*updated after Elon Musk bought Twitter*
I don’t know what’s going to happen with Twitter, and a good chunk of people have left, but as of today it’s up and running, and Twitter pitch contests are still happening, so here we are.
Twitter pitch events can sometimes feel like shouting in a crowded room with a bunch of other writers who are all also shouting. So I don’t recommend pinning all (or ANY) of your hopes on these contests. However, I found my agent through a Twitter pitch event. Yes, I am an official success story. So I’m here to say: it certainly doesn’t hurt to try!
Twitter pitch events are when unagented writers with finished manuscripts tweet a book pitch in hopes that an agent (or indie publisher) might “like” it. A like from an industry professional means they are interested in your project and you should query them immediately.
If you’re thinking about trying a Twitter pitch event, here are some important things to know…
1. Follow the rules.
Every Twitter pitch event is different, so make sure you read and follow the rules on the event’s website. Some say you can only tweet three times total per manuscript. Others say you can tweet once an hour. For all events, you need to have a COMPLETED AND POLISHED manuscript that’s ready to go out to agents.
2. Include the event’s hashtag and your genre hashtag(s).
If you’re doing #SFFPit, for example, be sure to include #SFFPit in your tweet. Also include hashtags for your genre, like #YA for Young Adult or #M for Mystery. Most pitch events will have a list of genre hashtags on the event website, so browse through them for any that might fit your manuscript.
3. Make your pitch unique and specific
Agents are going to be wading through thousands of pitches, so make yours stand out by being as specific as possible. Tell us about the conflict and the stakes, and again: BE AS SPECIFIC AS POSSIBLE.
Running from dark secrets & family baggage, Daena begins a new life far away from home. But when a friend’s death forces her back, the twists and turns mount as her past secrets threaten to catch up with her.
I made this up, but it’s similar to a lot of mystery/thriller pitches I see, and this tells us LITERALLY NOTHING. What are the dark secrets and family baggage? What twists and turns? What will happen if the vague past secrets catch up to her? There’s nothing specific here and it will quickly be forgotten.
A princess with moon magic vows to rescue her father from an evil rival. She is helped by a rogue thief, a sassy pirate, and a sexy soldier. But trouble ensues, the enemy follows, and she must choose who to save: her father or herself.
I made this one up, too, but it’s similar to a lot of the fantasy pitches I see. What does moon magic mean? How will she and her crew rescue her father? What trouble ensues? Give us some specific details to latch onto so it will stick in our minds!
Here’s a more specific pitch from a recent #PitDark that really stuck with me:
This pitch from Gwenyth is great! Memorable comps and a specific, easily-understandable pitch. I will remember this one!
Should you use lists and emojis?
I often see pitches that are simply a list of characters and/or situations (with emojis), but in my experience these don’t work so well (please feel free to prove me wrong!). They work better, I think, if they are paired with a short sentence explaining what the story is about. Who cares if your story contains a sassy pirate, a grumpy librarian, a spooky vineyard, and body positivity if we don’t know the conflict and stakes?
Something that does work well is interesting comps. So if you can think of a good mash-up of two comparative titles (books or movies/shows), that can be a great way to quickly explain your book and get attention. For example: THE ADDAMS FAMILY X PRETTY LITTLE LIARS — I would read that!
And in general, you can’t go wrong with a version of the following “formula”:
“When _____ happens to ______, they must _____ or else ______.
Need more guidance? Here’s a great article from The Manuscript Academy on How to Craft the Picture-Perfect Twitter Pitch.
4. Don’t “like” other people’s pitches.
That little heart button is only for industry professionals who are interested in the pitch. But feel free to retweet or comment on other people’s tweets to show support.
5. Comment on other people’s pitches.
OK, here’s where it gets complicated. Because of how the Twitter algorithm works (as far as I know), tweets with more retweets and comments are going to be more visible to agents. In other words, even with a super awesome pitch, if you don’t have lots of retweets and comments, there’s a chance industry professionals will never see your pitch.
In recent years, writers have started asking (sometimes weeks in advance) to swap retweets with other writers. If you have all day to sit on Twitter retweeting, this can increase your visibility, but it also clogs up Twitter with a bajillion retweets, and I’ve never been crazy about this system.
I suggest doing comments instead of retweets. Reply-commenting on a tweet gives the exact same boost for visibility, but it doesn’t clog up the Twitter feed (or your own profile page) with thousands of retweets. Sure, it’s more time consuming, but it forces you to actually read the tweets you’re boosting. Plus, writers like getting feedback on their pitches, even if it’s not from an agent.
Just be sure to give positive, supportive feedback. If you don’t have anything nice to say, maybe don’t boost the tweet in the first place.
And, all this being said, I’ve gotten agent likes on tweets with very few retweets or comments. Sometimes it’s just about luck and timing. If you happen to tweet your pitch at the same time an agent hops on Twitter, your tweet might pop up under “latest,” and they will see it. So if you don’t get tons of comments/retweets, it doesn’t mean you can’t still get noticed by an agent.
6. Keep your expectations low!
Seriously. Do this for the fun of it, do this to meet and support other writers, do this for the nice comments you’re going to get from other writers.
Don’t do it because you think you’re going to get tons of agent likes. During the final #PitMad in December 2021, there were 14,909 pitches, and only 3.09% of them got an agent like. With any Twitter pitch event, there’s a good chance you won’t get any agent attention. And that can be really disappointing. (Although, as someone on Twitter pointed out, this is no worse than your prospects when querying.) My suggestion is: keep your expectations low and your positive attitude high.
If you don’t end up with any agent likes, don’t beat yourself up. Sometimes it’s about the right agent being on Twitter at the right time. Twitter pitch events work for some people and not for others. It’s a crapshoot, but it’s free, so why not try? (Unless your heart and nerves can’t handle it, in which case I totally understand.)
7. Timing can be everything!
Some pitch events allow you to tweet once an hour, but others only allow three tweets total, so be strategic about when you send them out. I recommend doing one in the morning, one at mid-day, and one in the early afternoon.
Also, pay attention to time zone! Most pitch events are held during Eastern time, but not all of them!
I also recommend writing three (or more!) different pitches for the same manuscript. Maybe one pitch will resonate with an agent more than another.
8. Remember, you can query an agent even if they didn’t “like” your pitch
Just because an agent didn’t like your tweet during a pitch event doesn’t mean you can’t still query them (as long as they’re open to submissions). It’s possible they didn’t see your tweet or they weren’t participating in the event. OR, maybe you weren’t able to hook them with a tweet when you could hook them with a query letter and sample pages. Twitter is certainly not the only way to snag an agent.
9. Practice and polish your pitch before the big day.
#PitMad offers the following advice for how to write your 35-word twitter pitch. Once you’ve written a few different options, have writer friends read your tweets and give you feedback. If you belong to any writing Facebook groups, this can be a great place to post your pitch and get feedback.
Finally, I recommend searching Twitter event hashtags to see how people have crafted their pitches and what types of pitches got the most agent attention.
10. Schedule your tweets.
If you’re going to be busy the day of Twitter pitch event, or if you’re afraid you’ll forget, you can schedule your tweets.
11. Pin your best pitch and leave it there a few days.
Pin your pitch to the top of your profile page so people can find it easily. I get somewhat annoyed when someone asks me to comment on their pitch but I can’t find it on their page. Then, leave your pitch pinned to your profile for a day or two afterwards. Sometimes agents are still searching the hashtag after the official event is over.
12. Use Twitter pitch events to your advantage
For one thing, it’s a great way to meet other writers in your genre. (You could, for example, reach out to some of those writers if you’re looking for a critique partner or beta reader.)
You can also search the pitch event hashtag along with keywords from your own manuscript. For example, if you’ve written a middle grade novel about witches, you could search #PitDark #MG and the keywords “witch,” “witches,” and “witchcraft.” (Go here for Twitter Advanced Search where you can search by hashtag, keywords, and more.) Find pitches similar to yours that got agent likes. Now you know those agents might be interested in your pitch as well. Go ahead and query them!
Furthermore, pitch events can be a great way to simply learn what other people are writing and submitting. Once you see what everyone else is pitching, you can figure out a way to make your project stand out from the crowd!
13. If you DO get a like from an industry professional…
If you do get a like from an agent or indie publisher (yay!), do your research to make sure they are someone you WANT to represent you. Look at their website, read interviews, see what other books/authors they represent. Just because someone “liked” your pitch doesn’t mean you HAVE to query them.
Also, I’ve seen a lot of smaller presses, new independent publishers, and hybrid presses participating in pitch events lately. Definitely do your research here, especially with publishers that don’t require an agent. (Agents protect you from bad book deals.)
If you like what you see, hurray! Check the agent’s Twitter profile — they have probably posted a tweet with details on how to query them. If not, check their agency website for details. In your query letter, mention that they liked your Twitter pitch, and include the actual tweet. You may also want to include “Twitter pitch request” in the subject line of your query email, unless they have given other instructions. That will likely get you bumped to the top of the pile.
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Good luck out there! Twitter pitching is partly about crafting a great pitch and partly about luck and timing. So do your best, have fun, and know that the rest is out of your control!
Have any more tips about Twitter pitching? I’d love to hear! Drop me a comment below!