At a recent Sisters in Crime event, a Sister shared two words that struck me with the sharpness of Miss Marple’s knitting needles: “query blurbs.”
This is a new-to-me hurdle in the publishing Hunger Games. And just when I had tackled my latest querying challenge: the query tweet.
I’m a member of Agent Quest, a subgroup of the Guppy writers group. The support and information sharing of this group is an oasis in the soul-shriveling desert of the agent search. Ideas, helpful critiques, and attagirls flow on the Agent Quest site, as well as helpful tips and leads.
One night a couple of weeks ago, a Gup mentioned a query event on Twitter. I’d already heard of Pitch Madness (#PitMad), where writers tweet their 140 character pitches and agents who are interested “favorite” them (a "favorite" means you can cut to the front of the query line). Others can favorite, too, including it seems, some less-than-reputable publishers and agents. Still, this new query contest grabbed my attention, since it was being run by a reputable, big name agent.
This agent said she’d pick the three best tweet pitches she received by 8 p.m. and invite those lucky Tweeters to send her a synopsis and ten pages. A jump to the head of the line! A Golden Ticket to avoid the dreaded slush pile? I jumped in.
All I needed was a 140 character pitch of my manuscript. It was 7:30 p.m. I set to work as the clock ticked down.
I crafted a pitch tweet I liked: “Former lingerie model PI teams with oddball teen sci-fi/fantasy author to solve mystery of teen’s father’s death.”
Then I clicked to Twitter and realized – I don’t have a Twitter account.
A quick scan of Twitter showed grandparents and Golden Retrievers who tweet. How hard could it be? Signing up was a breeze. I hit Tweet and sat back, waiting for this discerning agent to pick me.
I clicked onto the stream of tweets to check out the competition. @gnomewrter and @zombieluv were there. Tweets pitching everything from dystopian erotica to historical nonfiction appeared. Dozens of tweet/pitches flowed onscreen. Except mine. Where was my tweet?
I scrambled to my account and clicked the tweet button again and again. Tweet. Tweet. Tweet.
Back to the agent’s twitter feed. No tweet from @bookvoodoo1.
At 8:01 p.m. I found this buried deep in Twitter’s FAQs: “Please note that it may take a few days for changes to your profile information to be reflected in search.”
Head thunk on the keyboard. “Changes in the profile” means you can’t just jump into Twitter and expect to Tweet immediately. Twitter has a mysterious algorithm that means no instant tweets. My tweet was lost in the twitterverse, and it would land too late for the contest.
I came away from this experience with some wisdom and four twitter followers. Well, OK, maybe three. I think the bikini clad Russian girl inviting me to meet her in Spayce follows everybody.
A tweet forces you to get to the essence of your story. There’s no room in 140 characters for filler. Twitter makes you write tight, a good exercise.
What else did I learn?
Maybe you should have a Twitter account – just in case. Make one now, so it is ready. You never know when Pitch Madness will hit you.
Also, RT means “retweet,” William Shatner is hilarious, and you can waste a lot of time on Twitter. A lot of time.