This past week was #PitMadon Twitter.
#PitMad is a pitch party on Twitter where writers tweet a 280-character pitch for their completed, polished, unpublished manuscripts. Agents and editors make requests by liking/favoriting the tweeted pitch.
Every unagented writer is welcome to pitch. All genres/categories are welcomed.
This came as a shock to me because I thought it was just Pitch Madness. Wasn’t it? Let me check my calendar. *checks calendar.
Three months have passed.
Last Pitch Madness, an agent requested to see my book. By “requested” I mean she liked a tweet pitch of mine during that #PitMad event, which according to the rules meant she wanted to see a full query from me.
So, I sent it to her with high hopes and pocketful of-
March 4? That was the last #PitMad?
You know what happened the week after March 4?
That’s right. The world’s biggest…let’s call it a “hiccup.” So, time kind of slipped away from, not just me, but everyone, I’m sure. How could we reasonably focus on anything else? How? The world was falling apart and now everything’s on fire. Yet, I still haven’t heard from the requesting agent.
So what do you do, as a prospective client? Follow up.
You hear that? Those are the collective shivers and butt-clenches from every querying author at the same time. Following up with an agent, alongside querying, are probably the worst parts of writing. All we want to do is create stories. Now we need to TALK TO PEOPLE? You must be joking. No. You do. You really, really do.
Fortunately, it’s not as hard as you think.
A few years ago I attended a writer’s conference led by Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry, The “Book Doctors.” They both have years and years of quality publishing experience and the conference was an informative look into that world. Everything they spoke about could be found in their book, “The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published.” (Amazon) Described as “What To Expect When You’re Expecting” but for authors. (Which is a brilliant pitch all by itself.) It was held in the meeting room of an amazing bookstore/coffee shop/bar here in Phoenix called Changing Hands: First Draft. (They have more than one location.)
Both were cheery, positive, and willing to answer everyone’s questions. I don’t know if you’ve been in a room of amateur authors, but it takes a lot of skill and patience to thoughtfully answer their questions with the care Arielle and David did. Actually, they gave me one of the best pieces of writing advice I’ve ever received.
At the end of the conference, we did a Pitch Wars kind of deal, where everyone who had a completed manuscript could present their pitch to a panel of judges (them included) and receive feedback. Winner would get a couple of things, as well as being put in contact with an agent friend of theirs.
Mine went okay. I was feeling good about it, until the critiques came. David told me, “I loved everything about it. The characters. Their stakes. And then you sort of lost me once you got to the plot.”
So, there you go. My books are great until the plot starts happening.
They discuss all parts of the querying process, including how to follow up with an agent. See, it doesn’t stop with the submission. If they don’t get back to you, and nothing on their agent’s page says no reply doesn’t no, then you need to follow up with them to see what’s going on. Maybe it’ll be a no, or maybe the world fell apart and they haven’t had a chance to take a look at what you’ve done.
So, how do you follow up, correctly, with an agent you’ve queried. Here’s a quick breakdown of what David and Arielle told us, transcribed and distilled from my notes that day (with one quote from the book at the bottom):
-Many people assume after 1 month, you’re done.
-They may not have opened it yet.
-After 1 MONTH, follow-up.
Follow up with something you’ve done, that benefits your publishing.
- “I did an interview…”
- “I took a workshop…”
-After 1 more month, do it again.
PERSISTENCE IS KEY.
“…you never, under any circumstances, want to be a pest.”
It doesn’t have to be much, but it does have to be something. The big takeaway I remember from that day was you can’t let it float away. Agents receive hundreds, if not thousands, of pitches from prospective writers. There’s a decent chance they simply have not gotten around to your pitch, or it got lost, or it hit the Spam folder. Invite them to know what a cool person you are, let them know you’re actively growing and learning in your subject area, and keep. Doing. It.
Agents want to know you’re someone who is taking this seriously.
I’m off to do just this.
Don’t be worried if you hear loud sobs full of fear and panic and self-doubt. It’s just me. Hitting ‘Send.’
Thanks for reading,