Selling your manuscript in the age of Social Media isn’t done the same way it used to be in my days…I can’t believe I’m actually old enough to say, “In my days…”
In my days, searching for an agent was a pretty straightforward deal.
- Author looked up potential agent in Big Agent Book (writer’s market or whatever)
- Author sent query
- Author waited, waited, waited
- Author either got to send full ms. or else got a rejection
- (These days, if you don’t get an answer within 3 months, you can bank on a rejection: agents are too busy to bother writing back).
But in comes social media, and this is where we get Agent Search 2.0. I didn’t even learn about it until a little over a year ago when I caught up with a former college friend who told me all about the Twitter Ptich Party.
This is how a Twitter Pitch Party works:
- An author or authors from various camps organize the twitter parties by alerting their blog readers, and by inviting agents and acquisition editors to participate. These authors will release the information on participating agents and general rules and regulations on their personal blogs, so this means you should probably subscribe — which is a nice thing to do, considering these authors are going through so much trouble to help you find an agent.
- The participants (authors and agents) agree to be on twitter on a certain date, during a certain period of hours, say, for instance, 9am to 7pm on Tuesday January 15.
- On that date, those authors who have a full, polished manuscript to sell will pitch their manuscript on Twitter, that is, they must come up with a logline that meets twitter’s maximum 140 characters length, BUT,
- Within your Tweet, you must include the # for that particular pitch event, so, say #PitWars or #SFFPit, plus a # that indicates your genre and intended audience, as in #YA and #SFF if it’s a young adult science fiction that you’re trying to pitch. This will cut into your 140 characters max, so it’s a good idea to come up with a variation on the pitch and practice beforehand.
- You’re allowed to pitch only once every half hour or so.
- Since there are hundreds, sometimes thousands of participants, it is polite to retweet those pitches that sound appealing to you, and hope that someone else returns the favor, so that your pitch will appear more than once every half hour, and so that it won’t disappear too soon below the visible line on the fast moving Twitter read.
- If an agent or acquisition editor is interested in your ms, they will favorite your tweet. Nothing else. Just a little star. (So tell your friends not to give you heartaches all day long by favoriting your tweet, thinking they’re doing you a favor — only agents and editors should favorite).
- If you got a star, it doesn’t mean that you can go ahead and send the full ms: the agent will tweet where you can find submission guidelines, and you follow those. Usually, it consists of a query letter, synopsis, and first ten pages or first chapter.
- The rest is as usual: you wait for a response, and hope that you struck gold.
Why is it advantageous to go through this tormenting Twitter version of American Idol for aspiring writers? Because it raises your probability of having an agent actually read your work exponentially. If you were favorited, your query will go to the top of the slush-pile, and rather than having to wait for the agent to read thousands of regular email queries, yours will be read within a few weeks’ time. Also, if an agent favorited you, you know firsthand that they are interested in the kind of book you write, which saves everyone a lot of time and heartache.
Twitter Pitch Parties that I know of (this is not an all-inclusive list, but these are the ones I do know about):
- #SFFPit (for Science Fiction and Fantasy only)
- #PBPitch (for Picture Books exclusively)
You also should take care that you are interested in whatever agent or publishing house favorites your tweet. Some of the acquisition editors come from independent publishing houses, or literary agents and publishers that work differently than the traditional mode. I strongly recommend checking out their guidelines, submissions, and authors contract before you commit yourself.
In addition to Twitter pitch parties, there are similar types of social media pitches, two that I know of are Query Kombat, (which, by the way, I will never, ever, ever subject myself to), and Secret Agent Contest. There are more, but that would be for another blog.
Of course, as more writers with complete manuscripts join the Twitter bandwagon, agents and acquisition editors will come up with ever more ingenious ways to slosh through the thousands of submissions, and Twitter pitches will be old news. But for the time being, this is what is happening. Best of luck, fellow writers. May the Tweet be ever in your favor.