17: Twitter Pitch Events
Howdy! Twitter pitch events are an opportunity for pitching completed manuscripts to agents, outside of standard querying and meeting at writing conferences. If you’re unfamiliar with Twitter, the pitch needs to fit within a single tweet, meaning it maxes out at 180 characters. Within that pitch, the goal is to showcase two comparison titles, the genre/s, a relevant detail regarding the main character (such as their name, age, occupation, etc), the major conflict, and the stakes. If you can squeeze some setting in, that’s great.
Every pitch event has rules. PitMad is the most popular Twitter pitch event and sets the standard ruleset, but always double check the rules of your specific event before participating. For Pitmad, you can send out a max of three pitches per completed unagented manuscript within the allotted times. Those times are USA East Coast based (EST) so adjust your schedule to meet that time zone for that event. For PitMad, likes (clicking that tiny heart beneath the tweet, turning it red) is an action reserved for agents, editors, and publishers. As a writer, you do not like #PitMad pitches. To show support for your fellow writer, you may ReTweet (click that central recycling-ish symbol beneath the tweet, turning the symbol green, thus posting it to your wall), Quote ReTweet (click that central recycling-ish symbol beneath the tweet, turning the symbol green, posting it to your wall, but also leaving a comment above it, rather than below as a standard comment), or Comment (leaving a comment below the post which DOES NOT post it to your wall). Some pitch events swap rules, only allowing writers to show support by commenting & Quote ReTweeting, not ReTweeting, and some allow for a pitch every hour within the allotted time. Always double check the rules before participating. I go through the pitch event calendar at least annually, and add every relevant event to my Gmail calendar so I don’t miss them.
Your goal, as a writer participating in these events, is to score a like from a publishing industry representative. Then, assuming you’ve done your due diligence making certain they are a genuine professional you’d like to found your career working with (There are bad agents, and scammers pretending to be agents/publishers. There are also vanity presses who charge you to publish your book while barely or ineffectively marketing it. Obviously, don’t pursue those.), you look at their Twitter wall to see if they’ve offered instructions for how best to query them as an event participant they’ve expressed interest in. If they do not have a Tweet offering instructions, check their website or agency site for further instructions. Only query agents or submit to editors you want to work with.
With the exception of PitchWars (for unagented manuscripts to find a writing mentor from within the publishing industry), I’ll throw my works into any Twitter pitch event (see 2021 calendar here) wherein my works are relevant. These include Pitmad (for any unagented completed manuscripts), PitDark (for unagented Dark completed manuscripts), WMPitch (for unagented completed manuscripts of children’s fiction including novels and picture books), SFFpit (for any unagented sci-fi/fantasy completed manuscripts), IWSGpit (for any unagented completed manuscripts), and HivePit (this one doesn’t show up on most pitch event calendars. It was run by the WriteHive and I believe it was for all unagented completed manuscripts. No idea when the next one is. I don’t see that information on their website right now.). Events that I don’t participate in, because my works don’t fit the bill, are PBpitch (for unagented completed picture books), MockPit (an unofficial event for practicing Twitter pitches), FaithPitch (for unagented completed faith based completed manuscripts), RevPit (for unagented manuscripts seeking developmental edit—This is a good idea if mentor based events like PitchWars appeals to you.), APIpit (for unagented completed manuscripts by Asian/Pasifika writers), KissPitch (for unagented completed romnace manuscripts), PitchDis (for unagented completed manuscripts by disabled writers), LatinxPitch (for unagented completed manuscripts by Latinx writers of kid lit), CanLitPit (for unagented completed manuscripts by Canadian writers), and DVpit (for unagented completed manuscripts by marginalized writers—Pay special attention to the dates. Children’s works are pitched on a separate date from adult works and there is a separate hashtag for illustrators.).
On the desktop revision of Twitter, you can schedule tweets (when you click Tweet, on the lower bar of the pop up window, you’ll see a calendar symbol. Click it. Set the time. Be careful that it’s within the allotted event times in the time zone the event is hosted from.). This is always a good idea. Even if you don’t have work during the event, your wifi could go out, or you could oversleep. Schedule your tweets in advance, and make sure they’re all different from each other. First off, you want to appeal to as many industry representatives as possible, meaning, it's a good idea to get across your main character, setting, conflict, stakes, comps, and genres a few different ways. Second, Twitter won’t let you retweet the pitch exactly word for word. So change it up. When the event starts, immediately “Pin” your first pitch (or the first pitch of the project you’re most intent on promoting that day if you have multiple completed manuscripts to pitch) to the top of your page. This keeps it visible even after you’ve started ReTweeting other participants' pitches. It’s a good idea to warn your followers the day before, by tweeting that if they’re not participating, they’re gonna want to mute the event hashtag because it will take over their timeline during the event.
What are some methods for doing well in these events? Some authors make event “Lists” in advance. They’ll generally tweet something to the effect of, “Mutuals, please comment here if you're participating in PitMad. I’m making a list.” They will then add the commenters to that list. When this occurs, assuming you commented, you’ll get a notification that they’ve added you to their list. It’s both wise and polite to then make your own list (On mobile, “List” is the option below profile on the menu that appears when you click your profile picture in the upper left hand corner) and include them in it. Then you follow up by making your own post inviting participants to comment so you can add them to your list. During the event, to show support for your fellow writers, you go to your list and ReTweet their event pitches, which will generally be conveniently pinned to the tops of their walls. They’ll be doing the same for you.
During the pitch event, another method that I pursue relentlessly (until Twitter puts me in jail), is to search “Lastest” tweets by the event hashtag. Then, on the desktop so I can see their follower ratios (If a Twitter account follows more accounts than they are followed by, they are more likely to follow you back when you click to follow them), I ReTweet nearly every Latest pitch by anyone I’m already following, follow those participants who follow more than they are followed by, and ReTweet their pitches as well (or whatever act the rules specify I'm allowed to do for the event). I suggest actually reading the pitches before ReTweeting them. Once an event begins, the hashtag quickly trends and spammers use it to promote their accounts (as opposed to completed manuscripts), and the last thing your followers want is more spam. Also, occasionally participants pitch an offensive concept, or use problematic language and that's not how you want to showcase your author brand on Twitter.
There is debate over how best to support participants on Twitter. Personally, I think Quote ReTweets are the most effective means of promoting another participant’s pitch because it shares it with your followers, and it’s a built in Comment. Regardless, the point is to be helpful. As long as the events allows for ReTweeting, everything but Liking the pitch (Don’t do that.) are great.
While promoting your fellow participants, don’t go too fast. The hard and fast rules are intentionally veiled by Twitter, but if you Like (which you shouldn’t be doing), Retweet, Comment, or Follow (I think the max is 400x in a day if you don’t have a blue checkmark but speed is also a factor) too frequently, you’ll get a pop-up notification that you’re doing that too much/fast and Twitter won’t allow you to do so anymore. My longest lasting stint in Twitter jail was 4 days during which I pretty much was only allowed to post. That was a shame as that basically ended my participation in the event that day, and I’d gained followers during the pitch event but was unable to follow them back. By the time I was able to again, many had unfollowed me, assuming I’d ignored them on purpose. Go slow. Read the tweets you’re promoting. Don’t just follow everybody. You should be fine.
When pitching multiple books, I generally schedule their pitches to tweet back-to-back. I do my bulk ReTweeting in the half hour before they’re scheduled to post. Then, I take a break after they’ve posted so when participants reciprocate those interactions, my fresh pitches are easy to find. Another method is simply to “Pin” your first or most successful pitch per manuscript for equal amounts of time during the event. While pinned, they’re at the top of your page, and easy to find for anyone looking to boost your pitches.
It’s polite to post a single thank you tweet after the event, just letting everyone know you appreciate their support that day.
What if you get no likes during the event? That’s a shame, but given the popularity of events like Pitmad, there are bound to be great pitches industry representatives were unable to see. Sometimes likes come rolling in days after the event, so keep an eye on your pitches. Don't rely on notifications to tell you if you received a like. Twitter isn't the best at notifying of every interactions, so keep checking the pitches themselves over the following week. If you were an active participant , you likely gained a slew of new followers, and maybe some new friends. If you saved your pitches where they’re accessible for later (I prefer Google Docs), you’ll have them ready for the next pitch event. Cold querying agents is still the more effective and common means of acquiring an agent. Don’t drive yourself nuts trying to be seen amongst thousands of equally brief tweets. Do your best, be social, and have fun.
TL:DR: Add relevant Twitter Pitch Events to your calendar. Make a list and join lists for upcoming pitch events. Double check event rules so you follow them perfectly. Schedule your tweets making sure they contain the relevant hashtags and match the best times within the time zone hosting the event. Pitches should include 2 comp titles, main character, conflict, stakes, genre/s, and, if possible, setting. Pin first tweet (or the pitch of the book you most want to promote that day). ReTweet/Quote Re-Tweet/Comment on those pitches from writers in your list. Go through Latest tweets sharing the event hashtag and ReTweet/Quote ReTweet/Comment on your followers’ pitches. Follow participants who follow more accounts than they are followed by, and Retweet/Quote ReTweet/Comment on their Latest pitches as well. Don’t like event pitches. When pitching multiple books, schedule them back to back and get your interactions out of the way right before they post. OR Pin each best/first pitch for each manuscript for equal allotments of time during the event. Don’t interact too rapidly or Twitter will stop you, likely for longer than the duration of the event. Don’t get upset if you didn’t get any likes. Sometimes they will trickle in over the following week so keep checking your pitches. Cold Querying agents is still the best way to get an agent.