With the last PitMad of 2020 coming up on December 3rd, I thought I’d share my latest tips, tricks, strategies, magic spells, and general thoughts on how to get results for this and other Twitter pitch events–and things you can take away from PitMad even if you don’t get that coveted agent like.
[Want to make sure your query or sample pages are in great shape before the event? I provide a fast turnaround on small projects. See my Query Letter Critique Services page for details.]
What is PitMad?
If you don’t already know, PitMad is a quarterly event in which authors pitch their books in a single tweet using relevant hashtags so that literary agents can browse and “like” the ones they find intriguing. Authors then submit their query letter to the agent along with any requested materials like sample pages or a synopsis. Most agents will put up a tweet the day of the event with instructions on where and what to submit.
To learn the rules of the event and what hashtags you should use, visit the PitMad website.
Strategies for Your PitMad Pitch
I’ve worked with dozens of authors to help them refine their Twitter pitches, and in that time I’ve learned a lot about the Dos and Don’ts of these events. The biggest hurdle, I’ve found, is the writing itself. How do you reduce your book pitch to something that’s both compelling and under 280 characters? That’s a topic for another article, but if you need help writing your pitch, I recommend watching this Reedsy video, “Develop Your Book’s Logline with a Professional Editor”.
I also recommend purchasing my Query Package and asking about a complementary pitch critique, but unfortunately there’s not enough time before this particular event. The next PitMad will be coming up in March 2021, though. Wink emoji.
If you’ve written your pitch and are waiting at the edge of your seat to put up that first tweet on the morning of PitMad, here are some tips and strategies for how to maximize your chances of getting that agent like.
When to Pitch Your Book
The contest runs from 8am to 8pm Eastern Standard Time. As I suggested in my previous PitMad post, when deciding what time to post your three allotted pitches, consider when agents–a great percentage of whom live on the east coast–are most likely to browse the hashtag.
Everyone’s schedules have been upended by Covid, but literary agency offices generally open at 10am. I’ve found there’s a burst of agent activity from 9 to 11am, with agents reading pitches at the start of their day. Another good time to consider is lunch. (Who doesn’t scroll Twitter while they’re eating? I know I do!) And finally, I recommend putting up your last pitch between 4 and 6pm, those hours when the work day is winding down.
What Not to Do
You know how agents strongly suggest you follow agency guidelines when querying? They do this not only to streamline their inboxes but to test your willingness to follow the rules, and it serves as a reflection of how easy you are to work with.
That said, do not, under any circumstances, break the rules of PitMad.
If you’re not pitching a picture book, don’t attach a photo. No gifs either.
NO ALL-CAPS SO YOUR TWEET WILL STAND OUT.
Don’t neglect to use both an age category and a genre hashtag.
Don’t “like” another author’s pitch.
Don’t cheat your way into pitching extra times by replying to someone’s “Post your pitch here” tweet and including the PitMad hashtag. (We know what you’re doing. Stop it.)
Don’t forgo prper grmr & flow so u can cram as many words n2 ur pitch as pssble.
Don’t dump all three of your pitches into the feed by 9am. Be patient. Go for a walk. Take a hot bath. Go watch that Reedsy video I linked above. Work on your opening pages.
Should You Use All Three Variations of Your Pitch?
This is something else I touched upon in my previous PitMad post (linked above). A popular sentiment is that tweeting three variations of your pitch might increase your chances because each variation might appeal to the tastes of different agents.
This perspective is flawed for several reasons, not least because with the sheer volume of pitches being tweeted, your chances of an agent seeing yours at all aren’t that spectacular.
And one of those pitches is better than the other two, which is why I recommend that you rank order your three pitches and put out the best one first. If it doesn’t get a like, move on to the next one.
If, however, you do get a like, you should keep using that pitch. Just make sure to reorder the hashtags so you’re not tweeting the exact same tweet. Twitter doesn’t like duplicate tweets and they’ll hide it.
What to Do if You Don’t Get a Like
First things first, don’t fret. Not getting an agent like during PitMad means absolutely nothing. It’s quite possible no agents even saw it, or the ones who did don’t represent your genre. This event is fun, and it’s led to many success stories, but it’s just as much about luck as it is merit.
If you didn’t get any likes, there’s still plenty to take away from the event. Read through pitches pretending you’re an agent and decide which ones speak to you. Check out the pitches that did get likes and see if you can figure out what made them so appealing. And, most of all, go agent hunting.
Using PitMad to Find Agents to Query
When you click on the PitMad hashtag and it takes you to the search page, you’ll see Top and Latest Tweets. In the Top Tweets, you’ll find pitches that wound up getting lots of agent likes. It can be painful to see someone else’s book get so much attention while yours received crickets, but wait. There’s something valuable to glean here.
Let’s say your book is a YA contemporary romance with STEM themes, and let’s say you run across a PitMad pitch with six agent likes that’s also a YA contemporary romance with STEM themes.
What did you just find? That’s right. Six agents who’ve expressed that they’re looking for a story just like yours, and now you can add them to your list of agents to cold query.
Read other writers’ pitches. Pay attention to what’s working and what isn’t. Find some critique partners and help each other revise.
And when March 2021 rolls around, try again.
Additional Help with Getting a Literary Agent
Have you been querying your novel and only getting rejections? I’m a developmental editor who specializes in manuscript critiques and helping authors refine their submission materials, including query letters, synopses, and sample chapters. I’ve helped many writers increase their rates of full manuscript requests, and some have gone on to land literary agents. Visit my services page to learn more.