Oh, man, I love a good twitter pitch party. Since I’m out of the game, I wanted to share a few of my tips and tricks for getting noticed in the cluttered pitch party feed. Because the #pitmad event has grown so much and become so successful, Brenda Drake has implemented an update for #pitmad, which now limits participants to only three pitches. That’s it! Three! More than ever, writers need to up their game and work a pitch that will get noticed. But how?
My advice here will not work for every author, but I have learned a few things as a veteran of several twitter pitch parties. The ultimate secret (for me) of having a successful pitching day is to treat it like an actual party. It’s a party! Woooo!!! That means, have fun, enjoy yourself, be funny, keep it light.
“But Colleen,” you say, “I’m not funny and pitching is stressful!”
To which I say, change your mindset. Believe me, that twitter pitch is not going to make or break your career. Your goal on Friday is not to snag an agent. If that happens, GREAT! But your goal is to network, meet other writers, and be your awesome self. Seriously, relax, dude. Remember, it’s a party. IT’S A PARTY!
I’ll tell you a little story from my whoring twenties. I used to have a friend. Let’s call her Jennifer. Jennifer was not the prettiest girl at the bar, and I say that not to be mean, just as a fact. She was cute, but no supermodel, and yet…whenever we went out the whole scene would flock to her like flies on honey. And why? Because Jennifer was hilarious. She had this high, brash voice that rang out over the music, and she had a wit that would not quit. She loved men, loved to tease them, dance with them, but she was never desperate. Sometimes she went home with a dude, sometimes not. Jennifer wasn’t in it to hit it. She was there to have a good time, and that sort of confidence was intoxicating to everyone around her.
What I found after doing dozens of twitter pitch parties is that when I really let go and started having fun with presenting my book, my favorites (are they likes now? I don’t know) went through the roof. Definitely make sure you have one pitch that presents your story clearly: protagonist, goal, conflict, stakes. Ava Jae at Writability has a great post on how to do that. Here was my basic pitch for Through the Veil:
This got some hits, but as I was pitching, I noticed my writer buddy Wren Michaels getting tons of favorites. What was her secret? If you know Wren, you’ll know she’s funny, she’s snappy, and her writing is all about the voicey voice. She’s brilliant at bringing that sharp edge to 140 characters, and it is no easy feat! I wanted to see if I could replicate what Wren was doing, so I DM’d her and asked if I could use her pitches as a sort of “formula” for developing my own. She LOL’d and said, yes (because she’s so awesome like that), and for my next pitch party, I set to work sending out pitches with my info plugged into Wren’s pitches. It worked! I snagged way more agent interest.
Here are the pitches based on Wren’s 140 character magic:
Elizabeth knew grad school would be hard. She never imagined the Irish myths of her MA thesis would come to life and try to kill her #SFFpit
Super powers? Check. Hot Irish BF? Check. If only Elizabeth’s mother hadn’t forced her into this arranged marriage with a Dark Fae #SFFpit
Maybe you’ll disagree, but to me these pitches have the zip that stands out. If you see someone snagging all the likes on Friday, try to figure out what’s going right for that person. It’s not all about premise as Lara Willard so brilliantly discusses in her (*ahem* much more detailed) analysis of her own twitter pitch experience. For her, References (like comps FEVER series + LABYRINTH) and voice trumped all. She has, like, graphs and stuff. Check it out before you tweet.
So I took Lara’s advice and started playing around with comps and voice. Here’s one of those:
Wait…what is this? I have to fight this Dark Fae Lord? What am I, some sort of wizard? Well, actually… FEVER series meets IRON DRUID CHRONICLES #pitchmas #a
And then I just started getting really silly and decided since Wren’s twitter formulas worked so much, why not use really catchy pop tunes? I’m particularly proud of these:
Elizabeth’s got a blank space and she’ll write Finn’s name as long at this Dark Fae lord doesn’t get in the way FEVER series meets IRON DRUID CHRONICLES #secretshop #a
Walk into the club like what up I’m THE LAST AISLING and I can make your head explode with my mind FEVER series x LABYRINTH #secretshop #a
Elizabeth’s got 99 problems but this Dark Fae lord ain’t one. Irish myth retelling & romance. FEVER series meets IRON DRUID CHRONICLES #secretshop #a
These received tons of agent love. I know what you’re thinking. What does Taylor Swift have to do with my novel? The answer is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. But Taylor Swift writes catchy tunes. Most of the pop songs on the radio are engineered to get noticed and stick in your head…forever. Use that to your advantage. Oh, man, the things I would do with that new Adele song in a twitter pitch…
So after I got my twitter pitch sea legs, I really just started having a ball with trying out new things. You don’t have the advantage of that on Friday, but take some time to come up with some fun things that encompass maybe not the premise of your book, but the spirit of your book. One pitch I threw out there that really surprised me by how much attention it received is a pitch I just sort of wrote as a joke:
Basically it was me saying, “Hey agents! I know shit you like! I have shit you like!” It says nothing substantial about the story, but it doesn’t have to. It just has to appeal to people. I mean, who doesn’t want to read a sexy Celtic romp with GoT darkness and twists, right? Right? (*wrings hands*).
Think, too, about what appeals to your audience. My novel has a lot of fantasy elements, so I drew from a very popular Lord of the Rings meme (again, go with things that are popular, catchy. Memes are great inspiration for this). Here’s one that everyone seemed to love:
One does not *simply* walk out of the Faerie realm after becoming the Dark Fae’s most valuable weapon FEVER series x IRON DRUID CHRONICLES #secretshop #f #a
Hehe…(yeah, I laugh at my own jokes. So what?).
But then I thought I would give my romance audience a little love, so I thought about things that appeal to me, namely super hot guys with their shirts off. Here are a few of those heavy romance pitches that received tons of love:
If you think Elizabeth is going to fall for the warrior with the hot Irish accent, you’re probably right. Brains + Body = Ally #secretshop #f
I mean, yes, we *could* stop this Dark Fae Lord from using my MA thesis for evil, but we should probably make out first, right? #secretshop
Hey, you know what’s better than a hot 18th c. Irish rebel with his shirt off? Actually, never mind. Nothing’s better than that #secretshop #f #a
These tweets tell you nothing but everything about my novel, and for readers of romance, it zeroes into exactly the sort of things we like. Again, it’s not always about outlining the character, goals, stakes, etc. It’s very important to have a tweet like that in your arsenal, but what about the other two? Sometimes it’s delivering the attitude of your book and your voice, and sometimes it’s just about cracking a joke and appealing to your core audience.
But most of all, it’s about having a good time. I didn’t land an agent with twitter pitching, but ended up getting my big break on #mswl. But I’m so glad I participated in all those parties. It helped me hone my pitch and taught me a lot about marketing and what appeals to people about my book.
No matter what happens, though, just remember, if you’re not having fun with #PitMad, you’re doing it wrong.
So tell me your troubles, darlings. Let me help you with your pitches. Post yours in the comments, and I’ll see if I can give you some feedback. Also, give some love to your fellow writers and see if you can help them out. Get a comment, leave a comment, etc.
Through the Veil
Elizabeth Tanner is no Tinkerbell, and her life is no fairy tale. Broke and drowning in student loans, the one thing she wants more than anything is a scholarship from the Trinity Foundation. But after the ancient Irish text she’s studying turns out to be more than just a book, she becomes their prisoner instead. And when Trinity reveals Elizabeth is half-Fae, she finds herself at the center of a plot to save the magical races of Ireland from a brutal civil war.
As Commander of Trinity’s elite warriors, Finn O’Connell isn’t used to having his authority challenged. He doesn’t know whether to punish or protect the infuriating young woman in his custody. When he discovers the Dark Fae want to use Elizabeth’s abilities to control the source of all power in the universe, he’ll risk everything to help her.
At the mercy of Trinity and enslaved to the Dark Fae, Elizabeth finds herself alone on the wrong side of an Irish myth thousands of years in the making. Refusing to be a pawn in their game, Elizabeth has to fight her way back to the man she loves, but to do so, she must wage her own war against the magic that binds her.