A lot people make New Year's resolutions and by the end of January the majority of those resolutions fall by the wayside. I joined the bandwagon of resolutioners this year and made a list of writerly goals I wanted to accomplish in 2016.
One of those goals was to go in search of an agent and one of the best ways to find one is to participate in a Twitter Pitch Party. I know this because it was how I found Anaiah Press and my wonderful editor, Jessica Schmeidler. Jessica helped put me on the right path to the publication of my picture book, THE STORY CATCHER and, fingers crossed, I can repeat my luck with the new year.
But, in order to increase my chances of enticing an agent to look my way, I had to have a plan and maybe MY plan can help YOU capture the interest of YOUR dream agent as well:
1. WRITE IT DOWN
I made a long list of EXACTLY what I wanted to accomplish this year. I even bought a cool calendar to pencil in all the different Twitter Pitch Parties being held all around the blogosphere all year long. I've studied each party and narrowed down which ones were right for the genres I write in and which ones I need to pass on.
2. REVISE, REVISE, REVISE
Now was the time to take those manuscripts back out and re-read them to make sure they are as polished and sparkly as I can make them. I have 7 completed picture book manuscripts with about 5 more in the final stages of revisions, 2 completed early reader narrative nonfiction chapter books with the third one in the process of being written, and 1 revised draft of a young adult fantasy novel. This shows me I have some choices on which Twitter pitch parties I can participate in.
3. MAKE A LIST
Next I've made a list of potential agents and will group each into some sort of sequential order so I can slowly check any off the list should they...or I...decide they are no longer the potential right agent for my work. Some Pitch Parties will let you know who some of the participating agents will be and you can cross match them against your master list to see who might benefit the most from your targeted pitches.
4. DO YOUR RESEARCH
Learn the likes/dislikes of the agents on your list. Check out their websites. Google their name and read their interviews. See what they saying on Twitter. In other words, take a little time to find out all you can about the people you plan to share your manuscripts with. For myself, it wouldn't do me much good to add an agent to my list who mainly represents women's fiction and memoirs. I write for children of all ages and want an agent whose writerly passions match my own.
5. PERFECT YOUR TWITTER PITCH
Take the time to decide the best 140 characters to describe your book. Realize certain hashtags MUST be included like #PitMad, #MSWL, or #PB which all count toward those precious 140 character limit. Ask the advice of those around you to see if the tone and hook of your pitch is right. Read the rules of the Twitter Pitch Party you plan on participating in and find out how often you can tweet your pitches. You would hate to be banned from participating because you failed to realize you can only tweet twice a day when you were planning on blowing up Twitter with your pitches every single hour!
6. POLISH YOUR QUERY LETTER
It's okay to go into these Twitter pitch parties for the fun experience of it all. You might even take time to read other pitches to see if YOU would want to read those books...to determine what might work and what falls flat. But in the back of your mind you should realize that the main reason you are going to a pitch party is to hopefully get a request for a partial or a full manuscript from one of them. When that chance comes you don't want to blow it by not having a sharp, attention-getting gem of a query letter just waiting to be shared with Ms. Potential Dream Agent.
7. PLAN YOUR SUCCESS
Finally, I do a quick check of all my social media outlets to make sure the information presented there has current contact information, make sure my blog has interesting content that my readers enjoy, and track my interactions with others through different channels to find out what works to help promote the STORY CATCHER entity as well as my own writing. I treat my writing career as a business and I measure the successes...both large and small...I make along the way so I can look back at the end of each year to see just how far I've come in following my dream of become an author.
To all my writerly friends who plan on participating in a Twitter pitch party over the coming months...GOOD LUCK! And right now, for myself, all I can say is...SO FAR SO GOOD!