#Pit2Pub: Reflections and tips for writers.
So, I did something pretty crazy this week. I participated in #Pit2Pub.
To sum up, #Pit2Pub is a twelve hour event that happens once a year. Over that twelve hours publishers and agents watch the #Pit2Pub tag on Twitter while authors pitch their book…. In 140 characters! Yep, I had 140 characters to sum up each of my books (Rain and Sunset Drifts.) I think I managed to sweat more blood and cry more tears trying to write those pitches than I did writing the novels themselves. (I may also be prone to exaggeration.) Each pitch also had to have the appropriate hash tags (age group, genre etc.) So, there really wasn’t much room to pitch. To read more about the guidelines go here.
Over the twelve hour period you could pitch your book twice an hour. This meant I could pitch Rain twice and hour and I could pitch Sunset Drifts twice an hour. Because I am in Australia and the event was hosted in the USA I had to pull an all-nighter, which made the whole experience quite surreal. What made it more surreal is that I actually got some interest from several publishers and agents.
In order for a publisher or agent to show their interest they had to favorite your tweet. If they did favor you, you would visit their page for instructions as to how to submit. When I started getting stars I did a double take. Slowly but surely more and more stars rolled in. At 4am, sleep deprived, high on twenty cups of coffee and eating peanut butter out of the jar I was giddy with delight… and a little bit terrified.
Even though both manuscripts are finished they are still undergoing the final copy-editing polish. I originally entered #Pit2Pub as a way to find my niche in the industry. I did this because my writing crosses genre boundaries. That is why I really didn’t expect any replies (did I mention I have zero belief in my ability to write?) My writing doesn’t have an easy home. It could be classed as urban fantasy or, erotic- romance or, horror or, suspense or, literary or, terrible or, all of the above. I will submit my work to the interested parties in due course however, I want to submit the best work I can so I will wait until I am happy with the final product. Many agencies only give you the chance to submit a manuscript once. Once they reject it, you can’t submit again no matter how much you might have changed or edited it. It’s simply not worth submitting anything you feel might be below par in any way, shape or form.
In the meantime I thought I would share a few things #Pit2Pub taught me both as a reference for myself and for other writers thinking about pitching via Twitter.
- Prepare at least twelve variations of your pitch. Tweeting the same tweet over and over looks like you don’t know how to sell your writing from different angles. This event is a chance to showcase your writing prowess.
- Mix up your tweets. Let some of the tweets be straightforward outlines of the plot e.g.,
#Pit2Pub #A #PNR Heroine with a wild heart & dangerous desires. Hero with Devil’s voice & violent appetites. Crazed villain. Can love win?
#Pit2Pub #A #PNR A well-dressed Devil saved Jade’s life but stole her heart & soul. Now killing her psychopathic-ex isn’t her only battle.
Sunset Drifts Pitches
#Pit2Pub #A #PNR History repeats. Dead girl found at Sycamore Falls. The Seven Year Killer strikes again. Is the curse real?
Let some of your tweets be quotes from the manuscript:
#Pit2Pub #A #PNR #ES “Have you ever tasted a bullet, bitch?” She was going to kill him with that gun – but sometimes the devil has other plans.
#Pit2Pub #A #PNR He knew love was a sick & hungry creature that could
make you do things you prayed you never would. Yes, the Devil prayed.
Let some of your pitches be your tag line:
#Pit2Pub #A #PNR What happens when in order to save your soul you have to lose it? J discovers the only way to beat darkness is to become it
#Pit2Pub #A #PNR #ES When the Devil attacks do you fight, run, or march naked into the jaws of death? Only Jade knows the answer.
#Pit2Pub #A #PNR You can take the girl out of the violence but not the violence out of the girl J doesn’t need saving – just a warning label
#Pit2Pub #A #PNR She’d already died once, what more could go wrong? Never tempt the Devil twice. Especially when he looks that good.
#Pit2Pub #A #PNR 6 girls are dead. Can Sunset, Ro & Buck overcome their pasts to fight the curse of The 7? Or is Sunset next?
Let some of your pitches be evocative and even poetic. It helps create atmosphere.
#Pit2Pub #A #PNR #ES Rising Devil, falling darkness, breaking hearts and quivering flesh. Who needs weapons when you have sex?
#Pit2Pub #A #PNR #ES A mind in love is a violent place to be. Wes shouldn’t have underestimated Jade, even if he was the Devil.
#Pit2Pub #A #PNR Her inky black talons gripped his heart. He only half wished the experience was metaphorical. Death wore a beautiful face.
#Pit2Pub #A #PNR The only thing more dangerous than fighting Sunset, is fighting her. Ro & Buck have their work cut out saving her.
- During the event try and post images that inspired your book. Think about posting songs that are in-line with your work. Post wordart quotes from your book. If you have a mock book cover think about posting that. If publishers or agents click on your timeline all these extra posts will give them a feel for your style. It lets them know what kind of author they will be working with and how you choose to market yourself. Breaking up your timeline with images and wordart quotes also means that when they look at your profile it isn’t just an endless stream of pitches. You want your page to be visually interesting.
- During the event make sure to engage with other authors. It’s always good to support fellow authors. Doing this also shows you know how to network and can play well with others.
- Also, engage with Twitter as you normally would during the event. Keep it professional but fun – show publishers that you know how to use social media and have an established community.
- That brings me to point six. If you are thinking Twitter pitching might be something you are interested in – make sure you know how to use Twitter and have been using it for a while. I saw a number of authors who weren’t using hash tags. This meant publishers weren’t seeing their work. If you see this happening, be a good neighbor and contact them via DM to let them know.
- Finally, if someone does favor your work always make contact. Thank them for the favor. Follow them up the next day to make sure you have the correct submission guidelines (these can differ from the ones they advertise on their website.) You don’t have to submit to everyone who likes your work but if you are not going to submit, let them know with something as simple as: “Thank you for your interest in my work but I will not be submitting at this time.” Honesty and good manners go a long way in the publishing business – even on a tool that can seem as casual as Twitter. A Twitter Pitch Party is a professional event, treat it as such.
There is a very fine line you have to walk when using social media as an author. Social media tools can‘feel’ casual but if you are using it as an author or under your pen name, the world of social media is still a professional space. But this doesn’t mean you can’t make friends and have fun, in fact that can work to your advantage. You don’t want to fall into doing the hard sell, or coming across formulaic or too removed from your community. Walking the line between professional but also being warm and engaging (AKA human) can be hard but it is worth it. It takes time to master and it is okay to make mistakes. Social media evolves faster than anyone can keep up. We are all learning as we go.
One of the key things you must learn to deal with online is trolls and haters (I had a few pop up in #Pit2Pub.) If you haven’t had any yet, you will. The delete and block button is your best friend. Trolls and haters are like stray cats – if you feed them and pay them attention they will hang around. Okay, stray cats was a bad analogy because I always keep stray cats.
If you want an idea of how to use social media look to some of the masters. Masters of social media include Neil Gaiman and Chuck Wendig. They are professional, funny, warm, honest, topical and when you read their work or engage with them online you feel as though you are chatting to a human not a robot or a sales rep. J K Rowling also navigates social media with panache.
If you want to read more on how authors are expected to use social media read this article. I was terrified when I first read it. “I JUST WANT TO WRITE” I cried. But then I realized I could do all of the things listed whilst still putting my unique spin on it. I hate the hard sell but I love chatting to people – so that’s what I do. I don’t worry about selling, I worry about having fun, learning, making friends, supporting art and artists I like, finding out about new books and films and when the new Doctor Who episode will air. Think about what you enjoy and what you’re good at and play that up, let your natural strengths be your marketing strengths online. I, for one, will never ask people to buy my books. I figure if they like me and my mad, absurd and macabre social media rants they will dig up my poetry and books for themselves. But in the end, the one thing that will sell your book will be writing a fucking brilliant book. Make that your priority and then go back to posting about kittens and Doctor Who.