On Monday, I realized that #pitmad was coming up on September 3rd, and I worked myself into a tizzy.
I told friends, family, and - most embarrassing of all - my Twitter followers that I was going to join this year.
Hell, I was going to join AND rock everyone's socks off!
Yeah, that didn't happen.
Part of it was looking over my manuscript and realizing that it needed at least a week of intense edits.
Part of it was talking to a client about a complex issue that required multiple appointments.
Part of it was realizing that the table that had been taking up space in my living room needed to be moved upstairs right this second, and how had my carpet gotten this dirty 3 days after I vacuumed it?
So, no. I won’t be chipping in for this round of #PitMad. But that doesn’t mean I won’t be getting any value out of it.
I'm going to use today's event as a chance to learn and plan for the next #PitMad.
Here's how you can too.
Brush up on what exactly you have to do, and how you have to do it.
At this point, I should probably mention what #PitMad is. (Not everyone stalks major publishers and agents on Twitter.)
Well, the explanation on the official website says it best:
#PitMad is the original twitter pitch event, where writers tweet a 280-character pitch for their completed, polished, unpublished manuscripts. Agents and editors make requests by liking/favoriting the tweeted pitch.
Every unagented writer is welcome to pitch. All genres/categories are welcomed.
Which means when the clock hits 8:00am on one of the quarterly #PitMad dates, you have to have the following tools ready to go:
- At least one completed manuscript.
- By complete, I mean actually complete. Beta read by other people, formatted correctly, and ready-to-hit-the-presses complete.
- Three blisteringly awesome pitches for each manuscript, that are just long enough to fit into a tweet.
- The pitches have to have certain hashtags in order to be eligible for the event. See the official website for details.
- Different pitches from different perspectives increases your chances, so be sure you’re not just copying and pasting one awesome pitch over and over again.
Do you have either of those things available right now? Probably not.
Are those things easy to come up with overnight? I can tell you from experience, no.
Which is why you should use the time between this session and next quarter’s session to get your mess together.
Figure out which materials you need to work on most, and a rough timeline of how long it will take to pull them together.
Also, brush up on the rules that are posted on the official website. That way you won't be frantically searching for answers to odd little questions at 7:55am on the day of, when everyone who could help you is already at the starting line.
Get everything scheduled for the next session.
Do you already have reminders on your calendar for the #PitMad session on December 3rd? Do you have dates set aside to edit your manuscript and send it out to your trusted readers? Do you know when you’re going to write your pitch?
Well, now’s a good time to plan all of that.
Take that rough timeline you created and set regular reminders for yourself over the following months. This will not only give you plenty of time to get the basics together, but to research and prepare yourself to make the best possible first impression.
Also, set yourself regular reminders for the days leading up to #PitMad so you can advertise the contest on Twitter. (It helps spread the word and gives a heads up to any followers who might have gotten distracted with life-stuff.)
Take notes of the pitches and advice that are killing it this session.
If you're a writer, you're familiar with the difficult emotions that come when you realize that, as good as you are with the written word, someone else is exponentially better.
But this is the perfect time to leverage other people’s success into a learning experience for yourself.
On the day of the session that you're going to have to miss, search for manuscripts that are similar to yours. Then ask yourself:
- What are they doing with their pitches that you admire?
- What are they doing with their pitches that seem to be attracting the attention of agents and publishers?
- How could you make a similar pitch for your work using all those successful techniques?
But don't just stop at taking notes on the pitches that are knocking your socks off.
#PitMad is one of those beautiful moments when everyone comes together to not only get a chance at exposure, but to help people who were struggling like they did.
In the days leading up to the event, the #Pitmad hashtag will be a smorgasbord of complete strangers reaching out to you and giving you advice on how you can succeed. Use it.
Learn more about the participating agents.
As a #PitMad newbie I read the line, “Agents and editors make requests by liking/favoriting the tweeted pitch”, my gut reaction was, “Oh cool, so about 10 agents are hanging out on Twitter to do this?”
Try 162 agents.
162 agents with their own individual focuses and requirements and reasons why they may or may not look at your work.
Luckily, if they're participating, they're clearly looking for manuscripts. And they might be ready to talk to you.
The #PitMad website gives listings for each agent - which include their social media and websites. That’s an invaluable resource that would be hard to find anywhere else.
So even if you can't pitch this session, look over the details of the participating agents. Maybe you’ll see someone who will welcome your pitch when it’s finally done. Or, at bare minimum, you’ll learn what agents are looking for right now and how your work can support them.
Read what the mentors have to say.
What’s the best way to learn how to clean a kitchen, fix a car, or ace an interview? Doing it yourself.
So long as you’re following basic guidelines of hygiene, manners, or simple mechanical engineering, there’s no wrong way to do any of those things. And dozens of ways to get the job done. The real work is in finding the method that’s going to work best for you.
Writing pitches is no different.
There are thousands of ways to dazzle an agent or a publisher, but you need to assess the tools available and figure out which techniques will be effective for you.
The mentor workshops on #PitMad’s official webpage can give you this. Through their critiques of query letters and first pages, you’ll get an idea of what overall mistakes you can’t make and what subtle flairs might push you closer to the kind of writing professional you’d like to connect with.
Again, it might not help you now. But with the next #PitMad session only three months away, it will definitely give you something to work on.