Community Not Competition

Or, Twitter Contests and Why You Should Totally Get Involved.

Tis the season for Twitter Pitch parties, so I figure it’s probably time to finally post this blog! (I wrote it in a bit of a babble last spring back before I had a blog or website – just goes to show that no writing is ever wasted! LOL)

Anyway, #PitMad was this past Friday, and #SFFPit is coming up this Thursday 12/10, and #PitchMas will start up (with blog events first) on Friday 12/11! So much is going on, and hopefully y’all will have great luck with them.

So, why am I pimping these out so hard?

Because Twitter parties are AWESOME, kittens.

No really, if you have a manuscript polished and ready to pitch to agents/editors, you should totally get in on the Twitter pitch parties madness. The easiest way to catch them as they happen is to occasionally watch the above hashtags – usually the host will announce the upcoming parties a week to a month prior to them going live. That or just watch other writers’ feeds – we tend to RT like crazy people when we hear that these things are happening.

So what actually is a Twitter Pitch Party you ask? Well, basically you create a Twitter sized pitch of your novel and tag it with the event itself, age category, and genre of the novel. Others things to try to include are comp titles, main characters, theme, vibe of the story, and the “stakes.”

A tip for making sure you’ve created pitches with the right number of characters – write them in the tweet box itself. Just make sure you don’t accidentally hit tweet early! I wrote out 5-6 pitches to play with and then copied them into an excel spreadsheet. The normal rule is only to pitch twice per hour (Though be sure to check individual Twitter Pitch Party rules – some have now limited the number of pitches to make the feed less flooded. Just make sure you check guidelines – we all want to make this as easy for the visiting agents and editors as possible).

So by those numbers, for a 12 hour submission period, you can have 24 different pitches. That would be a ton to have to write, however, which is why I stick with the 5-6. Then I simply move around the hashtags to make sure that each tweet is unique and won’t get kicked back by Twitter when I try to post it.

These past few rounds, I’ve also made it easier on myself by scheduling the tweets with www.twuffer.com. There are other sites that do this, as well, including Hootsuite and Tweetdeck, but Twuffer was the least complicated from my fairly tech-flaily perspective.

So, the party has started and you’re posting your tweets – now what happens?

Agents and editors will troll through the hashtag feed and “heart” pitches that stand out to them. This is basically a direct request for you to send a full or partial of your manuscript to them (Either per the instructions they give on their Twitter feed during the pitch party or per their agency’s submission guidelines, but with your email title including “[Specific Pitch Party Name] Request: Title of Your MS”).

Granted, that is NEVER a guarantee that they will take the novel, but it’s definitely a foot in the door. Also, I’ve been told that some agents will move the pitch party queries to the top of the slush pile as far as getting responses back out. And added bonus, I’ve had pitches liked by agents who were currently closed to queries, but since they requested, I was able to send them material before they re-opened again!

Essentially, getting a like during a pitch party gives you a step up past the cold query slush pile, and I’m a fan of that.

If you do get a star, do some research and make sure it’s someone you want to work with. I’ve seen several people in my follower list get likes from schmagents that had horrible reputations on Writer Beware and Absolute Write Water Cooler. Make sure to check them out, guys – a bad agent is far worse than no agent.

So, that’s the likes – which authors or non-publishing people SHOULD NOT be clicking, BTW.

What you should be doing is retweeting pitches that you see and think are amazing. That is how you can best support other authors during these events – RT the hell out of them. Trust me they’ll appreciate it, and it gives agents a sign that this is a story people want to see. (Once again, this is something you’ll need to check individual Pitch Party rules for – some of them are now asking you NOT to RT, but instead to @ the writer to give your support. Again, it’s just to try to keep the feed from getting overwhelming.)

That brings me to my final point regarding these competitions. You should think about participating EVEN IF YOU DON’T HAVE A BOOK READY. Now, I don’t mean you should pitch if you still have revising to do, but you should absolutely be trolling the feed and showing your support to the other authors with RTs and comments.

Why? Because I’ve found it to be the single, easiest way to connect with other authors on Twitter. Maybe it’ll sound a little selfish, but the fact is that easily half of my followers appeared during pitch events. And considering I only actually pitched during 2-4 of the maybe 10 events I’ve participated in thus far over the past year? That’s saying quite a lot. Most followers were people I retweeted, but others were from conversations and comments I made.

The best part – most of those followers never pulled the “immediate DM and unfollow” BS (which I’ll probably be addressing in another blog now that I think of it) that happens a lot with the random fly-by-night followers who’ve added me from time to time. The writers that connected with me during pitch accounts often stayed connected, and several of them are growing to be some of my best online buddies. I’ve even gained a couple critique partners out of it.

Those are the kinds of online connections that matter. Having thousands of followers that you never interact with isn’t really making much difference in the long run. Having a few followers you actually connect with and who are just as excited to see you succeed as you are? That is huge.

Basically, even if you never get an agent or editor request during these events, the community aspect makes them totally worthwhile in my opinion. Go forth, kittens: make friends and RT pitches. It won’t be wasted time – trust me.

Anybody looking to enter the next few rounds of pitch events? Let me know – I’ll make sure to RT you or even help critique your pitches if you’d like! Just send me a tweet if you’re interested: @C_L_McCollum

All content © 2015 by C.L. McCollum unless otherwise noted.

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