LLast week, we were extremely privileged to take part in #SFFpit, the Twitter-based book pitching event. It was great to see so many exciting and innovative pitches come through and as a consequence we are now rapidly reading through all of the submissions we received with the aim of providing feedback to everyone who submitted (please bear with us if you are one of them!).
Twitter pitches are far from new, but given how many times we’ve had to explain to people what they are and their value, we thought it would be useful to post a quick blog on the subject.
Firstly, given that quite a few of the pitches have now shut down (#PitchMAS, #AdPit and #KidPit have all now stopped running), here’s our list of the ones that are still running at various points throughout the year:
- #PitMad – the biggest one by far – takes place quarterly;
- #SFFPit – for Science Fiction and Fantasy submissions;
- #DVPit – only for diverse authors;
- #PitDark – for submissions with dark themes…;
- #KissPit – for romance submissions;
- #ISWSGPit – the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (best name ever!) for fiction;
- #SonofaPitch or #SOAP – again, great name and also for general fiction.
So, you’ve found the pitch that works best for your novel; what next? Well, here are our top tips for Twitter pitch success:
1. Do your research and read the rules
This one sounds super-obvious, but make sure you’re clear on how the pitch runs. If the pitch asks you to only submit a pitch once then obviously don’t submit it multiple times. Similarly, if it says not to like others’ posts unless you’re an agent or publisher then guess what…?
Also, given that many of the pitches above are tied to specific genres, then make sure your submission is clearly within that area before you take part. Don’t pitch your gruesome zombie horror novel at a romance event: you’ll just be wasting your time, annoying everyone, and making yourself look a bit…daft.
2. Be prepared
OK, so you know what the rules are and you’re in. Just one quick question: is your novel complete?
I mean, really complete?
Look, we’ve all been there. You’ve worked hard to get your manuscript ready and you just want to get it out there. But wait, is it really ready? Have you really made all the edits you wanted to?
We are absolutely not advocating prevarication — and many times carpe diem rules — but all we’re suggesting is that you make sure you are putting your best foot forward.
3. Keep your pitches pithy
Just because Twitter now allows 280 characters, rather than 140, doesn’t mean you have to use all of them.
Work on your pitch and make it as impactful as possible. If the rules allow (see point 1.) then you may even want to create a couple of versions and use them sparingly over the period of the pitch.
Impact is everything. No-one is going to be interested in:
‘A young boy who doesn’t get on with his foster parents is sent away to a school where he learns that there is more to life and makes new friends that will be with him forever’
‘An orphaned boy escapes from his evil foster parents and enrols in a school of wizardry, where he learns magic, makes friends and comes face to face with a terrible evil that haunts the magical world.’
There is lots of guidance online on how to summarise your novel (including our own blog on how to write a synopsis) so I won’t repeat that here. Suffice to say that, to really hook a publisher or agent, you need a clear voice, an enticing premise and a good hint of character (yours as well as those in your story) to bring the pitch alive.
Difficult in ~150 characters? Yes.
4. Be original
In our opinion, using comp titles and telling us that your book is a cross between Buffy and Tess of the D’Ubervilles doesn’t get us all tingly (even though we love both of those genius works of fiction). It just makes us suspect that it’s going to be a derivative version of both, so our advice is to avoid cultural references and instead focus on pitching your own innovative plot.
However, it is a good idea to see what is trending and build it into your pitch. Publishers are a fickle bunch and follow trends like anyone so, if you’ve done your research and found a trending topic, then you should absolutely build this into your pitch. However, even when you’re doing this, you should make sure you emphasise what makes your novel unique and stand out in that particular genre.
5. Use qualifiers (if appropriate)
Don’t forget to use a qualifier if appropriate – #WF = women’s fiction, #YA = Young Adult, #A = Adult, #MG = Middle Grade, #SFF = Sci Fi and Fantasy, etc.
Many publishers will only search on the main hashtag and qualifier so you don’t want to be missed.
6. Don’t Spam!!
Remember a few weeks ago when we posted a blog about social media strategies and we gave the tip of only Tweeting what you’d be happy to say at a party (or at least, say at a party you wanted to stay at)…?
The exact same message applies to Twitter pitches. There were a few individuals we saw last week who kept posting the same thing, again and again, with little more than a few short minutes (or even seconds) between each Tweet.
You might be thinking by doing this you’re increasing your exposure and your chances of getting noticed. You’re reducing the risk of getting lost in the Tweet avalanche; someone’s bound to notice you if you keep doing this.
In reality… Yes, you’re being noticed; but not in the way you’d want. That sort of thing marks you out as just plain annoying (and more than a mite desperate): someone to be avoided at all costs.
If your Tweet has been passed over time and time again, chances are it’s not that it’s not appeared on peoples’ screens enough, but that what you wrote wasn’t enough to grab the reader’s attention. So try changing it up, rather than clicking Send on the same Tweet once more. And leave a good enough time between Tweets so people don’t realise (or get annoyed by) the fact that you’re posting about the same book again.
As Einstein possibly once said: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, in expectation of a different result”!
As with so many things, it’s definitely all about quality, not quantity.
7. After the event
Finally, after the event DO make sure you actually submit your full manuscript to interested parties, but DON’T expect them to get back to you within hours. Remember that they may have received dozens or even hundreds of similar submissions and, whilst yours is undoubtedly a work of staggering genius that will outshine everyone else’s, they may still not get to it for days, weeks or even months. That’s not the publisher or agent being rude: that’s just them wanting to do stuff like eat and sleep, once in a while. Contrary to popular opinion, we are human too…
Finally, there is some great guidance out there on Twitter Pitches. Ones that we would particularly highlight if you’re looking for more info are:
- Dan Koboldt’s Brief guide to Twitter pitching;
- Shira Hoffman’s The Art of #TwitterPitching;
- How to PitMad by Heather Burnell on Sub It Club;
- How #PitMad Helped Me Get A Literary Agent and tips for the next one, by Diana Urban.
With that, all that remains is for us to wish you luck with your pitching, and it’s worth us mentioning that at the moment we are still open to submissions. Details can be found at: https://burningchairpublishing.com/submissions/
Simon & Pete