The Ins and Outs of a Twitter Pitch Party
If you're familiar with the traditional publishing landscape, you'll know that it's really hard to land a book deal without an agent, and it's impossible to get an agent without sending dozens of query letters… There are, however, a few ways to get to know agents before you submit to them. One is to go to conferences. Another one is Twitter Pitch Parties — and those don't require you leaving even your house!
In this post, publisher, author and professional speaker L. Diane Wolfe explains what these "parties" are, and how they can help you find that agent or get that book deal you've been dreaming of! Wolfe is also an administrator for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, which is launching its own Twitter Pitch Party next week — details here.
You’ve probably heard of pitch parties or seen one in action. There are dozens upon dozens of pitch parties throughout the year. Some draw over a thousand participants. If you’re not familiar with the concept, you might be wondering…
What is a Twitter pitch party?
Hosted by an organization, individual, or publisher, a Twitter pitch party usually lasts twelve hours. Using the designated hashtag for the event, writers Tweet a summary/pitch of their manuscript. Publishers and agents watch the hashtag feed and “heart” pitches that interest them. Writers receiving a “heart” can then send a full query. And the best part? It’s already been requested, which means it won’t be an unsolicited query that falls into the slush pile.
Each organizer has its own set of rules, but these are the general guidelines:
- Writer Tweets must include the Twitter pitch hashtag. (#IWSGPit, #PitMad, etc.)
- Tweets must also include the appropriate genre hashtag. (e.g. #YA)
- Tweets can only be sent out at intervals — once an hour, once every other hour, etc.
- You can re-Tweet your friends’ Tweets, but do not “heart” them.
Publishers and agents will “heart” the pitches that interest them, inviting those writers to send a query.
Who should enter a Twitter pitch?
Any writer with a complete and polished manuscript that is ready for querying or in the process of being queried. (Unless you have already signed with an agent or publisher, or your manuscript is under exclusive consideration.) Writers should check the dates of pitch events and the genres featured. Some include a wide variety of genres and some are very specific. Find the pitch contests that fit your manuscript best.
Preparation is key. Familiarize yourself with the participating publishers and agents if they are listed on the host site. You can then tailor your Tweets to what they seek. Write your pitch Tweets in advance, crafting 3-4 different ones for each manuscript. Be sure to leave room for hashtags and include all those that pertain to your story in your Tweets. Avoid the use of images, including “possible” cover art.
How to make the most out of the pitch party
On the day of the event, start Tweeting at the appropriate time. Remember to send Tweets out at the requested intervals and alternate your Tweets so participants aren’t seeing the same one over and over. Some publishers and agents tune in early and some later in the day, so you’ll have to continue checking the hashtag feed. Check your own profile and note any “hearts” on your pitches. You can also check on the competition and do a search for your genre’s hashtag among the Twitter pitches.
If you receive “hearts” on your pitch, go to that publisher or agent’s Twitter profile first. Many will tweet how they want to receive the pitch queries. Whether they do or not, visit their website and read the submission guidelines. Even if it was a requested query, you still want to follow etiquette and send a proper query. Before you send any query, double-check the publisher or agent’s reputation. Go a general Google search and check sites such as Critters Workshop or SFWA. When you send your query, be sure to note that it was a Twitter pitch request (using the pitch’s hashtag) in the email’s subject line.
If you don’t receive any “hearts,” don’t despair. This business is all about timing. Perhaps your pitch sounded similar to a book already in production. Or perhaps the right publisher missed your pitch. Take this opportunity to fine-tune your pitch for the next pitch party. And of course, continue sending query letters to agents and publishers on your list. Twitter parties don’t replace actual query letters, but they are a great way to test the waters and perhaps get a request. There are hundreds of success stories — you might be one pitch party away from yours.
If you’re ready to jump into a Twitter pitch party, the Insecure Writer’s Support Group is hosting one on July 27, 2017. Details can be found here. Lists of Twitter pitch parties can also be found at Carissa Taylor's blog and John R Berkowitz's.
Have you had any luck with Twitter pitches in the past? Share your success stories with us, or feel free to ask Wolfe any question about pitches in the comments below!