Hey there- whether you’re here for #Pitmad, #DVPit, #SFFPit or any one of the numerous Twitter pitch contests- congratulations! You wrote a book! And you already have a leg up by looking for help.
First off, make sure to check the rules for the specific contest you’re interest in. Some allow retweets, some don’t. Some let you pitch every hour, some limit it to 3 or even 1 pitch. Some are open to all works, others are not. They do all have one thing in common- you have to squeeze your 80,000 word book into 140 characters.
It may seem daunting, but good pitches are actually based on a simple formula of expressing: character, conflict, and stakes. This is the same whether it’s for querying or Twitter. So let’s break this down:
This is your MC. If you have more than one narrator, focus on the main MC or list out something like- four friends, a motorcycle gang, whatever binds your characters together. Always use your MC’s name-if possible. What makes them special? Be as specific as possible. Compare which one has more interest: a girl vs. 16yo acrobat Lila
This is why you wrote the story- the plot, the overarching concept distilled into a few words. What does your MC have to do? What’s wrong in their world? It can be phrased as a choice, a problem, or an action.
So: 16yo acrobat Lila must choose between…
16yo acrobat Lila’s has a problem…
16yo acrobat Lila’s world is turned upside down when…
But given the limited characters, try to simplify as much as possible. Some pitches clearly try to do too much and wind up confusing.
This is why the MC can’t just walk away from the issue and have a sandwich. This is commonly what’s missing from the pitches that fall flat. What binds the character to the issue? What happens if she fails? Again, be as specific as possible. Sometimes this is implied with a genre like romance- then you want to focus on what keeps the two people apart. Sometimes with thrillers it’s as simple as- or she’ll be next.
Compare: she’ll lose everything vs. her family will lose their traveling circus
Save the world vs. Rescue her boyfriend & the world
Use Comp Titles when appropriate
I’m a big fan of comps. The right ones can hook an agent quickly.
First the basics: make sure that your comp titles are in ALL CAPS. Reasonable abbreviations are fine. Never put your own title in your pitch.
So, what works as a comp and why would you use one?
I strongly recommend at least one if your work is SFF. It’s really difficult to squeeze in a whole world into 140 characters. I think it’s best to go with a comp that is similar to your setting and one similar to your overall characters or conflict.
So putting it all together: THE NIGHT CIRCUS + SIX OF CROWS (world, then plot) To save her circus, 16yo acrobat Lila must steal a cursed gem (character and conflict). But success may cost her brother’s life (stakes) #Dvpit
Stay away from mega-international hits that define genres. Do you realllllly want to comp to HARRY POTTER or TWILIGHT? Is that truly the book that is closest to your work? Keep in mind, HARRY POTTER is 19 years old, you want to show you read in your genre. A book that spent a couple of weeks on the NYT but wasn’t THE HUNGER GAMES is a good bet. Find something within the last 3 years.
Movies or TV series or plays are fine, but it’s a little weird when neither is a book.
If it’s allowed- utilize the multiple pitches allowed to highlight different aspects of your story- so maybe two with comps and one without.
Ask someone familiar with your book if the pitch captures the essence of your story. Yes? Great. Now ask someone else who’s never read it to see if it hooks them.
In pitches without comps, try to match the tone of your work. A humorous light book’s pitch should be funny. A dark thriller should leave chills.
Pin your most favorited pitch and leave it up for a few days. Some agents roll through late. Some like to look once the feed stops.
Make friends. If Retweets or QTs are allowed, boost your fellow authors whose pitches you like. It costs you nothing and I’ve met some of my dearest writing partners through pitch events.
That’s it! Remember to go for a walk and try to keep your eyes off Twitter for a bit. Don’t forget to drink some water and relax- some books are just best as queries and that’s okay.