8 Ways to Ace A Twitter Pitch Contest
You can tell I'm a teacher just by that title haha. I've been participating in twitter pitch contests since like forever! Six years to be precise :) In fact, I got my agent, Tricia Lawrence, through DVpit so I thought I'd share some tips on how to put together a pitch. Please also check out this wonderful ink https://www.dvpit.com/resources . Got tons of pitching tips by many wonderful writers, agents. editors.
So without further ado, here are my tips! P.S I am going to use Pride and Prejudice as an example to help the literary fiction & contemporary folks, but my Jane Austen is a tad rusty so please forgive me in advance.
NUMBER 1 - STAKES ( Not the vampire stabbing kind)
Every pitch, even if your story is contemporary or literary fiction, has a stake. But from experience, I realize that it's so much easier to write stakes for fantasy, horror or SF. But trust me, it can be done.
Firstly, what's a stake? Simple. Every character wants something. Every character has a goal. A stake is a negative consequence of failing to get that goal. In contemporary or literary fiction it may seem harder but the stakes are there. Maybe it's not about saving the world but something less epic like in Pride and Prejudice where the girls are trying to find a suitable partner or realizing that Darcy ain't so bad after all & is a great match. So what's at stake here? Ask yourself, what happens if the character doesn't achieve her/his goal. In Pride & Prejudice, Elizabeth wants to marry a decent man with a bit of money. What's the stake? Even though she finds such a man (Darcy), she might miss the opportunity. Make sure the pitch has a STAKE.. No stake and your pitch falls flat.
NUMBER 2 - OBSTACLE
You got the stake? Great. Now find the obstacle. What's stopping your character from getting his/her goal? In Pride & Prejudice, it could be Elizabeth's prejudice of Darcy. In Avengers, it's Thanos being uber powerful & having to battle him to save the world. The obstacle is what stops the character from reaching his/her goal. Make sure you have a obstacle worded into the pitch. E.g To save the world, the avengers must work together to stop the immortal Thanos from destroying the universe. Another example would be, Elizabeth must overcome her prejudiced notions of Darcy or lose the opportunity marry the man of her dreams.
NUMBER 3 - CHARACTER
Okay now that we did the hard part of stake and obstacle, it's time to make your pitch interesting. Add a few words to describe your character. For E.g, Elizabeth, a lady who prides herself as a keen observer of character, must overcome her prejudiced notions of Darcy or lose the opportunity marry the man of her dreams. Now, I could've said that Elizabeth is a smart lady but there are so many smart people out there. What's so special about Elizabeth? Ask yourself the same question about your character and then put that trait in. For e.g in Harry Porter you could describe Harry as a young boy born with magic and destined for Hogwarts school of wizardary or in Frozen you could describe Elsa as a girl who hides her gift to control ice.
NUMBER 4 - SETTING
Settings bring a pitch alive. Maybe your story doesn't seem unique but it's got an unique setting. For example, it's a witch story set in Antarctica. Or a vampire slayer's story set in the year 3000A.D in Sahara. These things catch a reader's eye, especially an agent's. Setting is especially important for fantasy and sci-fi folks. It doesn't have to be super long. Add a year & a brief description of the place. E.g for the movie Total Recall you could say In 2084 in Mars. For Lord Of The Rings, you could say In middle Earth, home to hobbits, dragons, elves... And for Pride and Prejudice you could say, In 19th century rural England, Elizabeth, a young lady...
NUMBER 5 - COMPS
What are comps? It refers to books, movies or games you could compare your story to. And it goes something like this, AVENGERS x K-POP. And it really makes it easier to understand a pitch but it's not always easy to find the right comps for your books. So what do you do? Expand your choices! Don't just stick to books or movies. Look for your own local myths, movies, books, popular games or even songs (think Taylor Swift's Folklore album. Agents actually put it down in their MSWL)
The most popular variation of a comp would be something like this, BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER x CHARMED ( this was a comp I used for one of my books ) but you could also put down comps like this, Indian Muslim BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER X SINGAPORE ( another comp for the same book). Or another variation I saw in twitter went something like this, IF BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER WAS INDIAN MUSLIM. You could also say something like CHARMED X SINGAPORE MYTHS ( Another comp I used for the same book) You could also use comps like this, An Indian Muslim MC like CORALINE fights a jinni familiar BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER style in SINGAPORE. Use your creativity! The sky's the limit :)
NUMBER 6 - PIN YOUR PITCH
A pretty simple tip that makes it so EASY for people to support you. When you pin your pitch to your twitter profile, your frenz can quote RT it easily. And trust me, in the pitching frenzy, all those quote RTs do make a difference. Please note, DON"T JUST RETWEET! Please quote RT or reply to a your fren's DVpit pitch. And please DO NOT USE the DVpit hashtag for those quote rts or replies so you don't clog the feed. Okay now that's out of the way, let's go back to pinning those pitches :) Pin your best pitch. How do you do that? Simple. Pin the one you think is the best then gauge the response to it. If that particular pitch gets a lot of interest, then good! If not, pin another one.
NUMBER 7 - FOLLOW + LIKE AGENT''s DVPIT SUB INSTRUCTIONS' TWEET
Okay this is not guaranteed but it has worked for me on some occasions. I usually follow the agents who are participating in DVpit. When they tweet their DVpit submission requirements e.g an agent might say, If I like your DVpit pitch, please send query & ten pages... I tend to see it in my feed. And when I heart(like) that pitch, sometime these agents like my DVpit pitch. Why? Simple. There are a gazillion ton of pitches and agents can't view all of them. Sometimes, it's just human nature to go check out the person who liked your tweet. Or maybe from an agent's pov, if a writer liked my DVpit submission tweet then he/she must be keen in querying me so it doesn't hurt to check out the pitch ( So please PIN your pitch to your profile :) I've also realized that if the agent just tweeted their submission instructions and you liked it, the chance of the agent checking your pitch out and liking it ( if he/she is interested in it) actually increases. I can't say this works all the time, but it worked for me in the past. Besides, you do need to know the agents' submission instructions especially in the event of agent interest in pitches, so it doesn't hurt to do this.
NUMBER 8 - FOLLOW RULES
This should be a no-brainer. But please, please, follow rules. Check out the latest DVpit rules here https://www.dvpit.com/rules-guidelines and stick to them. When you break a rule ( every year someone does) it can get you the wrong kind of attention from the agents/editors etc and you DON"T WANT that. And also, for the love of God, please DO NOT LIKE PITCHES!!! Only agents/editors are supposed to like pitches. Imagine the disappointment when you get a notification that someone has liked your pitch and it turns out to be some random human instead of your dream agent/editor.
Okay folks that's all I got! GOOD LUCK!