How to Twitter pitch your book

“All the writers I know got their agents through face-to-face agent pitch sessions.”
“Agents only get writers from queries.”
“Queries hardly get read.”
“You’ll never get an agent unless you know someone.”

I heard all of these things while looking for an agent. And friends, when contradictions as strongly as these cloud your mind with confusion and fear, it is of utmost importance to open up your mind and let them out.

This means: Query! Attend conferences! Twitter pitch! Pitch in person! Network!

I never cut off an avenue that could lead to an agent and in the end, it became a combination of everything that got me to where I am today. (Team Christa/McIntosh & Otis!)

I come from an advertising/marketing/public relations background. As a business writer, I’ve tackled everything from cardboard boxes, to Brazilian Buttlifts, to soccer moms. (Triple points for making a creative connection between all three of these. There are writing prompts everywhere people).

In writing for business, I learned to tone my once flowery and poetic way of writing into a short, succinct verbiage for whatever the room on the page allowed.

So when the Twitter Pitch contest #PitMad came across my radar years ago, I thought, here’s my chance! Knock 65,000 words down to 140 characters? Easy Peasy Havarti Cheesy.

If you’re not familiar with #PitMad, #Pitchmadness #PBPitch #Pitchwars #pitch2pub or the many others not listed here, they are Twitter parties where you have the opportunity to pitch your book to agents and editors with one tweet. Agents and editors peruse the hashtag and favorite pitches that they want to see. It’s a great way to get your manuscript into an agent’s hands and more so, get them excited about your work! It’s a little leg up from a straight query because they will be awaiting your manuscript.

Knocking your book down to 140 characters, whether it be a 400-word picture book or a 300,000- word epic fantasy…okay…maybe it seems a little daunting. But here are a few pointers to help you out. A few tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way both from writing headlines, taglines and bikini lines (I almost wish I was kidding) to sell your ideas.

  1. There’s NO room for generalization.

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In Dead Poet’s Society, the late great Robin Williams once said, “So avoid using the word ‘very’ because it’s lazy. A man is not very tired, he is exhausted. Don’t use very sad, use morose. Language was invented for one reason, boys – to woo women – and, in that endeavor, laziness will not do. It also won’t do in your essays.”

You likely already understand this concept, you’re a writer after all, so don’t drop your principles for social media! Avoid any and all generalizations about your story. There is NO ROOM for that. You have 140 characters to get that agent or editor’s attention, so writing something like “When two worlds collide, big odds are at stake and only one can win” tells us NOTHING!

What makes your book unique? Tell us that. Is it a three-headed alien who steals the pain of people it touches? Is it a walking, talking glue stick paralyzed by a fear of drying out?

And most importantly, what’s at stake? Will Valentine’s Day fail to exist if the glue stick dries up? (hey, maybe I should start writing this one) Will the human race forget how to love if they don’t know pain?

It can be written as a question, or a statement, whatever makes it easiest to get these points across.

  1. Don’t get too cute.

We know, you’re a writer and you can craft the cutest sentence in the Twitterverse, but cute doesn’t always convey your story. Over the years, I thought I’d created some of the funniest Twitter pitches known to man but guess what? They got no traction. The ones that did were the ones that gave the unique plot and stakes all wrapped up into a pretty (but not cute) tweet.

  1. Use your voice!

Just because I told you not to be cute, doesn’t mean your Tweet shouldn’t show your voice. You’ve spent a lot of time crafting that voice for your manuscript, don’t lose it now! Read over some of your favorite parts of your manuscript (we all have them). Why do you love them so much? More than likely, it’s your voice. Maybe it’s the anxiety-ridden ramblings of the glue stick that make you feel actual panic. Or the eerie and stark air to the three-headed alien that has you ready to be taken to its leader.

Now look back at your Twitter pitch. Do you feel the same feels? You should.

  1. Avoid useless details.

You may gasp at the idea that I just called your very clever character’s name useless, but it is. Well, most likely. No one is doubting that you have great names, creative settings, brilliant secondary characters but unless they’re absolutely pertinent to getting the point of your story across, they are useless for this purpose. They’ll bog down your pitch. We don’t need to know that the glue stick’s name is Elmer. Cute, but it doesn’t matter because it takes up coveted space.

I’m all about the research. Go back on the old hashtags for some of these contests. Find the ones that got the most love. Figure out why. Sure, sometimes another writer may have the most sellable idea of all time, but more often than not, they got attention from agents because their pitch was clear, showed off their voice and offered up originality and high stakes.

So what might a succinct pitch look like?

When Glue Stick loses his cap, a fear of drying up sends him on a frantic search to save himself and Valentine’s Day.  (insert hashtags)  

This may not be perfect, but it follows the formula. I suggest making an entire page of these. They may seem very similar but it’s the best way to hone the perfect pitch. Read them out loud. Read them to a friend. DO NOT wait until the morning of the pitch party to write them.

There are different rules for each pitch party. Get familiar with the rules. Are you allowed one tweet? A certain amount per hour? Per day? Work with the rules and create your tweets based around them.

A bunch of pitch parties are right around the corner! Start crafting your pitches now. And may the favorites be ever in you favor.

Check out these upcoming Twitter pitch party links:

PB Pitch (Feb. 23): http://www.pbpitch.com
Pitch Madness (Feb 24): http://www.brenda-drake.com/pitch-madness/
PitMad (March 23): http://www.brenda-drake.com/pitmad/
#adpit (April 5): https://heidinorrod.wordpress.com/adpit-and-kidpit/
#kidpit (April 5): https://heidinorrod.wordpress.com/kidpit/

Stef’s 2015 Year in Review

It is said that Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, but I happen to believe it’s right after Christmas when year-in-review and best-of lists swarm all forms of media. I guess I’m a sucker for nostalgia. This year, I’m making a short year-in-review for what has proved to be my most monumental year in writing (to-date, of course. I’m hoping it doesn’t go down in history that way).

I often get asked where I’m at with all of my writing projects. This should help sum it up, along with providing some tidbits I’ve learned about my writing, the publishing industry and myself.

2015 started off with a resolution or some may just say a goal (perhaps a recycled goal) of getting an agent.

I received suggested edits from an agent during a Twitter contest the previous year and was invited to revise and resubmit. I worked from September until January to polish up my manuscript and get it out. I waited for a response from the original agent, and after waiting six weeks, decided to put it forth into the world. I sent my manuscript to agents who also represent picture books as that is another interest of mine and to my pleasant surprise – ended up in talks with five different agents, three different offers and one agent signed and sealed by the end of the process! Amazing! Living on top the world! Right? Well sort of…

As with all writing roller coasters, it’s back to the computer for more edits. I was so excited for the direction THE TRUTH ABOUT THE BIRDS took after my edits, I couldn’t help but excited about the whole process.

In the meantime, my first creative non-fiction children’s book PLUTO SINGS THE BLUES and my second entitled DO IT MYSELFIE were polished up and officially sent on submission. Which is where those stand now and right before the end the year, THE TRUTH ABOUT THE BIRDS released itself into the publishing wild. So I am currently being reviewed by a variety of amazing editors. I pray that, just like the Bachelor (see Bachelor Agent Post), I will find my match made in heaven and you will someday in the not too distant future be able to check out my work.

Until then, I’m working on a yet to be titled contemporary YA work and praying hard every night that my writing finds its match with the right pair of eyes!

2016…Let’s do this.

xo stef wade green

Why finding an agent is like being on The Bachelor

The Bachelor

Those of you who know me, or follow me on any form of social media, know that I am a reluctant yet faithful watcher of The Bachelor. I fought the good fight for almost a decade before caving in to the deliciously ridiculous “reality” of it all.

Those of you who know me, or follow me on any form of social media, also know that quite recently I officially got an agent. A real one. I swear.

If you don’t know me, or follow me on any form of social media, my name is Stef Wade and I’m a young adult and children’s writer, now represented by the lovely Christa Heschke at McIntosh & Otis and…I watch The Bachelor.

I’ve read countless posts about writers finding their dream agents. How they queried, how they researched, how they joined contests and sold their souls for one tiny peek at their manuscripts. For the record, I did all that too. I was not one of the few lucky people who send one query or meet someone in an elevator and bam! Agent!

It took years of writing and determination, but I will spare you those details. What I will tell you, is:

Why getting an agent is like being on The Bachelor (or Bachelorette):

I’d like to break this into two sections. Today, I will focus on section one.

Section 1: The Contestant (before an offer of representation)

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You’re just looking for someone to love you

Before you receive an offer of representation, you’ve likely spent days, weeks, years dutifully, or not so dutifully, searching for the perfect person. Just like all those lonely Bachelors and Bachelorettes out there, you cannot BELIEVE why someone doesn’t want you; why the good ones always pick the undeserving; why you have yet to be chosen.

But you march on even if you feel pathetic, or are actually pathetic. It doesn’t matter because you freakin deserve a break. You want to ride that horse into the sunset. You want the writer’s equivalent of that appearance on Dancing with the Stars.

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You spend as much time making yourself sound good as a contestant getting ready for a date

You’ve written your query letter, an audition tape portraying only your best traits, your stories best parts and why you are the most original person to ever exist. You and…everybody else. You hope that by adding an extra layer of foundation or doing a few extra sets of squats at the gym that you will catch his eye. If you look good from the outside, the inside has to be the same, right?

bachelorette

The probability that you’ll be over looked far surpasses that of getting chosen

Some agents get 200-300 query letters per week! And some people have that many dates. But you’re not one of the toss aside at the first typo letters, nooooo, you are smart and witty and character driven. You will make yourself stand out. You’ll kiss that guy if your life depends on it, even if it makes you look completely ridiculous in front of millions of viewers. You will win that contest that 1000 other people shut down the internet while entering. You will kill that pitch session regardless of how sweaty your palms gets.

Likely you will not.

At least for a while.  You might be the person that hangs on, getting full manuscript requests, the one who goes on only group dates but sticks it out until the Bachelor or Bachelorette realizes there is nothing very special about you or that they just don’t connect with you.

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The pressure makes you go bat shit crazy

You say the rejection doesn’t bother you. Your favorite catch phrase is “onward and upward!” a mantra attached to your bedside table. But the pressure that your very life goal and possibly livelihood depends on one person’s personal connection with your first ten pages or your elevator speech on how great of a person you are and why you deserve love is enough to make you lose your flippin mind. You might even lose your mind in the Mesa Verde like Ashley S.

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Rejection emails are a less public rose ceremony

Every time you check your email, you’re standing in your sequined, low-backed evening gown, trembling in your high heels, unsure if you’ll get that rose. You will get the rose. You’re sure of it. He likes you. There’s no reason he wouldn’t.  They read your query, or your first fifty pages or the whole damn thing so there is no plausible reason why you wouldn’t experience pure bliss in the next few moments.

Instead, in front of America, you’re sent packing with mascara running down your face, looking overtly downtrodden and depressed as you roll away in your luxury limo crying with a desperate lack of self-confidence that you will regret showing later on. You didn’t find love today.

I’m sorry to tell you, you are not the next agented writer…

xo stef wade