The Truth About Twitter Contests

Thank you to the lovely writers at Writers’ Rumpus for inviting me to share my thoughts about Twitter Pitch Parties and Contests.

I’m by no means an expert. However, I have participated in several pitch parties. Last spring, my pitch was noticed by several industry pros. Ultimately as a result of connecting with editor Meredith Rich, I ended up with my book deal with Bloomsbury Spark.

“What the heck is a Twitter Pitch Party or Contest?” you ask.

Twitter-Logo2It’s an event hosted on the social media platform Twitter that gives agents and editors a chance to notice your book. Some of the most popular pitch parties are coordinated by Brenda Drake; she runs several each year. I have a soft spot in my heart for Brenda’s #PitMad because it was the pitch party where my novel got noticed.

In Brenda’s words, “#PitMad is a pitch party on Twitter where writers tweet a 140 character pitch for their completed manuscripts. The pitch must include the hashtag #PitMad and the genre (YA, MG, Adult, NA, and so on) in the pitch. Please keep in mind, we never know what agents or publishers will be [watching] the hashtag, so make sure you research each requesting agent or publisher.” Here’s a link where she explains more about #PitMad.

The organizer picks a date, invites agents and editors, and then it’s GAME ON.  There are other contests with other names, run by different organizers. But they all pretty much run the same way. During a specific window of time, writers tweet their carefully-honed 140-character pitches that include the contest’s hash tag. Invited agents and editors, participating writers, and anybody else who is interested watches the feed–the stream of all the tweets that carry the event’s hashtag. When an agent or editor sees something that piques their interest, they may favorite that pitch, or they may tweet to the writer. Either is considered a request to see a query, completed manuscript, or both. Agents and editors typically tweet what they’d like to see from their requests, so watch for instructions.

Taking part in a Twitter pitch party can be a great way to get your work in front of agents and editors. If you’ve been thinking about it, you should take the plunge! However, there are a few things you should remember.

  1. Twitter is public. It may sound obvious, but it bears repeating. Agents and editors (and everyone else in the world) can see your pitch. So make sure you proof it before you post. Be sure to include the genre and the #hashtag designated by the organizers of the contest.
  2. Twitter is public. I know, I’ve said it twice. But seriously, once an agent or editor favorites your pitch, they are going to go look at the rest of your tweets. So make sure they are going to like what they see. You can’t expect them to only look at your pitch tweets. Be sure you’re conducting yourself on social media the way you want to be seen by your potential agent or editor. (That’s good advice whether or not you’re in a Twitter pitch party.)
  3. Go easy. It’s tempting to overwhelm the feed (i.e., spam or over-tweet your pitch), especially when it moves so fast. You might be tempted to tweet more often than you should in a given period of time, to make sure your pitch is seen. RESIST! Don’t tweet more than twice an hour — or whatever the guidelines the organizers recommend.
  4. Give back. Is a friend tweeting? Do you really like another player’s pitch? Retweet. It will help the other pitches get noticed.
  5. Have fun with it. Enjoy the craziness. But remember, if you don’t get favorited or tagged, don’t stress! It may be that your pitch needs more work. Or it may be that the pros looking at the pitches that day weren’t looking for middle grade fantasy. Or YA dystopian. Or whatever you were pitching. As agent Jessica Sinsheimer tweeted about the most recent #pitmad contest: “Remember, #PitMad! Not getting a favorite ≠ a rejection. The feed is moving much too quickly for me to read all of the tweets!”
  6. Be ready. Just in case you *do* get a request, be sure to have a polished query letter ready to go, as well as a completed work to submit should someone request it. Take care of this *before* you join the party. If your work is not ready to submit, watch a contest’s feed to get an idea of what it’s all about, then join another event later.

After the event, submit your work promptly to whomever requests it. Do so the way you would submit to anyone, following the submission guidelines posted on their website, and be professional. Twitter is casual, but a query letter is a professional letter–don’t confuse the two!

Twitter pitch parties are one way to get noticed. But they aren’t the only way, so keep sending your queries and submissions the usual way.

Good luck!

Have you participated in Twitter pitch parties? Do you have questions for those who have? Leave a comment.

Related posts:
S.O.S. Sending Out Submissions by Heather Fenton
What I Learned in an Agent’s Inbox by Jen Malone

12 comments

  1. I’m currently in the running for PitchWars. If I somehow defy the odds and get selected as a mentee, awesome! If I don’t, then I’ll be doing PitchMad. Wow, I thought writing a query was a challenge! Try cramming it into 140 characters! Less actually since you need #pitchmad #ya or whatever. Any advice on how you do that would be much appreciated!

    Also, my favorite part of PitchWars so far has been meeting so many new writers through twitter mostly. It’s been amazing! I’ve even found a few new beta readers out of it. So glad I randomly stumbled upon a blog post talking about it.

    Like

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