Another #PitMad will soon be filling the Twitter feed with amazing pitches covering everything from contemporary to sci-fi to horror. While this is a unique opportunity to get your book in front of a slew of agents and publishers, it’s also a chance to hone your story. Sometimes forcing yourself to summarize your book in 140 characters pushes you to determine the real hook.
For those who don’t know what #PitMad is, here’s a quick summary. The lovely, Brenda Drake put together this opportunity for writers to “pitch” their books on Twitter. Several times a year, she alerts agents and encourages them to follow the hashtag, #PitMad to see if any of the pitches intrigue them. If the agent sees something they’d like to request, they “favorite” it and provide directions in the feed on how to send materials.
The next #PitMad is scheduled for this Wednesday, March 11. Beginning at 8am EST, you may begin posting a 140 character pitch about your Picture Book (PB), Middle Grade (MG), Young Adult (YA), New Adult (NA), Adult (A) or Non-Fiction (NF) book on Twitter. Literary agents and publishers troll the feed throughout the day and “favorite” pitches that interest them. It’s one day to get an “all access pass” to share your story with agents and publishers.
The key to this whole event is in the clarity of your pitch. A quick way to keep yourself from NOT getting any “yellow stars” (aka favorites) is to pitch something that’s vague. The stakes of your story need to be clear from the first character until the last. What do I mean by vague? Let me share an example (this is NOT a real pitch-but something I created).
‘Alex thought his life was normal until the sudden death of his Mom turns his world upside down. YA C #PitMad”
Okay, so what’s wrong with this pitch? A couple of things:
1) We know nothing about Alex. Who is he and how old is he? A simple nod to his age, and a small tidbit about his personality, will help the agent connect. And discard the word “normal” from your pitches. It tells NOTHING about the main character and takes up valuable pitch space.
2) The phrase “turns his world upside down” is vague. It doesn’t tell the agent anything about the story. Vague phrases and stakes are the kiss of death in a pitch (in my opinion).
3) Where’s the conflict? Sure there is the death, but how does that change Alex? If you’re pitching, you need to think in specifics. Does the death make him turn to drugs/alcohol? How does the death impact his life?
To make your pitch strong it needs three things: character, conflict, and cost. Without these critical elements, agents and publishers have no idea whether or not your story will be viable in the marketplace.
So how do you create a pitch with the 3 C’s? Let’s makeover the original pitch:
“After his Mom dies, 17 yo artist, Alex must face his family’s history of mental illness before it destroys his talent & future. YA C
Let’s break this down again:
1) Pitch has inciting incident (Mom’s death).
2) Who is Alex?: We learn his age (17) and his interests (he’s an artist).
3) Conflict: The family’s history of mental illness
4) Stakes: If Alex doesn’t recognize the pattern, he could lose his talent & future
The 3 Cs:
Character: 17 yo (short for: year-old) artist Alex
Conflict: Mom’s death & family history of mental illness
Cost: His future and talent if he doesn’t seek help
After having participated in PitMad three times, I understand how difficult it can be to narrow down a 70k story into a 140 character pitch. It may seem daunting, but if you focus on the heart of story, and the 3 Cs, you can craft a pitch that will bring a frenzy of requests.
One last thing..
A few reminders about #PitMad:
1) Only pitch if you have a completed and polished manuscript.
2) Do not start pitching in the feed until 8am EST.
3) Only pitch two times per hour.
4) Have several variations on your pitch to Tweet during the day.
5) In your 140 characters, be sure to make room for category & genre as well as #PitMad. If you leave out #PitMad, agents/publishers will not see your pitch in the feed.
6) If you want to support your fellow writers, Retweet (RT) their pitches. DO NOT “favorite” them. Favorites should only be used by agents/publishers if they want to request. There’s nothing worse than seeing your tweet with a favorite only to find out it’s NOT from an agent.
7) If you’re looking for beta readers or CPs this is a great time to find those who write in similar category and genre.
8) Have fun. Connect with other writers. If you like their pitch let them know!
Good luck to everyone pitching! I hope the “favorites” are plentiful!!