Posts Tagged ‘#PitMad’

Being Liked

Posted: March 29, 2017 in Writing
Tags: , ,

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It’s nice to be liked.  I can say this without ego, because for quite awhile, now, I have been persisting without likes.

Aside from the general low-level anxiety that comes with little or no acknowledgement for one’s work over time, I also have been experiencing some confusion.  When we started querying my daughter’s and my novel in early 2015, we immediately began entering pitch contests.  Our very first #PitMad, we received several likes, including one from a small publisher.  As you will have guessed, none of these resulted in the sale of our book, but that’s hardly the point. The point is, we were utter novices at pitching, and yet in our very first contest we interested several agents/publishers.

That never happened again.  Our first pitch (all four versions, in fact) were horrible.  We hadn’t even properly identified the stakes or what were the key parts of the plot to pitch.  And yet we got 3-4 likes.  Later we sought and received advice on our pitches, on how to query, and most-importantly, how to actually improve our manuscript so that identifying the stakes and key plot points were much easier.  And yet, as we improved our manuscript and our presentation to agents, we received fewer requests.  In particular, #PitMad seemed to forsake us altogether.

I’m not bitter about it, not especially.  But I am curious, because I want to succeed. I want to crack the formula that leads to success — the sale of our book.  I see others manage it, and they are almost universally younger than I am.  And that implies to a thoughtless observer that they are less experienced, and therefor less deserving. This is the sludge that builds up in one’s motivational “engine.” I know our manuscript is better than before (and I am improving it still, as I have notes for still more important revisions), yet my confidence going forward is not where it should be.

Last week, during the most recent #PitMad, our latest pitch got liked. And just like that, I felt my confidence rushing back.

It’s a little pathetic, isn’t it?

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My Annual Pitch Contest Calendar now has a permanent home!
See the menu at the top of the page.

contest

Okay, kids – get your Twitter pitches, 35-word pitches, queries, and first 250 words shined up and ready.  Here’s a breakdown of the pitch contests coming up in 2017.

If you’re new to the concept, these are contests for authors with complete, polished manuscripts who are seeking representation by an agent and/or an editor.  These contests are fierce and popular, and the competition is strong and numerous.  But there are several advantages to entering:

1) Putting yourself out there. If you’re new to querying and not sure how to begin, or nervous about exposing your work to strangers, this is a good way to dip your toe in the raging whitewaters of the publishing world.

2) Getting feedback on your presentation.  Theses contests are all about those fiddly bits you use as bait to lure an agent or editor.  It is assumed your book is already finished, edited, beta’d, revised, and polished. You know – what you thought was the hard part. What you may not have as thoroughly vetted and sparkly are your query (including your all-important 35-word pitch) and the first 250 words (roughly the first page) of your manuscript.  These will make or break your first impression.  Even the perfect agent who was born to fall in love with your manuscript will never read it if you don’t hook her with your query and the first page of your manuscript.  Most of these contests have built-in feedback rounds or swarms of freelance editors offering free advice to contestants.

3) Networking with other writers, agents and editors in your genre.  Even if you don’t “win” (I’ve been doing this for a year, and I never have – and neither have most published authors), you will meet other contestants and judges, as well as participating editors and agents.  Most of these contests exist in the Twittersphere (or at least have a corresponding hashtag where those who have enetered can commiserate while they wait for the results).  Follow these hastags and be part of the running conversations.  You will meet other writers with books similar to yours, querying in the same genres.  You will meet agents looking for books like yours in your genre.  You will meet the judges, who are often fellow writers and past contest winners.  You are bound to make new friends and valuable contacts.

One last thing before I get to the list: In case you don’t know what a Twitter Pitch Party is, it is an event – usually lasting 12 hours – where you are invited to pitch your manuscript right on Twitter using a specific hashtag plus one for your book’s genre. Agents are well aware of these contests, and follow them eagerly. If they like a pitch they will favorite it, and that is your invitation to send them a query.  #PitMad is the most well-known and popular of these (and it happens four times a year).  So, to be clear, you must pitch your book using only a total of 140 characters INCLUDING “#PitMad” (or whatever) and one or more category/genre tags:

  • #PB = Picture Book
  • #CB = Chapter Book
  • #ER = Early Reader
  • #MG = Middle Grade
  • #YA = Young Adult
  • #NA = New Adult
  • #A = Adult
  • #SFF = Science Fiction / Fantasy
  • #UF = Urban Fantasy
  • #CF = Contemporary Fantasy
  • #HistFic/#HistFan = Historical Fiction / Historical Fantasy
  • #R = Romance
  • #Myst = Mystery
  • #WF = Women’s Fiction
  • #NF = Non-fiction
  • #Mem = Memoir
  • #LF = Literary Fiction

It is important that you read and follow the rules for these, and practice good contest etiquette: Usually only pitch twice per hour, never favorite another writer’s pitch (that is how agents request queries!), etc.

So, without further ado, here is the 2017 calendar of pitch contests.  Some of these have not been officially announced as of this posting, but I will update this post as more information (and more contests) are announced.  Good luck!

It is important that you read and follow the rules for these, and practice good contest etiquette: Usually only pitch twice per hour, never favorite another writer’s pitch (that is how agents request queries!), etc.

So, without further ado, here is the 2017 calendar of pitch contests.  Some of these have not been officially announced as of this posting, but I will update this post as more information (and more contests) are announced.  Good luck!

January 23: Sun vs. Snow
Character question + query + first 250 words of your manuscript. Open to the first 200 entries received (in 2016 this took 4 minutes!). 16 entries chosen for each team (Sun and Snow). Teams work with authors to polish their entries before posting for the Agent Round. Open to MG, YA, NA and A (including erotica).
Details: https://chasingthecrazies.wordpress.com/2016/12/13/2017-sun-vs-snow-details/

February 13: Son of a Pitch
Query + first 250 words of your manuscript. First week open to all for feedback. Then the top 50 entries go on to week 2, to be whittled down to the final 20. Agents and editors will make requests from the finalists.Open to YA, NA and A of all genres.
Details: http://kjhstories.blogspot.com/2017/01/say-what-son-of-pitch-is-back.html

February 23: #PBPitch
Twitter Pitch Party – Picture Books only
Details: www.pbpitch.com

February 24: Pitch Madness
Pitch Madness is a contest held every March, where writers enter for a chance to win requests from the participating agents. Writers submit a 35-word (max) pitch and the first 250 words of their completed manuscript on submission day. Then a team of readers choose the top sixty (60) entries to go onto the agent round. Though Pitch Madness has a game theme, the next contest will transition to more of a critique based contest with agents simply requesting in the comments of the entries’ posts instead of having the agents play for requests. Also, hosts will coach our team members, helping them polish their entries and first pages.
Details: www.brenda-drake.com/pitch-madness/

March 6: #SonofaPitch
Twitter pitch party. Include #SonofsPitch, genre and age category; 1 tweet per hour.
Details: http://kjhstories.blogspot.com/2017/01/say-what-son-of-pitch-is-back.html

March 23: #PitMad
Twitter Pitch Party. 8am to 8pm EST; only 3 tweets allowed per project.
Details (not yet updated for 2017): www.brenda-drake.com/pitmad/   also: http://www.brenda-drake.com/contest-schedule/

April 5: #AdPit
Twitter Pitch Party – Adult books only
Details: https://heidinorrod.wordpress.com/adpit-and-kidpit/

April 5: #KidPit
Twitter Pitch Party – Children’s books only (Picture Books, Early Readers, Chapter Books, Middle Grade and Young Adult)
Details: https://heidinorrod.wordpress.com/kidpit/

April 7 (TBD): Pitch to Publication (#P2P17)
“Pitch to Publication is for writers with FULLY COMPLETED manuscripts, who are ready to achieve the next level of literary wholeness. Authors will submit a query and 5 pages of their draft manuscript to one of our highly sought-after freelance editors. Each editor will select one (and sometimes two!) authors to work with for 5 weeks of intensive manuscript development. Your editor will help prepare you and your work for our agent round on May 22nd!” Editors will be announced March 13-20. This contest has been postponed; new dates not yet announced. Possibly cancelled permanently; the site has been taken down

April 7: Revise & Resub (#RevPit)
“In this contest, authors will be eligible to receive feedback and full edits on their manuscript from professional editors, ensuring their works are polished and ready for those agent inboxes. Writers will submit their query and first five pages to their top three editors and one alternate, who will then go through submissions and select one (or two!) winners. These matches will go through an intense, month-long editing process before reposting their submissions from finalized projects.” Details: http://www.reviseresubmit.com

May 17: #QueryKombat
64 kombatants in a single-elimination tournament style query-off. Entries will go head-to-head in six rounds until only one entry remains. Agents look at winners of each elimination.
Details: http://www.michelle4laughs.com/p/writer-contests.html

June 7: #70Pit17 
1 page contest based on McLuhan Test, which says the sixty-ninth page is far enough into a novel that things should really be happening, and it can be a better snapshot of the entire book’s style than the first page. 70pit takes this idea but removes the connotations with the number 69.  Entrants submit 257 words from either their 69th or 70th page. Agent round July 7. Details: https://larawillard.com/70pit/

June 8: #PitMad
Twitter Pitch Party. 8am to 8pm EST; only 3 tweets allowed per project.
Details: http://www.brenda-drake.com/pitmad/

June 22: #SFFPit
Twitter Pitch Party for Si-Fi and Fantasy books ONLY, for all age groups.
Details: http://dankoboldt.com/sffpit/

July 21: #AdPit
Twitter Pitch Party – Adult books only
Details: https://heidinorrod.wordpress.com/adpit-and-kidpit/

July 21: #KidPit
Twitter Pitch Party – Children’s books only (Picture Books, Early Readers, Chapter Books, Middle Grade and Young Adult)
Details: https://heidinorrod.wordpress.com/kidpit/

August 2-6: Pitch Wars
Published/agented authors, editors, or industry interns choose one writer each, read their entire manuscript, and offer suggestions to shine it up for agents over a 2-month period.
Details: www.brenda-drake.com/pitch-wars

August 30 – September 3: Pitch America
This contest will feature the first 500 words and the 35 word pitch of completed and polished manuscripts written by Latinx. This exclusively for Latinx writers and to work on the diversity in publishing issue.
Details: https://pitchamerica.wordpress.com/submission-guidelines/

September 7: #PitMad
Twitter Pitch Party. 8am to 8pm EST; only 3 tweets allowed per project.
Details: http://www.brenda-drake.com/pitmad/

October 2: #DVPit — Children/Teen 
Twitter Pitch Party. 8am to 8pm EST; open to PB, CB, MG, & YA fiction and non-fiction. The event was created and is moderated by literary agent Beth Phelan.
Details: http://www.dvpit.com/about

October 3: #DVPit — Adult
Twitter Pitch Party. 8am to 8pm EST; open to all adult fiction and non-fiction. The event was created and is moderated by literary agent Beth Phelan.
Details: http://www.dvpit.com/about

November (TBD): Nightmare on Query Street (#NoQS)
Halloween-themes contest. Around 40 entries are chosen and paired with expert mentors. The shined and polished query letter and first 250 words go before agents for requests. Contestants must answer a Halloween-themes question in their submission. For MG, YA, NA, & A.
Details: http://www.michelle4laughs.com/p/writer-contests.html

December 7: #PitMad
Twitter Pitch Party. 8am to 8pm EST; only 3 tweets allowed per project.
Details: http://www.brenda-drake.com/pitmad/

2018

January 18: Insecure Writer’s Group — #ISWGPit
Twitter Pitch Party. 8am to 8pm EST; 1 tweet allowed per hour.
Details: http://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/p/iwsg-twitter-pitch.html

THIS IS BY NO MEANS A COMPLETE LIST. MANY CONTEST HOSTS HAVE NOT YET COMMITTED TO OR ANNOUNCED THEIR 2017 SCHEDULES. CHECK BACK OFTEN!

My Annual Pitch Contest Calendar now has a permanent home!
See the menu at the top of the page.

142090425

Okay, kids – get your Twitter pitches, 35-word pitches, queries, and first 250 words shined up and ready.  Here’s a breakdown of the pitch contests coming up in 2016.

If you’re new to the concept, these are contests for authors with complete, polished manuscripts who are seeking representation by an agent and/or an editor.  These contests are fierce and popular, and the competition is strong and numerous.  But there are several advantages to entering:

1) Putting yourself out there. If you’re new to querying and not sure how to begin, or nervous about exposing your work to strangers, this is a good way to dip your toe in the raging whitewaters of the publishing world.

2) Getting feedback on your presentation.  Theses contests are all about those fiddly bits you use as bait to lure an agent or editor.  It is assumed your book is already finished, edited, beta’d, revised, and polished. You know – what you thought was the hard part. What you may not have as thoroughly vetted and sparkly are your query (including your all-important 35-word pitch) and the first 250 words (roughly the first page) of your manuscript.  These will make or break your first impression.  Even the perfect agent who was born to fall in love with your manuscript will never read it if you don’t hook her with your query and the first page of your manuscript.  Most of these contests have built-in feedback rounds or swarms of freelance editors offering free advice to contestants.

3) Networking with other writers, agents and editors in your genre.  Even if you don’t “win” (I’ve been doing this for a year, and I never have – and neither have most published authors), you will meet other contestants and judges, as well as participating editors and agents.  Most of these contests exist in the Twittersphere (or at least have a corresponding hashtag where those who have enetered can commiserate while they wait for the results).  Follow these hastags and be part of the running conversations.  You will meet other writers with books similar to yours, querying in the same genres.  You will meet agents looking for books like yours in your genre.  You will meet the judges, who are often fellow writers and past contest winners.  You are bound to make new friends and valuable contacts.

One last thing before I get to the list: In case you don’t know what a Twitter Pitch Party is, it is an event – usually lasting 12 hours – where you are invited to pitch your manuscript right on Twitter using a specific hashtag plus one for your book’s genre. Agents are well aware of these contests, and follow them eagerly. If they like a pitch they will favorite it, and that is your invitation to send them a query.  #PitMad is the most well-known and popular of these (and it happens four times a year).  So, to be clear, you must pitch your book using only a total of 140 characters INCLUDING “#PitMad” (or whatever) and one or more category/genre tags:

#PB = Picture Book

#CB = Chapter Book

#ER = Early Reader

#MG = Middle Grade

#YA = Young Adult

#NA = New Adult

#A = Adult

#SFF = Science Fiction / Fantasy

#UF = Urban Fantasy

#CF = Contemporary Fantasy

#HistFic/#HistFan = Historical Fiction / Historical Fantasy

#R = Romance

#Myst = Mystery

#WF = Women’s Fiction

#NF = Non-fiction

#Mem = Memoir

#LF = Literary Fiction

It is important that you read and follow the rules for these, and practice good contest etiquette: Usually only pitch twice per hour, never favorite another writer’s pitch (that is how agents request queries!), etc.

So, without further ado, here is the 2016 calendar of pitch contests.  Some of these have not been officially announced as of this posting, but I will update this post as more information (and more contests) are announced.  Good luck!

February 1: Sun vs. Snow
Character question + query + first 250 words of your manuscript. Open to the first 200 entries received. 15 entries chosen for each team (Sun and Snow). Teams work with authors to polish their entries before posting for the Agent Round.
Details: https://chasingthecrazies.wordpress.com/2015/12/14/2016-sun-vs-snow-details

February 3: #Pit2Pub
Twitter Pitch Party
Details: www.kristinvanrisseghem.com/pit2pub/pit2pub-twitter-pitch-party

February 11: #PitMatch
Twitter Pitch Party WITH A TWIST!  #PitMad + #MSWL = #PitMatch.  Between 1pm and 4pm EST, three teams will scour the #MSWL (Manuscript Wishlist) feed and the #PitMatch twitter pitch party, and make matches between what agents want and what writers pitch.  The teams compete for points to see which team gets the most agent requests. Only ONE pitch per manuscript.
Details: http://www.brenda-drake.com/2016/01/surprise-were-throwing-a-new-and-exciting-twitter-contest-as-a-valentine-gift-to-you/

February 11: #PBPitch
Twitter Pitch Party – Picture Books only
Details: www.pbpitch.com

February 15 – March 7: #SonofAPitch
Query + first 250 words of your manuscript. Three rounds of comments, ending with 50 being chosen for the Agent/Editor/Publisher round the week of February 29.
Details: http://kjhstories.blogspot.com/2016/01/son-of-pitch-entry-information.html

February 26 – March 11: Pitch Madness
35-word pitch + first 250 words of your manuscript. Team chooses 60 to move on to the Agent Round, March 9-11.
Details: www.brenda-drake.com/pitch-madness

Early March (TBD): Post-it-Forward
35-word pitch workshop
Details: https://nestpitch.wordpress.com

March 5 – April 22: #P2P16 (Pitch to Publication)
Multiple rounds, beginning with authors sending query + first 5 pages to 4 editors (out of 15 participating). Editors will each pick one author to work with on a full manuscript edit, to get their query and ms ready for the agent round, on April 18.
Details: http://pitch2pub.com

March 7: #SonofAPitch
Twitter Pitch Party
Details: http://kjhstories.blogspot.com/2016/01/son-of-pitch-entry-information.html

March 17: #PitMad
Twitter Pitch Party
Details: www.brenda-drake.com/pitch-madness

April 1: #AdPit
Twitter Pitch Party – Adult books only
Details: http://heidinorrod.webs.com

April 1: #KidPit
Twitter Pitch Party – Children’s books only (Picture Books, Early Readers, Chapter Books, Middle Grade and Young Adult)
Details: https://heidinorrod.wordpress.com/2015/05/04/introducing-kidpit

April 1: #NestPitch Not this year; returning in 2017
35-word pitch + Easter character question + first 300 words of your manuscript. Winners posted for agent review.
Details: https://nestpitch.wordpress.com

April 19: #DVpit
Twitter Pitch Party – created to showcase pitches about and especially by marginalized voices. This includes (but is not limited to): people of color; people living and/or born/raised in underrepresented cultures and countries; disabled persons; people with illness; people on marginalized ends of the socioeconomic, cultural and/or religious spectrum; people identifying as LGBTQIA+; and more.
Details:
www.bethphelan.com/dvpit

April 24: #FicFest (Check for details starting March 20)
FicFest is open to all finished manuscripts and all genres for Children’s Books, Middle Grade, Young Adult, New Adult, and Adult. In this contest, each category will have three teams. Teams will be made up of a Team Lead and two team members, who will pick three finalists and one alternate per team. This ensures that forty-five manuscripts will move on to the agent round, with fifteen manuscripts being held as alternates in case one of the finalists drops out of the contest. Once the finalists are chosen, they will work with their teams on revisions for 8 weeks before the agent round. During the agent round, participating agents will be able to request partial/fulls from the manuscripts they want to see. There is no bidding, and no competition for agents. They can request whatever intrigues them, giving everyone a huge opportunity to get requests and hopefully an agent for their manuscript. More rules, regulations, and details will be posted via the host and team lead blogs as the contest begins!
Details: http://tiffanyhofmannauthor.weebly.com/ficfest-writing-contest.html

Mid-May (TBD): QueryKombat
64 kombatants in a single-elimination tournament style query-off. Entries will go head-to-head in six rounds until only one entry remains. Agents look at winners of each elimination.
Details: http://scwrite.blogspot.com/2015/04/announcing-query-kombat-2015.html

June 9: #PitMad
Twitter Pitch Party
Details: www.brenda-drake.com/pitch-madness

June 16: #PBPitch
Twitter Pitch Party for Picture Books ONLY.
Details: http://www.pbpitch.com/

June 23: #SFFPit
Twitter Pitch Party for Si-Fi and Fantasy books ONLY, for all age groups.
Details: http://dankoboldt.com/sffpit/

July 1-3: #70Pit16
Submit the 70th (or 69th) page of your manuscript ONLY.
Details: https://writelarawrite.wordpress.com/70pit

August 1: #AdPit
Twitter Pitch Party – Adult books only
Details: http://heidinorrod.webs.com

August 3: Pitch Wars
Published/agented authors, editors, or industry interns choose one writer each, read their entire manuscript, and offer suggestions to shine it up for agents over a 2-month period.
Details: www.brenda-drake.com/pitch-wars

September 7: #PitchSlam
Round One – Entrants submit their 35 word pitch to receive feedback.
Round Two – Entrants submit their first pages (first 250 words) to receive feedback.
Round Three – Entrants submit both their pitches and first pages together. These entries provide the pool for team selections.
Round Four – The selected entries are posted for agents to request materials.
Details: http://pitchslamcontest.com/

September 8: #PitMad
Twitter Pitch Party
Details: www.brenda-drake.com/pitch-madness

October 22: #P2P16 (Pitch to Publication)
Multiple rounds, beginning with authors sending query + first 5 pages to 4 editors (out of 15-20 participating). Editors will each pick one author to work with on a full manuscript edit, to get their query and ms ready for the agent round.
Details: http://pitch2pub.com/node/6

December 1: #PitMad
Twitter Pitch Party
Details: www.brenda-drake.com/pitch-madness

Early December (TBD): St. Nicholas Day 1st 150 Workshop
Open to Picture Books and Middle Grade
Details: https://nestpitch.wordpress.com

December (TBD): #PitchMAS
Pitch workshop and Twitter Pitch Party
Details: http://pitchmas.blogspot.com

Check out the 2017 Pitch Contest Calendar, now live (this is a link).

People jumping in chairs

So, my daughter and I have been querying our debut novel, The Last Princess, for about three months, now. Plus I’ve entered it into half a dozen querying contests in hopes of getting more direct access to an agent.

The querying has been mostly blind queries, based on manuscript wish lists (#MSWL) tweeted by agents, or other comments made by or on behalf of agents seeking MG novels similar to ours. MSWL or not this still puts us in the slush pile, and that is a very competitive place to be. I’m not surprised we haven’t found an agent yet. Disappointed, but not surprised.

The contests have been fierce, too. Way more entries than could possibly be selected for participation in the actual contest. Maybe not as competitive as your average slush pile, but still pretty cut-throat. The secondary reason for entering these is to get feedback, which is sometimes part of the process, and to see what entries do make it through for comparison. We haven’t made it into any of these, either.

One could get discouraged by such a turn of events. Or utter lack of events, as the case may be.

Last week #KidPit was held, which is one of those pitch parties on Twitter where you have to condense your entire novel down to something like 125 characters. If you really want to have a shot, you have to do it four different ways (there’s math and stuff; you can post a total of 16 times but Twitter won’t let you post the exact same tweet more than once, so you can move the hashtags around, but to get 16 total you need four basic tweets … assuming you have 2 hashtags …. Are you still reading this?) Anyway, like #PitMad in March, I got a request to query from an agent.

Actually, I got two. But one of them was from the same agent that requested a query from #PitMad, and she passed on that query.* But the other was an agent I hadn’t queried before. If you’ve been reading my blog you’ll know I just rewrote much of chapter one based on what I’d learned from these contests and also some independent feedback. So I sent off a query and first three chapters to this agent, with the paint barely dry. And two days later she replied, saying she very much enjoyed the concept and the characters and wanted to read more.

All of it, in fact. She requested the full manuscript.

This is our first request for a full from an agent. Our first request of any kind from an agent after a query. We are, of course, understandably excited and feeling just a tad vindicated. It’s the fourth best feeling in the world.

What are the other three? Well, let’s not jinx it, okay?


*Yes, I sent it to her again.

image
Okay, fellow pitchers: if you’re ready to pitch your manuscript (meaning it’s beta-tested and polished, and you’ve got your query letter and synopsis ready), here is a run-down of some contests you can enter in the coming weeks. These are necessarily the best way to get your work in front of an agent (as competition is FIERCE), but many successful writers found their agent match this way. More than anything, these give you an unparalleled opportunity to see your competition, see what’s working and what isn’t, and get some valuable feedback from slush readers and editors currently in the business.

MAY:

5/22 – QueryKombat 2015
This year’s Kompetition is open to Adult, NA, YA, MG, and Picture Books. Enter your title, genre word kount, query and the first 250+ words of your manuscript. There are over 2 dozen agents participating, as well as many editors and readers. This kompetition is run like a single-elimination, tournament. Entries paired up based on target audience and genre will go head-to-head, round after round, starting with 64 and ultimately ending with just 1. But agents will see all entries after the first elimination – so 32 entries will get seen by agents, then 16 of those in the next round, etc.

5/27 – #KidPit
This is Twitter pitch event, where you pitch your children’s manuscript on Twitter (140 characters or less) using the hashtag #KidPit plus your age group (#BB (Board Book), #PB (Picture Book), #ER (Early Reader), #CB (Chapter Book), #MG (Middle Grade), or #YA (Young Adult) and genre (#SFF (Sci-fi/Fantasy), #ROM (Romance), #FTR (Fairy tale retelling), #MYS (Mystery), #TT (Time Travel) and so on). You can pitch up to 2 times per hour, between 8am and 8pm EST.

JUNE:

6/4 – #PitMad
Like #KidPit, but for all genres and categories, using the hashtag #PitMad. This one also takes place between 8am and 8pm EST, and you can pitch up to twice an hour.

6/18 – #SFFPit
A Twitter pitch event for science fiction and fantasy (including all sub-genres), for Picture Books, Middle Grade, New Adult and Young Adult. Pitch your manuscript up to 2 times per hour (exact start and end times to be announced on Dan Koboldt’s blog).

6/24 – #PBPitch
Another Twitter pitch event, this time only for picture books. Pitch manuscripts only one time before 12 pm and one time after (no time zone specified). Subgenres hashtags can be included: #F=Funny, #CD = Character Driven, #NF = Nonfiction, #C= Concept, #L= Lyrical, #I= Interactive.

JULY:

7/1 – #70Pit
Despite the name, this is actually NOT a Twitter pitch event. In fact, you do not submit either your 35-word pitch, your query or nor first 250 words. For this event, you submit the 70th page of your novel. This is based on the “Page 69 Test,” which presumes that by page 69 things should really be happening, and this is often a better snapshot of your work that the first page. Different age categories will be submitted on different days over the course of a week, so each category gets equal attention.

7/3 – Pitch to Publication
The submission window is actually June 29 – July 3. Writers choose up to five freelance editors from the 20 or so participating. Each editor will pick three entries and work closely with the writer to polish their manuscript (in various stages) to get them ready for the Agent Round at the end of September. If manuscripts are chosen by agents for representation, there is a further round in October for submissions to publishers. Full details on Samantha Fountain’s blog.

AUGUST:

8/17 – Pitch Wars
Writers send in an application (query and first chapter) to the four mentors (published/agented authors, editors, or industry interns) that best fit their work. Each participating mentor will choose one manuscript and work with the writer over the next 2 months to get them ready for the agent round, where agents will make requests from the polished entries.

image

I can’t say that the querying stage of being an author is any easier than the actual writing part.  In fact, I can’t even say it will take less time (I would certainly like to say this).  But I can definitely say it is more exciting!

In the last two weeks we have thrown our hat into a number of query/pitch contests/parties, with mixed success.  I’ve written at length about WriterPitch, and I call that a success.  We collected a great number of promising wishes during MSWL (Manuscript Wish List) day, and now we have a lot of agents that appear to be looking for what my daughter and I are pushing.  That’s a success.

I blogged about #PitchMadness, here. We entered it and spent the next several days haunting Twitter, hoping to see any hint that someone liked our manuscript.  Several of the tweets by the judges teasing their picks seemed to be talking about our manuscript, and our hopes rose.  But in the end our pitch was not chosen.  But the following day I did receive this personal tweet:

LB Tweet

So … that happened.

I also decided to try out the Twitter pitches I had crafted for #PitMad on a smaller Twitter pitch contest for a small book publisher.  They are not as well know, so I’m sure there were far fewer competitors.  I really would prefer an agent to a small publisher, but my goal was to see if I got any response.  In fact I received favorites from three different editors there.  I sent our query, synopsis and first three chapters, per their guidelines, and three days ago we received a request for the full manuscript. So this tells me that based on our first three chapters somebody wanted to read the rest of our book.  Most definitely a success.

But I guess the most important part of this experience has been the many, many individuals and teams who have offered to read our query letters and pitches and first 250 words, etc., and given us free, very helpful feedback.  So the experience has taught us a great deal, and if we win no other contests or get any nibbles on our tweets, we at least improved our chances as we continue to query the old-fashioned way.

So … huge success.

WriterPitch screen

Okay, everyone.  You can relax now.  Help has arrived in the form of WriterPitch.com.  Samantha Fountain’s vision of a platform for authors to promote their unpublished books to agents in the market has been realized.  It’s like a directory of pitches, organized and searchable by fiction/non-fiction, category (Adult, YA, MG, etc.), genre and keyword.  It has been up for about two days and already several authors have received requests from agents.

The obvious benefit to this set-up is that registered agents can window-shop the pitches, learn about the authors, sample a few of their blog posts, and if a pitch peeks their interest, they can read the first 250 words of the manuscript.  Only registered and vetted agents can see this.  So it’s secure.  And agents can tag pitches they’ve read so they don’t waste their valuable time reading them again later.

But there are a number of added benefits not immediately obvious to the casual observer.  And here is where Samantha’s genius shines. The site encourages you to tweet and post links to any author, pitch or blog post you like, so you can promote the books you’d like to see on the shelf some day.  And those pitches that get the most social media love get featured in the day’s Top Ten, along with the top writers.  Most popular agents get their own boost from sharing, too.

Don’t order yet; there’s more!  As a new author pitching his first book, I am somewhat overwhelmed by how much work needs to be done AFTER you’ve finished your book.  You have to craft a Twitter pitch and a logline and a query and a synopsis and the first 250 words and….  What WriterPitch provides is a community.  A place where writers both seasoned and raw can mingle and read one anothers’ pitches and queries.  A place where you can comment and promote those that inspire you, and receive comments from others whom you’ve inspired.  And you can see what’s out there, and what’s working, and who’s in the same place you are.

Samantha didn’t just create a space.  She created a universe.

If you’re a writer, I encourage you to create your free profile and get your pitch out there.  If you’re an agent, I invite you to go window-shopping, and bring your wish list. And if you’re anybody at all, I hope you will take a peak at my pitch and tell me what you think.

Better yet, tell the world what you think. This is going to change everything.

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Last week I talked about Pitch Madness, and the Twitter version, #PitMad – two “contests” where writers can submit pitches of their finished manuscripts to groups of agents on the lookout. Turns out Twitter is a lot like an iceberg; once you start digging you find out there’s quite a lot gong on. It’s those hashtags again.

The genius of Twitter is that entire universes exist inside the cloud of tweets flitting through the ether. You just need to know the secret password to enter each of them. Last week I mentioned a few of those passwords: #QueryTips and #MSWL. If you spend any time in either of those universes, you can pick up the passwords to other related universes. There are a ton of writer-specific hashtags.

#WIP
#AmWriting
#AmEditing
#AmRevising
#AmQuerying
#Publishing
#AskAgent

Plus you can find conversations about just your genre:

#Horror
#HistFic
#DarkFantasy
#UrbanFantasy
#SciFiChat
#Dystopian
#Steampunk
#Mystery
#KidLit
#MG
#YA

And because these opportunities are going on all the time, you can find plenty of people who offer advice and actual critiques on your pitches. I responded to two different offers and got prompt and helpful advice in both cases, and neither one cost me anything other than to agree to follow them on Twitter. Oh, yeah, besides these hashtag universes, you can also follow individuals on Twitter. For example, you could follow me at @John_Berkowitz.

The universe I have been spending the most time in lately is a very special place called #AgentMatch. Like Pitch Madness, Agent Match is a specific “contest” or opportunity for writers with ready-to-go manuscripts to hook up with agents looking for new clients. I just missed Agent Match by a few days when I discovered this hashtag. People who had submitted and had been vetted by the team had their pitches posted by category (picture books, middle grade, young adult, new adult, adult and memoirs). There the huge stable of participating agents could see them and request partials or full manuscripts from those they liked. But even though that event is over, the #AgentMatch universe is still very lively, because the creator and organizer of this even has something big up her sleeve, which will be revealed in the coming weeks. In her own words:

The overwhelmingly positive responses from Agent Match spawned a love child 🙂

As I developed Agent Match I started to realize how equally important it is to agents and writers alike to find their right match.

I’m beyond excited to announce AWESOMENESS in the making that will connect agents and writers in a fashion like never before. The big launch is roughly 2-4 weeks out. Right now under the hashtag #AgentMatch I’m running contests for writers to get their manuscript pitches into the launch. I’m taking six profile and pitch entries a day and they will be plugged into the LAUNCH for the day we go live. After that writers are free to sign up and create their own profiles for agents to search and be able to search for agents.

This is going on NOW. Get details here and watch #AgentMatch on Twitter for your chance to get in on the ground floor. And even if your don’t get in now you can get in later, and the experience of being tuned in to the #AgentMatch universe will likely unlock new passwords to other universes that will interest you in your quest for publication.

For example, I learned there is another Twitter context very much like #PitMad going on this Friday, hosted by Jolly Fish Press, called #JFPitch. Same idea as #PitMad – 140 character pitch (including #JFPitch and your genre), up to twice per hour between 9am and 6pm Mountain Standard Time on February 20th. Get the details here.

There is another one, #PitchSlam, coming in April. Details here.

Monitoring and managing all of these opportunities takes a lot of time and dedication, and you still have to have your pitch and query and synopsis (not to mention manuscript) polished and ready-to-go. But it seems to me these are a much better way to get your work in front of an eager agent (or publisher) than leaping onto the slush pile.

I guess I’ll find out.

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Tweet cropped

I never paid much attention to Twitter.  Because I never really had anything important to say and I didn’t feel like I needed to know the random thoughts of any of my friends.  I signed up a few years ago so I could follow NASA during a particular mission hoping for live updates, but it was rather intrusive.  Like being constantly tapped on the shoulder and handed notes while you’re in the middle of work, or dinner, or reading a book, or whatever.  I turned it off.

However now I am a writer with a finished and polished novel manuscript (mine and my daughter’s), and suddenly I am intensely interested in finding an agent.  This turns out to me more work than writing the novel.  And the stakes are much higher.  Why?  If you don’t already now, you’ll find out when it’s time.

So I have been scouring the Interwebs for any and all information/advice/lectures/tips/examples of how to write a successful query and get it into the hands of the best agent. I guess it was inevitable that I would find myself back on Twitter.

The key to making the whole Twitter thing work is hashtags.  These “#” things.  We used to call them “the pound sign.”  You know, back when “.” was called a period, not a “dot.”  Hashtags are like keywords for facilitating searches, only the hashtag has been adopted as the key to a universal keyword system — it works for almost all social media (all that I know of) — Twitter, Facebook, LinkeIn, Tumbler, YouTube, WordPress, the list is both endless and daunting.  I discovered the power of the hashtag when I started posting these blog posts on my Facebook page and in my LinkedIn groups.  You want to hear some advice on how to query your book?  Search #QueryTips.  This is a big one on Twitter; agents and writers post tidbits of advice and links to their sites with more information.  Then I discovered #MSWL, which stands for “Manuscript Wish List” — agents and publishers tweet a brief description of the kind of book they are looking for.  Keep an eye out on February 18th, this year.

MSWL tweetMSWL tweet 2

And that’s when I discovered Pitch Madness.  Pitch Madness (#PitMad) is an event held several times a year on Twitter, where on a given day for 12 hours authors post a pitch of their book — 140 characters, including the hashtag #PitMad and one indicating the genre (#YA for young adult, #SFF for science fiction & fantasy, #R for romance, etc.).  Then any agent who wishes to participate (a growing number) monitors Twitter through a filter for #PitMad and “favorites” the pitches they want to see.  Your tweet get a favorite from an agent, and that’s an invitation to send them your query (still according to their guidelines, but now you can mention that they requested your book during Pitch Madness).  The details are here, on Brenda Drake’s website (the agent who invented this contest, I believe).  The next #PitMad event is coming up on March 11, from 8am – 8pm New York time.

The advice from past events suggests you don’t post your pitch more than 2 times per hour (or you cross the line into spam territory), and that you craft your 140-word pitch in advance.  Some people suggest you put together multiple versions, for variety.

I came up with four, for my daughter’s and my book, The Last Princess:

A homeschooler who sees faeries among us must abandon her dreams to stop a changeling from using his magic to rule both worlds. #PitMad #MG

When a 12yo learns she’s descended from trolls she must choose between saving her friend & using a spell to forget her heritage #PitMad #MG

A 12yo discovers a secret world of faeries among us & may become the last princess, unless a goblin w/sinister powers stops her #PitMad #MG

A girl who dreams of being the Faerie Princess learns she’s a troll. Will she be the Troll Princess or use a spell & be neither? #PitMad #MG

At two tweets per hour and a 12-hour window, that means you can pitch 24 times.  And unless you have nothing else to do that day, I recommend finding one of the many websites or mobile apps that will let you pre-schedule your tweets.  I found the one I use on this helpful site.  My 24 tweets are written and scheduled, just in case I forget to wake up at 5am, here in California.

By the way, in case you are looking for more ways to get your query out there, check out the other pitch contests described on Brenda Drake’s site.  There is also a yearly non-twitter version of Pitch Madness:

Pitch Madness is a contest held every March, where writers enter for a chance to win requests from the participating agents. Writers submit a 35-word (max) pitch and the first 250 words of their completed manuscript on submission day. Then a team of readers choose the top sixty (60) entries to go onto the agent round. The agents play a game against the other agents to win requests for more pages of their favorite entries. The best played agent request wins either a partial or full manuscript read of the entry.  The game for Pitch Madness changes each event. We’ve played poker, paintball, darts, and Monopoly.

2015 Pitch Madness SORRY! Edition submission window is February 20, 2015 and the agent round is March 3-4, 2015.

There is also a contest called Pitch Wars:

What is Pitch Wars? Is it another contest? Oh, no, it’s so much better. Pitch Wars is a contest where published/agented authors, editors, or industry interns choose one writer each, read their entire manuscript, and offer suggestions to shine it up for agents. The mentors also critique the writer’s pitch to get it ready for the agent round. Mentors also pick one alternate each in case their writer drops out of the contest. Writers send applications (query and first chapter of manuscript) to the four mentors that best fit their work. The mentors then read all their applications and choose the writer they want to mentor for the next two months. Then we hold an agent round with over a dozen agents making requests. Look for my upcoming blog post for more information coming at the end of July, 2014.

2015 Pitch Wars submission window will open August 17. We’ll announce the mentors’ picks on September 2, and the agent round is November 3-4.

I feel like participation in these contests will give us a much better chance of getting our story in front of agents actively seeking exactly the kind of story we’ve written.  So wish us luck.  And we hope to see you there!*

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*Oh, one important piece of etiquette: if you see a pitch from a friend during #PitMad, DON’T favorite it (unless you are an agent).  This will only confuse things and get your friend’s hopes up.  You CAN, however, re-tweet it.