The Slow Pitch

I did #PitMad a few weeks ago. If you don't know what that is, that's ok. I didn't either until very recently. Basically, #PitMad is your day to pitch a completed book to a captive audience of fellow authors, agents, and publishers who are actively looking for new work to share and publish. Pretty cool, huh?

Twitter pitching contests are becoming more and more popular. I opted not to participate in #SFF (science fiction / fantasy) on June 18th, but I did do #PitMad on June 4th. My cousin, Ashey Warren, participated in the event earlier in the year and she reflected on it as well on her blog.

The concept is simple (and wonderfully outlined on Brenda Drake's website here). You get to tweet up to a couple of times an hour for 12 hours. The contest starts at 8am EDT, which is super early on the west coast, so plan accordingly. I took the day off, although you can totally use something like Tweet Deck to schedule your tweets. I didn't do it this way, more on that in a bit.

You need to construct at least 12 (if not more) tweets that contain 140 character minus whatever hashtags you use to identify your work. So, for my novel, I had #PitMad, #A (for adult), and #SFF (for science fiction/fantasy). That left me roughly 125 characters to play with. Otherwise, your tweets can really be about anything that will hook someone's interest on your novel.

Agents / publishers who are interested favorite your tweets and invite you to query them. This is the good part.

Let's start by saying that I have minimal experience querying on a novel. I do however have several years of experience querying for short fiction. Doing a query is a necessary evil that is a slow, slow process. With a novel, that process can easily stretch for months for each person you query, and even then there is no guarantee that you will hear anything back at all, let alone useful (or positive) feedback.

With something like #PitMad, you DO have a captive audience. You DO have people who are reading the pitches on your book, and if they indicate interest, there's a reasonable chance they are already interested in what you have to say. Does that mean they will snap up your book? Not at all. Does that mean you have a reasonably good chance (if someone favorites a tweet) that you will get an agent to actually read your work? Absolutely.

Now, on to the part about why I took the day off of work and actually sat around manually sending tweets. I was fortunate enough to have some interest in my book. Assuming an agent favorites hundreds of tweets (and yes, many do), I didn't want to be at the bottom of that stack. I wanted to be ready. So, going into the day, not only did I have all of my tweets ready to go, I ALSO had a query letter ready, a couple of different length synopses, and several different cuts of my book (different agents want different sample lengths). This meant that when I did manage to land a favorite, I was able to put together a query in less than an hour of the time the tweet was favorited.

I have no idea if that made a difference. I really don't. But, it makes me feel professional, and I think it IS professional, so it's totally worth it if you can take the time. Plus, I was able to craft slightly different tweets based on what I saw on the hastag, and I think that improved my outlook some. I was also able to retweet or other authors that had pitches that sounded interesting to me.

Which, brings us to the last nice thing about #PitMad. Even though you can only tweet twice an hour, retweets help get the word out. You certainly don't want to ask your follows to spam the hashtag, but having some extra retweets of your tweets during the day will only get you more attention.

A big thank you goes out to everyone who helped me on the 4th with some retweets. I really do appreciate it.

I'm planning on doing #PitMad again in the future, and in fact will likely continue doing it until I have sold a book. I think it's a brilliant way of approaching the publication of a book, and major thanks to Brenda Drake for organizing it.