Pitching a Book in 280 Characters or Less

Pitching a Book in 280 Characters or Less

Sara Gilson

February 14, 2020

For years social media has been changing the way people socialize and interact across the internet. Now, social media, especially Twitter, is changing the way people submit book pitches. Four times a year, writers have an opportunity to participate in #PitMad where they can pitch their book in a 280-character tweet.

#PitMad stemmed from Pitch Wars, a contest where writers submit a query, the first chapter and a synopsis of their manuscript for the chance to find a mentor that would look over and offer critiques on their entire manuscript. While #PitMad is a Twitter pitch party and is an entirely separate thing from Pitch Wars, both events come from the same organization.

The founder of Pitch Wars, Brenda Drake, got the idea for it when she was watching “Cupcake Wars.” In a Writer’s Digest article, Drake said, “A baker had an assistant help create beautiful cupcakes for the judges, and I thought: That’s what our writing community needed. We needed experienced mentors (published and/or agented mentors, industry interns and editors) to help writers who were getting rejections from literary agents work out what was failing in their manuscripts.” Pitch Wars began in 2012 on Drake’s blog space and has since moved to pitchwars.org. #PitMad began as a way to include those who didn’t find success in Pitch Wars.

So, how does #PitMad work? It occurs quarterly on Twitter. The last #PitMad was Dec. 12, 2019. Writers craft 280-character tweets in the form of a pitch for their completed, edited and unpublished manuscripts. The pitch must fit into one tweet and writers are not allowed to thread pitches. The tweet must include #PitMad or #pitmad and writers can also include genre tags such as #YA #MG or #HA. Those hashtags stand for Young Adult, Middle Grade and Horror Adult respectively. Writers are allowed to pitch more than one manuscript a day, but they may only tweet three pitches for each manuscript throughout the day. There’s an in-depth tutorial on how to pitch a book in #PitMad from author Sarah Nicolas. Below are some pitches that writers tweeted during the last #PitMad.

Once writers tweet their pitches, it’s a waiting game. Other people on Twitter can retweet pitches to reach a wider audience, but they should not favorite #PitMad pitches. Why? Because favorites are reserved for industry professionals such as editors and agents.

When an editor or an agent favorites a #PitMad tweet that signifies that they liked the pitch and they want to see more. Industry professionals are encouraged to tweet out their submission guidelines for writers to follow if they liked their pitch. Typically, writers will submit their full manuscript to an agent or editor that liked their tweet, along with a query letter. If the agent or editor likes what they see, they can sign the writer and start the editing portion of the publishing process.

Once the pitch party is over, it’s up to the writer to decide what to do if an industry professional(s) liked their pitch. The writer can check out the editor or agent’s website and who they work for and see if they want to pursue working with them or if they want to go in a different direction. #PitMad does not always end with a writer starting the publishing process. Sometimes industry professionals reach out to writers who submitted pitches and offer help with honing their pitches or suggest changes to their manuscript. Booktuber and writer K. S. Hunter talked about her experience with #PitMad on her Booktube channel The Bookish Penbabe.

While #PitMad might seem daunting to those who are unfamiliar with the pitch party, it’s actually a fairly simple process overall. The hardest part is actually writing a manuscript. According to the rules on the #PitMad website, writers can’t pitch based on a few chapters or an idea, they must have a full-fledged manuscript. Once writers have that completed manuscript, the next hardest part is condensing it into a 280-character tweet. The average synopsis on the back of a book that’s meant to entice readers to buy it is 200 words, not characters. Now imagine deciding if you like a book in 280 characters or less! There’s a short tutorial on iWriterly’s YouTube page on how to condense a manuscript into a Twitter pitch for those who wish to participate in pitch parties.

The idea of #PitMad is to connect industry professionals with aspiring authors, something that is becoming harder and harder to do. It’s no secret that getting a book published is a hard process, in this Medium article, Leigh Shine discusses the odds of getting a traditional publisher for one’s book. Back in the day aspiring authors had to pay to send manuscripts and queries to publishing houses for consideration. Now, they can do that via email, but while that is cheaper it’s not faster. Literary agents often have full submission boxes that they don’t have the time to go through. #PitMad offers a breath of fresh air when it comes to pitching and allows authors to look for niche genres and unique books over the course of a single day.

#PitMad has been thriving for years now and has provided opportunities for many aspiring writers. The pitch party is an all inclusive form of pitching books, it allows writers of all backgrounds and socioeconomic statuses to get their pitches out into the world and potentially noticed by industry professionals. Those who may not have opportunities to go to publishing houses or have the time to submit countless query letters can easily participate in this event. Social media has allowed this pitch party to take off and it has led to some incredible books. The next #PitMad is March, 5, 2020, so let all your aspiring author friends know and retweet their pitches.

Sara Gilson is a senior studying Professional Writing with a focus on editing. After graduation she hopes to work for a publishing house. When she’s not in class, Sara can be found at work copyediting for The State News. In her limited free time Sara enjoys reading young adult books, spending time with her cat and watching the latest movies. You can follow her on Twitter @saragilson13