Pitch Events or Pitch Parties
When I decided to get on Twitter in August 2020 in preparation for querying my SFF novel, I immediately learned of #PitMad, a pitch event or pitch party where writers post tweets trying to entice agents to request their queries. You can learn all about PitMad, the rules and intentions at the Pitch Wars website. I decided to participate on September 3, 2020. It runs 8 am - 8 pm Eastern Time. The only problem? I'm on Pacific Time. I learned quickly how to schedule tweets (something I'd used Hootsuite for in 2015 and earlier before my five year hiatus from Twitter.)
I participated in RT (retweet) rings. It was a great way for me to go from no followers on Twitter and only following some of my favorite authors to having 100 followers and following a bunch of cool writers in under a week. Some people will unfollow following the pitch party. I was thrilled that my pitches that I'd polished through a Facebook writer's group got 20, 34, and 54 retweets, not counting QRTs, and some comments. All the likes were from people who didn't know better, but it's still a good feeling to know that someone saw a pitch and liked it or wanted to support it.
Instead of querying, I entered Pitch Wars and was not selected. I procrastinated and edited my novel, and participated in PitMad again in December. I had a writing group and we polished pitches, which I'll talk about more later in this post, and we retweeted each other. I joined a few more retweet rings. I went in thinking that time I'd get way more engagement and an agent like. It wasn't quite the right attitude. I still had fun, but it was much more stressful and disappointing. I averaged more retweets, 30, 46, and 58 on my new polished pitches with comps, but all those likes were still people who didn't know better or scam publishers.
Then I procrastinated and edited some more until March. I skipped the March PitMad. Why? Because you have to have a specific outlook going in. PitMad is huge. There is so much noise. There will be over 1000 tweets in 10 minutes on the hashtag. I was feeling a bit out of the cool kids loop. I had more experiences with people who say they'll be supportive, but are not. I wasn't in the right frame of mind for a pitch event. I had some FOMO, but mostly stayed off the hashtag.
I finished my last, final, truly no more, round of edits on my novel in March. So I decided to throw my pitches in the ring for #LGBTNPit. (See next section on how that went.)
I started querying my novel mid-April. I wrote a short update about it with regard to my goals for the year. In the midst of querying, I decided about a week out that I was going to do the June PitMad. Why not? Maybe it would catch an agents eye this time. I returned to the outlook of the Pitch Event and Pitch Party being more about building community, promoting other writers, and seeing what people are writing up than about those agent likes. My overall average of retweets was somewhere in the middle of the previous two PitMad events, at 32, 40, and 51.
The retweet rings will get you retweets. They will get you followers. And as long as that is your goal, you'll have fun.
As I mentioned above, after deciding I was truly done editing my novel before sending it off, and on a last minute, night-before (or maybe 2 days before) decision to participate, I did #LGBTNPit. You can learn more about their goals and rules here. It was the first one and it is currently planned as an annual event. They had slightly different rules where likes and retweets were for agents, but QRTs and comments were for others to participate.
It is a much smaller event than PitMad. It felt homey. I managed to participate in some retweet rings but found that with the QRT rule, others didn't engage quite as much. Or rather the engagement was less a rote retweet by large numbers and more actual engagement per individual. I, personally, liked it. It required reading the pitch and making a comment of some sort. And the engagement was higher quality. There were also the people who promised to retweet and never did. It felt worse during LGBTNPit since this was specifically for a group of marginalized writers.
But I got a like from an editor. Even though my novel was not a good fit for that publisher, the like was confidence boosting, and a major reason I decided to give PitMad another try.
My stats for #LGBTNPit don't compare to #PitMad in the same way. There were also four tweets instead of three. I'll discuss how I picked my pitches next.
There are a ton of resources out there about creating pitches. Many writing groups will help writers polish pitches. Even going to Twitter and using the pitch party hashtag to ask "who wants to vet my pitches?" or "who wants to trade pitches for feedback?" will get an interested writer help on polishing pitches.
For the first #PitMad, I was mostly in Facebook Writers Groups. In one, I worked with a few others in a specific post and sub-threads to help polish pitches. I had no comps in September because I didn't understand them and was struggling to find good ones. For the December #PitMad, I had a different writing group I leaned on to help me polish pitches. I led with the one that was most similar to the favorite from September. But a totally different one was most popular.
#LGBTNPit allows four tweets. I polished the two that had been popular in the past and then did a throw-away meme-style one for a Twitter meme that was popular at the time - "Just because you're vaccinated doesn't mean..." [The CDC made the joke pointless about a month later.] And I added one to emphasize a specific aspect of my novel that I had not before pitched on. The meme got a lot of commentary. The new aspect got me the editor interest.
I took those four and reworked them yet again, though on my own this time without group help, for June's #PitMad. At this point, I know the structure of what the pitches should look like. I know what has gotten interest. I know what I want to say about my story.
You can see from the tweets that I continue to play with the available hashtags. It's important to use hashtags that describe your story. The LGBTQIA* aspect of the story is not huge, so I abandoned that hashtag. However, there is a disability framework, and it's written from my own experience. So after gaining the confidence to lean on that aspect of the story, I've added the disabiity hashtag.
Obviously, I don't have a run-away pitch. Pitching is something I need to work on, whether I continue pitching with this novel or for another. Or maybe I've done my year of pitching and it was fun, but I'll just observe from the sidelines in the future. Who knows?
There are many twitter pitch events out there now. Agent participation varies. There were complaints the SFFPit was low agent activity. I only participated in #LGBTNPit with the support of writer friends because I otherwise felt like an imposter. That was the primary reason I did not participate in October's DVPit. There's also genre-based pitch events for romance, horror, picture books, faith-based, or events based around author identification, such as Latinx, API, Diverse Voices, LGBTQIA*, Disabled, or events based around particular group, like Insecure Writers Group, RevPit, AMM, etc.
If you're looking for future pitch events in 2021, check out Emma Lombard's 2021 Twitter Pitch Party Calendar.
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Writer of spec fic.