The hardest part of writing is not the writing part. It isn’t even editing. The hardest part about writing is selling your work. I have had a modicum of success. I have three books with small presses, one which is now an audiobook. Some of my short stories have appeared in literary journals. A few dozen of my poems have found their way into journals and anthologies. A few hundred people have seen one or more of my plays. But like most writers, I’d like one book with a major publisher. For this, I need an agent.
I have spent the last year working on my query letter, researching agents and sending out my query. I have gotten some very nice rejections. But I realized if I ever wanted to get an agent, I needed to step up my game. I decided to participate in my first Twitter pitch fest.
I enrolled in the Facebook group PitMad Challenge 2019 (Yes, I know, a Facebook page on how to use Twitter) to help me understand the challenge and write my “pitches.” Kathy Ver Eecke (A very fine teacher, btw, if you are looking for a mentor) walked us through the process of how to create a meaningful tweet, how to categorize or “hashtag” it correctly and the rules of the game. I created three separate tweets—you are allowed only three tweets per book in a twelve-hour fest period—narrowed down my genre. It was hard to believe that I could write a novel with over 100K words, but I couldn’t create three 280-character tweets that sounded like I was literate. I worked and reworked those three tweets and on December 5th I felt ready to roll. Or I thought I was ready to roll.
Since I work as a teacher for a living, I had to schedule my tweets ahead of time. I scheduled them to hit at 8:02 a.m. (two minutes after “showtime”), 12:02 p.m. and 2:02 p.m. I had feebly asked a writer friend of mine (a poet, not participating in the pitching) to retweet me. I asked my daughters. My older one told me she doesn’t tweet and my younger one doesn’t have a Twitter account.
I wasn’t teaching at 8:02, but I did have some teacher duties, so I wasn’t able to check my feed until 8:15. Not only was my tweet there, it had been re-tweeted by supportive writers who didn’t even know me! It was then that I realized this wasn’t just a “three-tweet event” this was a social media event. If they re-tweeted me, I had to retweet them. I spent my day, like a teenager, hiding my phone in my lap trying to keep up with re-tweeting. I didn’t want to let anyone down. Of course, I kept looking for that coveted heart that meant an agent was interested.
Did I get that coveted heart? No, I didn’t. Of course, I was disappointed. But the event was far from a failure. First of all Kathy Ver Eecke taught me how to look at my story in new and dynamic ways. I can talk about my story intelligently instead of just saying, “Well, it’s hard to explain. It has a lot of plot twists.” Secondly, it made me look at the writing business in a new and fresh way. I write, they sell, and we have to come together in a meaningful and productive way. Finding an agent is a lot like dating. Actually, it’s harder than dating. I’ve been sending literary drinks across the bar for a long time now and not one agent has accepted. But most importantly, I learned there is a huge community of writers out there. There were literally hundreds of tweets from writing supporters who wanted to see us all succeed. Writing is a solitary occupation. It was really wonderful to have a day where writers from all over the globe came together and cheered each other on.
Would I do it again? In a heartbeat. I was a little heartened to read that there were 175,000 tweets that day. That’s a very big playing field and I am only one little ball player with my three tweets.
Why don’t you join me? Get that manuscript polished. Create three meaningful tweets. The next pitch wars take place on February 5, 2020.
Go to pitchwars.org. Friend me on Twitter and let me know you are “in.” I’ll make sure to retweet you!
By the way, if you are an agent, here are my three feeble tweet attempts:
Police Chief, Art Moran believes in black and white in a gray world. His one truth is Becky. In one stunning night he loses Becky, his son and his mind. Forty years later, he if forced back into the world he left behind to keep his last promise to Becky. #PitMad #A #LF #IRMC
Police chief, Art Moran, the only person who can solve a murder in a secluded religious sect. However, in one stunning night he loses his love, his son and his mind. Forty years later he must face the world he left behind to keep his last promise to Becky. #Pitmad #A #LF # IRMC
Art Moran, police chief, is the good guy until discovers his childhood sweetheart while investigating a murder in an isolated cult. In a deadly chain of events, Art loses his love, his son and his mind. 40 later he returns to fulfill his last promise to Becky. #pitmad #LF #A #IMRC