER = Earlier Reader

#MG = Middle Grade

#NA = New Adult

#PB = Picture Book

#YA = Young Adult

#WF = Woman’s Fiction

Genres:

#CF = Christian Fiction

#CR = Contemporary Romance

#E = Erotica

#HF = Historical Fiction

#LF = Literary Fiction

#LGBT

#M = Mystery

#Mem = Memoir

#NF = Non-fiction

#PR = Paranormal Romance

#R = Romance

#S = Suspense

#SFF = Science Fiction and Fantasy

#T = Thriller

#W = Western

Come back tomorrow for sample pitches and more on crafting a twitter pitch. Please Retweet RT to your friends.

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October 2015 Pitching Opportunities

October is CHOCK FULL of great pitching opportunities all over the country. If you are looking for a Literary Agent, or maybe even hoping to pitch direct to an Editor you should check out some of these upcoming opportunities the first half of October. Be sure to register early and SIGN UP for the Pitch Sessions, Agent / Editor Appointments or any other opportunities to tell publishing pros about your manuscript!

OCTOBER 2015:
Oct. 1-4, 2015 – Moonlight and Magnolias romance writers’ conference in Norcross, Georgia; http://www.georgiaromancewriters.org/mm-conference/ **Note Pitch workshop and appointments are limited to 100 people. Sign up early.**

Oct. 8-10, 2015 – Ozark Creative Writers’ Conference, Eureka Springs, AR – http://ozarkcreativewriters.com **Note – One Day of Pitch appointments. Sign up early.**

October 8-11, 2015 – Women Writing the West conference, Eagle Truest Resort, Redmond, OR. www.womenwritingthewest.org. **Note – 10 minute pitch appointments. Sign up early.**

Oct. 10, 2015 – The Writing Conference of Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA http://writingconferenceoflosangeles.com/

October 15-18, 2015 – Florida Writers Assoc. Annual Conference, Altamonte Springs, FL https://floridawriters.net/conferences/florida-writers-conference/

Oct. 16-17, 2015 – Put Your Heart in a Book, New Jersey Romance Writers Conference, Iselin, N.J. http://www.njromancewriters.org/conference.html

Oct, 16-18, 2015 – New York Fiction Writers Workshop, New York, NY http://www.newyorkwritersworkshop.com/fiction-pitch-conference/

For the full list of Opportunities click here and come back often. The Pitching Opportunities page is updated regularly.