We tout ourselves as pretty clever and very creative individuals, Aristen and I. But when sitting in front of my phone yesterday trying to write up micro-pitches on the Twitter Contest #PitMad, we were both stressing.
Here’s the tweets we used:
Yes, stressing so much that I used the wrong hashtag (it’s #pitmad not #pitchmad). Not going to get much action there, are we?! Yes, that totally happened. IDIOT. And of course I didn’t realize it until I wrote this blog … the next day. FML
Anyway, these two should have been seen at least:
Yeah, so Aristen posted one on her page too, but we followed the rules–only three per project.
And all of this is true. We have a total of six books in the series so far; not all in manuscript form. Only OF GOLD AND FIRE is there. After that last tweet, realizing we weren’t going to get any action from agents, we started a mini-twitter war with hashtags poking fun at the whole thing. It was much more fun that trying to come up with 140 characters for our manuscript.
The last tweet was Aristen’s attempt at using basically metadata to pitch. We didn’t really have time to do another one, so she just sent that tweet out. You miss 100% of the shots you never take, right? I think Wayne Gretzky said that.
But I was kind of surprised to see Aristen’s last tweet, and if you’re wondering about it, here’s a bit of background: our inspiration for Chained came from many places. I focused a lot of the system of oppression that exists in the main setting, Rykon. I’ll likely finish a blog post on it soon, but I studied the history of Islamic slavery in Central Asia during law school. It made quite the impression. If you know nothing about it, you should check it out. That system, and the Mamluks, were the inspiration behind the “gold collars” in OF GOLD AND FIRE. Oh, what are “gold collars?” Well… 😉 But contemporary events also influenced us both.
One thing that we found challenging with the contest was to give equal time to characters. I think that GRRM might have a hard time coming up with a tweet too if he used it to focus on his characters, but as our story is character-driven, it seems logical to focus there.
There are so many variables, hashtags being one. The list hashtags of that you can use for #PitMad are:
Image source: http://www.brenda-drake.com/pitmad/
See this website for rules of #pitmad and contests like it.
We used #F #NA and some #DV. Our story is fantasy for sure, and the themes and situations are too adult for YA, IMO. Me personally, I’m so tired of reading YA. While they often have cool stories, sometimes I feel like they’re too censored to ensure they’re appropriate for the 13 and up category. I like to see R rated movies. Real life isn’t rated PG-13 unless you live in a bubble. I’ve been to war. I’m a grown damn woman. I want realist life … I mean, realistic fantasy (is that a thing?).
But the #YA hashtag was much more common and seemed to be more frequented by agents. I’m not sure our stuff could be YA unless you think Sarah J. Maas’s A Court of Mist and Fury is YA. Before I read that book, I thought she was a YA author, but there was some fairly graphic stuff in A Court of Mist and Fury. Her other series, starting with A Throne of Glass, is more what I would expect from YA; but admittedly, I enjoyed A Court of Mist and Fury so much more than the more sanitized Throne of Glass series. Don’t get me wrong though, I’ll read Empire of Storms, the newest edition in that series as soon as it comes out. 🙂 I can devour YA books.
Other hashtags we might have used but couldn’t with the 140 character limit? #LGBT was one I considered. One of our characters happens to be gay, but it’s kind of insignificant. All of our characters are just people, and yes, GAY PEOPLE ARE ALSO JUST PEOPLE. Ok, can you tell that annoys me?
Additionally, we thought about #AD for adventure. There is a TON of this in OF GOLD AND FIRE and especially in future books. There’s a lot of travel to exotic, magical (but don’t call it magic, sorry inside joke) locales … /dreamy sigh. I love it, but I am biased.
And lastly, any good story has a bit of #R, but that’s not the main event. 🙂
After the bloodbath had ended, I decided to do some research. I went back to the #pitmad hashtag and poked around, to see what worked. Here are a few tweets I noticed had agents interested in them (you can see who the tweeters are, so no need to link):
There’s a lot going on here. That might be why this tweet was interesting. So daughter is high achieving, dad is well, not as much probably, unless he’s like Good Will Hunting or something. But the tweet did make me wonder.
This pitch does seem interesting, although I’m not really into historical kinds of fiction. As for the reader in me, because that’s what I’m into first, I can only be so interested in the genre. But if that’s what they were looking for? /shrug
Literary Agents I assume have to put their own desires aside to find new work, new talent. I think I could do that, if me eating depended on it…
This one had three agents interested, and I was kind of at a loss looking at it. Some of my bias is leaking in however: I’m so sick of reading about royals. They’re not interesting in my opinion. The #YA genre is full of them. I keep trying to read new YA fantasy books, because that’s what it seems like publishers are vomiting these days, and every one turns into a secret royal book. Oh, and the MC is an orphan. Secret Royal Orphan. Come on guys, don’t be predictable. But I digress…
Ok, I’m back: come’on! We live in ‘MURICA, royals are the reason we are. The American spirit is about denying monarchies. Ok, so as a people, we have a sick fascination with royals, likely because we don’t have any. But wouldn’t you want to read about somebody who came from nothing instead? Someone who didn’t know how to speak the language when they were enslaved? No? …Bummer.
Ok, I gotta give it to Ms. Dion. This one actually made me laugh, so it’s not completely surprising that agents were interested in it (other than I’m sick of royals, did I say that already? YES I DID). Based on 140 characters, I might want to read this! Kudos.
What about our competition? Those that would have come up with the #na and #f hashtags?
Now, this sounded a lot like a movie I’ve seen (and I don’t remember which). Maybe her story isn’t at all like that, but the agent didn’t seem to mind.
Wait, instead what? Instead of kill the crap out of her? Le sigh. Then again, I know what she’s trying to say, and I’d probably have picked up the book based on a similar description, especially if I was feeling depressed that day! LOL
All of this being said, it’s a lot to do. Writers and aspiring authors are required to do so much! To succeed you not only have to write a good story, edit your own story well, but for some reason you have to be good at marketing yourself too, possibly even breaking a 115,000 word manuscript into 140 characters. Ah, a #WritersLife. I feel like it should say Pirate’s life with how cutthroat it is…