This is it kids. We’ve reached the critical point in history when Twitter pitch parties (pitching your manuscript in 140/280 characters, including the pitch party and genre hashtags) have become one of the main ways to pitch directly to literary agents and publishers. In fact, some agents and publishers are closed to unsolicited queries, and so the only way to get their attention is through Twitter pitch parties and face-to-face pitch sessions at literary conferences.
First, I’ll share a few pro pitch party tips that you may or may not be aware of, and below that, some general etiquette regarding pitch parties. At the very bottom, I’ve linked a free Excel/Google Docs template in which I’ve already added character-counting formulas. Use this to draft and schedule your pitches.
Pro pitch party tips:
-Twitter keeps some of its rules hidden. They don’t tell you this, but they are rumored to delete duplicate tweets tweeted within a 24-hour period. So draft several pitches and move hashtags around so that your pitches aren’t exact duplicates.
-Certain words trigger Twitter’s sensitive-content filters, which means that your tweet will show as blocked content to anyone who has their Twitter settings set to “hide sensitive content.” I don’t have a list of these word, and I expect that it’s dynamic, so you’ll have to use your judgment. Twitter’s media policy also states that it “can identify potentially sensitive content that others users (their typo, not mine) may not wish to see, such as violence or nudity.”
-Use a tweet scheduler like Tweetdeck, which is free, and make sure your time zone is set properly. Tweetdeck is linked to your time zone account settings in Twitter.
-Ask your critique partners to critique your pitches. If you’re paying an editor to critique your query letter, have them critique your pitches as well.
General pitch party etiquette:
-Every pitch party has its own rules. Read them carefully, and expect that they will change, so go back for a refresher the day before the event.
-Some pitch parties allow media (images/jpegs/video) and others do not. The reason is how much room they take up. Imagine you’re an agent or a publisher, and you open Twitter on your phone expecting to be able to scroll quickly through all the wonderful pitches. But instead of a streamlined process, you find it tedious because of ALL THE SCROLLING you have to do because of ALL THE MEDIA. It’s even worse if the agent or publisher is scrolling on their desktop, where media is full size. And by the by, posting media when it’s against the particular pitch party’s rules annoys your fellow participants as well, because they know agents and publishers are only going to stay until they get scroll fatigue, then they’re out.
-Space your tweets out, even if the rules don’t specifically say to. And if you have multiple books, don’t post them back to back. Otherwise, you risk giving agents and publishers the impression that the event isn’t well attended, because they’re only seeing one author over and over again, and they may leave earlier.
-Don’t tweet on the party hashtag during the event unless it’s a pitch or you really really need to. “Good luck, everyone!” tweets are great, but try to get them in before or after the event hours, again so that agents and publishers aren’t scrolling needlessly through tweets that aren’t pitches. Think of it this way: agents and publishers only have so much time to dedicate to scrolling through pitches, and if you tweet a “Good luck!” message that they have to scroll through, that’s one less pitch they’re going to have time (or the inclination) to read.
-Don’t do THIS when an agent or publisher favorites your pitch: hit reply with, “Thanks for favoriting my tweet! #eventhashtag” This is demoralizing for the other participants who haven’t received any favorites, because it shows up in the main event hashtag feed. I would advise not thanking the agent or publisher on Twitter anyway (unless they reply to your tweet or direct message you), but if you feel like you need to type words to an agent/publisher after they favorite your pitch, definitely don’t include the event hashtag.
-Don’t pitch after the event finishes. Some agents and publishers scroll through pitches after the event has finished, and logically, they’re viewing pitches in reverse chronological order. It’s not fair to the other participants if you load the after-hours event hashtag with pitches to increase your chances of being seen.
I wrote this post for the monthly Insecure Writers Support Group blog hop. To continue hopping or to join the hop, click here. (There are more than 200 of us, and it’s fun!)
I’d love to hear about your experiences with pitch parties. Have you tried any? Do you have any additional tips to offer? Let me know in the comments.