I love participating in Twitter pitch events. It’s the perfect way for me to seek out concepts for books I like and solicit those queries from an author. I imagine that they are also fun for writers as they get to see which agents are interested in their work. Just as equally, it can be disheartening for writers when their pitches aren’t getting many likes from industry professionals. Because I always end up wanting to help in some way, I decided to put together a short list of some of the more problematic tweets I’ve seen during these events, which I have decided to call PITchFalls because I am a huge, punny dork.
1.) Making your enthusiasm your pitch.
I get it: you’re the best around and nothing’s ever gonna bring you down. It’s absolutely fantastic that you are passionate about your book and have the confidence to believe that it is going to be the next, multi-million dollar seller and that everyone who reads it is going to love it and that it’s going to get movie deals from major production studios and possibly revive people out of comas….but you still have to say what your book is about. Writing a book is an act of discipline and commitment that can only be rooted in love. The fact that you think your story is awesome is automatically implied. Re-harness that enthusiasm and use it to focus on what your story is about and sell that.
2.) Quoting your book.
I understand that trying to pitch the concept for your manuscript is tough to do with only 280 characters, and I understand the temptation to allow your writing to “speak for itself”, but doing that doesn’t really tell me what your book is about any more than pitching your enthusiasm does. Knowing how to boil down the plot of your book to its essential concept, and being able to sell that concept, is a necessity in this industry. And, at least for me, seeing pitches that are just manuscript excerpts is a huge red flag that you may not know how to summarize your work. You can use excerpts from your book for #1linewed, but give a solid description of your story during actual pitch events.
3.) Describing the trees instead of the forest.
Zoom that lens out. It’s too easy to fall in love with all the intricate details of your work to the point that all you see are the nuances instead of the big picture. Don’t get me wrong, I love all those nuances that make your story special and different, but giving me all those small details instead of the main concept can make your manuscript seem overly complicated vs. deliciously complex. Take a step back and find the heart of your story.
4.) Forgetting the Conflict/Stakes.
Woof. This is a biggie. You can’t forget to say what’s at stake. We have to know what the character is up against and what’s at stake if they don’t succeed. For those who write literary pieces with more abstract approaches to conflict, I can understand that summarizing said conflict can be difficult as these types of works lean more towards internal struggle rather than an external one, however a conflict of some sort still has to be present and it needs to be mentioned in your pitch. I have to know what your character is working towards and what is standing in the way of reaching their resolution.
5.) Pitching an unfinished manuscript.
I’m adding this one in even though it doesn’t directly relate back on the actual pitch just because it’s so much more common than people think. Your manuscript should always be finished and polished before you pitch it anywhere to anyone. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve liked a pitch, got really excited about seeing it in my inbox, and then the author tells me that they haven’t finished writing it yet and just wanted to see what level of interest the book got.
First of all–
Second, finishing your book should not be based on the level of interest you get from agents and editors. It should be based on whether or not you love the story you’re telling. While there is no guarantee your story will get picked up, remember that writing a whole novel is, in itself, an accomplishment that helps to grow your skills and hone your craft so that your next work will be even stronger.
Just remember, you’ve put a lot of hard work into writing your manuscript and you want to give it its best chance out there. I really hope this information is helpful to some of you and I look forward to the next Twitter event!