10 Tips for Pitching on Twitter

Every time a pitch party happens on Twitter, whether I’m participating or not, I scroll through the feed. I love reading and learning from the amazing pitches!

I also see writers making rookie pitch party mistakes. Since my Pitch Party list is the most popular page on my website, I thought it would be a good idea to write a short guide for how to pitch on Twitter.

NOTE: I’ve used the word “publisher” in place of “editor” in this post for clarity only. Typically, the job title of the person from the publishing house reading a tweet will be Editor.

10 PITCH PARTY PARTICIPATION TIPS:

01. RULES. Every pitch party is different. Seek out the relevant website and/or Twitter account for the pitch party you want to participate in and read the rules carefully. Follow them exactly.

02. TIMING. While you’re reading the rules, take special note of the time the pitch party begins and ends, and to which time zone it refers. Too often I see pitches an hour early or on a different date entirely. Most agents and editors only look at posts that fall within the allotted time frame.

03. HASHTAGS. Include the pitch party’s hashtag (with the correct spelling) and add any additional hashtags that are relevant. Again, look at the pitch party rules because they usually provide a list of additional hashtags you can (and perhaps should) use.

04. PERSPECTIVE. Write your pitch from your own perspective, not your character’s. You are selling your book like you would on the back cover, and in traditional publishing these are almost always written from an outsider’s point of view.

05. COMPS. Include the title(s) of one or two recently published books to give the agent or publisher a sense of the genre, style, and/or tone of your book. Do not phrase your comp as “the next [blockbuster title here]”. Write comp titles in title case and your manuscript title in all caps to make it stand out.

06. STAKES. You only have 280 characters, and several of those are devoted to details like hashtags and comps. Use the rest to make sure your stakes are clear. Stakes are what the character might lose if they fail. This is the crux of the conflict in your story. World building and interesting character details alone don’t make a story; you need conflict!

07. EDITING. Examine every word in your pitch and decide if you really need it. You only have a small amount of space to say a lot, so it’s okay to take a few grammatical shortcuts so long as your pitch flows and is clear. The bonus here is that if you prove yourself to be a great editor, agents and publishers are more likely to want to work with you.

08. INTEGRITY. Don’t spam the feed and don’t try to use the hashtag for anything other than its intended purpose. If you abuse the hashtag, you will get blocked by agents and publishers, which means that even if you learn your lesson and want to participate in future pitch parties, they still won’t see your posts. They won’t even know they’re missing them.

09. PATIENCE. Some agents and publishers don’t start reviewing the feed until later in the day. Some don’t get to it until the day after. Keep your pitch up for a few days at least. If you get a request, link to the tweet in your submission; it could be weeks before they review your submission and they’ll appreciate the reminder.

10. PERSISTENCE. You may not get a request your first time out. Don’t dismay! You may just need to tighten your pitching game a little. Maybe your comps weren’t a good match. Maybe you spelled the hashtag wrong. Maybe you were a little too wordy. Learn by reading other people pitches and seeing which ones got a lot of requests. Read guides like this on how to write a great pitch so that next time you’re more likely to get a request.

REMEMBER: If you never get a pitch party request in your entire life, it doesn’t mean your story isn’t worthy. There are dozens of reasons why you might not have gotten a request and many of them have nothing to do with you or your story. You can always submit through the normal querying process. That’s where the majority of traditional publishing deals come from.

List of literary agencies now features 50 more

The List of Literary Agencies Around the World now includes 350 agencies, a collation of sources including Twitter, QueryTracker, Publisher’s Marketplace, ManuscriptWishList, and the Writer’s Market books. It is a very helpful resource for anyone querying. Every agency listed includes a link directly to their website, to aid writers in identifying the agent or agents that are the right fit for their manuscript. Click here to get started!

TwitterLit Advice Issue 3: What You Shouldn’t Put in Your Query

Victoria Loder, Agent with The Rights Factory recently started a new series of tweets called Things Not to Include in Your Query. It’s pretty informative and funny, so if you haven’t checked it out yet, please do.

That got me thinking: there must be a lot of #TwitterLit advice from agents, publishers, and the like about what things you shouldn’t put in your query.

There doesn’t seem to be a single popular hashtag that specifically addresses query dont’s. #querynonos and #querynono have both been used in the past. You can also search #querytip, #subtip, and #pubtip for general do’s and dont’s about querying.

Let’s get down to it. The list of what you shouldn’t put in your query is virtually endless, but here are the most common mistakes writers seem to be making:

 

Generalized openings:

 

Ignoring submission guidelines:

 

Bashing yourself or other writers, genres, agents, etc.

 

Pitching more than one book in a single query:

 

Lying

 

Rhetorical questions:

 

Missing Stakes:

TwitterLit Advice Issue 1: Writing a Synopsis

If you’re a writer, #TwitterLit is the place to be! You can connect with authors, readers, agents, editors, and publishers, get all kinds of writing / editing / querying advice, participate in Twitter pitch parties, win books, critiques, and mentorships, and so much more.

If you’re not on Twitter, get on it. If you can’t, I’ll do my best to keep you in the loop with this #TwitterLit Advice series.

In each issue, I will focus on a specific aspect of writing, and share the best advice I can find from agents, editors, publishers, and published authors on Twitter. I’ll occasionally share advice from readers and unpublished authors when relevant to the topic.

Today, I’m going to to share Twitter advice about writing a synopsis. You don’t have to look far on Twitter to find writers struggling to write a synopsis:

 
About that last tweet: when we talk about a synopsis, we’re not talking about the 100 or so word blurb that goes in your query letter:

 
The query and the synopsis have different forms and functions:

 
A synopsis lays out the main plot points of your entire book, including how it ends:

 
Agents and editors need a synopsis to do their job. It’s a tool they use throughout the publishing process:

 
Your synopsis should be thorough, but focused:

 
Be concise, but be specific in your synopsis:

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Some agents will want you to send a synopsis even if they haven’t specifically asked for it, while others say only send it if they have.

 
Yes, sometimes #TwitterLit gives conflicting advice. What isn’t unclear: you should write a synopsis before you start querying, and you should always follow submission guidelines:

 
And never include a synopsis in place of a query:

 
Finally, a few miscellaneous synopsis writing tips:

Words to Cut: OF

A strong manuscript uses strong, direct language, and vivid images, to convey its story or message. Leave your passive and weak words on the clipboard.

It’s easy to ignore common words like THE, A, and ON when you’re editing because there’s so many of them that they start to blend into the background.

Here’s one common word you should never ignore: OF.

OF has many uses as it conveys relationships between people, entities, and objects.

For example,

“She was able to get out of the trap.”

“Big box stores are at the top of the retail food chain.”

“I’m one of the gang now!”

These sentences are all correct uses of the word OF, so many editors would not correct you, but they might note that you used a lot of weak language in your manuscript.

Many times, you can replace the word OF with stronger, more active words, or more vivid imagery. You will still need to use the word OF from time to time, but you’ll find you can eliminate many.

For example,

“She was able to escape the trap.”

ESCAPE is a stronger word than the phrase GET OUT OF because it is more active, and it uses one word to replace three.

Another example:

“Big box stores stir mom and pop shops into their morning coffee and watch them dissolve into the deep brown whirlpool.”

This sentence is a complete rewrite, prompted by the OF in the previous version. I decided it might need stronger, more vivid language.

What about the last one, I’m one of the gang now?

How about:

“I am Negan.”

All joking aside, try it yourself. Pick up your own manuscript, search for the word OF, and see how many you can eliminate by using stronger, more active words, and more vivid imagery.