#SFFpit helps first-timers pitch their novels on Twitter today

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Getting your novel seen by the people who might actually publish it may be one of the most daunting tasks a first-time writer ever faces. Today, unpublished writers of Fantasy and Science Fiction looking to pitch their work will get a hand over the difficult hurdle by using the #SFFpit hashtag on Twitter.

Twitter pitches have become a popular way for new writers to engage with multiple literary agencies and publishers through the wide populist reach of the platform. Organized pitch sessions, such as Thief of Lies author Brenda Drake’s “PitMad” – or Pitch Madness – often draw hundreds of participants. The idea behind the sessions, which happen on a specific day and time frame, is to boil your potboiler (or YA tearjerker, the great American novel, innovative horror hybrid, etc.) down to a 280 character pitch to attract agents, editors, and publishing houses into reading a completed manuscript. It’s an idea similar to the fabled Elevator Pitch, just sans the high-rise building and with far more potential reach.

Oh, and don’t forget to leave room for the hashtag. The Twitter Pitch “parties” used to bring focus to the various pitches hinge on the use of distinctive hashtags that allow the intended audience to quickly scan Twitter in order to check out the offerings available. While #PitMad, for example, is meant to aspire to fiction in general, many of the parties, distinguished by their hashtags, are genre-specific, such as #DVPit (for underrepresented voices), #PitDark (for dark genres and stories), and PBPit (for picture books).

Science Fiction and Fantasy specific Pitch Party #SFFpit, founded by author Dan Koboldt begins today. Authors seeking representation will have a ten-hour window in which to submit their pitch for a completed work under the hashtag. #SFFpit will last from 8 a.m. today until 6 p.m.

If you would like to submit a pitch today, bear in mind the following. According to Koboldt’s website,

“Your pitch should contain four elements:

  1. First and foremost, the hashtag for the contest, #SFFpit.
  2. An indication of the book’s age category. If you don’t provide it, we’ll assume adult.
  3. An indication of the books’ genre in existing terms. See below for hashtags.
  4. A pitch for your book. Ideally, it should tell us character, desire, obstacle(s), and stakes.

You should tweet your pitch no more than 10 times throughout the day. Make sure each tweet is slightly different, as tweeting identical text is a violation of Twitter’s guidelines.”

Also, remember that #SFFpit is genre-specific, so your offering must be a completed manuscript that is a work of Science Fiction or Fantasy. Genre mash-ups are fine as long as they contain elements of one of the two primary genres. Writers can also connote a book’s intended age range via the hashtags:

  • #PB – Picture book
  • #CB – Chapter book
  • #MG – Middle grade
  • #YA – Young adult
  • #NA – New adult
  • #A – Adult

Writers are also encouraged to make use of the following hashtags to indicate the genre and sub-genre of their work:

  • #FA – fantasy
  • #CF – contemporary fantasy
  • #DF – dark fantasy
  • #EF – epic or high fantasy
  • #FR – fantasy romance
  • #HF – historical fantasy
  • #LF – literary fantasy
  • #AH – alternate history
  • #MYF – mythic fantasy
  • #SNS – sword & sorcery
  • #PN – paranormal
  • #UF – urban fantasy
  • #MR – magical realism
  • #SFY – science fantasy
  • #SF – science fiction
  • #AF – apocalypse fiction
  • #CliFi – climate / climate change fiction
  • #CP – cyberpunk
  • #LSF – literary science fiction
  • #ML – military science fiction
  • #PA – post-apocalyptic SF
  • #PNR – paranormal romance
  • #SFR – sci-fi romance
  • #SFT – sci-fi thriller
  • #SH – superhero / superhuman
  • #SO – space opera
  • #DS – dystopian
  • #SP – steampunk
  • #TT – time travel
  • #WW – weird west

Any writer submitting must be sure to send in only finished, polished work. The tweeted pitch should include all relevant hashtags and only be submitted once every hour per the terms of the party. In a 2017 article for Writer’s Digest, Koboldt also outlined the following suggestions for a successful pitch:

A good pitch, “Concisely describes what the book is about. Conveys the book’s age category and genre. Stands out among hundreds of other pitches. Demonstrates proficiency at writing and pitching. Not all of these are required for success, but if you achieve all four with your pitch, you’ll have a leg up on the competition. Make no mistake: It is a competition. Only a fraction of participating authors (10-20%) end up with a request from Twitter pitching events.”

One of the best ways to get a good idea of what constitutes a good pitch is to check out some of the pitch party tags above and simply take a look at what pitches resonate with you – and, more importantly, what you think might resonate with an editor or agent. A pitch can be character-driven or action-driven, but there are no hard and fast rules.

If your manuscript isn’t currently polished enough for submission, or if it’s still just a good idea germinating in your head, don’t fret, SFFpit occurs twice a year, so you’ll have a good six months to get to work if you miss today’s party.

Update Feb. 24, 3:45 pm CT: We Got This Covered reached out to Dan Koboldt for further commentary. We’ve included our questions and his answers below.

Is there anything outside of the parameters described on your website that you’d really like first-time pitchers to know or be aware of?

I’ve probably said this elsewhere, but I encourage participants to remember something. Landing an agent or an offer of publication is not the only benefit of #SFFpit and contests like it. It’s rare that thousands of authors at a similar career stage who write in the same genre are together in one place. If you use the opportunity to make some new friends, you’ll never leave the event with nothing to show for it.For any participants lucky enough to get a request, I have this advice: Do your homework before submitting any materials. Anyone can go on Twitter, claim to be an agent or editor, and request things. A bit of research using resources like QueryTracker, Preditors & Editors, and the AbsoluteWrite forums can save a lot of heartache later.

Domesticating Dragons was sold on a simple pitch. Could you tell us a little bit about how you were able to get that pitch to the publishers?Well, I like to think that it sold on more than just the pitch. I wrote the whole manuscript, and it draws on real-world genetics which happens to be my day job. The book is about a genetic engineer who goes to work for a company that makes customized dragons as pets. When my agent shopped it around to publishers, we pitched it as “Build-A-Bear Workshop meets Jurassic Park.” 

Do you think Twitter pitching has a future? Or will the mass access eventually crowd the field too much to sort out the best pitches?

That’s an astute question, especially since some well-known events (Pitch Wars and PitMad) have recently ended. My co-host (Michael Mammay) and I talk about it often. The short answer is, I don’t know. The swing vote in this decision doesn’t lie with me; it lies with literary agents. Recruiting them to participate is a constant struggle. Mike and I invite more than a hundred agents to each event. Only a fraction of them show up to participate. If we can’t get enough agents to make it worth everyone’s time, there’s little point in continuing.