Back in the day, if you wanted to learn about literary agents and book editors so you could submit your book for representation or publication, you had to go to a library or buy a market guide without knowing if the information in the book was still current.
Then, as now, you could also attend conferences to hear these industry professionals (IPs) speak and/or meet them in person for up to the minute info, but that can be expensive and time-consuming.
Then came the internet, where agency websites often list agent bios and interests. Publishers have sites, too, but information about individual editors can be hard to find or nonexistent. And sites might not be updated frequently despite a fast-changing market. I recently checked a publisher at random whose site still listed editor interests from a couple of seasons ago.
Sites like QueryTracker can be great for finding agent info and figuring out who’s accepting unsolicited queries, assuming the profiles are up to date. But the onus is on you to search, and the genres, such as contemporary romance, are often quite broad. And given that many agents receive more than a hundred queries a week and many sites say they won’t reply unless interested, it’s hard to know if they’ll be interested in your specific project.
Then came Twitter, where authors can follow and interact with agents and editors. (For some reason, Facebook didn’t catch on for this purpose.) Even better, IPs can now let authors know exactly what they’re looking for in real time.
Popular hashtags include #MSWL, manuscript wish list, where editors and agents post in great detail projects they’d love to see right now. So instead of knowing that an agent wants romantic suspense or historical romance, you can see that Red Empress Publishing wants “novels inspired by characters from Shakespeare plays” or that an agency wants “Magical realism for all categories.”
On #PitMad, author Brenda Drake holds quarterly events during which authors who follow her rules can tweet pitches. If an IP likes the tweet, the author can submit (usually by following instructions on the agent’s site or that are given in a reply tweet).
There are other pitch parties, too. One such event was #PitMatch, where Cupids matched tweets on #MSWL and #PitMad. I was fortunate that a dream agent favorited my tweet. I submitted 5 pages as her site instructed, and within a few days her assistant requested the first three chapters, then she herself requested the full. Unfortunately, she eventually rejected it…but at least I knew she was interested in the project when she requested it.
I popped online to browse #MSWL one day, and came across an editor who wanted a romance set in Hell. Well, I just happen to have one. I replied to his tweet, he asked a follow up question seeking more details…and then requested some of the book. Fingers crossed! At least I know this editor is interested in my premise.
Of course, as with any type of pitching, there’s no guarantee of representation/a sale, or even going further than the initial submission. But Twitter pitches are a great way to connect quickly with agents and/or editors and increase your chances of getting a response.
This approach saves authors significant time. If someone is interested, you’ll know soon, maybe within minutes or hours. I’ve met many authors who are terrified to pitch in person, so Twitter bypasses that fear. Plus, your query/submission isn’t unsolicited as it would be if you just queried as their websites instruct. The agent/editor is already aware of your project and asked to see it.
On the other hand, condensing a full-length novel into back cover copy or a verbal pitch is hard enough. Making it sound compelling in 144 (sometimes they allow two tweets, but you have to use up some characters to delineate tweet 1 and 2) can be quite the challenge.
–Don’t use Twitter to pitch something you aren’t ready to send.
–Make a note to check tweets every few days or every week. It doesn’t take a lot of time once you get the hang of it.
–Have queries already written for the project(s) you’re ready to pitch.
–Make sure to follow each hash tag’s rules and also those set by the agent/editor. I’ve heard many times that IPs are interested in seeing who’ll be good to work with.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ruth Kaufman is an Amazon bestselling author, on-camera and voiceover talent, freelance editor and speaker with years of corporate America contract negotiation, marketing and training experience. Her motto: someday is now.
At His Command Follow Your Heart and The Bride Tournament are standalone books in her Wars of the Roses Brides series. Writing accolades include Romance Writers of America’s® 2011 Inspirational Golden Heart® winner and runner up in RT BOOK REVIEWS‘ national American Title II contest.
Ruth presents workshops on topics including self-publishing, persistence, public speaking and sales skills for the author. She served on RWA’s national board of directors and was president of Chicago-North RWA.
She earned B.A.s in Economics and Communications at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and her J.D. and M.S. in TV/Radio from Syracuse University’s College of Law and S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.
Credits include roles in independent films, short films, web series and local and national TV commercials, and dozens of voiceover projects from long e-learning courses to complex medical narration. She completed multi-level improvisation programs at ComedySportz, iO, and Second City. Visit www.ruthtalks.com for demos and sample projects.
For more info please visit her website:
<< MEET THE AUTHOR THIS SEPTEMBER >>
Join us as we celebrate the publishing accomplishments of Michelle Cox, Maria Fotinopoulos Karamitsos, Iris Waichler, Emily Paster, and Ruth Kaufman. Evening will include refreshments, meet and greet with the authors, and panel discussion.
TO RSVP visit our Facebook Event Page: An Evening With Women Who Write.