In terms of pitch contest education, I’ve learned on the go since my first #PitMad last September. I got advice from as many people as I could in the Twitter writing community. (Amanda Woody, @findmeediting on Twitter is awesome!) I participated in every pitch contest, big and small, receiving likes from over 40 different agents overall before I was agented. If you’d like to find out a little more about the strategy I developed to maximum my agent likes, check out the tips below. *Look out for a few extra helpful hints!*
1. Follow As Many Agents as You Can on Twitter
Before I did #PitMad in September, I had a pretty extensive list of my top agents I was interested in querying ready to go. I didn’t do any querying before #PitMad because I had just finished polishing up the project I was planning to query. I put to together my query list spreadsheet by doing tons of research on Query Tracker, Manuscript Wishlist, Publisher’s Marketplace and agency websites. Once I had that all done, I started following all the agents on my list that are on Twitter. Lots of people use #mswl, but actually following agents that you think would be a good fit is a good way to stay up-to-date with what they’re looking for as well. On top of following agents from my list, I followed a metric ton of other agents who rep authors in my genre and age category. Most agents won’t follow you back, but some will and they’ll be more likely to see your pitches!
2. Networking Prep!
I saw lots of people networking before pitch events so even though I’m a little introverted – even on social media – I made sure to engage and put out a post about participating in upcoming events. Lots of people post about RTing each other for mutual support, don’t be afraid to get in there and connect with people!
3. Have Your Query Package Ready
If an agent likes your pitch it’s a one way ticket to the top of their slush pile since many will take time to review pitch event queries before getting back to their regular queries. So have your query, synopsis, bio and pages ready. Most agents will request somewhere between 5 and 50 pages. If you need help with any parts of your query package or your pitches, sooo many awesome writers offer critiques on Twitter. Also you can swap with other people planning to participate – get as much help as you can so you feel confident with your all materials before the event starts.
4. Find Out Which Agents Are Participating in Events
Agents participating will usually tweet out the day of the event that they’ll be looking at pitches and their sub requirements. Don’t @ them directly in your pitches or anything, but make sure to like their posts about participating.
*To find all the agents participating, I search the specific event hashtag and the words “pages” and “query.” A few times when I liked agents posts about participating, they ended up seeing that and then liked my pitch.*
If an agent likes your pitch but they didn’t tweet about participating, then check out their Manuscript Wishlist page or their agency’s submissions page to follow their sub guidelines. Add the pitch event name in the subject of your email and mention the specific pitch they liked at the start of your query letter.
5. Schedule Your Pitches and Stay Active
First off before you schedule your pitches, be sure that you’ve read all the rules on the specific pitch event website. Make sure you know how many times you’re allowed to pitch, if you can use images or not and the specific age category and genre hashtags you should use.
I like to pre-schedule my pitches just to take a little pressure off if I get busy during the day. Then I can focus more on RTing the people I agreed to RT – making a list really helps.
*Also, I’ll look at the most popular pitches of the day and pitches similar to mine and check out their likes. I’ll follow the agents that have liked those pitches – that’s also resulted in a few likes for me before.*
When I’m RTing, if I have some time I try to quote tweet the pitches that I really love a lot, it’s a more engaging way to be supportive and connect with people. I think everyone knows the golden rule: no liking pitches! but commenting is a great way to show support as well. The more active you are throughout the course of the event, the more exposure your pitches will get.
6. Reach Out to People Ahead of You on Your Publishing Journey
Having support from writers who are recently agented or already published can also be a huge help. I know not everyone is in touch with more experienced writers, but if you do have some bigger writer friends on Twitter, it can’t hurt to reach out to them and let them know you’d appreciate a RT or quote tweet that could result in more exposure. This type of help from more experienced writers has definitely given me some big boosts.
7. Remember: Not Getting Likes Is Okay!
Even if your pitches are near perfect and you network up a storm and get lots of RTs… sometimes you just don’t end up getting any agent likes :/ And that’s totally okay! Lots of agents will tweet out to still query them if they didn’t see your pitch if you think it’s a good fit. Getting agent likes is in no way indicative of how successful your querying journey will be. If anything it’s just a great way to connect with other writers and practice pitching your book.
I know there’s lots of resources out there with similar info to this, but I just wanted to share what worked for me in case anyone was interested. Find me on Twitter @mayaameyaw if you have any questions or just want to connect. Good luck everyone!