Demystifying Twitter, Part 3: Agents & Pitch Events
Twitter is a great way to check out potential agents and get a feel for what they’re looking for, their personality, their agent style, etc. Not all agents are active on Twitter, but if they are, their feed can give you some great insight into what they’re all about!
This tag is used by agents to indicate something they’re looking for in their query inbox.
Be somewhat wary and look out for context, as it is sometimes used
This amazing site does the work of searching #MSWL for you, and can also be filtered by genre.
In which agents answer your questions about querying, agenting, publishing, etc!
Sometimes agents/agencies make up their own unique hashtags for this, and they may be scheduled via Twitter (as in “we’ll be answering questions from 4-6PM EST”), so keep an eye out!
Agent Justin Wells runs frequent #askagent sessions.
Just what it sounds like – a tweet including a “do” or “do not” in regards to querying.
Sometimes agents will “live-tweet” query responses as they read through their inbox, and give a brief explanation of why they decided to reject or request more.
Agent Eric Ruben does this fairly often using the hashtag #tenqueries.
Follow tons of agents!
Even if they aren’t on your “to-query” list, all agents can be great resources as they may tweet out helpful query advice, suggestions, or news about publishing or marketing. And make sure to not only follow specific agents, but their agency accounts as well.
Pitch Events are scheduled hashtag “events” where writers are invited to pitch their query-ready manuscripts in the form of a tweet!
Your hosts will pick a time and date, then invite agents and agencies (as well as editors and small publishers) to watch the hashtag during that time. Many agents will agree to attend ahead of time, but many will also drop in unannounced, so even if you’re unsure about participating based on who’s said they’ll be attending, it may be a good idea to pitch anyway.
During the event, if an agent, editor, or publisher “likes” your tweet, that’s an invitation to query them. They may have event-specific query instructions, such as to include the event hashtag in the subject line, paste your tweet at the beginning of your query, or a request for more materials than they would for a standard query. So make sure to check their profile to see if they’ve posted a tweet with that information.
Please note: just because an agent, editor, or publisher likes your tweet, does not mean you have to query them! Do your research, and make sure they look like they’ll be a good fit for you before you hit send!
In the tweet, you’ll want to include the event’s hashtag as well as any relevant genre or age group tag. You’ll want to include as many tags as possible, to make it easier for agents looking for your genre or age group to narrow down the flood of tweets. Here‘s some examples of common tags:
#A – Adult
#NA – New adult
#YA – Young adult
#MG – Middle grade
#CON – Contemporary
#CR – Contemporary Romance
#E – Erotica
#F – Fantasy
#H – Horror
#HF – Historical Fiction
#MR – Magical Realism
#M – Mystery
#LF – Literary Fiction
#R – Romance
#P – Paranormal
#PR – Paranormal Romance
#S – Suspense
#SF – SciFi
#SPF – Speculative Fiction
#T – Thriller
#UF – Urban Fantasy
#W – Westerns
#WF – Woman’s Fiction
These are just a few! The event's website will likely have a more complete list, so check it out ahead of time.
There are quite a few of these held at various times throughout the year, so keep an eye out on #ontheporch for mentions. You can also check the handy calendar on Mica Scotti Kole’s Free Writing Events site.
I’ve participated in four events, three of which occurred in the same week this year:
Every event is different, so make sure you read the rules and expectations ahead of time. There is generally a limit to the number of pitches you can post (such as “one per hour” or “three between 9AM and 5PM”). There are other expectations as well, such as: don’t “like” the tweets of your fellow writers, as that’s reserved for interested agents. But you can support them by RT or quote-RTing their posts. Make sure to include the relevant hashtags again if you quote-RT!
When it's over, remember to thank your hosts!
HOW TO WRITE A TWITTER PITCH
Writing a pitch in under 140 characters is incredibly hard! You also need to leave room for any required event or genre hashtags, which limits you even more. Here's a basic formula you can start with:
[Character*] + [verb/need/must] + goal = [stakes]
*Note that this should not include the character's actual name, but rather a noun that summarizes them, plus an adjective, if you have room. Such as "guilty knight", "snarky ex-con", "ruthless dictator", etc.
Commander & her court-martialed soldiers must fix
ancient alien tech to stop collapse of Universe
BATTLESTAR x DREAMING VOID #SFFpit #A #SO
This example did fairly well for me at #SFFPit this year, but that formula can be restrictive, and isn’t always the best way to sell your story. Something more “gimmicky” might work better, as the ultimate goal is to catch eyes. For example:
40 mins till collapsing Universe devours spaceship
20 court-martialed soldiers
1 commander to save her crew
Whenever space allows:
Especially with your MC, to give a quick taste of their personality or background.
“a genius ex-royal”
Use Comp Titles
Comps can be a great way to get a lot of information across in very few characters, and catch the eyes of agents that may be more likely to be interested in your work. But always make sure they’re relevant and speak true to your story!
Try to get across what's unique about your story and include some details.
“must save Universe”
“must fix ancient alien tech to stop collapse of Universe”
Come up with a few versions, then try to find some other writers to swap with! CPs are great, but fresh eyes from someone that doesn’t know your story can be incredibly helpful. Try posting a tweet to #ontheporch and ask if anyone’s willing to swap and critique pitches!