Friday, February 22, 2019

Twitter Pitch Like You Mean It!

By Alex J. Cavanaugh, @AlexJCavanaugh

Part of The Writer's Life Series

JH: Pitch parties have grown more popular over the years, and many a writer has found an agent through one. Alex J. Cavanaugh takes to the podium today to share just how these pitch parties work.

Alex J. Cavanaugh works in web design, graphics, and technical editing. A fan of all things science fiction, his interests range from books and movies to music and games. Online he is the Ninja Captain and founder of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, which hosts #IWSGPit every January. He’s the author of Amazon Best-Sellers CassaStar, CassaFire, CassaStorm, and Dragon of the Stars. The author lives in the Carolinas with his wife.

Website | Insecure Writers Support Group | Twitter

Take it away Alex…

If you are a writer preparing to query your manuscript or you’ve been in the trenches awhile, you’ve probably heard the term Twitter pitch party. Maybe you’ve participated in one with no results. We can help you prepare and get the most out of an event.

What is a Twitter pitch party?

It’s an event put together by an organization for writers to pitch their manuscripts to agents and publishers on Twitter. Writers pitch their manuscripts in a tweet with the appropriate hastags, and agents and publishers heart the ones they are interested in seeing. It usually occurs over the course of a day, allowing time for multiple pitches and time for agents and publishers all over the world to check the feed. It gives writers an advantage over those sending in unsolicited submissions because when they query a manuscript that received a heart during the pitch, it’s been requested!

Each Twitter pitch party has its own set of rules, but here are the general guidelines:
  • One pitch per hour. Writers can send multiple pitches if they are for different manuscripts.
  • Use appropriate hashtags. Those pitching should use the hashtag of the Twitter pitch (for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, it’s #IWSGPit), the hashtag of the genre (#SF for science fiction, #R for romance, etc.), and the hashtag of the age group (#YA for young adult, #A for adult, etc.).
  • Only agents and publishers interested in a manuscript are allowed to heart the tweet.
  • Writers can retweet their fellow writers’ pitches.
  • No images allowed in tweets.

Who is a Twitter pitch party geared towards?

Any writer with a complete and polished manuscript that is not committed to an agent or publisher. Writers should also check the guidelines and be sure their manuscript’s genre fits the event. No need to pitch a young adult adventure book during a science fiction Twitter pitch!

Before the event, compose several tweets. There’s not any room for fluff in a 280 character tweet. Plus all appropriate hashtags need to be included, which makes it even shorter. A pitch needs to convey the story in one to three lines and pack a punch in the process.

(Here's more on 8 Secrets to Pitching Your Novel Like a Pro)

What needs to go into the pitch?

Debra Dixon says to always include Goal-Motivation-Conflict in any manuscript pitch. You probably also heard about including the “who-what-where-when-why-how” in a pitch. But in approximately 200 spaces, you need to identify the main character, his motivation or goal, and the crisis. Composing several different pitches lets you try each one several times during the day, and you’ll know by hearts which ones are the most effective.

Before the event, it’s also best to run those pitches past others. Send them to your critique partners or a couple trusted writer/author friends. The more pitches you can compose for them, the better. They can help you narrow down the best three or four. There are also online groups and forums where you can post your pitches for feedback. Polish those pitches right up until the day of the party.

The day of the event arrives – you’re ready! 

Be sure to double-check the times and the rules. When the pitch opens, send out your first pitch, and pitch again at the appropriate intervals. Remember, no images and only retweet your fellow writers’ pitches – don’t heart them. Keep an eye on the feed to see what is being pitched and who is hitting the heart button on those tweets. Check on your own pitches periodically for hearts. If you get a heart, that means some agent or publisher is interested in your manuscript. Get excited!

(Here are Three Things to Know Before You Pitch in an Online Pitch Event)

The event will end, but that’s not the complete end. Don’t send out any more tweets, but do keep checking earlier ones. Some agents and publishers can’t tune in the day of the event but they will search the hashtags later for manuscripts of interest. A heart could turn up several days after the party.

It helps if you can research agents and publishers before the event, but that’s not always possible. (You can research them during the event as their hearts appear on pitches.) But if you’ve received some hearts, check out those agents and publishers before sending them anything. Check their site and Google their name. You can search Critters Workshop and SFWA for them as well. Make sure it’s someone you can trust and that they offer what you want in terms of publishing.

After receiving a heart, go to their Twitter page. Often agents and publishers will post exactly what they want to see if they have clicked the heart on your Tweet. Then go to their submission guidelines on their website. Just because they hit the heart button doesn’t mean you can just query them any old way. Follow their guidelines on their site and for the Twitter pitch event. Unlike an unsolicited query though, yours has been requested! So be sure to note in either the subject line or in the email that they hit the heart button during the pitch event.

Several things can happen after a Twitter pitch party. Those with hearts on their pitches get to send in queries. Those queries can turn into partials or full requests. They might even turn into a signed contract for a manuscript! (My own publisher has signed two authors from Twitter pitch parties.) But what happens if there are no hearts? That usually means one of two things -- either timing was bad and the right agents and publishers weren’t watching the Twitter feed or that the pitches still weren’t quite right. Don’t despair! Learn from the event. Keep polishing those pitches. Get outside help to make them shine. (And of course, keep sending out query emails and letters.) There is always another Twitter pitch party on the horizon.

Ready to try your hand at a Twitter pitch? Check Slush Pile Story or do a Google search for the next event. And polish, polish, polish those pitches. Good luck!

To pilot the fleet’s finest ship…

Few options remain for Byron. A talented but stubborn young man with a troubled past and rebellious attitude, his cockpit skills are his only hope. Slated to train as a Cosbolt fighter pilot, Byron is determined to prove his worth and begin a new life as he sets off for the moon base of Guaard.

Much to Byron’s chagrin the toughest instructor in the fleet takes notice of the young pilot. Haunted by a past tragedy, Bassa eventually sees through Byron's tough exterior and insolence. When a secret talent is revealed during training, Bassa feels compelled to help Byron achieve his full potential.

As war brews on the edge of space, time is running short. Byron requires a navigator of exceptional quality to survive, and Bassa must make a decision that could well decide the fate of both men. Will their skills be enough as they embark on a mission that may stretch their abilities to the limit?


  1. Thank you for the opportunity to share, Janice! Hope this helps someone.

    1. Most welcome! Thanks for coming. I'm sure it'll be very helpful and encourage some to try their pitches at the next pitch party.

  2. Great post! One more avenue for writer's work to be seen!
    Thank you for sharing!

  3. Dancing Lemur Press has two titles that came from Twitter pitch parties. It's a great way to catch a publisher or agent's attention.

  4. I've pitched and had a manuscript liked and then published. This is a great chance for authors to show off their work. This is a great article that lays out the ins and outs of Twitter Pitch Parties

  5. Next party, I'll bring the chips and dip. :)

    Learning to pitch is a great skill, even if you're not wanting to catch an agent or an editor. At every book event I go to a reader will ask, "So, what's your book about?" Best to always have a pitch ready!!

  6. it is a great chance for authors to show off their work indeed.

  7. Great information here, Alex! Twitter is a great place to get attention from agents and publishers.

  8. I've never participated in a pitch contest and wasn't sure how to do it. Thanks for explaining it so well and clearly, Alex. Now if I can finish a manuscript and revise it enough to try this.

  9. I've participated in a few Twitter Pitch contests. They are fun and exciting and highly recommended!! Good Post, Alex!

  10. Great article, Alex! I'm one of those lucky authors who got accepted through a Twitter pitch. So, they work!

  11. Great tips, Alex! I found that sharing my unpolished pitches via twitter and Instagram a week beforehand was a good way to gain feedback from social media users who "know" the venue well and also a good way to gain some encouragement and support. I know a few retweets I received for my pitches came from social media friends who helped me polish my pitch.

  12. Great post, Alex. Also thanks for the introduction to this blog.