But first, for those who don't know, a Twitter Pitch Party is an event in which you pitch your novel to agents and editors using 140 characters and party approved hashtags. Readers and writers who like your pitch will retweet it, increasing the likelihood of agents and editor seeing it. Those agents/editors who like the pitch and want to see more will favorite it, and provide instructions on how you can submit directly to them. This allows you to bypass the slush pile, getting your manuscript into the hands of decision-makers earlier than you might otherwise.
There are typically rules involved in a Pitch Party... for instance, you have to use the Party tag (ie: #pitchmas, #pitmad, #pit2pub) and you have to include a genre tag (ie: #pnr for paranormal romance, #mg for middle grade, #a for adult). You can also only post your pitch so many times an hour during the event (most parties I've seen or participated in set this limit at two per hour). If you go over, the moderators will tell you to knock it off, and you could risk your shot at receiving submission requests (by annoying the agents/editors). Check with each individual Pitch Party for their rules and approved hashtags.
I participated in the #pit2pub party back in July of this year, pitching STRICKEN, a New Adult paranormal romance. Here are the two pitches I used:
#pit2pub When Nephilim warrior Killian begins falling for Aubrey, a human, he'll do anything to save her life... even damn himself. #NA #PNR
#pit2pub Aubrey ran from Killian's world once. Now she has to help him save it, and more than her heart is on the line this time. #NA #PNR
At the end of the event, I'd received ten submission requests, which ultimately led to three separate publication offers. I signed STRICKEN with a house shortly thereafter. Due to unforeseen circumstances at the publisher, which resulted in all newly acquired manuscripts being returned, the novel is now making the rounds with a few of the other houses who requested during the event.
So, are the events worth it? Absolutely!
Twitter Pitch Parties get your work in front of agents/editors. - This is a big deal. Most publishers and agents receive hundreds of submissions a month. Getting through each of them in a timely manner is impossible. But with a Twitter Pitch Party, your submission gets bumped up above all those unsolicited manuscripts and queries sitting in their inboxes. You're no longer in the slush pile. Yay!
Feedback - Not only do you get your manuscript in front of the right people, but many of them are willing to give you feedback that you might not have received otherwise. If you participate in the larger events associated with the parties (see below for more on that), you have an opportunity to receive a lot of helpful feedback. They'll tell you what they liked, what they didn't like, and perhaps even what you need to do to fix the issues. That's incredibly helpful to any writer. You also receive instant feedback from readers and writers. If they like your pitch, they'll tell you so. If you receive no interest at all, perhaps you need to rethink how you're pitching your novel. You'll also know if someone else is pitching something very much like yours... this is helpful in tweaking your queries and pitches so it's not the "same old, same old" hitting inboxes.
Networking - Meeting new people in the industry is never a bad thing. Pitch Parties gather a lot of attention from agents, editors, readers, writers, and others all using the same hashtag. While you shouldn't tweet an agent/editor directly during the Pitch Party unless they tweet to you first (it's usually against the rules), you get to familiarize yourself with people at literary agencies and publishing houses. Say hello when the competition is over.
They're fun - Not only do you get to pitch your novel, but you get to read the pitches of your friends and peers, and help get your favorites noticed. Being exposed to what others are writing is never a bad thing. Nor is helping your favorite writers with a retweet!
How do you find and participate in a Pitch Party?
Most Pitch Parties are a small part of larger pitching events in which a set number of short pitches (generally in the 35 word range) are accepted during the submission round. You can be paired up with a mentor to help tweak your pitch or moderators/readers/etc will post feedback. Your honed pitch is then put in front of agents and editors who ask questions and request those they want to see more of.
You can participate in these larger events, or you can opt to participate only in the party portion. It's really up to you. Since only a select number of submitted pitches are accepted in the larger associated events, the pitch parties are a great way to allow those who didn't make it through the larger event to participate.
Here is a short list of some of my favorite events:
#pitchmas (typically runs in December of each year)
#pitmad (typically held twice a year)
#pitchslam (held twice a year)
#pit2pub (a Twitter only pitch party)
In 2016, I will also be helping to host #sonofapitch alongside some of my favorite authors and editors. I'll share more news on that later. :)
If you haven't given a Pitch Party a shot, go for it! Dust off your polished, completed manuscripts, hammer down that perfect pitch, and share it during the next competition. Who knows? You might just get that contract offer out of it.