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.

TwitterLit Advice Issue 2: Prologues

To prologue or not prologue, that is the question.

 

Agents and editors don’t hate prologues, they hate BAD prologues. It’s hard to write a good prologue, one that doesn’t reveal too much, or feel like a bait and switch.

 

 

 

Ask yourself: is the prologue is really necessary? Too many potential good books are bogged down with prologues that take away from the excitement of the first chapter.

 

 

 

Sometimes, the prologue contains good information that simply belongs elsewhere.

 

If you are going to include a prologue, make sure it contains important plot information, stakes, and/or tension.

 

If you do have a prologue (hopefully a well written, necessary one), should you query with it?

 

Agents and editors all have their own preferences, but the majority seem to agree that a prologue should not be sent as a sample, but saved until later.

 

So, should you tighten/cut your prologue? Many writers report good results from cutting their prologue or, at least, keeping it short.

 

How to Write Without Editing

HOW TO WRITE WITHOUT EDITING
for the Sake of your NaNoing Sanity

Every November, a battle cry can be heard across the globe as burgeoning writers take up their sharp implements against a common foe—the editor within.

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is when everyone asks the same question: is it really possible to write 50,000 words in thirty days? As a past NaNoWriMo winner, I promise you it is possible – if you can ignore your internal editor.

Under normal circumstances, I can take three days to write a paragraph: I write it, read it, edit it, re-read it, scrap it, rewrite it, and edit it again before I can finally move on. Often, that paragraph gets scrapped in a later draft. Why did I waste all that time?

My internal editor is a problem: I know it and he knows it. NOTE: for the purposes of this article, the internal editor will hereafter be referred to as a “he”.

You need to shut down your internal editor for the all-important month of November. NaNoWriMo is about producing quantity, not quality. As awful as that sounds, it really is a good thing. Instead of spending several hours perfecting something you may scrap later, you can just focus on completing the story.

Below, you’ll find six strategies you can use to defeat your internal editor without injury to either party. You don’t want to kill him after all; you just want to send him on a thirty-day vacation.

1. Ignore Him

He’s there and he’s talking. He’s ALWAYS talking and you can’t make it stop! Have you ever considered just ignoring him?

You’re bound to hear a little voice in your head saying, “That’s the worst sentence you’ve ever written.” Under normal circumstances, you’d backspace and rewrite the offending sentence into something tolerable. But what if you didn’t? What if you just left that terrible sentence there and kept writing? What’s the worst that could happen? The sentence will still be there when it’s time to edit. If it’s that bad, you’re not going to miss it. If you do miss it, it couldn’t have been that bad a sentence to begin with.

The purpose of each sentence you write during NaNoWriMo is to get you from Point A to Point B; it’s not about blowing the mind of a potential reader. No one but you is ever going read your first draft. Just ignore that little voice in your head telling you that you’re not good enough.

2. Pick a Point in the Distance and Keep Walking

So you ignored him, but now he’s following you around like a little lost puppy dog. What do you do now? Just keep walking my friend and don’t look back!

You want to always be moving forward, never backward. Remember what I was saying about Point A to Point B? You must always remember the end goal: a finished story. What you’re writing has a purpose, even if it’s complete dribble. It is your plot, your rough draft, your outline—whatever you want to call it. It is the meat of your novel without any of the garnishes. So when your internal editor calls out in that pathetic ‘how can you just ignore me’ way, don’t look into those sad puppy dog eyes or you’re a goner.

Remember the goal and keep pushing towards it. Don’t reread anything you’ve written. Even if you want to remember where you left off yesterday, leave yourself a note with a one-line reminder of where you are in the story (e.g. Sara and Danny are arguing). Never re-read anything until you’re done your first draft.

3. Blindfold Him

You’ve turned a blind-eye to him, but he can still see you clear as day. Will he ever stop following you? The least you can do is slow him down!

If your eyes just keep drifting upwards, it’s time to do something drastic: invisible ink! Thankfully, we don’t need real invisible ink—we have computers now-a-days. Go to the font menu of your word processor and change your text color to white. As you’re typing, the words will be inputted, the cursor will be moving forward, but you won’t be able to see the words because the text color matches the background.

If that wall of white makes you uneasy, you can always go with something more colorful. Change your background to blue, or yellow, or pink—whatever makes you happy and puts you in a creative mood. The important thing is that your text color matches the background. It’s a good idea to turn off your grammar and spelling checker too so you don’t see any green or red squiggly lines.

I want to warn you that turning off your monitor is not an acceptable alternative. Between pop-ups and error messages, the last thing you need is to turn on the monitor after an uninterrupted hour of typing to discover another window interfered with your keystrokes. With the text color method, you can always see the word processor window and your cursor jumping perpetually forward.

4. Lose Him

Somehow, he’s managed to stay nearby, so he must be tracking your scent—the clear, unmistakable smell of NaNoWriMo fear. It’s time to go futuristic on his ass and try a little teleportation. See if he can track you now!

Writer’s block is bound to happen, so remember: the goal of NaNoWriMo is to write 50,000 words in 30 days—it doesn’t matter in what order. If you’re stuck on one spot in your story, jump to somewhere else that excites you. Is there a big fight scene at the end you’ve been looking forward to writing? Write it now! The other benefit to not being worried about the quality of your writing is that you can worry about correcting continuity errors later. Keep it fun and write what you want, when you want.

If you’re going to do this, organization is key. I find it useful to save my novel in individual scenes, rather than as one big wall of text. Software programs like Scrivener make this method extra easy, but you can do it with your regular word processor too. Just save your scene with a title that describes what’s happening in the scene. I like to track my scenes in a companion excel sheet to make it extra easy to re-organize later.

5. Throw Him a Bone

You’ve tried everything, it seems, but you just can’t shake him. That’s alright—this is a marathon, not a sprint.

If you can’t concentrate on writing anymore, or if your internal editor is starting to take over, take a break. Eat a snack, have a glass of water, stretch a few muscles. It’s easy to forget to take care of yourself when you’re sitting for a long time, but, if anything, you need to take better care!

Here’s some things you can do:
– Keep some healthy snacks handy like fruits, veggies, crackers, lean meats, nuts and seeds
– Stand up once in a while and do some quick stretches at your desk or table
– Keep a bottle of water nearby and take a mouthful or two every ten minutes
– If you’re feeling unenergetic, a brisk walk around the block will wake you up, especially if you live in a colder climate like me

Don’t take too long of a break, though. It may be hard to get mobile again if you give your brain too much time to relax. It only takes one misstep to break the writing routine you’ve created. Television is not your friend! Watching one episode of your favourite show will take at least 30 minutes of your time, possibly an hour, so don’t fall into that trap. Think about the time you’ll waste on commercials alone!

6. Phone a Friend

It’s been hours, days, even weeks, and this guy is just about to tip you over the edge. That’s ok, just grab your phone, call your BFF, and shout, “I’m about to murderize him!”

Your lifeline in NaNoWriMo is your people: friends, family, ghosts—whomever it is you speak to when you’re feeling stressed. The best thing you can do is find a writing partner, preferably someone who is also participating in the event, to keep you accountable. If you know so-and-so is waiting for you at the library, you’re much more likely to stick to your routine. They’ll also be a great person to brainstorm with, or a wonderful shoulder to cry on if you get overwhelmed. Ideally, they will keep you calm and help you chill—without having to throw you in a snow bank.

Don’t forget about your local/regional Municipal Liaisons! We’re here to help writers by organizing group write-ins for mutual accountability. Nanowrimo.org has plenty of fantastic online resources, including chat rooms, forums, and much more. No need to “murderize” anyone—after all, you’ll want your internal editor back when November is over!