As we approach the summer months, there will be a few Twitter Pitch contests opening up. These are amazing opportunities to get professional feedback on your work. A lot of people enter these contests with the intention of winning some sort of lottery and landing an agent, and while that can happen, it’s better to realize the true benefit of these contests. 1) Building Connections with the Writing Community and 2) REAL Feedback.
This is an Excerpt of A Guide to Writing Your First Novel
I don’t want you to underestimate the value of participating in these contests. Read on for a review of what a Pitch Contest is, what you can get out of it, and a list of winning Tweets from real pitch contests to see how it’s done.
Tip 1: Understand what you’re getting into.
What is a Twitter Pitch Contest?
Every few weeks, agents and publishers will host a Twitter Pitch Contest. Terms and rewards will vary, but the basic idea is to give authors a chance to pitch their novels to agents and editors that are otherwise too busy to pay any special attention. The catch is you have 150 characters to catch their eye. If you do, the reward can be otherwise elusive feedback or even landing your agent.
It’s hard to stand out in a slush pile, and some may be confused that the “reward” is to submit to the slush pile like everyone else. But think about it, the hardest part of making it out of the slush pile and into the “maybe” pile is getting noticed. If you’ve already caught their eye, then half the battle is already won.
The most popular pitch contests can be found under these hashtags. Be sure to keep searching for when the next one is going to take place. It only takes a few moments of your time and is worth the effort.
Supported by Pandamoon Publishing:
Exclusively for Picture Books: #PBPitch
(New: #ShoreIndie – June 3rd)
While these are some of the main ones, keep a lookout for any type of # with pitch in it, since small publishers will also host their own contests here and there. New Pitch contests are popping up all the time, and the easiest way to keep track of these is to follow your favorite agents and publishers. Their notifications will pop up on your feed.
Tip 2: Be prepared! Understand the limitations of the Pitch Contest you will join.
I’ll use #PitMad for this example. #PitMad will last for 12 hours and you are allowed to tweet twice per hour. Meaning you should have 24 pitches ready to go out. If you’re not able to set an alarm and send out your prepared tweets on schedule, then try using a free service which allows you to preschedule your tweets. I personally use Hootsuite but there are plenty of options out there. Just be sure you research whichever service you decide to use that it’s legit and reliable. Wouldn’t want your scheduled tweets going out on the wrong day!
Also, don’t spam the same tweet 12 times. Agents may look at your feed and read some of the other pitches to make a final decision. If they see various versions of the same thing, they might be turned off and feel like you’re a one trick pony. Mix it up!
Tip 3: How do I write a Tweet that’ll get noticed?
This will be trial and error. You need to find a pitch that works for your novel. And even if you do have a pitch that works, you may still not garner interest from an agent or editor for unknown reasons. (They’re looking for someone specific, they didn’t check all the pitches, etc.)
So before I go into what I THINK works and what doesn’t, here’s what worked for me.
Try 1: No Favorites
Azrael is half human, half angel, and forced into a pact with a demon. Who better to prove flaws make us stronger?
Why I don’t think it worked:
– There’s no interesting twist that sums up why this novel would be interesting. What kind of flaws? Who becomes stronger? And while it’s clear who the main character is, it’s not clear what’s the conflict and goal of the story.
Try 2: No Favorites
The only way left to go from Heaven is down… Azrael, a 16-year-old fallen angel girl will find the strength in her flaws to survive:YA
Why I don’t think it worked: While the logline is good, it’s too generic and again doesn’t grab interest with the bland “strength in flaws in order to survive” idea.
Try 3: Favorite!
What do Angels, a teen girl, and magical tattoos have in common? A life lesson that perfection comes with flaws. Wings not included.
Why I think it worked: The novel has some interesting and unique topics, so why not list them out? That’s what I did. And instead of focusing on the theme, I focused on being interesting. “Wings not included” stands out and draws the reader in wondering what that could mean. It’s by far the most interesting out of the three I’ve tried.
In a Twitter Pitch contest, you have to instantly attract the person reading your tweet, kind of like the first sentence in a book. If it’s confusing, vague or uninteresting, the person you’re trying to impress will move on. You need to do your best to find what is unique in your novel that can stand out from others. If you say, “Jane must rescue her brother against all odds,” I don’t think that’s going to win a tweet. Who took her brother? What’s she up against? An agent wants to understand the feel of your novel and what’s special about it. Be specific, be interesting, and be fun.
Tip 4: Be ready to win! What do I do if someone favorites my Tweet?
If you’re like me, when you do get a favorite you’re imagining some other aspiring author liked your pitch and favorited it, even though that’s considered poor etiquette. Check the person who sent you a favorite and if they’re part of an agency, even if it seems like someone that wasn’t tweeting about the event.
The person who favorited your tweets likely will have said how they would like to be pitched to if they favorite your tweet. Otherwise, the event you’ve joined will likely have an originating Tweet which provides a link of how to submit if you win a favorite. Search the #Pitch that you entered under “Top Tweets” and you should find it. This is the best way to make sure you aren’t finding some scam link on google. Double and triple check your sources!
Once you’ve got your ducks in a row and are ready to query with your exciting “Favorite during #PitMad” email subject line, make sure to follow the directions. It’s a query like any other and you need to follow the rules. It would be a shame to get this far and be disqualified from review based on deviating from the submission standards.
In your query, be sure to include your pitch and also your Twitter handle so the agent can verify the favorited pitch. It’s your chance to stand out from other queries.
If you liked this post, read more in “How to Write a Novel: For Beginners“