A writer’s best friends are her readers and her writing community. Thus, à la Princess Leia, I’m not too proud to ask for a bit of help now and again.
Frequently, I find myself amazed by the speed with which the writing world changes. When I first ventured into publishing, eBooks were a twinkle in someone’s eye. Self-publishing meant arranging for a vanity press to print (for a fee) hard and paperback copies of your book. The standard method for seeking publication was for an author to directly submit her manuscript to a publishing house. Literary agents were a nice-to-have, rather than the (with rare exception) must-have they are today if you’re pursuing traditional publication.
In little more than a decade, all this has changed.
Now it’s almost unheard of for an author to pitch his or her own “unsolicited” manuscript directly to a publishing house. Today, common practice means landing an agent who then uses her institutional knowledge and professional credibility to act as an intermediary, approaching publishers on her author’s behalf.
As those who’ve dipped even a toe in the agent-seeking pool know, “landing an agent” is no small task. The fiction-writing market is saturated and fiercely competitive. It isn’t unusual for an author to query dozens, even up to one hundred agents, to hook an interested party. For a while, I was fortunate to have an agent of my own. But life happens, and I find myself swimming in search of representation once more.
But the fluidity of the publishing industry, for all its unpredictibility, also produces exciting new pathways to publication. The “pitch parties” taking place across the Twitter-verse constitute one such innovation.
The basic set-up is this: on the day of the pitch party, aspiring authors condense their books’ plots down to a 140-character synopsis tweet (which must include the appropriate hashtags to enable their pitch to “join” the party feed.) Then they cross their fingers and hope the agents following the event fall in love with their idea and “like” it. Because that “like” constitutes an invitation to query that agent directly: a potentially golden opportunity.
Anybody who’s ever tried penning a query letter–a Houdini-esque undertaking in which you attempt to cram onto one eloquently written page 1) a sleek synopsis of your novel, 2)your story’s marketibility, and suitability for the queried agent, 3) your writing credits–can appreciate the appeal of at least temporarily dispensing with the query letter and focusing instead on a wham! pow! 140-character synopsis of your book. In short, querying via Twitter pitch means far less writing for the querying author, far less reading for the shopping agent, and the chance of the latter and former more quickly connecting.
To this effect, I’m excited to try something new and participate in the pitch party #PitMad when it goes live December 1st. (For more info on #PitMad, please see Brenda Drake’s informative write-up here.) I’ll be sending out into the world my best mini-pitches for my historical novel Prohibited, marked #HF for Historical Fiction, #A for Adult, and #PitMad for the appropriate for pitch party. Then I’ll sit back and pray an agent or two clicks that all-important heart icon.
So here’s where I need your help, Obi Wan Kenobi. During #PitMad, I’ll be able to tweet a total of three pitches for my historical novel, Prohibited. In the interest of keeping things intriguing, I’ve elected to utilize a different tweet each time I submit.
But I want these to be the very best of what I have to offer–the clearest, most arresting 140-characters I can write. And because readers are the ones I write for every day, I can think of no one better to help me choose which three I should fire off.
So if you find yourself with a minute, please pick your favorite three pitches below. Then, if you have a few minutes more, consider composing your pitch tweets for any completed project you’re interested in shopping on December 1st! Because you never know where it might lead.
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