Thursday, April 10, 2014

Warm Up Your Pitching Arm

by Kathy Halsey

You want to be an ace pitcher, no screwballs allowed. You want to make it to the major leagues as a writer, so your pitch matters! The best place to warm up is in pitch contests, such as Pitch Mad or lurking in Pitch Wars! The contests are held on twitter and if nothing else, writers gain experience in honing a pitch to 140 characters or less!

These great events are run by the fabulous Brenda Drake who has a YA debut, LIBRARY JUMPERS coming out this spring. Contests run both March and September with the latest edition played as the board game Clue. Brenda explains it all here. Some of the fine folks over at the Sub It Club  have also participated and they will help you perfect that perfect pitch ahead of time. That’s another way to warm-up for all you farm team newbies!

Some of the Sub It Club members over on FB generously shared their experience with this GROGer. Although picture books were not an category in the Clue edition, all genres were included in #PitchMad  
From Sub It Club members themselves: 
  • Your pitch should be the hook of your story, not an excerpt of the text. So, you're not publishing any portion of your work in that situation. Go ahead and pitch! I actually sold my book through connecting with an editor via a twitter pitch contest, so I can attest that they really do work!”
  • "The STEM Girls Take Off when an errant science fair project leads them on an out of this world adventure.” #CB #PitchMad (This pitch was favored.)
  • This was my first time and was really a trial run for a MG novel that has been my heart and soul the last few years. Gotta finish the thing, and then... Anyway, I learned A TON yesterday about pitching and also about how the community worked.”
 Writer friend Danielle Thurby has participated in both Pitchmas and Pitchmad. Her winning pitch that turned into a full request from an agent was, “Good girls & bad boys go together like teenagers and eye-rolling. Can opposites attract if no one is who they say they are? YACont.” 
Though the agent passed on representation Danielle came away with some great takeaways: 
  • “It fueled my determination and made me recognize my own potential…She was incredibly kind in pointing out why she passed and stated that she believed I had a great deal of talent which is such an incredible compliment from such a wonderful agent.”
  • “Until the first time I participated in #pitmad I had no idea how to write a pitch. I was writing full-blown paragraphs that read like book jacket synopses. I didn’t understand the ‘formula’ or how you needed to be short and captivating at the same time.”
  • " I absolutely love reading other pitches and showing support for ones I find intriguing. There are so many novels I want to read based on the pitches I’ve seen.”
  • It’s a great way to collaborate, meet other writers in your same situation, and just network and be a part of a thriving community.”
  • “The last thing pitching on twitter taught me was to believe in myself. I never expected to receive one star and now I’ve gained multiple ones.”  
I agree with Danielle. I have gained so much from these parties and I have not even been “favorited” yet. I’ll share more on Twitter and pitches soon in another Submission Thursday post. So put on your baseball cap and warm up those pitches for the next season! AND, if you have pitched, share your story/pitch in today’s comments section. Play ball!



  1. I'm trying to write a pitch for a PB I wrote for 12x12. It's hard to sum it up in so few words and make it sound great! It's cool they have "pitch parties."

  2. I did get a favorite once for a pitch, but the agent never replied back after I sent my ms to her. Oh well. She wasn't on my list of "favorites."

  3. Twitter pitch sessions are fun, nerve-wracking and immediate. You'll also learn a lot from reading other pitches. I started with #pitchmas last year and got a request, then received a constructive rejection and an offer to discuss the story in a phone convo. It didn't end in representation, but I've got a green light to sub other stories and a nice friendship has developed since. (I'm doing #nestpitch now.) You gotta be in it to win it so DO IT! :0)

  4. I got a request from an agent of a MG book. But when I sent it, she stated it was a Chapter book and she needed a MG novel. She did tell me to add to it and query her first...but I have yet to add to that manuscript. Also, I got a request from an agent and a publisher via Pitchmad. But they both asked me to rewrite the manuscript and resend it. I am still trying to find Willo's voice. Thanks for writing this post. It was awesome. :D

  5. Kathy, you made me laugh with the comments about screwballs :) I learned about TweetDeck and participated in a pitch party. I have a question. When they say to pitch only twice in an hour, does that mean total times per person or twice per pitch (different ideas)?

  6. I figured it was total times per person, Janie.

  7. The pitch contests sound a bit intimidating to me. But, hey, time to get out of my comfort zone! Thanks to those who have shared your follow-up stories - it's nice to see good things happening.

  8. I haven't tried this yet, but your article has given me some steam in my boiler! Thanks for the terrific advice and excellent writing!

  9. Twitter pitching sounds like SO much fun! Thanks for the great post!

  10. Thanks for the collection of info & links.
    My takeaway from "Warm Up Your Pitching Arm" is the forthcoming, LIBRARY JUMPERS. That is a memorable title. What is it about, do ya think?
    Brenda is new to me, so now I need to dig in & learn more.

    Thanks for sharing this fun post Kathy. Good artwork, too.