If you're on Twitter, you may have seen the hashtag #PitMad floating around today. I'm a huge geek for digital tools colliding with the literary world, and #PitMad is one of my favorite things. In a sentence, on a designated day #PitMad allows any writer to tweet their 140-character manuscript pitch to publishing industry professionals by using the hashtag.
#PitMad can open doors for you in a variety of ways. For instance, YA author Diana Urban got a literary agent through #PitMad. A wide variety of people pay attention to the #PitMad feed, so you never know who you may connect with. Plus, if you don't have any luck today, there's always the next #PitMad day to try again.
This is so cool, right? Because let's face it, publishing can be hard to break into. We're living in an age where having a literary agent is required, and even then there are certainly no guarantees. Marlon James, who just won the freaking Man Booker Prize, had 78 rejections on his first novel, John Crow's Devil. But with this tool, the gates to the publishing world are opening, and for one magical day, we've all got a shot.
But, wait! There are a few rules.
Before you go rushing off to tweet your heart out, make sure you're doing it right. Even though #PitMad is super easy and accessible to everyone, there are a few rules. Most of these are in place to help the industry professionals more easily sift through the storm.
1. Manuscripts Must Be Completed, Polished, and Unpublished
This is actually a change from recent years, as a way to help industry professionals find the best candidates for publication. Before you tweet out your pitch, make sure you have your manuscript ready to go. Things can move fast: if a publisher or agent wants to look at your manuscript, you should be ready to e-mail it to them pronto.
2. Only Three Pitches Per Project
Again, industry professionals don't want to get overwhelmed, so they've put a limit on the number of pitches you can do per project. However, if you have several manuscripts, each of them gets their own set of three. Since you've only got three to use, it's best to space out your tweets throughout the day so that a wider variety of eyes will see them.
3. Use Category Hashtags
To help the right people see your writing, use hashtags that categorize what your manuscript is. For instance, a young adult novel would need #YA. Other popular categories are #A (adult), #LF (literary fiction), and #SFF (science fiction and fantasy). See here for a full list.
4. Know #PitMad Dates
#PitMad happens four times a year. Today, December 4, is a #PitMad day. The #PitMad parties for 2016 are on March 17, June 9, September 8, and December 1. So even if you're not ready now, mark your calendars and ready your manuscripts.
5. Pay Attention to What Professionals Tweet
Different people have different ways of connecting with you on #PitMad. If you get favorited or DMed by someone, take the time to look at their page and see what they're looking for before you respond. Remember: a show of interest is not a guarantee. #PitMad is just a way to open a conversation. Maintain your professionalism no matter what.
Now that you've got the low-down, you're all set to show those publishers what you've got. Ready, get, set, TWEET!