So I’ve got a rep (according to my friend Lindsey) as being the “pitch whisperer.”
I don’t know about all that, but I do know that I actually enjoy writing them, and I had a decent amount of success soliciting agent “likes” during PitMad. So in an effort to both write down what I did so I remember, and share my strategy with those who have asked I decided to put it here in blog form.
DO YOUR RESEARCH
So my first not-exactly-pro tip is to read the instructions on whatever pitch contest you are entering. Research how to write a pitch. I sampled a few different blog posts (from agents and writers) to discern what exactly agents are looking for when they read through these.
Some of the blogs I checked out:
If nothing else, this gives you some tips about the rules. I saw so many people missing out on valuable hashtags and shooting out tweets that weren’t ready. When you’re trying to attract an agent in about 35 characters, it’s not easy.
MY PROCESS DURING THE LAST PITMAD
Think about the three most important elements of your story. If you were going to say what the three coolest aspects of your story are, write them down.
Now there are about 3 million other things I want to convey in these pitches, but I only have so many characters to use. Especially when you factor in that I need #PITMAD, #YA, and #CON.
So then you try to factor in as many “cool” things as you can. They keep saying that agents look at later blog posts to piece together a story out of three pitches, but I’m not too sure. I’d rather take three elements and let them stand alone (at least a little bit).
Basically, make your story sound awesome, while creating some stakes.
Here are my tweets:
Dante Medema @DanteMedema Sep 8
Girl learns to forgive her father’s mistakes while solving a haunting family mystery. Why won't anyone talk about "Ace"? #PitMad #YA #CON
This received my least amount of “likes”, and I wasn’t terribly surprised. There weren’t any stakes involved, it doesn’t place an awesome setting, and there is no understanding of who Ace is. This one garnered one agent like.
Dante Medema @DanteMedema Sep 8
Girl stuck in Alaska spends summer with boy-next-door fulfilling Gran’s last wish: Will she find Gran's first love in time? #PitMad #YA #CON
So you can see here, there are stakes. It’s her Gran’s last wish- will she make it in time? Plus, it adds in the element that there might be a romance on the horizon for my main character. Another tip- don’t waste time with names. General quick description in YA is fine. Boy/Girl are often fewer characters than their name and it’s not going to matter in the long run. This one received three agent “likes.”
Dante Medema @DanteMedema Sep 8
Girl uses romance novels, an obituary, and short stories to find her dying gran’s first love during a summer in Alaska. #PitMad #YA #CON
By far, my favorite pitch that I created during PitMad for this book. You can see it has something unique about the book, an awesome setting, and stakes. It tells you something about the story in just a few words, and it seemed to do the job because (to my great surprise), it attracted eight agent and two editor “likes.”
Practice. As you can see, I put three out and got varying responses, but after the fact I can look back and really see what worked best for my novel. Do you research, listen to what the agent and writer blogs have for instruction, and then get some help! Workshop your pitches within the writing community and look for those awesome people that are out there championing each other’s journey to greatness.
Hope this helps!
So if you’re like me, and you’ve got your novel out into the universe all spliced and editing and polished, then you’re ready to query! Which means you get to do awesome pitch contests like PitMad!
For those of you that don’t know, PitMad is an amazing Twitter based chance to pitch to MANY agents and editors at the same time. Of course, there are restrictions. It has to be under 140 characters, and there is a 12 hour window. Brenda Drake runs this contest (sometimes with a little help) and you can find more information about this and PitchWars (another awesome contest) at: www.brenda-drake.com
SO YOU ENTERED PITMAD- NOW WHAT?!
First: Stop pitching with the PitMad hashtag. I know, I know, and I get the temptation to do it, but it’s just not in good taste. It does go noticed, and while this community is so great and warm and loving, it’s just better not to get off on the wrong foot. Is that really how you want people to remember you?
Think of it like every episode of the Bachelor or Bachelorette. Heck, or even Bachelor in Paradise. We want to know that you’re here for the right reasons.
Second: Give yourself a big pat on the back! It’s hard to put yourself out there! Seriously. It’s pumpkin-spice latte season. Go get one of those bad boys!
Lastly: Go query those agents and editors! They’re excited to see your stuff! I’ve seen more than one post on Twitter about being stoked to see their inboxes filling up with things that they’re excited for.
BUT WHAT IF...
Wait what? You still have questions???
I know, I know. A lot of you have been behind the scenes in subgroups and on Twitter going: “But what if…” So I got in touch with Brenda, and asked her a few of those burning questions we all seem to have.
Q: What should you do if an agent likes your pitch, but you have received a rejection letter from them? In some cases, these writers have revised their manuscripts since the rejection. They are just curious if they should send a nudge to the agent, or not?
A: Send the request and state in the query that they have seen the ms/pages/query before and that it was rejected but they have since revised.
Q: What happens if you receive a like from an agent at an agency that has already sent a pass and their policy indicates that you should not try resubmitting to another agent there?
A: Send the request. This is a different situation than submitting coldly.
Q: What happens if you receive likes from multiple agents at the same agency?
A: Send the request to all agents that requested at the agency and mention in the query the other agents that had requested it.
Note about this one: I am loving the Entagled-Twitter-MS-Battle of 2016.
Q: Oh, and what to do if you can't find information on an Agent or Editor's Twitter for their Pitmad Submission Guidelines?
A: If they can't find a tweet - follow the guidelines on the agent's website.
Q: What do you do if you have an agent like, but you already have a query with them in their slush? Or if you have a query in with an associate at that agent?
A: Same protocol as the two agent thing and just let the agent know that he/she already has a query.
Thanks again Brenda for answering all my quesitons!
THAT’S ALL FOLKS!
But seriously, if you have any more questions, just ask! This community is great! Kit Grant just did this awesome blog entry about how this isn’t a writing contest. “This is NOT the Hunger Games of Writing.” We’re all here to support one another and help build better writers and just enjoy this community! Check it out, it’s a good read! You can find it here: http://kgtellsstories.tumblr.com
Also, if you’re looking for more pitch or writing contests, check out L.M. Pierce’s WRITING AND PITCH CONTESTS: THE EPIC AND COMPLETE DIRECTORY. You can find that bad boy here: http://www.piercebooks.com/single-post/2016/09/09/ULTIMATE-WritersAuthors-Tweeter-Pitch-Contests
Thats all for today! Make sure you follow me on Twitter @Dantemedema. Tune in next week when I discuss PitMad trends with Heather Cashman and how to craft a successful Twitter Pitch.
It's time for a pitch contest entry.
This one is Son of a Pitch, and can be found here:
Title: A BRIEF ILLNESS
Age and Genre: Contemporary YA
Word Count: 65,000
Seventeen-year-old Rory Brooks meticulously planned out her entire summer: days at the lake and endless nights at bonfires with her best friend. Her perfectly arranged plans are derailed when her mother ships her off to Alaska for three months with her emotionally distant father and his new start-up family. Her summer is then obliterated when her grandmother Harriet, the only person on her dad’s side of the family she actually knows, has a massive stroke.
Rory is thrown into the role of part time caregiver for her grandmother. Then, in one of her more lucid moments, Gran asks Rory to find someone named "Ace." The only problem is, nobody seems to have heard of him, or they aren't admitting to it. With little more to go on than a box of old romance novels, an obituary citing “a brief illness,” as cause of death, and a folder full of short stories— Rory realizes that she knows hardly anything about her declining grandmother. With summer coming to an end, and Gran’s health rapidly declining, Rory enlists the help of Dylan—the romantic boy next door—to find out just who “Ace” is and why his secrets are worth keeping.
A Brief Illness is contemporary YA, with crossover potential. It is my first novel and complete at 65,000 words. I wrote this after finding a similar obituary for a family member, but I knew that the truth involved a death that was anything but brief. I was inspired to write a story about generations affected by war—about a man who suffered from war, but not at war. A Brief Illness deals with love, forgiveness, family, and finding oneself.
First 250 Words:
Yes, it's sooo beautiful, and sooo scenic. The air is clean, and the vast expanse of green trees and blue skies are the exact things you see in magazines. Alaska has never been that to me though. For me, it's always been the place I have to go every summer.
I checked my phone. Just twenty more minutes in the flight.
“Oh, I love Alaska. The landscape is just so beautiful—unbeatable if you ask me. Did I mention I was coming here to see my sister?”
Poor sister. That meant she was going to have to deal with—what was her name again? Trudy? Cindy? Nancy! It was Nancy, wasn’t it? She’d been invading my space for the entire flight, and I barely knew her. I could only imagine the treatment her poor sister was going to get.
“You did,” I said, pulling my headphones free of the tray-table in front of me.
I’ve been successfully avoiding Alaska since my dad remarried a couple of years ago. If his third marriage was anything like his second (tumultuous, out of control), then I didn’t want to be anywhere near him when that bomb went off.
Where my dad is concerned, the bomb always goes off.
Nancy was thumbing through her phone, invading my seat while she pushed an iPhone screen toward me. On it, a picture of a grey tabby cat.