Twitter pitching contests are a fun and sometimes effective way to pitch to agents and publishers.
How does it work?
In a nutshell, you come up with a series of short pitches (max 280 characters – that's Twitter's limit) and post them on Twitter across a specified pitching period. In the case of the next #SFFpit, it runs from 8am-8pm (EST). SFFpit allows you to post 10 pitches over the day, however, other pitching contests, such as #Pitmad, only allow you to post three times.
Note: Twitter doesn't allow you to post the same thing twice in a two-hour period, so it's good to have a few different pitches.
Key things to remember are:Use genre and age group hashtags to make it easier for agents and publishers to find your pitch. For example, if I'm pitching an adult epic fantasy, my hashtags are #EF (epic fantasy), #A (adult) and #SFFpit. You can find a list of SFFpit hashtags here and Pitmad here.
Note: Every pitching event is slightly different, so look up their preferred hashtags on the contest websites before posting—otherwise you might use the wrong ones and not get noticed!
As a rule, don't "like/heart" pitches from other writers. This is for agents and publishers to show that they're interested and want you to submit to them. If you want to support a pitch, retweet it instead.
Dan Koboldt has written a fairly in-depth guide of Twitter pitching that I found useful when I first looked into participating.
What pitching contests are there? When are they held?
#SFFpit – Science fiction and fantasy pitches only. They usually take place in January and July.
#DVpit – For marginalized authors and illustrators only.
#PitMad – All genres, held several times a year. The next PitMad will be December 5, 2019 (8AM – 8PM EST).Note: the Pitch Wars mentorship programme (run by the same organisation) opens for mentee applications from September 25 - 27, 2019 (Midnight - 10PM EDT).
#PitDark – Dark fiction. Usually in May and October.
#PBPitch – Picture books.
#Kisspit – for romance authors, usually on Valentine's Day (14 Feb)
How to write a Twitter pitch
I highly recommend reading Dan Koboldt's pitching tips as a starting point. It is also good to research pitches that have done well in previous contests and unpack them to see if yours can follow a similar format. However, if you're short on time, here's a basic outline I've come up with, using my manuscript as an example:
Character + situation/story trigger: Chaya, she's bound in blood pact with a monster.
Desire: Get to Illredus to break the pact, find her father's killer.
Obstacles: The physical distance, the monster, the empire's soldiers hunting her.
The stakes: If she doesn't break the pact she'll go mad, if she gets caught by the Empire, they'll execute her.
From here, I mix and match the order/elements to create different pitches, such as:
Chaya's bound in a blood pact with a monster [character + situation]—a forbidden magic punishable by death [stakes]. Her only hope of survival lies in the city of Illredus [desire]. But first she has to drag a less-than-amicable rarkyn across the Empire [obstacle] and try not to go mad from it's magic [stakes + obstacle].
Lastly, I've found it helpful to get feedback on my pitches. Try testing them out on a few beta readers—the pitch that resonates the most with readers often isn't the one you think it will be.