For those of you planning on participating in the next #PitMad pitch contest (coming up December 7, 2017), if you're new to this process, I'm sure you're wondering how it all works. And more so, how on earth to write a great pitch. I'm here to help.
I’m no expert. Let’s get that out there and on the table before someone comes right out and asks me what on earth qualifies me to write this post. I’m not the Amazing Brenda Drake, nor am I in any way affiliated with the awesomeness that is #PitMad.
I am, however (if I may toot my own horn a bit), a published, award-winning author who has landed an agent (through #Pitmad, by the way) AND I’m now an intern at a very big, very reputable literary agency, working for one of the best, most amazing agents out there. So, though I’m no expert, I do know a thing or two about how to write a great pitch that would grab an agent’s attention and also what agents might be looking for in a pitch.
To that end, let’s talk about the WHO, WHAT, WHY and HOW of writing a great #PitMad pitch.
What is #PitMad? It’s an awesomely fun pitch party on Twitter wherein agents (and editors and publishers) will scroll through the feed on the hashtag and look for pitches that grab their attention. IF said agent likes what they read, they will click on the heart (or “like”) the tweet. They will likely be off and on throughout the day from early in the morning up until late at night. Some are even still sending likes into the next day if they get behind or join late. You have to come up with a great, catchy, and unique tweet using 280 characters or less (this is new…used to be only 140) and you can only tweet 3 pitches during the event…total. That’s it. No more. If you clog the feed with endless tweets over and over again, you’ll be working against yourself because all you will manage to do is piss off the agents and everyone else on the feed. No agent is going to like a tweet if they see you’ve posted it 10/20 times. And trust me, I see it all the time. People actually do this. No one bothers to read the rules (see link to Brenda Drake’s website below), and they only shoot themselves in the proverbial foot. Anyway, if an agent likes your tweet, you go to their page first, see if they posted how to submit to them, then simply submit based on their requirements. It’s fun to not only post your own tweets, but watch the feed grow and grow with all kinds of amazing tweets by awesome authors. BUT…do NOT like another author’s tweet, no matter how tempting. All this does is mislead the poor writer and give them a few seconds of false hope that an agent has liked their tweet, when really, it’s just someone trying to be kind but who hasn’t bothered to read the rules.
Who will be looking at these pitches? Agents. And some editors and publishers, too. A lot of very popular agents troll the feed on #PitMad days and look for intriguing pitches. Not all of them. It’s mainly the social media-savvy agents who are very active on Twitter who will be viewing this thread. I don’t know exactly who or how many, but if you watch the feed for the week or so leading up to the event, and especially during that special day, you’ll notice agents (and publishers) chiming in. They’ll post that they’re participating and what they might be looking for. They may even add the hashtag #MSWL to the tweet and/or what age/genre they're seeking. They will also tell you how to submit to them (more on that below) if they like your pitch. So keep an eye out on the feed. You just might see one or more of your top agents from your wish list on there!
To get an agent, of course! The main reason to participate in #PitMad is to get an agent (or agents, plural) to see your ideas, love them, and request that you query them directly. Many authors (including myself) have landed an agent after participating in pitch parties. It’s a great way to connect. Agents get to scroll through and get, basically, an elevator pitch from hundreds of authors with potential and talent. Not to mention, it’s fun to read other people’s tweets and see how other people pitch agents. But the ultimate goal is to impress an agent with your witty, clever, and unique tweet and entice them to like your pitch so you can them submit to them directly, at their request.
Now comes the fun part. How do I create a GREAT pitch? Simple. Okay, maybe not simple, but it’s not that difficult, either. Here’s what I recommend. Open a blank Word document first. Then start trying to come up with a pitch (3, actually) that not only clearly show what your book is about, but also introduce your MC, the conflict, and show the stakes very clearly. The last part is uber important! A lot of people fail to do this. And yes, it’s hard to do in three lines or less. But it’s essential to show the agent not only what your book is about, but what is at stake for your main character(s). Now, since you don’t have as much room as you do in your query, you have to get creative. But just make sure somewhere in the pitch, you’ve told us what is at stake for your MC if he/she fails/loses/dies. For example, will the world end? Will the MC lose the love of their life? Will everyone on earth turn to zombies? And, tell us what the MC must do in order to prevent that and “win” the conflict. Must he find the magic potion? Must she overcome an internal struggle of some kind? Must the MC find and catch a serial killer? It’s also important to identify your MC and make us understand why we should care, and most importantly, root for them. Again, hard to do in so few characters, but it can be done. Be creative. Be witty. Be unique. Stand out. Be seen. Grab their attention. But (and this is a big BUT), do not try to be so unique that you break the rules or try something way too unorthodox that it breaks the formula and falls flat. Don’t try to be TOO different (and by this I mean different from the rules). That will only backfire. Oh, and don't forget to use your category and genre hashtags (#A, #YA, #suspense, #romance, etc.) And finally, have fun! There’s nothing to lose if you follow the rules and do it properly. And you could possibly gain some requests from agents in the process!
To sum it up, the best thing to do is to first visit the website for #PitMad HERE. Read the entire page, don’t skip anything. If you have questions, you can reach out to Brenda Drake or anyone else who helps with the party. Or you can always post a question on Twitter using the #PitMad hashtag.
Also, I do offer pitch party assistance to anyone who would like a fresh pair of experienced eyes on their pitches. I offer unlimited passes until we get the pitches ready to go. I typically charge $20 for 3 pitches (total), but I’m running a special now through Sunday for only $15! And don’t forget…those sample pages and queries need to be polished and ready to go in case you get likes! I also offer very affordable services for those, as well. Just click HERE to be directed to my testimonials and service information/pricing. If you do want my help and to take advantage of $5 off, please be sure to use the word “PitMad Discount” in your email subject line.