How to win the Pitch Wars

Pitch Wars: How to Win them in Twitter

I had never heard of pitch wars or pitch contests until I attended literary agent Lisa Abellera’s presentation on Saturday August 25, 2018 at the San Francisco Writers Workshop. She explained why writers should participate in these contests and how to write a great pitch for Twitter. Yes, it’s possible to describe your book in 140 characters, or 280 if you are long-winded (ahem).

Pitch Wars is a mentoring program where authors, editors or industry interns offer free critique of a writer’s query/pitch, and manuscript. To participate, you have to visit their site, choose mentors, and submit an application. Hundreds of writers do just that, and about a dozen or two are finalists who will be paired up with a mentor. These finalists can participate in a Pitch War via a contest in Twitter, using the contest hashtag. Literary agents and publishers search the hashtag and like their favorite tweets/pitches.

If your tweet/pitch gets interest from many agents, you can pick and choose whom to submit your query and/or manuscript.

Abellera encouraged us to enter the Pitch Wars with sobering statistics: about 30 million writers are trying to get traditionally published every year, but only around 300,000 get actually published. Finding an agent is the first step in this journey, and a writer should use every weapon at their disposal.

Abellera analyzed successful and unsuccessful pitches in Twitter. Here are the basic rules to write a winning entry in a Pitch War:

DOs to Win the Pitch Wars

  1. Be specific in your details and choose those that will make you stand out.
  2. Include the main character, what does s/he want, what are the internal stakes, and what is the external conflict. In other words, show your character striving for something.
  3. Use accurate hashtags to identify the contest, your genre, and other relevant details.

DONT’s to Win the Pitch Wars

  1. Avoid rethorical questions. Give the answers!
  2. Don’t waste valuable characters by including your book title.
  3. Do NOT include subplots. 140 to 280 character don’t allow for rambling.

Stay-at-home-mom Aileen can’t decide what’s worse: her newly acquired thirst for blood, or the fact the ever-growing laundry pile might be as immortal as she is. #Pitmad #A #WF #P

Pitch Wars are a win/win situation. Writers who make it to finalists get a free critique and dozens of agents and publishers eyeballs on their pitch. Industry insiders discover new writers in an easy, effortless way (they just need to read a few tweets.) And even the writers who don’t make it to finalists can use this opportunity to sharpen their querying skills.

I loved this practical presentation by Lisa Abellera. She’s a smart, straight-shooter, currently looking for diverse fiction writers. I’d give her a try if you’re in that category.

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