Guest Post by Molly Pinto Madigan on her success with last October’s Adult Pitch (#AdPit)
By Molly Pinto Madigan
That’s all you have to summarize the quintessence of your book. Oh, and while you’re at it, you need to make it dazzling enough to catch an agent’s eye: a snappy, summer sparkler that will blind with its brilliance and stand out against the annoyingly clogged Twitter feed. “For cripessake, we’re novelists,” you say. “140 characters couldn’t adequately describe an exceptionally dull pack of chewing gum, let alone a completed masterpiece of literary achievement!”
I hear you. I feel your pain. I question your judgment in using the word cripessake, but, hey, you’re a neologist. I dig it. Save some of that panache for your Twitter pitch, you! Okay, so the truth of the matter is: it’s a miserable pain in the arse trying to squeeze an intelligible pitch into a single tweet, but it’s good for you. First of all, it’s a (hideously painful) lesson in precision, in making every word count; you have to be concise when you only have 140 characters, minus the #AdPit hashtag and (if you’re good and/or masochistic) the genre, to sell your soul — uh, I mean, manuscript. Sitting down in front of your empty tweet, thoughts like “Can I abbreviate chupacabra?” or “Do you think they’ll still get it if I omit all the vowels in sequoia?” will undoubtedly surface. These are trying times, my literary friends, for the answer to such questions is, invariably, no. No one will understand your pitch if you invent contractions where there are none or abbreviate words from foreign tongues. And no, you can’t spell sequoia without the vowels. That’s the desperation talking! You need take a deep breath, go eat a sandwich because you’re clearly delirious, and hone that pitch. Push through the tears. Perfect it (or at least throw some of the vowels back in), and get it out there, because, hey, it worked for me.
Yes, that’s right. I know what you’re thinking: how did someone who wrote a book about chupacabras kicking it old school up in the sequoias land an agent? Well, I hate to burst your proverbial bubble, but I made that whole thing up for teaching purposes. Feel free to write that crazy adventure, though! And while you ponder what that plot might look like, here’s a pitch I used when I participated in #AdPit last October:
@mpintomadigan: Halloween in Salem : A bored undergrad gets more than she bargained for when she meets a man who sings the shadows awake. #NA #TamLin #AdPit
Nothing too special, right? But it was enough to pique an agent’s interest. The luminous Laura Zats of Red Sofa Literary ‘favorited’ the tweet, which meant I got to send her the first chapter. Then the whole manuscript. And then, The Call. Yes, capital T, capital C. The Call, that legend, the unagented author’s Holy Grail. It was terrifying in its glory, but Laura was great and liked Doctor Who, and I signed with her in the beginning of November. She’s a veritable SuperAgent who is cool and quirky and gets all my weird jokes. And the rest? Well, the rest is history. (And, yes, I did sneak in an extra hashtag because my novel is a retelling of a ballad, and because I’m particularly deranged.)
That’s all you have to do with your Twitter pitch: stir up interest, leave them wanting more. And with a little bit of luck, maybe you’ll really connect with an agent who really connects with you, and the two of you will live happily ever after in a literary land where chupacabras like to chill in ridiculously tall conifers.
Wishing you the best of luck this #AdPit season,
P.S. On second thought, I’m calling dibs on the chupacabra story. My mom’s a lawyer, so no funny business!
P.P.S. Follow me on Twitter, and I’ll reconsider. I might be willing to negotiate terms.
P.P.P.S. ‘Like’ my Facebook page, and I’ll write that book for you.
About the author: Self-proclaimed poet and songstress, Molly Pinto Madigan loves roses, old ballads, faery stories, and beaches, where she spends her days indulging her mermaid nature. In her spare time she drinks tea, makes music, and writes novels about thinly-veiled versions of herself. She is currently working on book three of her OF BLOOD AND ROSES trilogy. Visit her world at http://www.mollypintomadigan.wordpress.com and http://www.facebook.com/mollypintomadigan