It’s that time again: #PitMad is fast approaching. If you’re not familiar, PitMad is a writing pitch party on Twitter. The premise is simple: for a whirlwind 12 hours, writers seeking publication or representation from an agent post tweets pitching their books…and if an agent or acquisitions editor “hearts” the pitch, it’s an invitation for the writer to submit the book to them. And, hopefully, take a huge next step on their journey toward publication.
Pitch parties aren’t a one-size-fits-all solution on the road to publishing, of course, and there is an enormous element of chance involved. But aside from the obvious “home-run” of landing an agent or publisher, pitch parties can generally just be incredibly useful networking tools. Admittedly I’m a little biased–pitch parties have been a huge help in my writing career. I met my agent through a PitMad in September 2020, and participating in these events has been instrumental in helping me connect with the Writing Community online.
Given all that, I thought maybe there were a few bits of wisdom (read: tips gained by painful experience) that I could share with you. I’m also going to tell you the single best piece of PitMad advice I ever received. It was a total game changer that helped me not only have way more success during pitch parties, but also enjoy them much more. It’s probably not a coincidence that I was given this advice only a couple of days before the PitMad where I connected with my agent.
But before we get into the tips, a note on pitches…
What we aren’t going to talk about here is how to craft your actual pitch tweets. There are a ton of people and places online that have already summed that up far better than I could. This advice is geared toward navigating the actual pitch party itself. It assumes that your pitches are already amazing, and that your book has been written and polished to a publishable level. That stuff has to come first. Without pitches that will stop people in their tracks mid-social media scroll and pages that actually deliver, no amount of PitMad savvy will make the difference.
But let’s just assume your pitches have genius hooks, and your book is a masterpiece. What can you do to navigate #PitMad well, and add to your chances for success?
- Go read the official #PitMad guidelines.
Yes, I’m serious. You would be amazed at how many people don’t do this very simple step. (I know I am. Every single PitMad.) It only takes a few minutes, and is an essential part of setting yourself up for success. More, these guidelines sometimes change slightly from one event to the next, so it’s important to check them before every pitch party you plan to participate in. If you aren’t willing to spend 15 minutes researching to make sure you use the right hashtags for a pitch event, what does that tell publishing professionals about your work mentality and attention to detail? It’s right in the same wheelhouse of folly as addressing your queries “dear agent.” Luckily it’s so easy to avoid this pitfall. Research: it is your friend.
- Focus on having fun and connecting with other writers.
This is it. The big piece of advice that totally changed how I approached PitMad. A lot of the other tips stem from this one, so we need to talk about it first. A few days before the PitMad where I connected with my agent, I told my wife that I was thinking about not participating. Her response was “why don’t you just focus on having fun and connecting with other writers?”
This mental shift changed everything for me.
It might seem counterintuitive, but the truth is that once I stopped obsessively checking my own pitches for hearts and started just, you know, connecting with other writers and helping them boost their pitches, I ended up not only having way more fun but also seeing better results. Beyond making your pitches and pages as good as you can, much of what happens on the actual day of PitMad will be beyond your control. So you might as well focus on having fun and meeting other creatives, because that is in your control and pitch parties are an excellent opportunity to meet some of your peers.
(There is a numbers-game element to PitMad as well, where the more you are retweeted, the better your chances of getting seen. And one of the best ways to get RT’d a lot (aside from having an incredible pitch), is to do the legwork to help share the work of others. Many will do the same for you. Publishing is an industry built on relationships, so you might as well start getting used to it now!)
As for navigating the actual event itself…
- A few days before PitMad, start making a List.
Twitter has a handy list function, which is perfect for an event like PitMad. On the day of the pitch party, your feed will likely be moving extremely fast. So fast, in fact, that it can be difficult to find your friends to help boost their pitches. (Which obviously, goes both ways.) So, what I would recommend is that a few days before PitMad, you start making a list of anyone you see tweeting about their plans to pitch who you want to support. And go one step further–if they posted, comment on their thread and let them know you’ll be supporting them. And let them know you’ll be pitching as well. This will make it so that during the event you can find those connections and retweet their pitches much more easily. Even if you don’t rely exclusively on your list (which you shouldn’t), it can still be very helpful.
- Offer to retweet other writers.
This goes hand-in-hand with the last tip. Posting during the lead-up to PitMad, offering to support others and letting the #WritingCommunity know that you’ll be pitching, is a solid idea. You can even take this a step further and post during PitMad day as well. (Just be conscientious about using the #PitMad hashtag on the day itself, because it can flood the hashtag and make it harder for agents to find actual pitches.)
- If you can, dedicate the day to PitMad.
Ok, so let’s start this one out by saying that obviously, not everyone will be able to do this and that’s fine. We all have jobs, families, pets, other responsibilities, whatever. But if you are able to dedicate the day of PitMad to the event, I highly recommend you do so. Pitch parties are one of those things where the energy you put into it is directly proportionate to what you get out of it. (Again, not just talking about agent/publisher notice, but also connecting with other creatives and making friends.) So if you can finangle your schedule to accommodate a day of Twittering, you should try it. PitMad only happens 4 times a year. Think of it as a networking/author platform building day if you need to mentally justify the time spent. It won’t even be a lie.
- Schedule your Pitch Tweets.
You know what’s not fun? Scrambling to perfect your pitches amidst all the mayhem on the day of PitMad, and then haphazardly throwing them up.
Know what’s way more fun than that?
Scheduling your pitches ahead of time, using a service like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite. This way, during the actual event you can focus on networking and helping boost your fellow writers without needing to worry about your pitches. The sweet spot for me was scheduling my tweets the night before the event. Because let’s be real, anticipation keeps us up late then anyways.
- Bookmark your Pitch Tweets as they go live.
This is for easy navigation and access, because your feed is going to be flying during the pitch party. It’ll make it easier to check back on your pitches, to share them if someone asks, etc etc.
- Pin your favorite pitch to your profile.
This one is absolutely critical. If you want to give your pitch a good chance for visibility, you need to pin it to the top of your profile. Otherwise, when people go to retweet for you, there’s a chance they won’t be able to find your pitch. Some people advise switching your pinned pitch to each new one as it goes live, others say to just leave your favorite. So far as I’ve been able to tell, there’s no hard and fast rule where that’s concerned. But what is certain, is that you should have a pitch pinned to your profile for the duration of PitMad. And leave it up for a few days after, because sometimes agents aren’t able to respond during the actual hours of PitMad itself.
- Keep querying.
“Wait,” you might be saying, “I thought we were going to talk about succeeding with pitch parties. Why do I need to worry about querying?”
To answer that, let’s imagine your dream situation. An agent or publisher you’ve had your eye on hearts your pitch. Or multiple agents heart your pitch. Guess what you have to do next?
That’s right: send them a query letter, likely with your first pages attached. Just like you would normally. The only difference is they will be expecting it, and therefore more likely to give it a longer look (aka. it is a “solicited submission”). You need to be honing your query muscles, because you will need them one way or another. The last thing you want is to have an agent invite you to submit, and then totally botch the submission because you’ve only been focusing on pitch party strategies and can’t write a good query to save your life.
So keep sending out queries between pitch parties. There are things we may grow to regret with the passage of time, like eating that leftover pizza or skipping out on yoga. Polishing up your query game, I guarantee you, will not be one of them.
That’s it. Those are the tips.
Pitch parties can be an amazing way to connect with other writers, as well as publishing professionals. There’s nothing to lose in trying them, and a whole lot to gain.
Good luck! May the odds be ever in your favor.