What I Learned Doing #SFFpit

Yesterday was #SFFpit on Twitter. For those of you who don’t know what the heck I’m talking about, there are pitch contests on Twitter several times a year (though I hate the word contest here because the only person you’re really competing against is yourself). If an agent reads your pitch and likes it, they star it, which is an open invitation to query them. If another author sees your pitch and likes it, they can retweet it to show support (without getting your hopes up by starring it).

Pitch Madness (or #PitMad) is probably the most popular, open to all authors of all types of books, but there are several others that focus more on genre.

#SFFpit is for the SciFi/Fantasy authors. And since I was in Ireland when #PitMad happened just a few weeks ago, I jumped on the chance to do #SFFpit this time around. I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I was cautiously hopeful, though not overly optimistic about the whole thing, simply because I have a tendency to set myself up to be disappointed (a classic flaw of a daydreamer/optimist).

Even still, a few things took me by surprise.

1. I got several stars from small/independent presses.

I will freely admit, I did not expect this. I’m still not sure what I’m going to do with those, since I want to publish at a big house (see: daydreamer/optimist), but it was nice to get the positive feedback from others in the industry and know that they’re there. It also helped teach me caution and temperance — just because someone starred my pitch, that does not require me to send them more. Slow down. Do your research. Be careful of sending to a press *before* you have an agent, as this can complicate things. Remember, a star is not a binding contract.

2. I got several stars from spam bots.

Ugh, you guys. Nothing is more frustrating than tweeting out that first pitch, getting a notification that OMG THERE’S A STAR ON THAT AND IT’S FROM…a technology company? And there’s another one from a Furniture Restoration company. Oh…I used the terms “high-tech” and “antique store owner.”  That’s…great. That’s just great.

3. Disappointment doesn’t mean you give up.

So those spam bots I was talking about? They hit me pretty hard at first, especially since I was so psyched up about the whole thing. But then I learned to laugh at them as they kept coming, puzzling out exactly what phrase I used to ping on their search engine. Also, I saw a stat that said only about 10-15% of the authors doing #SFFpit get stars from agents. Disappointment is just part of this industry, and you have to roll with it. It won’t last forever. Persevere.

4. Patience is a Virtue. 

I know. I know. The publishing industry is as slow as frozen molasses, and I should already have patience. I’m working on it, okay? When I went to bed, I didn’t have a single star from an actual agent. But when I woke up this morning?

Sometimes the wait is worth it.

5. I got immediate feedback.

OMG the feedback. THE FEEDBACK, YOU GUYS. Since I had about eight different pitches prepped (I think I ended up tweeting only five of them) I could tell almost instantly which pitches were resonating with the audience and which ones fell flat. One of my pitches got absolutely zero retweets and no stars, even though I tweeted it several times. My top pitch got twenty retweets and five stars (and some of them weren’t spam bots!).

To me, the feedback alone was worth the experience. In an industry sparse on the feedback, it was invaluable.

#SFFpit

                 My most popular pitch. 

At the end of the day, it was a fun ride, and I will certainly be doing it again the next time it rolls around (though hopefully I won’t need to! /daydreamer/optimist). If you want to join us, keep an eye on twitter or dankoboldt.com/sffpit to find out when the next go-round is. I think it’s in December, but keep an eye out.

And keep writing!