Yes, everyone (including me) is shaken up about the ending of #PitMad. But dry your tears because there are plenty of other pitch events in the Twitter sea, like #SFFPit for Sci-Fi/Fantasy, #PBPit for Picture Books, and #PitDark for manuscripts that contain elements of horror or darkness. (See a full calendar of Twitter pitch events here.)
Twitter pitch events are for unagented writers with finished manuscripts to 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. 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 ready to go.
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 website, so browse through them for any that might fit your manuscript.
3. 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 comment on other people’s tweets.
4. Comment on other people’s pitches.
OK, here’s where it gets complicated. Because of how the Twitter algorithm works, 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 a lots of retweets and comments, there’s a chance the 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 sort of wish that the pitch event creators would forbid it, but I guess they can’t really do that.
So 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.
5. 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 very last #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, as much as possible, 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 to see your pitch. Twitter pitch events work for some people and not for others. It’s a crap shoot, but it’s free, so why not try? (Unless your heart and nerves can’t handle it, which I totally understand.)
6. 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.
And I recommend writing three (or more!) different pitches for the same manuscript. Maybe one pitch will resonate with an agent more than another.
7. 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.
Not specific: She must overcome her fear and past trauma before she can defeat her enemy and save her brother.
More specific: She must overcome her fear of the violent ocean that killed her father in order to save her younger brother from an evil sea witch who plans to marry him and turn him into a merman forever.
I often see pitches that are simply a list of characters and/or situations (often with emojis), and maybe these work (please feel free to prove me wrong), but in my experience they don’t. 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, in my opinion, is interesting comps. So if you can think of a good mash-up of two comparative titles (books or movies), 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!
In general, you can’t go wrong with a version of the following “formula”: “When ______ happens to _______, they must _______ or else ________.
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 perhaps 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 (I recommend writing three different pitches), 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’d recommend searching #PitMad and other 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 annoyed when someone asks me to comment on their pitch but then 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 the Twitter Advanced Search where you can search by hashtag, keywords, and more.) Find some pitches similar to yours that got agent likes. Now you know those agents might be interested in your pitch as well. Query them
13. If you DO get an agent like…
If you do get a like from an agent or indie publisher (yay!), do your research to make sure they are someone you’d WANT to represent you. Look at their website, see what other books they have represented/published. Just because someone “liked” your book doesn’t mean you HAVE to query them.
If you like what you see, hurray! Check their Twitter profile — they have probably posted a tweet with details on how to query them. If not, check their agency website. 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.
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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, 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!