I'm pleased to welcome author Lisa Borne Graves to the blog today to talk you through her experiences of Twitter pitching contests and what came next!
Check it out!
Lisa Borne Graves is a YA author, English Lecturer, wife, and supermom of one wild child. Originally from the Philadelphia area, she relocated to the Deep South and found her true place of inspiration. Lisa has a voracious appetite for books, British television, and pizza. Her inability to sit still makes her enjoy life to its fullest, and she can be found at the beach, pool, on some crazy adventure, or through the following links:
an overview of my thoughts on pitching contests...
A lot of people in the writing community aren’t exactly fond of the pitching contests, but I found them to be an amazing tool to get published. In fact, I’m not sure I would be published without them.
The story begins with me being pretty new to Twitter. I had an account but hardly used it. I started using it again when I became published via a novella in an anthology. I found the writing community, and then one day I saw there was a pitching contest: #pitch2pub. It was late in the day, but I thought, why not try? I had three query-ready manuscripts (I’m a hoarder), so created pitches and posted two for each novel. You can see more about the experience here: https://www.lisabornegraves.com/2018/10/tales-in-publishing-pit2pub-path.html
In the end, the company who published my novella, who had rejected manuscript #1, liked a manuscript #2. I queried, submitted the manuscript, then was accepted, and published.
You can imagine when another pitch day came around, #pitmad, I sure as heck entered my two remaining novels. I got two likes, one on each. I decided against one publisher due to bad reviews and low royalties. The other publisher looked great, so I queried, submitted, and was accepted. See this story here: https://www.lisabornegraves.com/2018/11/tales-in-publishing-pitmad-path.html)
how to follow up when requests happen...
The protocol for pitch days after receiving a like is to research the agent or publisher. A lot of the time people unused to pitch days or wishing to support authors will like their pitches and they won’t be agents or publishers. On these days, never tap the heart; it’s kind to comment and retweet, but don’t like pitches, as you give authors false hope. Also, authors should know vanity publishers are sometimes present and self-publishing services as well. I had a few of those. Genuine publishers will charge you nothing.
After you are confident that they are the real deal, check out their website, track record, the covers of their books, etc. Whatever is important to you, make sure they have it. Personally, I knew the first publisher and I did take a gamble that ended well with a new publisher. It depends on your goals. With my fourteen rough drafts of novels collecting dust (I told you that I’m a hoarder), I just wanted them published professionally with no cost to me and to not completely alter my visions. I got what I wanted.
You follow their submissions policies, so it depends on what they ask for. It usually is a query letter, so have that ready ahead of time. Usually, you’ll address it to the person who liked your pitch and note the hashtag of the pitch party in the letter and/or subject line so they don’t overlook what they know they’re already interested in. If they ask for more initially, give that too. It varies. If they like what they see in the query, they’ll ask for a portion or entire MS. Then you wait (painfully sometimes) and hear a rejection, R&R, or acceptance.
my tips for entering and writing great pitches...
So how did I get responses to all the novels I pitched so far? I looked up what pitches were and found out they were just like elevator pitches. I teach college writing and once was tasked with business writing online courses (not at all my favorite) so knew about marketing writing. I knew I had to apply that thinking to my books. Within an hour, I crafted nine pitches and tweaked them, trimming, trimming, and replacing word choices.
Here are some tips.
Here are my two successful examples with notes:
"What happens if bees go extinct? In the not so distant future, scientifically modified Emlyn and Ace find themselves thrown into the role of saviors on a perilous mission where their tenuous relationship could save or destroy mankind."
BUY THIS NOVEL HERE!
If you’d like more tips on how I crafted this, see here:
Certain key things to look at here. The hook is a question that shows the complication of the novel, as well as an eco-fiction genre since the honey bee is endangered. "Not so distant future" shows the relevance of this issue and hints to a dystopian genre--it's a real-world, pressing concern. "Scientifically modified" points out a sci-fi theme and that the characters are different. The rest of that statement gives the premise: because of who they are they can save the world, but also could mess up and kill us all. It hinges on their "tenuous relationship," which shows us another complication and that the book is a romance novel. So, in total, I was able to get in the two conflicts, two main characters, a little about the world, and most genres and themes.
"The Selection meets Poison Study. Toury arrives in Fyr where magic is power, a prince’s love is deadly, and female autonomy is a dream. Prince Alex realizes Toury can break his curse and save his people, but Earth girls aren’t so easy."
BUY THIS NOVEL HERE!
If you’d like more tips on how I crafted this, see here: https://www.lisabornegraves.com/2019/07/publishing-tips-return-to-dreaded-pitch.html
This one was a struggle. It is a way more complex book than my first one, meaning the two characters have separate conflicts that come together and they are numerous. I still feel this could've been stronger, but it got the job done. I started with a comparison to other novels. This gives the reader a taste of what to expect and shows you're well read in your genre. I introduce the female protagonist and her complications while also painting a picture of the world. I also insinuated my genres too, through particular word choices: a romance "love" and the fantasy genre "magic." The second sentence shows he is another protagonist, a dual POV novel, with his own problems. My pitch focuses equally on plot and romance because this is a romance driven novel. I never state "teen" or "YA" because in pitch days posts, you must label your category and genre with hashtag abbreviations; this novel had a #YA #F #R tagged onto it. Plus, the comparisons should be of your category/genre and both are edgy romance novels with similar themes to my own.
a few thoughts on how I've found working with small presses so far...
Small presses are for me at this point in my career and for my genres. If you’re an author who likes to have some control, a collaborative process, but do not have the money or support to self-publish at a professional level, I suggest them. And when I mean professional level, I’m talking top-notch; I’m an English Lecturer, but would never assume I could edit my own novel even though I teach grammar and writing. It’s impossible to catch all of one’s mistakes or to be unbiased.
I love working with them, and I’ve dealt with two. I get input and have a say. Decisions are made together, and I do not spend money. I do share royalties, but they are higher than what you’d get with traditional; however, know that budgets for marketing and gaining reviews are lower than traditional, but all authors no matter how they are published are expected to market and garner reviews themselves too.
The best thing about small presses, if you get in with a really good one, are they are like friends, family. You feel that they care because their stakes in your novel are just as high as yours. You have to work together to sell books, and so they care more.
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