Five things you can do during #PitMad besides pitch

Does anyone else get serious FOMO on #PitMad days? Deciding to sit the day out can sometimes be a difficult decision, especially if everyone in your circle is pitching something new and shiny.

But the great news is—you don’t have to sit idle! There are plenty of things you can do during #PitMad to distract that envious feeling and allow yourself to enjoy the day just as much as your pitching friends.

(New to #PitMad and feeling lost? Check out my comprehensive article “How to Write an Eye-Catching #PitMad Pitch” to learn more about the Twitter event and how to join in!)

#1 Boost friends

Retweeting pitches is a quick and easy way to support your peers and feel like you’re part of the buzz.

Now, you have to be careful not to quotetweet with the PitMad hashtag because this can oversaturate the feed. Rather, it is recommended that you simply retweet. If you have supportive thoughts to contribute, consider adding them as a comment on the original pitch tweet. This is a great way to boost morale and give testimony for pitched manuscripts that you have read or know personally in some capacity.

#2 Meet people

With so many writers joining in the day’s festivities, you’re bound to run into someone or many someones whom you’ve not met before. Connecting with each of them on such a busy day may be overwhelming, which is why I suggest making a Twitter list for all the new faces you see. Then you can come back to it in the days after and spend time interacting with everyone’s feed. (Here’s a handy “how to” for anyone unsure of how to use Twitter lists — help.twitter)

I know being social on social media can be extremely difficult for many people. Between the learning curve, the anxiety, and drama, motivation to engage can run thin. But I highly encourage you to not “tweet and forget” when you meet someone who stands out to you. There’s no predicting how important that person may turn out to be in your future (like me and Lizzie meeting in the comments and eventually building Cardigan Press!) So, put yourself out there and help your writer family grow.

#3 Analyze agent likes

Whether you’re just starting out in your agent search or have been around long enough to have favorites that you stalk on the daily, you want to see what they’re liking during #PitMad. Checking out an agent’s likes, whether you’re interested in querying them or not, will help you understand what kind of pitch formats or content drew attention throughout the day.

To check an agent’s likes, visit their Twitter profile page and select “Likes” from the timeline menu. Or if you don’t have any specific agents in mind, search “#PitMad” under “top” results and click on a pitch with lots of likes. From there, you can click “likes” under “tweet activity”, which will display a list of all profiles that liked the tweet. You should be able to easily tell from the profile bios who is an agent or publisher.

A word of wisdom here—you can use this information to critique your own pitches, but you’ll likely spiral into feeling rather awful about yourself. Why? Because all agents are drawn to different things and you can’t possibly cater to them ALL. You’ll drive yourself mad if you try to tweak your tweet to fit every successful pitch out there.

Rather, use this as an opportunity to learn more about that agent. If you see them liking pitches that are similar to yours or connect to your genre/interests, then mark that agent as someone to query! But you should also pay attention to the ones they like that are different from yours because these will give you an idea of what else is on trend or of particular interest. Publishing changes so quickly. What an agent likes for one pitch event may be drastically different from what they like in another. Embracing this reality can help your unsuccessful PitMad days feel far less personal. We tend to always fault ourselves, but more often than not, the only blame is the market.

(Additionally—humans aren’t always predictable. Sometimes you’ll see a wildly popular pitch that doesn’t seem worth the hype to you. Trying to figure out the appeal in these cases usually isn’t worth the trouble. There are bigger factors at play in publishing that we sometimes can’t understand from this side of things. I don’t much like it either, but so it goes. I just shrug and move along.)

#4 Compare pitches within your genre

The “search” feature on Twitter is handy, especially when you want to target a particular hashtag. Luckily, it also allows you to narrow your search to whatever you want, such as “#PitMad #YA”. From this search, you can expect to see results that show young adult pitches.

Searching and browsing pitches in your specific genre will not only help you accomplish items 1-3 of this article, it could also help you enhance your pitching skill.

To do this, you want to look for pitches that excite you and make you wish you were reading the book right this second. Then, you need to ask yourself—why do I like this pitch so much? Maybe you love it because it features a character trope you adore, or the stakes seem like the kind that will keep you up all night turning pages. Or, perhaps you’re a fan because the phrasing is catchy, the comp titles are spot on, or the character struggle evokes emotion. Those kinds of details are ones you can take with you to the drawing board to see if you can possibly enhance similar elements in your own pitches.

As said before, the point of analyzing pitches isn’t to compare someone as “right” and you as “wrong”. This is for the purpose of discovering new ideas for presentation, which stems from a positive growth mindset! You’re looking for enhancement ideas that feel like an inspirational “aha!” moment, something that clicks and helps you envision a way to make your voice ring clearer.

# 5 Write a query letter

This may sound a little backwards if you don’t have a book ready to throw into the #PitMad ring, but I can promise you—writing a query letter for a work-in-progress is a game changer.

Everyone approaches story differently, and we each have a unique process for writing that story down. Writing a query letter may feel impossible if you’re a “wing it” kind of writer, especially if your draft is still in the brainstorming stage. That’s perfectly fine.

At some point, however, we each reach a moment of reckoning where we have to ask: where is this story going and what do I want it to accomplish?

Writing a query letter is a tremendously helpful way to answer these questions and organize the core elements of your story. It forces you to think about who your character is, what they are up against, and how all of those stakes will force them to change. And by considering possible comps, you’ll begin to subtly think about your audience, which will help you craft your narrative in a more informed way.

Everyone I know who has ever tried this (including myself) swears by it, so I hope you will give it a shot! This doesn’t lock you into writing your story a certain way. You may write an incredible pitch and by chapter fifteen turn a completely different direction. That’s okay! The exercise it meant to help you practice and find your way for this story so that when it truly is time to query, you know exactly what to say.

Thanks for reading!

Now that I’ve given you some non-pitch ideas for #PitMad, I hope you’ll share with me other things you like to do during the event. I love seeing ideas that are helpful for the writing community, so comment below!

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