Skip to main content

Pretty Little Pitches: Pitch Contests and Twitter Love

Dear Kim,

Last week I spoke with a group of writers at Life in the Spotlight. One of the authors asked me about using Twitter to reach her readers. You know I have a weak spot for The Twitter-sphere and shared my feelings as such with this writer. I think Twitter offers a great space to meet other authors, connect with teachers and librarians, share news about publishing, celebrate books, and even, for a select few, a place to nab a book deal.

In 2014 I entered Brenda Drake's PitchWars contest. This online contest provides authors of unpublished novels the opportunity to work with a mentor, polish a manuscript, and then place the manuscript in front of Brenda's team of reputable literary agents. My team, made up of Coach, Natalie Traver, and mates, Julie Dao and Jerilyn Patterson, quickly became more family than team and worked together to bring home second place in the contest. What began with a single pitch, turned into a crash course in whole novel revision, query letter writing, and, at least for me, unlocked the potential of using Twitter as a writer.

#PitchWars banner 2014

Brenda Drake is a generous host to many pitch contests on Twitter. From #PitMatch to #PitMad Brenda helps our writing community grow by fostering team challenges, hosting Twitter chats, and cheering on #PitchWars book deals. Here is a link to Brenda's 2016 pitch contests

Me, heading into the WILD WATERS of TWITTER
In reality, one of Mr. Duane Bryers' images of his Hilda.

That's how I dipped my toe into Twitter, a whopper of a contest. So, maybe dipped isn't the right word? Cannonballed? Anyway, the support I found through this Twitter event sold me on the world of Twitter for writers. It also helped cement for me the importance of developing a solid pitch. Traci Chee wrote a post analyzing the successful pitches crafted for #PitchWars. 

It seems that having a successful pitch is closely related to the information you release about the ACTION or CONFLICT within the pitch. This is no small feat on Twitter, considering in 140 characters you must give us a character to care about and a taste of the stakes. Even if you have zero interest in entering a pitch contest, analyzing successful pitches is a useful exercise in understanding how to describe your manuscript in a succinct way. 

This past week I participated in a brand new Twitter pitch contest, #PitDARK. Our host, Jason Huebinger, developed the contest for writers of dark fiction (some true crime writers were also present). I noticed similar patterns in the successful pitches, as Traci mentioned in her article for PitchWars. Even in genre fiction, agents and editors tended towards pitches that spelled out the stakes, much more so than an interesting character description or even flashy comp titles.

Here are a few successful pitches from last week's #PitDARK:




In #PitDARK I decided to pitch my YA physiological thriller, SIN. 

The full SIN manuscript has only been seen by one agent and I know that one agent isn't enough if I am serious about using it to gain representation.  #PitDARK helped me assess interest in the manuscript and helped narrow down my submission list of agents and editors interested in dark fiction. Here is the pitch that I used:


I sent off those requests on Friday and Saturday. Thanks, #PitDARK!

Just like researching your dream agent, there is a good amount of research that should go into entering online contests, especially pitch contests on Twitter. You'll see that most contests want only finished manuscripts to participate. 

One reason for this is obvious: If said agent favorites your pitch then requests to see the entire manuscript 3 days later, you are ready! But I think another, even more important reason, is so that you, as the PITCHER, really know the direction of your book from start to finish which will help you develop your best pitch. We all know that the outline of a book or the idea for an ending can derail once our characters get going, therefore, an unfinished manuscript isn't ready to have a pitch slapped on it. I would suggest sitting out a contest if your manuscript isn't finished, but watch the thread so you know what works when you do enter the next event.

Another bit of research that comes into play is time spent learning about the host of the contest and the agents/editors that they recruit. Researching your host often means finding out about the history of the contest. You may read loads of posts about success stories (YEAH!) but you may also find knowledge of the shady variety. In researching an online contest (not associated with Twitter) I found a warning about the lack of mentor support. Mentor support is what made my #PitchWars experience successful. Natalie gave (gives) helpful advice for both my manuscript and my career.

Coach Nat and her thriller, DUPLICITY.

Researching the agents and editors who request your work is likewise a smart use of time. In #PitchWars I had a number of full manuscript requests from the agents that Brenda invited to judge the contest. Shortly after the contest ended I received six additional requests for the manuscript. I had fifteen agents to research. There was one that I loved. She worked for a powerhouse of a literary agency. Only I couldn't find anywhere in all of the internet anything about her wish for dark fiction. Actually, I found quite the opposite, that she did not like horror and hated scary movies.

It was difficult for me to personalize her query letter as I couldn't connect my work to anything that she repped or that she wished to rep. I wrote the query anyway. Her rejection was short:

My research told me to expect that one. And maybe, if nothing else, that made this rejection sting just a bit less. In any case, do your research on agents, this will help you craft a personalized query, which is important.

Someday our INK SISTERS will offer a pitch contest with the added bonus of pitch coaching. We already have the theme: Pretty Little Pitches. What excites me most about hosting a pitch contest is that we will support a whole new community of YA writers. In the meantime, I'll keep working on my own pretty little pitches.

Much Love,


Popular posts from this blog

New Adult Scavenger Hunt: Team Green's Lynn Stevens, Author of Full Count

Dear Alison and friends,It's that time of year again...Time for the New Adult Scavenger Hunt!!!!! 

Welcome to the New Adult Scavenger Hunt! This bi-annual event was inspired as a way to give readers a chance to gain access to exclusive bonus material from their favorite authors…and a chance to win some awesome prizes! 
**KIM BONUS: I included my own RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY at the bottom. Don't forget to enter to win some free books!! 
At this hunt, you not only get access to exclusive content from each author, you also get a clue for the hunt. Add up the clues, and you can enter for our prize–one lucky winner will receive one book from each author on the hunt in my team!But play fast: this contest (and all the exclusive bonus material) will only be online for 96 hours!
Go to theNew Adult Scavenger Hunt page to find out all about the hunt. There are TWO contests going on simultaneously, and you can enter one or all! I am a part of the Green Team–but there is also a Blue Team for a ch…

FIRST SNOW by Bomi Park: Classroom Activity and Review

Dear Kim,

Let it snow!
Let it snow!
Let it snow!

We had fun with Bomi Park's gorgeous FIRST SNOW last week. We used the book as a mentor text to explore personal narratives and poetry.  We also explored watercolor resist techniques. (We also made a mess-- which is kind of my modus operandi during writing workshop. Sorry, Kelley!)

I used the sentence starter from the jacket copy:
Look up. One flake falls, then another. And just like that—it's __ __ __ __ __ __ __ .

The kids worked cooperatively at their table groups to discuss what word might fill in the blank. I love hearing them chat. 
"Well it is a snowflake because 'one flake'." 
Followed by: "No. It has seven letters, snowflake has nine." 
And: "It is an action. A-- what's that called-- a verb because it is something falling." 
Eventually we filled in the blank by using spelling clues to check our thinking, which might not sound like a whole lot of fun, but spelling is awesome and totall…

KIM NEEDS YOUR HELP!! Please, oh please!

Today is the day! STARR LOST, BOOK 2 of the STARR FALL SERIES is only...
and I need your help. I've purchased ads from some major social promoters, and if all goes well, STARR LOST will make it to the bestselling list.  Amazing things happen to authors and their books when they make the Bestselling list, so if you could purchase a copy or two (or three) for 99 cents it'll help hurl me to the top.

So, let's see what happens when we all combine our buying power together.

And to thank you for your WRITER LOVE, I'm running a  $10 AMAZON GIFT CARD GIVEAWAY... to enter, email a copy of your receipt to KimBriggs [@]

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Write on, Kim