New agents like me are always on the lookout for authors. I want to expand my list, of course – and honestly, I’m getting pretty hooked on the rush that comes with finding and signing a new client. I usually know pretty quickly if I’m going to want to represent somebody – their manuscript lights me up inside and I find can’t stop thinking about it, or talking about it to everybody who will listen. Before long I’m deciding that this book was written for me to sell it, and I’m racing to get to the end to make sure it’s as good as I think it is, so that I can set up a call with the author as soon as I can.
I find a manuscript like that in my slush pile every so often, and that’s very exciting, but it doesn’t happen quite often enough. Another method of client-hunting I really enjoy is the Twitter pitch party. I’ve participated in two so far – I found two of my clients through Dan Koboldt’s #SFFpit in June, and yesterday I spent most of the day dipping in and out of Brenda Drake’s #PitMad.
I found #PitMad had a very different feel from #SFFpit, mostly because it’s so big and moves so incredibly fast. #SFFpit, being smaller and more specialised, was a lot more manageable for me, but with #PitMad the pitches were flowing so quickly it was impossible to even try to keep up with them.
From an agent’s point of view, the whole pitch party experience feels a lot like eating at a kaitenzushi restaurant: delicious things are constantly passing by, and all you have to do is keep an eye on the conveyor belt and grab the ones you want. Sometimes you know you want them and you grab them immediately, other times it takes a few goes round for you to convince yourself that you should get something (like for instance, if there are some really tempting pitches with airships in them but you are trying desperately not to acquire anything else with airships because honestly, it’s getting a bit silly).
This is why it’s good for authors to have several different pitches prepared – you never know which facet of your novel is going to make somebody sit up and pay attention to it (or break down their resistance and make them go ‘well I really shouldn’t, but there’s no harm in just looking at airships’).
Besides having several different pitches ready to go, it seems to be generally agreed among #PitMad folks that there are two ways to make sure your tweets are seen before a thousand other tweets pile in on top of them. The first is to tweet an awful lot. I do not recommend this one, especially if you’re using the same pitch every time – it gets boring and irritating, and it also clogs up the feed for everybody else. The recommended two tweets per hour is enough.
The other method is to use genre hashtags, which I really 100% recommend. I know they take up valuable space in a tweet, but they will also give you a far better chance of getting your pitch seen. If you were pitching science fiction or fantasy yesterday and didn’t use either #SFF or #SF, I probably didn’t see your pitch. Other genres I’m interested in were a bit less easily defined – I think the historical fiction folks were using #Hist, or sometimes #HF? Anyway, genre hashtags. Figure out what other people are using for your genre and make sure you use it too.
Today I’ve been preparing my own pitches for my upcoming trip to New York, but I’ve had #PitMad queries rolling in all day and I can’t wait to read them. Thanks again to Brenda Drake for organising the whole thing, and to everybody who showed up with your pitches. Now I must go and get on with some reading…