I should begin this post by admitting it’s in no way comprehensive. My knowledge is extremely limited and so if you’re thinking, “Well what about this-and-this that you didn’t mention,” it’s probably a very legit and viable option, but I, in my limited-ness, have not heard about it.
Since I made my publishing contact for Until Proven via social media, I thought I could at least share some partial wisdom on how the internet can help the aspiring writer get published–and not just that it’s all but eliminated the SASE (self addressed stamped envelope) method of submitting your work.
Ah, Twitter. The water cooler for writers. Since we’re all hanging out in our PJs in front of luminous laptop screens, locked away from most of civilization, Twitter is where the writing community comes to gossip, office-politicize, and discuss trends.
Here’s a pretty accurate quote from Iaim Broome:
Not all, but there are many creative writers who might consider a platform like Twitter to be counter-productive. They might also think it a place for journos, bloggers and beatniks, but not, in their fictional words, serious writers.
It’s nonsense. All writing is serious, now more than ever before. Creative writers need to start taking the bull by the horns and realise that in today’s world, there’s more to writing than simply the act itself.
At the moment, Twitter is ‘the thing’. How long that lasts is irrelevant. As a writer, you can harness its power right here, right now.
Look, I have mixed feelings about Twitter too. It’s like high school all over again, trying to gain followers, forcing yourself to be funny/witty/and not a self-absorbed jerkhead/relying on others’ approval of you.
But for now, Mr. Broome is right. Twitter is ‘the thing’ if you’re a writer. You might as well take advantage of it while you can.
Here’s some generally useful HashTags to get you started:
Books and Reading Hashtags
Book Industry News and Publishing Tips Hashtags
#IAN1 (Independent Author Network)
Hashtags to Connect With Other Writers
#1K1H (write one thousand words in one hour)
#MyWANA (writer’s community created by Kirsten Lamb)
#NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month is held every November)
Gah. Holy cow–long list. And that’s not even everything. Especially since in addition to those hashtags, you should also consider participating in some weekly chats that happen (all times are Eastern Standard Time):
#LitChat – 4pm
#WritersRoad – 9pm
#BlackBookChat – 8:30pm
#KidLitChat – 9pm
#LitChat – 4pm
#EditorChat – 8:30pm
#YALitChat – 9pm
#BookMarket – 4pm
#Poetry – 10pm
#KindleChat – 12pm
#SciFiChat – 2pm
#FollowReader – 4pm
#LitChat – 4pm
#SteampunkChat – 9pm
#RomanceChat – 4pm
#WriteChat – 3pm
#ScriptChat – 8pm
#FantasyChat – 8pm
#TVWriterChat – 9.30pm
Okay. Yeesh, this is officially going to be the longest post ever cause we ain’t even started. All these things are great but I want to point out two very specific hashtags geared toward publishing that I have found particularly useful. One of the best things about Twitter is finding out what literary agents and editors are looking for, and if they’re even looking. Subscribe to a List (like this one) that’s dedicated specifically to agents/editors and make your time easier:
Ahem. So now you’re following some agents. Two hashtag events to pay attention to:
MSWL stands for Manuscript Wishlist. On these events, agents and editors post exactly what they’re looking for. That doesn’t mean you should write exactly what someone tells you too–but if an agent is looking for round about what you’re writing, you can assume you have a greater chance of making an impressive pitch.
For example, after an amazing trip in England where I got to watch SIX SHAKESPEARE PLAYS performed at RSC and the Globe, I was a little in love, and had all these adaption ideas, but kept thinking… ‘Nooo, that’s lame. No one wants to read more Shakespeare stories.’ And then I saw this:
Much Ado About Nothing is my faaaavorite. I thought: I was born to write this book! My YA adaption of Much Ado, Merry War, set in the 1920s, has pretty much wrote itself ever since and you can bet I’m going to query this agent when I’m done.
Pitch Madness is a (I think) semi-annual event. The big ones, anyway, with the most agent participants. Basically it’s a set-aside block of time wherein you have 180 characters to pitch your book, and you include the hashtag #pitchmad. Agents will be scouring this hashtag conversation for about two hours and if they see a book they want to read, then they reply to that Tweet and ta-da, you’re sending your manuscript out.
These #pitchmad tweets are from agents from the last grand event March 29. The next one will be in the beginning of September (date still pending; but just keep googling and searching and when the official date is announced, you’ll know).
You can also find out by following several contest blogs, which brings me to my next item of business.
This is where I’m suuuure my knowledge is lacking. There’s a lot of these floating around and you just have to be diligent in finding them. But let me point out two of the big ones since they’re both coming up soon.
Submissions for this start in late September, with the different categories being auctioned off to agents from mid October to early December.
Brenda holds lots of contests, but the biggest one is coming up the end of August. PITCH MADNESS, the original.
The rules for all of these contests are on their specific sites, but to sum up, basically what these blogs do is allow unknown authors to submit tiny mini-queries in any number of creatively designed contests and real agents and real editors look at them. Go ahead and check out their affiliate links, scour the sister sites, and look for the little things you can enter and participate in.
This is how Until Proven found its home. I submitted the tagline and genre of Until Proven, in addition to the first 250 words of my manuscript, in the comments section of a smaller contest specifically geared to Adult Fiction.
I got these comments back:
I blacked out the names of the two literary agents not because they weren’t great (one ultimately passed on my ms, and the other was interested, but I went with Pandamoon because I want an agent for my YA books, since that’s my primary genre, versus the one adult book I currently had), but I don’t want anyone randomly writing them up about their interest/rejection.
And so, I sent my manuscript to Pandamoon and they read it the same week they received it and loved it. They loved it almost as much as I do, and that was the ultimate deciding factor in signing a contract with them. Compared to the six-month long cold query process I went through with Once Upon a Nightmare, this was ridiculously fast and pleasant, which is why I’m now recommending these methods to all of you in a blog post.
Who knows how long the era of pitch contests will last? Maybe for a long time, maybe they’ll be gone in a year or two. But for now–twitter and pitch parties and where it’s at. Good luck writers, and hope to see your manuscripts floating around cyberspace sometime soon.