Sunday, September 11, 2016


Project 2016 has been through four readers and roughly three drafts, and I am about ready to call the revisions done. The current draft is back with my writing group partner for one more once over, but the opening pages are about a polished as they are gonna get, so it's time to start the submissions process.

I'll spend the next few weeks discussing how I've handled this process in the past and what I'm doing/how things are progressing with Project 2016. Most of what I'm going to do with Project 2016 is going to follow a more traditional approach--querying agents and sending submissions to publishers directly.

But this week, I tried something I hadn't tried before, and I thought it'd be worth looking at.

This past Thursday, I participated in my first ever Twitter Pitch Party.

These events are a relatively new alternative (or supplement, really--seems like most of the folks who participate also go the slush pile route) to the traditional querying process. The idea is that you tweet a short pitch for your manuscript with the appropriate hashtag. If an agent or editor favorites your pitch tweet, it's an invitation to send them a submission. This means that your submission gets moved to the top of the pile. It doesn't guarantee that you'll snag representation for your manuscript, but it lets you go into the next phase with better cards in your hand.

There are several of these events. The particular event that I took part in last week was PitMad, a quarterly event involving agents, editors, and some publishers. It's a twelve hour event--Thursday's was 8AM to 8PM EDT. You can pitch multiple projects, but you only get three tweets per project. A favorite from an agent, editor, or publisher is a request for a submission of the manuscript you pitched.

Since this was my first time doing this event, it was more learning experience than anything. I made my three pitches. Honestly, I'm not sure I did it well, but I didn't come up empty, and that's something. I wanted to show what my pitches were--to do sort of a postmortem on my PitMad work.

(Yes, you'll see my Twitter handle in these pictures; yes, you're welcome to follow me on Twitter, but that is where I talk about politics, so if that's gonna bug you, maybe stick to the blog and the Facebook page.)

Coming up with a pitch that expresses the charms of a 300-ish page manuscript in less than 140 characters is super difficult. My biggest mistake with this was not starting on my pitches earlier. I drafted three pitches a day and a half before the event. That may seem like plenty of time, but it meant that I didn't have a chance to have anyone else take a look at my pitches to see how effective they were. There wasn't as much time to rework and revise.

I don't feel like my pitches were particularly great. That said, I didn't exactly come up empty: I got one favorite on a pitch from a publisher. But more about that later.

I tweeted three pitches--one in the morning, one around lunchtime, and one just before the event ended.

My first pitch:

This one didn't get any hits. I thought the comparison was pretty strong, but it didn't leave a lot of room for details about the story itself--which I feel like you probably need in order to justify the comparison.

The hashtags, in case you were wondering, are the PitMad event tag, the age group tag (na for New Adult), and the genre tag (spf for speculative fiction).

Pitch number two:

This was the only successful pitch I had, and even then its success was limited. Without the comparison, I was able to introduce the main character's name and set up the exposition of the story, which might have been why this one got the favorite.

Pitch three:

Nothing on this one, either, but I did manage to work in some more specifics about the manuscript. I changed the age tag to Young Adult (my main character starts the story at 16 and is 18 by the end of it, so I'm in a little bit of a grey area there). I don't know if leaving the tag as it was would have made a difference, but that's something to keep in mind for next time.

All in all, maybe not a strong as it could have been, but it was definitely a learning experience.

My first big piece of advice to anyone considering participating in the next PitMad or similar event is pretty simple: be prepared. If I'd taken more time to prep my pitches, I think I would have been able to court more response.

The second big piece of advice I have is to do your research and know what you're looking for in an agent/editor/publisher. The thing with these events is that there's not a lot of vetting when it comes to who's able to favorite pitches. The draw of someone that wants to look at your manuscript is powerful, but you're not under any obligation to send a submission to someone just because they favorited your pitch.

I got one hit--from a publisher, not an agent or editor--so I did my research. I looked at the company's website, I looked at writer forums, and I looked at my list of goals.

For Project 2016, I want to go further than I did with Evin. While publishing Evin has been an excellent experience and I would happily recommend my publisher to anyone looking to put out a first book, I feel like I'm ready to take new steps. I'm not interested in digital-only publishing--ideally, I'd like to see Project 2016 on shelves in retailers and not just available for online ordering. What I really want is an agent, someone in a better position than I am to negotiate bigger deals for my work.

Bearing all these things in mind, I looked at what the publisher could offer. I've decided to pass on submitting. They seem like a fine outfit, but they don't line up with my goals.

So PitMad was sort of a mixed bag for me--I didn't come up empty, per se, but I'm not going to see any submissions from it. Still, the event was a good experience, and, depending on how things go with my querying over the next few weeks, I'll likely participate in other events like this again.

If you're interested in trying an event like this, here's a list of other similar events:
Pitch America (focuses on Latinx voices)
Hot Summer's Cool Pitchfest
Pitch Slam
DVPit (coming up in October)
Nightmare on Query Street
AdPit and KidPit (in November)

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