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How to Win a Twitter Pitch Contest

Hacks for Hacks (sense of humor required)Warning: Hacks for Hacks tips may have harmful side effects on your writing career, and should not be used by minors, adults, writers, poets, scribes, scriveners, journalists, or anybody.

Twitter dot com contains several hashtags designed to unite authors, agents, and editors in publishing bliss, or failing that, contractual obligation. You too can launch your publishing career by tweeting. Simply cram 100,000 words and six years of hard work into 140 characters. I’ll show you how.

Anatomy of a Twitter Pitch

[pullquote]Twitter lets you post images, so just upload a photo of your full query letter, synopsis, and first five pages. Did I just blow your mind? In fact, I did.[/pullquote]

A Twitter pitch consists of a concise hook to trick entice people to read your book. It’s accompanied by a #hashtag specific to each particular pitch event–examples include #pitmad, #pitchmas, and #pbpitch. Editors and agents search through tweets bearing that hashtag to find thousands of thirsty authors hoping somebody, anybody will want to read their book. If an agent or editor stars (or, in Twitter parlance, “favoritizes”) your pitch, you win the grand prize of getting to submit a query directly to their own private slushpile just like everybody else does.

Important note: Another popular hashtag is #MSWL (Manuscript Wish List), which is NOT a Twitter pitch contest. Rather, it’s where editors and agents list what types of manuscripts they’d like to read. You know what kind of book they’d REALLY like to see? Yours. Just go ahead and send it to them. They’ll admire your initiative.

Crafting Your Pitch

A good Twitter pitch reduces a story to its juiciest, most primal elements. It’s gotta have a protagonist, a conflict, and most importantly, the correct hashtag. Here are some examples to give you an idea:

The Lord of the Rings
The chosen one fulfills the prophecy to defeat the evil overlord. #pitchmas

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
The chosen ones fulfill the prophecy to defeat the evil overlord. #pitmad

[pullquote]Example pitch:¬†Ulysses–An MFA student tries to impress girls at a party by pretending to have read a literary masterpiece. #pitfall[/pullquote]

Now that you know the format, write pitches for other popular media for extra practice:

“There’s a Hole in the Bucket”
Liza and Henry relate a recent spat to their marriage counselor. #pitchthing

“A Boy Named Sue”
A son overcomes a lifetime of adversity to reunite with his estranged father. #pitchandcatch

An MFA student tries to impress girls at a party by pretending to have read a literary masterpiece. #pitfall

Star Wars: The Phantom Menace
The chosen one is filled with metaphysical microbes, becomes the evil overlord. #pitachips

Advanced Pitching Techniques

photo by Robert Scoble

You’re now ready to pitch your own book. Remember that it’s a crowded field, so you may need to tweet your pitch a couple dozen times or so. These pitch contests happen several times a year, so you could end up sending hundreds of these. Any one of them could be the one that gets you signed, so think positive and get your hopes sky-high each time.

Do you have any pitching success stories to share? What are your best tips? Don’t be stingy, spread your knowledge in the comments!

About Bill Ferris [2]

After college, Bill Ferris [3] left Nebraska for Florida to become a rich and famous rock star. Failing that, he picked up the pen to become a rich and famous novelist. He now lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and looks forward to a life of poverty and ridicule.