A Fantasy Author's Adventures in Fiction & Life

Tag: #Writingcommunity (Page 1 of 2)

Its not easy getting started on new social media platforms, getting post interactions, finding your people etc. It takes time. Then platforms with algorithms (not Blue Sky or Mastodon) tend to punish your visibility when you don’t post or interact regularly. Twitter’s death has scattered a lot of communities, some of us onto multiple platforms. Meanwhile posting and running on any platform has its own issues, which I will unpack in Avoiding Social Media Burnout.

In your quest to seek your communities, interact personally and freely promote your books/ art/ products; are you paying enough attention to each platform’s usability, personal fit and comfort? I’ll unpack these factors to help you select platforms to ditch, to assist in avoiding social media burnout.

Because; do you actually need to be on SO MANY platforms? Can you integrate your creative and personal pursuits onto a smaller number of platforms where you engage more often, more meaningfully and are actively part of the communities you seek? I’ll offer suggestions on platforms where this can be effectively achieved as well.

I know, especially with the Twitter Writing diaspora (no this post isn’t dated, I reject the name change), its easy to get FOMO. To wonder about creatives and people you’re not connecting with or reaching on other social media platforms. So some people use an app to schedule posts on multiple social media, more than they have time or energy to interact on, which has its own problems.

I hope you don’t use an app which auto-posts: ‘I just posted on Insta’ or ‘just pinned (whatever) on Pinterest…’ because I’ve unfollowed people for that. If I follow you on Blue Sky (Bsky) or Mastodon, its because I want to see your Bsky or Mastodon content.

Then there’s the issue of audience differences. I prefer to manually post on Bsky/ Mastodon and Facebook. My FB is mostly people I’ve known personally from all walks of life, including far less people from the diverse communities I interact in on Bsky. So if I scheduled the same posts for Bsky and Facebook, they would resonate with my Bsky community, but not my FB contacts, or vice versa, OR compromise too much and not resonate with either.

And that’s not the biggest problem.

Sure, there will always be those kind people who like and comment on your post, even when you don’t reply or even like their comments (I’ve seen it happen).

The problem with posting and running is it feels like rockstar status. Like you’re saying, “I’ve got things to do (as if my followers don’t). I want engagement from you and I’ll give you nothing/ little in return.” Alternatively “I think my time is worth more than yours.”

I don’t expect any writer/ creative to be Neil Gaiman on Bsky (how much that guy posts but also interacts with other people’s posts is AMAZING! When does he even write?!) But when Neil Gaiman interacts with his followers and others don’t (I don’t just mean life gets busy so you disappear or are hardly present for a bit, I mean post and run is your modus operendi) it feels like snobbery.

If people comment on your posts and you don’t reply, it will feel to them that you’re not really there. Like you’re talking at them, but not listening to them. You’ve taken the ‘social’ out of social media. So why follow you on that platform?

Which brings me to, if you’re on more platforms than you have time to connect with others on, if all you’re doing is posting and running… does that build a following?

Sure, there are people who post frequently, have interesting things to say and gain lots of followers. I follow one on Blue Sky who posts multiple times a night on multiple topics, in such a way that many people feel a connection to him. He’s also entertaining and has an unusually large number of followers for Bsky. (And I bet its his main platform, which he gives most of his social media time and energy to).

But most of us don’t present in ways lots of people frequently feel so connected to. Its people who feel like they know me who tend to regularly interact with my social media posts. And while they may feel that from reading my posts often, they get to know me far better if we talk to each other. That’s what gets me the most engagement.

So if you’re posting and running, do people feel like they know you on that platform? Do they connect with what you’re saying? Do they interact with you? Or are you shouting into the void? And if so, would letting those accounts go dormant (or deleting them) lose anything? Or would it gain you time and energy/ spoons for other things?

As an indie author, I took the advice to be where my readers are. I tried to post there more often than once in a blue moon when it wasn’t somewhere I didn’t have the motivation, time or spoons to interact. And I learned that reciprocity is important to me not just as a writer and author, but as a social media user.

I don’t want to post and run. I don’t want to be that person who’s always taking and never gives anything back. Who wants engagement and interaction but never returns it.

Learning this about myself made it much easier to decide to let my Tik Tok and Instagram accounts become dormant, to only use my Pinterest to pin a link to my latest blog and to mainly interact on my Blue Sky and Mastodon accounts. I just have a Facebook profile for anyone who isn’t on the former two (because I hate the fan-style set up of FB pages).

But if you are comfortable interacting only with those who reply to you or posting and running…

This can get overlooked among the ‘be where your readers are’ advice and the temptation to be everywhere to ‘reach as many readers as possible’.

This is a simple way to cut down your platform presence.

At one point I had writer groups on Facebook. It was clunky and disorganised. Posts didn’t display in chronological order. The display order of posts kept changing. It wasn’t easy to organise by topic. I found myself not wanting to interact in FB groups I created, because every time I did they frustrated my impatience to interact swiftly and effectively.

So when Facebook shut down Australian community groups without warning during a 2020 lockdown and I moved my writer groups to Discord and found it had ten times better functionally, I all but stopped using Facebook to interact with writers.

When it comes to usability, is there a platform where the notifications, functionality, layout, the way posts are organised (or totally disorganised) frustrates you? That makes things more time-consuming to use?
How much frustration does it cause you or how much of your time does it take up across a day, a week, a month? Is it worth it?

(On these grounds alone, Twitter was a monumental waste of my time by mid 2023 and its dis-functionality was right up there with its antisemitism in driving me to Mastodon and Blue Sky.)

I liked the idea of Instagram. I enjoy travel and nature photography and sometimes write poems. Its also popular with the target audience of my YA Fantasy books: fifteen to forty-somethings (I don’t think YA readership stops at forty, though I know far less fifty-something+ are on Insta). In theory it was a good place to promote my writing and have a social media presence.

But Insta never worked out for me. Posts were bigger and took longer to scroll than my preferred text-based platforms. The algorithms showed me populist posts instead of people I actually knew socially, or fellow writers. The relentless plague of bots commenting on my bookish posts and spamming my inbox was ANNOYING. And I’m still convinced half my followers are men treating Instagram as a dating app…

Then Insta started imitating Twitter with blue tick offers, increased ads and populist post and follow suggestions clogging my feed. This was a feed I wasn’t going to interact on because it just didn’t fit me. It was my post and run platform. And every time the algorithms changed, my posts got seen by less people and slowly dropped from an average of 40 likes to around 15.

I thought, what’s the point? I’m not going to reach readers here anyway. I could use the time and energy I spend on Insta writing my newsletter or blog… even my books! So I let my Insta go dormant.

Avoiding Social Media Burnout (For Writers/ Creatives)

Do you have a platform you feel the same way about? What could you achieve for your books/ art/ newsletter/ blog/ business if you ditched that platform?

Sometimes, the place your readers/ viewers/ customers hang out ISN’T a good place for you. I don’t just mean you find it tricky or aren’t too sure how the platform works. I mean you’re there because you feel you ‘should’ be and are fighting that little voice in your head telling you ‘this is UN-comfortable.’

For me, this is Tik Tok. I write YA Fantasy. Book Tok sells books. I ‘should’ be on Tik Tok. But my Tik Tok feed is to my ADHD like someone running their nails down a blackboard nonstop. Its audio and visual sensory overload. Its also constant change and unpredictability because every few seconds its a different person/ place/ colours/ sounds/ music/ volume level etc. Tik Tok is sensory HELL for my neurodiverse needs.

Because of the above I have zero desire to interact on Tik Tok. I could just post book promo videos there. Maybe a few author friends would be generous and interact with me even though I never interact with them. Maybe on the right hashtags and with the right sounds my videos would sell some books.

I did make a few personal videos (because I hate just being salesy anywhere). I paid my cover artist to make one animated book cover and reviews video. Then I lost interest, motivation, spoons, time and didn’t go back.

If you’ve got that account your readers hang out on and you ‘should’ be on but you don’t feel comfortable or dislike the platform, maybe the best thing for your comfort/ energy levels/ not spreading yourself too thin is to let that account go.

If you don’t approve of hate speech, you wouldn’t want to give it the thumbs up by having an account on a social media platform that enables hate speech, would you?
So have you deleted your Twitter yet?
If not, please read ‘Delete your Twitter’ below. (Yes, its more sympathetic than what I wrote above).

You may also want to consider social media platforms where misinformation is rife, given how that can fuel social division, the climate crisis, maintain the status quo by keeping marginalised communities and people marginalised, etc.

Tik Tok may give you pause because of its Chinese ownership and China and human rights…

For more on my personal stance on Twitter, Facebook (and KU/ Amazon) ethics, see Author Ethical Dilemmas.

I assume you were on social media before you had books/ art/ products to sell. That you partly use social media to interact with friends and family, with fellow creatives and possibly with groups who share your interests or facets of your identity. So in this next section I’ll talk about social media spaces that meet your social, personal AND indie needs. Those are the ones I suggest prioritising with most of your time and energy/ spoons.

Let’s say for example you’re a SciFi nerd and you’re on Tumblr for that. Or you love bird watching and follow FB groups for that. Or like me you’re queer, neurodiverse, chronically ill or otherwise disabled. Let’s say sharing life experiences in those communities is affirming, informative and beneficial to your wellbeing.

But communities and interests can be on different platforms, which spread you thin and can wear you out. So where can you integrate your interests, social groups and personal interactions?

The Old School option was Facebook profile to interact with friends/ family, and FB groups for writers, other communities and your interests plus your author Facebook page. As I’ve mentioned, I’m not fond of Facebook functionally or ethically. Technically I’m still in FB groups for writers (I almost never look at them) and Wide for the Win as an author (I always mean to look at that more —on its own platform).

But if you are a FB user, it does integrates lots of groups and interests in one space (and likely a lot of your personal contacts if you’re Gen Y or older.) Limiting yourself to it (and few others) is an effective way to avoid social media over-stretching and burn out (and time suck).

I love Blue Sky because I can connect with writers, get and give writerly and authorly advice, help others AND do the same things as a neurodiverse, queer and chronically ill person. I can check in on the latest news, the latest archaeological discoveries, find historical articles, its all there in one place. Individual posts are even organised topically so I can browse feeds by topics that interest me. And it hosts Twitter’s writer chats (see my Bsky Newby guide for details).

Bsky can integrate your interests and communities (in my opinion with better functionality and organisation than Facebook) —and without Musk or Zuckerberg! These are some of multiple reasons its my favourite social media.

From what I understand, Reddit is another good option to engage with particular interests and topics. It also categorises posts and includes categories you can share shorts, poetry etc in to build your audience on social media.

Yes, you could browse Twitter or Instagram, or Mastodon or I don’t know what else by hashtags to explore your interests. In my experience (of Twitter) people often forgot to use relevant hashtags in their posts, or they overused them (especially on Instagram) and this is not nearly as effective in connecting with your people as Facebook groups, Blue Sky Feeds or what I’ve heard of Reddit.

But if Instagram or Mastodon are where you personally connect with people, your creative community (via Mastodon prompt hashtags or Instagram challenges), and where your other interests and communities are; by all means connect there by hashtag. And make either your main social media base that gets most of your time and energy (bonus if it fits where your readers hang out!)

In the author interviews I’ve done (all linked on this page), ‘build your writing community and do it early’ or ‘I wish I’d done it sooner’ is something writers say A LOT. So in prioritising social media platforms, the first question I suggest you ask is; where is my creative/ writing community?

If it’s always been in Facebook groups or on Instagram, this is easy to answer, and I’d stay active in your community. But if your community used to be Twitter…

The time has long passed to beat around the bush about this.

I had 16k Twitter followers. I introduced writers to each other by genre. I critiqued pitches, ran query letter and Pitch Party DM groups. Then I started an Author Platform DM group, an SFF one, a Querying Writers DM (then moved them all to Discord).

Twitter’s #WritingCommunity was my home and I knew literally hundreds of writers by name and could tell you off the top of my head what genre tens of them wrote. But everything I loved about Twitter’s #WritingCommunity was already dying when Musk started breaking Twitter.

We’re not uncertain what kind of transphobia-promoting, fascist-enabling hellhole Twitter could become. [Twitter’s safety measure cuts are now documented, as are statistics on hate speech tweets not being removed and people not being banned for tweeting them. Spoiler, the latter statistic is ZERO)]. We’re also in no doubt how many staff will be sacked and how dysfunctional and unusable the site will become.

Twitter is dead.

True, by leaving, I lost friends (who didn’t go to Blue sky/ Mastodon/ Facebook/ Discord) and that’s sad. I hope they’ll become active on Blue Sky or Discord one day. But I haven’t regretted deleting my account or departing a discrimination-enabling, rage-bating platform once.

Let it go and move on —preferably before fascists start seeing your continued presence as support of their beliefs.

By now you’ve either settled into algorithm-less Mastodon, or found it not a close enough clone of Twitter (writers, check out #WritersCoffeeClub if you’re still settling there -that’s where the #WritingCommunity is!). Or you’re feeling more comfortable on algorithm-less Blue Sky or on Threads. Or you’ve settled on Discords or into Instagram’s creative communities.

Have you noticed how hard it can be settling into one creative/ writing community? Building connections among creatives in one space? This is why I suggest sticking to ONE main creative community on ONE platform. Go there with your experiences, questions, learnings, random thoughts, memes —everything. Let fellow creatives get to know you and get to know them. Make friends and build ONE proper creative community.

Ideally, do it on the social media with your queer community, your bird watching community, your BIPOC community, your personal contacts —to minimise your platform spread, build strong connections and get the most out of the time, energy and spoons you invest in social media.

I’m active almost daily on Blue Sky AND Mastodon. Its do-able because Mastodon’s writer prompts give me a topic to talk about and other people’s responses to interact with on the same hashtag. It makes getting to know and meaningfully interact with a group of writers effortless (and when time’s short I skip Bsky that day or do two day’s Mastodon prompts the next day).

Discord or Facebook may be like this for you. You go in to the group —and on Discord go to the topically relevant channel— ask your question and get it answered. Or you look at what other people are saying (again on specific topic channels that interest you on your choice of Discord servers) and reply —when it suits you to do so.

If you get what you want from the platform quickly and easily, as rarely or as often as you want WITHOUT putting much time, effort or energy into it, you may find Mastodon/ Discord/ FB Groups sustainable —on the side of your main creative community.

Ideally you’ve got ideas on where you can interact as an author/ artist/ other creative and person and with your creative community and potential readers/ viewers/ consumers on one or across two, possibly three platforms.

I’m not saying necessarily delete everything else (exception Twitter). Consider what I did on Instagram: say you’re going elsewhere, leave links for people to find you and let the account go dormant. That way anyone who finds it can connect with you where you’re maximising and integrating your social media presence.

And if they don’t?
I wonder how many more people you’ll reach on the few platforms you make your online homes, by being present, by effectively connecting and being a part of the community. Good luck!

Blue edged, pink, orange and yellow rainbow scroll with text: Get blogs in your inbox & updates from Elise every second month. Join my Fiction Frolics. Select this image to learn more.

Related Reading/ Links Shared Above

My Writer Discords

Blue Sky Newby Guide

Social Media For Writers (general platform introduction —don’t forget this blog’s advice!)

Twitter, KU & Author Ethical Decisions

Becoming an Indie Author

Author Newsletters

I know, you’ve spent years making connections and finding your niche/ building community on Twitter, then Musk bought it and history happened. In this BlueSky Newby Guide, I’ll go through what features Bsky has and doesn’t have (yet), profile set up, using feeds to find your people and interacting tips.

Not another NEW Platform!?

Blue Sky (bsky) is basically Twitter. Look at my Bsky dashboard (below). It’s VERY similar. The general differences with Bsky include no algorithms, no sponsored ads, no trending topics (very little rage baiting), alt text is encouraged, and transphobes ARE NOT WELCOME —nor are fascists. (I rarely see either complaining no one will debate other people’s right to human rights with them because like most Bsky users —I’ve blocked them).

Getting Started: Profile Set Up

Be sure to fill in your bio so we know you’re not a bot. If you can find space, consider including alt text for your cover photo, as Bsky doesn’t have that option on the cover image itself (yet). Cover photos don’t tend to crop well. I ended up shrinking my covers on a larger background on Canva and uploading to Bsky multiple times, using trial and error to get this fit.

Bsky profile, with menu left, cover image of 'Ruarnon Trilogy' with 4 book covers against a dark sand dune and starry sky.Profile pic of Elise inset.Elise (they/them) *rainbow and 3 books emoji* Celebrating a book Launch!Elise's bio: Epic YA Fantasy Author. Teacher. AroAce, ND, chronically ill enby.
???????? *Aussie* on Wurundjeri country.
#IndieAuthorChat
host*rainbow, 3 books* ????????Fantasy Books elisecarlson.comIndie *3 books* ????Launch Support Discord: bit.ly/3vFvXGiNewSky Guide: bit.ly/BskyGuide

You’ll note my bio gets personal. I’m openly nonbinary, neurodiverse and chronically ill, and happy to present publicly as such and to discuss all three to raise awareness. Don’t feel you owe anyone this information. But do consider including your traits, interests etc —things you will post about, that will help your people recognise you as their people.

No Pinned Posts (Yet), So Instead…

Bsky doesn’t have pinned posts. If you normally have images, links or other in pinned, try to get them into your cover image and bio instead. As an indie author my pinned post is normally book one in my series, with a description or teaser and cover. So my cover photo is my book covers, and my bio explicitly states that I write epic YA fantasy. I’ve also included a link to the books page of my website.

(I don’t use Linktree because it looks like decision paralysis to me. And the advantage of my site page over BooksToRead is I can link my books on Goodreads, Storygraph and Bookbub, as well as stores and subscription services. And by linking my site —my site gets the SEO boost, and its still easy for people to browse my blog or sign up to my author newsletter.)

First/ Intro Post

Not everyone you knew on Twitter will be on Bsky, and some people on Bsky never had a Twitter account. There will be people in whichever communities, interest groups or fandoms you’re part of whom you don’t yet know. So assume we don’t know you, tell us who you’d like to hang out with in your intro post and maybe give us a question to answer. For example, my intro post is below.

BlueSky PostText: Hello BlueSky! Where are my fellow #Fantasy/ #SFF/ #IndieAuthors/ poets? Pantsers? Fellow queer and or ND people? Aussies?I'm all of the above, and writing my third epic YA Fantasy set beneath sorcerous skies, where a continent-wide war is brewing. Happy to talk all things writerly/ authorly!

Why bother? So when more of us know who you are, have interacted with you in a digital ‘meeting each other’ way and are more likely to interact with your posts.

Finding Your People: Following

The tried and tested method so far has been find your mutuals by looking at who friends you’ve found are following.
If you’re a writer and you knew me on Twitter, I’ve linked as many writer friends as I could by their Insta and Bsky handles and by genre, identity, country on this (view-only, master) spreadsheet. If you’re a writer and would like to be added, you can link your bsky handle in appropriate categories on this editable spreadsheet and I’ll paste them over to the master.

Finding Your People: Feeds

Bsky vertical menu
Text: search, Follow, OnlyPosts, Aussie Feed, Australian Media, Aussie & Kiwi Writers, Writerly & Authorly Posts (etc). More Feeds.

I won’t give advice on general posting yet. Because to understand post visibility, you need to understand how posts are organised on Bsky. You have many options in another menu in your profile here (right/ below). You’ll have a feed of everyone you’re following. Under that, you can pin feeds of any topic or community you wish to see (and ‘Only Posts’ which filters out reposts and replies of your followers, showing only organic posts).
Posts are displayed on feeds if they include the keywords or emojis described a the feed’s description.

Adding Feeds

So how do you find feeds displaying posts you might want to see, or get your posts displayed on?

1.Under the feed menu (pictured right/ below), select ‘more feeds’. That will display this menu.

2. Enter topics that interest you in the search bar.

3. To add a feed to your feed menu, select the plus symbol. (Select the bin to remove a feed from your menu if you change your mind).

Text: Discover new feeds, Search.
Two hands making a heart symbol beside: For You. Plus symbol (right).
Blye square with white flame on. What's Hot Classic, bin (right).

My Favourite Feeds

Writing Feeds

Writing & Authoring: picks up: ‘writer(s)’, ‘author(s), *hand holding pencil emoji* ‘(#Am)writing(community)’ by me.

SFF Writing -Fantasy, SciFi, general SFF and writing/ editing/ writer/ author, or *trident emoji* by me.

Writing Prompts – #vss365, #vsspoem, #whistpr, #mpotd and other vss by Helen Whistberry.

Querying Writers, by me.

Indie Author Life
by @larisa-a-white.bsky.social, whom you’ll need to ask to add you.

Book Sky

BookSky:
Posts with *blue heart & 3 books emoji*

Diverse Books
Posts with: *globe with the Americas & 3 books emoji*

SFF Books: Posts with Fantasy/ SciFi, SFF etc.

Queer Bookworms
Posts with *rainbow emoji & 3 books emoji*

Queer SFF
Posts with *rainbow, rocket & shooting star emoji*
(Or keyword combos, see its description).

Trans Books: Posts with #TransBooks365

Aussie Feed

Aussie Feed posts naming Australia or its capital cities.

LGBTQIA+ Feeds

LGBTQIA+ Posts picks up LGBTQIA+ and most queer identify words by me.

Asexual Spectrum picks up asexual, aromantic, aroace, asexuality, *a black & a purple heart emoji* etc. by me.

GenderQueer: picks up genderqueer, genderfluid, nonbinary etc, by @plutopsyche.nicomaramckay.com.

Disability Feeds

Neurodiversity: all ND posts.

AuDHD, ADHD & Autism posts and quote reposts.

Chronic Illness

Disability

Writer/ Wip Chats

These are just getting started. I’ll try to add more as they arrive.

Daily
#WIPSnips by Rosie J. Potter invites you to share a passage from your wip containing its prompt word.

#SmoreWords created by CK Knight and run by Daniel Aegan and Jude Graves invites you to respond to daily prompts about your wip.

Weekly

#KidLitChat by Bonnie Adamson
Open to Kidlit writers
Tuesdays: 9pm EST.
The chat is one question weekly posted by this account.
It looks like participation is by replying directly to that post, on the chat hashtag.

#HorrorWritersChat by Matt Mason
Open to horror writers
Wednesday: 7pm GMT.

#MomsWritersClub hosted by Sarah Read and Jess.
Open to writers who are ‘Moms, furball moms, other parental units, people who have moms… as long as you’re kind’
Wednesdays

#WeekNightWriters by Dianna Gunn
Open to all writers.
Thursday: 7-8pm EST

#WowChat by Talli Morgan
Open to all writers.
Friday: 7-8pm EST. Discontinued? (Hasn’t run for two months).

#SFFChat by C.J Subko
Open to SFF writers
Friday: 2pm CST (Aussie Sat EST 7am) Fortnight or weekly TBC. Same format as above.

#WITD by Payne Sillavan
Open to all writers, some prompts having a dark/ horror leaning angle. Same format as above.
Friday: 5pm central. Paused, possibly discontinued.

#LateNightWrite hosted alternately by Blackbird and Jo Bruehler
Open to all writers.
Saturday: 10pm central/ (Sun 2pm Aussie EST summer time). This chat has its own feed.

#MiddeGrade Chat by Ros Dando
Sunday: 5pm GST, for MG writers. Paused for 5 months. Discontinued?

Following Feed -Making it Easy to View

Your Following/ Home feed automatically displays posts by people you follow AND all replies to those posts AND everyone you follows reposts. If this is too much, you have a few options.

  1. Go to ‘settings’
  2. Select ‘Home Feed preferences’.
    Here you decide whether to see or hide all replies, to only display replies by people you follow, or to remove all reposts from your feed.
  3. Select right for ‘no’, left for ‘yes’ to change any of these 3 settings.
  4. Select ‘Done’ (blue button at the bottom).
Home Feed Preferences.
Show Replies (ser to 'No' to hide all replies.
Blue toggle button beside 'Yes'.
Reply Filters.
Enable this setting to only see replies by people you follow.
Grey toggle button beside Followed users only.
Adjust the number of likes a reply must have to be shown on your feed.
Blue toggle button beside 'show all replies.'
Show Reposts
Set this setting to 'no' to hide all reposts from your feed.
Blue toggle button beside 'yes.'

Following Feed Display -Content

Another thing about settings is it will default to not displaying adult content, which includes sexual content, violence, nudity (yes, a happy snap of a woman showing some cleavage will be censored as nudity), hate groups, suspected impersonation and spam. There are harmless emojis I can’t see in my followers posts because I can’t work out which setting in Adult Content Settings is bothered by it. So if you’d like to see things rated anything above G by Bsky:

  1. Select ‘Moderation’ (the handle symbol in your main menu, above settings)
  2. Select ‘Content Filtering’ and ‘hide,’ ‘warn’ or show to suit your preferences.

Posting & Getting Seen (Feeds, not Hashtags)

You’ve got 300 characters to play with. So how do you get your posts seen by your people? Hashtags don’t work the way you’re used to. You can select them to see a feed of what people are posting on them, but they don’t impact your visibility via algorithm.

Keywords (and sometimes emojis) are more likely to get your posts onto topically relevant feeds (only older feeds pick up hashtags specifically), with the exception of chat hashtags (tags for prompts posted regularly that have moved to Bsky from Twitter).

1. Go back to feeds you added above,

2. Select the 3 dots (top right of the feed name).

3. Select ‘about this feed’.

4. Check which keywords and emojis get your posts displayed on that feed.

5. Use any combination of relevant keywords/ emojis on your post to put it on multiple relevant feeds.

Note: you can put pairs of emojis ‘back-to-front’ and they still display on that feed.

Writer/ Author/ Book Visibility

Writers, our main key words are: writer(s), author(s), and any words containing ‘writing’ (this includes WritingCommunity, etc).
Book Feeds: see links under ‘Book Sky’ and ‘My Favourite Feeds’ above.

Alt Text

Alt text is big on Bsky. We want all users to enjoy content posted. If you tend to forget to add alt text to images in your posts, good news —you can adjust your settings so Bsky will not let you hit ‘post’ till you’ve added alt text.

1. Go to ‘Settings’
2. Accessibility (forth option down)
3. Flip the toggle beside ‘require alt text before posting’ to blue.

Sharing Links in Posts

If you paste a link into a post, a little box will appear saying, ‘add link card’. Selecting this will add a link card. Then you can delete the link text from your post, saving characters.
Be warned, if the link makes your post exceed the 300 character limit, Bsky may cut off characters over the limit, breaking the link. So always check your complete link has pasted.

NB: there are no algorithms on Bsky, so unlike on Twitter, posts containing links will not be penalised and are just as visible.

Bsky Lists

This is a new function that looks like feeds, but has key differences. Its a better way to display posts of and stay in touch with people you know, as opposed to following feeds by topic.

Differences With Lists:
-List Feeds don’t pick up posts by keyword.
-List feeds display only, but also all posts of people added to the list.
-You can create your own lists within Bsky (in the same menu that lets you post, view feeds, etc).
-You can add people to lists (go to that person’s profile and hit the 3 dots next to the ‘follow’ button for a menu to do this).
-The ‘about’ section of a list displays the profiles of every account that has been added to that list.

My Lists

I’ve made A LOT of lists. The screenshot below is a menu for them, and every list is linked into that thread. You can also view all of my lists by visiting my profile and looking at the menu under my bio (‘lists’ is on the right end).

If you’d like to be added to any of my lists, let me know by replying to my post below by selecting it.

Emoji flags or relevant symbols beside each keyword describing Elise's Lists:
????????Aussie
????????Kiwi
????????Uk
????????Euro
????????Merican
????????Canada????️‍????LGBTQIA+
Neurospicy
♿Disabled/Chronic illness✍️Writers
????Fantasy
????SciFi
????SFF
????Horror/Dark
????️Historic
????‍????‍????KidLit
Poets
????️Mystery/Thrill????Indie Authors
????️‍????Queer Rep/Romance/Themes
????SFF: trans, enby, asexual,????️‍????
BIPOC
ND/Dis

Functions That Don’t Exist (yet) & Suggested Alternatives

No AlgorithmsRepost

Likes have no impact on visibility. Re-post just shares posts with whoever of the reposter’s followers is on their feed at that time. I’ve found this means my posts get the most interaction in their first 3 hours (if America is awake then). Early Aussie afternoons, when America and Europe are sleeping (except the night owls) tend to be VERY quiet.
I doubt this will change, so if you see a post you think is helpful/ enjoyable etc -repost it to your followers! This is our main way for anything worth seeing to get seen —and if you quote repost with topical words, (add a comment to the repost) this will often repost to feeds too).

Pinned Posts -Jam it in your Bio

Whatever doesn’t fit into your bio has no real alternative to a pinned post (yet). This seems to be why when I arrived on Bsky there was a big trend of re-intro posts, as people’s original intros got buried below other posts on their profiles.

Bookmarking PostsRepost

As there isn’t an option for bookmarking (yet), the only thing to do to have a copy somewhere of posts you may normally bookmark is to repost them to your profile (which helped me add chats and feeds to this blog 😉 ). Long term, you’ll have to link posts elsewhere. (I link them in my writer Discords).

Direct Messages

There is no Bsky alternative for this (yet). Many of us tend to use Discord for direct messaging, or group private conversations, which, like Bsky, has the advantage of not being owned by Musk or Zuckerberg.

Ask Bsky Developers For Functions

There’s a ‘send feedback’ link on your profile (mine displays under my feed’s menu on computer). Selecting that lets you fill in a form to ‘make product suggestions.’ I’ve already made my case for adding pinned posts and requested bookmarks, so we can store things we want to refer back to, without those posts getting buried.

I hope this is all helpful as you get started. Welcome to Bsky!

An Interview with Emma Lombard

Many writers who joined Twitter after Emma Lombard (in my case in 2019), have learnt a lot from her. Not just about how to Twitter as a writer, but also from her blog posts and the example she’s set in areas like developing your author platform as an unpublished author. But Emma is no longer unpublished. I’m excited to say that her debut novel, historical fiction Discerning Grace (book 1) is out now, and to be posting this interview with Emma about it.

What inspired you to write DISCERNING GRACE?

I’ve always been a little nosy—I know, I know … curiosity killed the cat! But back in 2001 during one of my regular letter-writing sessions to my grandmother in England, I decided I’d like to know a little more about our family history from the older generation. Once they’ve passed it’s so hard to find out what kinds of people they knew and the sorts of things they got up to.

So, my darling late grandmother, whom I was incredibly close to, indulgently began answering my questions and documenting memories of her own childhood and stories of ancestors. All it took was for me to read the opening to one of her letters and I just KNEW I had to write a story about it! This is what the letter said, ‘Your GGG grandmother was only 16 when she ran away from home to marry a sea captain … her family cut her off and she sailed the seas with him …’

Come on! What author couldn’t resist a little bit of real-life inspiration like that?

And so, that is how my purely fictional, historical naval adventure— with a dash of romance—blossomed. I’ve been thrilled by the journey of writing it and all the research too, but most of all, I’ve loved imagining the incredible courage and fortitude it would have taken my ancestor to choose such a life! Plus, there is my GGG grandfather’s side of the tale to consider too. As my grandmother put it, they were ‘obviously a very enlightened couple, and she a very, very liberated woman.’

An Interview with Emma Lombard

What was the best piece of writing advice you received when starting out?

To give my main character, Grace Baxter, more agency instead of her being a victim of circumstance. I was pushed to get her to create and direct her own circumstances. This was a bit more of a challenge having a female lead character in the early 1800s because of societal restrictions on women in those days. But I also figured that there had to be pioneering women, even back then, who broke the mould. Since Grace is inspired by my three times great grandmother, who indeed bucked the norm in her day by leaving her well-to-do family in England to elope with an English sea captain and live with him at sea, I felt I had a little more leeway to play with when writing Grace’s character. And besides, what’s a rollicking romantic adventure without a feisty heroine!

What is your favourite historical era and why? Do you have a favourite historical female? Why?

I’m open when it comes to reading historical fiction through the different eras, from Jean M. Auel’s prehistoric The Clan of the Cave Bear, to Vikings and Romans, through to later centuries like in Wilbur Smith’s Courtney series. As for writing it, I’ve been so immersed in the 19th century since I’ve been writing my own books, that I have a soft spot for this era. There’s a great balance of knowledge and information out there since it wasn’t too long ago—say unlike the ancient Egyptian era. I have huge admiration for historical authors who write about ancient times. The research required for that is mammoth (snigger)!

While there are many well-known historical females, my research unearthed a whole world of unknown women whose stories have not had a spotlight shone on them. These have been my favourite historical females to find—mothers penning journals about parenthood, sisters writing letters to relatives from the other side of the world, wives aboard ships keeping diaries that recorded tiny details of daily life not captured in a ship’s log books. It took me ages to find some resources that spoke about women aboard ships who were not just there to entertain the sailors, but who played a pivotal role in sailing the ship, raising a family aboard, and supporting industrious endeavours. These are some of my favourites:

  • Seafaring Women by renowned historian, Linda Grant De Pauw
  • Female Tars by Suzanne J. Stark
  • Hen Frigates by maritime historian, Joan Durett
  • She Captains by maritime historian, Joan Durett

What message are you sharing in your books?

The themes in my first novel, DISCERNING GRACE (Book 1), include:

  • an independent woman
  • the importance of love over money
  • appearances can be deceiving
  • love can conquer all
  • triumph over adversity

Does each book stand alone, or are you building a body of work with connections or themes between each book?

I love reading a long series where you can immerse yourself into another world and get to know the characters intimately through several books, so it felt perfectly natural for me to write a series too. It has been a joy to evolve my characters from their young and naïve selves in the first book, and mature them through their life experiences in subsequent books. Discerning Grace (Book 1) is out now. The second book is nearly ready to publish, and I have complete draft manuscripts for books three and four.

A movie producer wants to turn your book into a movie and you get to make a cameo. What would you do in the movie?

Ooo, isn’t this every writer’s dream!

Due to the nature of my story aboard a 19th century Royal Naval tall ship, there aren’t that many female characters, though I could play no role on the ship since I get hideously sea sick!

I would have to stick with a role that is safe on land, so perhaps one of the dinner guests in my opening scene.

You have created images for your main characters, how does that help you write them?

I asked my beta readers to send me images of real-life people who they thought most looked like Seamus and Grace. Those images, along with the descriptions from my book, created the basis for the artwork I’ve commissioned (because I can barely draw a stick man!) They turned out exactly as I envisaged them in my mind’s eye! 

It has been marvellous to have them drawn so young and fresh when we first meet them. For the subsequent books in the series, I can envisage the deepening of Seamus’s smile line beside his mouth, or the crow’s feet around Grace’s aquamarine eyes. I don’t necessarily speak to my characters, but I do sit and watch them interact and play out scenes in my head (it must look like I’m staring into space, and not working, when I do this!) I only need to look at their body language in their artwork for an inspirational reminder about how they react physically and verbally to different situations.

Since I own this artwork, I’ve actually created my own Redbubble store called, By-the-Book (yes, like the name of my newsletter), where my readers can grab their own favourite keepsakes.

What do you do for fun? What does a perfect day look like?

In everyday life, I’m Mum to four teenage sons—my men children, all of whom are taller than me—and two cantankerous cats who often thrash it out for a spot on my lap! I live in the perpetually sunny city of Brisbane in Australia. I love building jigsaw puzzles (especially Wasgij, backwards puzzles), playing Candy Crush (my secret shame!), and playing board games with my boys—though gone are the days when used to I beat them, they whip me soundly now. And I totally suck at Risk! Having raised four rambunctious boys, my perfect day these days constitutes solitude and silence. It doesn’t matter where, as long as those two ingredients are present.

Emma Lombard's portrait.

AUTHOR BIO

Emma Lombard was born in Pontefract in the UK. She grew up in Africa—calling Zimbabwe and South Africa home for a few years—before finally settling in Brisbane Australia, and raising four boys. Before she started writing historical fiction, she was a freelance editor in the corporate world, which was definitely not half as exciting as writing rollicking romantic adventures. Her characters are fearless seafarers, even though in real life Emma gets disastrously sea sick. Discerning Grace, is the first book in The White Sails Series.

Connect with Emma: WebsiteFacebookInstagramGoodreads 

Total Page Visits: 4479

Halla Williams #Pitmad Success Story

What lies beyond querying, should we be fortunate enough to have a literary agent offer us representation? In this #Pitmad success story, Halla Williams describes how she came to write the March 2020 #Pitmad pitch which led to signing with her literary agent, and what signing and the early stages of working with her agent have been like, over the course of a year like few others (2020).

What was pitching your Epic Fantasy like?

My first experience of pitching felt like jumping in at the deep end without learning to swim first. After I’d got the manuscript as polished as I could, even getting a developmental edit to check the very complex multi-POV plot worked,  I went to a writers’ day run by the SFF publisher at Gollancz. I paid £65 to go but it was worth it. Gollancz authors like Joanne Harris and Ben Aaronovitch and some agents and editors were doing panels and then they moved around the audience tables, heard what you were doing and gave you feedback. It was so useful. Jo Abercrombie loved the written pitch he kindly agreed to read. One of the Gollancz editors hated my very under-confident spoken version. I realised that I had no idea how to sell this book verbally.

I thought, ok, I need to slow down and think about what sells. What were the ideas that people could relate to and latch onto, that evoke what I’m offering – which is really complicated and multi layered, and doesn’t have clear main characters and doesn’t have a single clear plot? It was going to be a struggle.

I started writing my query then and foolishly sent it too soon to Joe Abercrombie’s agent and ‘said Jo Abercrombie liked it.” I got a form rejection. Those first few are hard because they just confirm that dread that it’s not going to be easy. So I took it slowly because I knew I didn’t know how to sell it. I only sent them out gradually. 

Query Feedback

I started getting in touch with people on Twitter who were also querying. We talked and my query evolved. Then Flights of Foundry [an SFF convention that went online because of the pandemic] came up. There was a lottery for a critique of your query by Jose Iriarte and Elle Ire. I was lucky enough to win a place only 6 people got. I sent it off in advance and they were going to give feedback on the day but the connection was awful. They said, “We’ll email it and you can send your next draft as well.” Jose didn’t like it and Lisa loved it. She really related to the query and he didn’t at all. Then I re-wrote it based on that feedback and Jose said he was amazed at how much I improved it based on what they said. I thought, “Oo, I’m feeling a bit more confident now!”

What was your experience of pitch parties and follow up querying?

After that I wrote a few pitches in response and shared them on Facebook for people to respond to. I looked at feedback and went by my gut to choose which ones to pitch. I pitched in #Pitmad and got no likes. Then I pitched in #SFFPit and botched it. An American agent liked my pitch. He said on his Twitter, “Find out about me. It’s a wooing process. Don’t just send me stuff and don’t know who I am.” So I did loads and loads of research. I wasn’t aware of how far back in the past it went but I picked the most appropriate connection I found. I just got a form rejection back and was disappointed. But at the same con I mentioned earlier, Flights of Foundry, he said, not knowing I was there, “Don’t do what this stalker did and dig years into the past to find something that connects you.”

Elise: And you sat there going, “Awesome. That was me…”

Halla: Yes! I was mortified even though I wasn’t digging through his trash, or hacking his account! I guess it wasn’t meant to be. Just because you’ve got a like doesn’t mean anything. You still need to be able to connect with that person. Just be yourself. Have confidence that you’re offering something that will connect with that person. Don’t scrabble around like an idiot, trying to find a connection that isn’t there.

Query Length

By the time we got to the March Pitmad, I knew my query said what I wanted it to say. It was nearly 400 words – outside the guidelines for what people say is an appropriate length for a query! But the more good examples in high fantasy I see, the less I think it should go down to 300.

Elise I saw a post where an agent reported on average query length in their inbox. Some went up to 450 and the agent believed there were appropriate reasons for them to be that long. I guess that’s the problem with hard and fast rules -they don’t apply across the board.

Halla: It’s quite a long complex novel. At that point, it was 130k words of epicness.

You never know if someone’s going to like the enigmatic ex-mercenary, or the courtesan or if they’re going to be attracted to a rebellious Fae. Skimping too much means you could leave out the ideas that could appeal to the right person.

Getting that down into a Twitter pitch was hard but the same applies – get in the appealing ideas. Although there are so many pitches going by that you may not get seen by agents, it’s still great practice.

Elise: From the pitch parties I attended in 2020, I think if you’re writing adult there’s a chance, but for YA Fantasy the odds of being seen by the industry seem astronomical. I’ve had a few press likes in SFFPit, but that’s the only party my YA Fantasy has got industry attention in. I can see myself querying publishers and then self publishing.

Halla: That’s what I thought I was going to have to do.

How did you know that you have the right agent?

Good First Impressions

After I got the like in the March PitMad, I did some digging into him and I could see that he was a new agent. I liked what he’d been posting and how he came across on Twitter. When I sent the query in, he responded almost immediately. He rang me up and said, “I know people don’t normally ring, but I really like what you sent me and can I have the full please?” No one else had shown interest. He sounded really nice on the phone. We had a chat and a laugh. Afterwards, I realised I hadn’t sent the full to anyone, so I had to format it… chapters a third down the page… Times  12 New Roman 12pt. I worried whether I’d got the right, most up-to-date version. It only took me four hours, but it was really intense between feeding a small child and other things going on to distract me.

He emailed me the next morning and said, “I’m a few chapters in. I really liked when… has anyone else got it?” He was obviously really keen.

Three days later he said, ”Can I call you and talk to you about it?” I thought, is this going to be a revise and resubmit? A phone call was a good thing, but I didn’t know how good. I was having a hell of a day the day he wanted to call me, so I put it off to the next day. 

More Good Signs

He called me up and said it was as brilliant as he hoped. He gave me some constructive feedback so I’d get a feel for his edits: “This is happening off stage and is reported. You need to write some actions scenes and get a thrill pulse going.”

He told me so much about my novel that resonated with me that I thought you get what I’m trying to do. We had a good chat and formed a good bond. 

I got the references off him. He only had two other clients before me. He’d said, “I want to work with you for your whole career, not just this book.” That was what I wanted and needed. I thought he’s an agent with a small list, I’ll get loads of attention. And he seemed to be a rising star. I was pretty sure he was the one. But the other person who had my query was someone I was really interested in, so I did nudge her and she said, “Send me the full.”

Good References

Just after I sent her the full, I got his references and they were glowing. Both authors were keen to talk to me and sing his praises. Apparently, he’s got a great eye for edits!

I ended up emailing the other agent and saying, “I’m sorry, I’ve made my decision.” It just felt really right and I wanted to move forward. I contacted him and said “I really want to come and work with you. Let’s do it.” And he seemed delighted!

What was signing your agency agreement like?

There were a couple of things I wasn’t sure about, so we talked through the contract. After that I was happy and celebrated and posted a picture of me and my contract – blurred out – on Twitter.

And the next client he signed after me won the Rivers of London Prize. So he’s been able to talk to editors he wouldn’t otherwise have been able to. That book is fantasy, so it has opened doors to talk about mine. I’m very happy about that.

Halla holding up her contract.

What stage is your book at now, and when might it go on submission?

2020 was a difficult year in terms of getting things done and moving forward. I got my full edits in January (2021). We’re going to make the changes we need to make, then we’ll go on submission. You think you’re going to just do some revisions then it’s going to go out there, but because it’s a big, complicated book, it’s going to take longer than I’d imagined.

Elise: Did he give you feedback officially to do some edits earlier? Has it been multiple rounds?

Halla: He gave me some things to work on when we did the signing at the end of May. I got some broad comments in December. The people he’s signed since are behind me in the queue, so they’re going to take longer. Somebody told me a publishing house editor had hers for 5 months before she heard anything.

Elise: It seems to be the thing with traditional publishing – that it will take time full stop – at all stages.

Halla: However keen I am to push it on and hurry it, you’ve just got to wait for other people.

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

How much of it feels like luck.

Just connecting with the right person at the right time is staggeringly unlikely. You’ve got to be good, but you’ve also got to be lucky. Lots of people saying no isn’t necessarily because you’re not good. There are so many reasons why people say no that have nothing to do with you. 

I had been getting to the point where I’d queried for a while and I was wondering if it was the pages and whether I should cut the first few chapters. You get to a point where you feel like you should change something. I’m glad I didn’t because I didn’t need to.

What advice would you give people in the querying trenches?

Get lots of people to give feedback on your query and don’t believe everybody. Just take on board what makes sense to you and opens your mind to how other people are perceiving what you’ve written. You know the story so well that you can’t know what the words you’ve chosen are suggesting to other people. They may come across quite differently. Ask people to tell you what kind of person they’re finding that character to be. Are you finding that person engaging? What is charming about what I’ve written? What stands out to you? Really interrogate that. 

[I was one who gave Halla feedback on her query. She wasn’t afraid to seek clarification or additional feedback from people who’d already given her feedback. I remember being impressed by how much her queries developed from one revision to the next.]

Different people are going to like different things about it. Take what seems to you to be good advice.

But if you’re trying to write lots of subtlety, you have to cheat it. Make your pitch not quite as complex as it is, to get an agent to read it. You’ve just got to get them to pay attention enough to get hooked into reading. Then they’ll see that it’s subtle and complex.

It is collecting together the ideas that make a good pitch, rather than trying to convey the essence of the story.

I think my pitch makes it sound a bit like a romantic relationship between Ashari and Westorr. That isn’t the case, but there is something about the ambiguity of that relationship which is intriguing. It doesn’t do what it says on the tin, but it was accurate as written and enough to pull somebody in.

More About Halla

Halla Williams writes high fantasy. She’s also a developmental and copyeditor and sings in an acoustic duo called Telhalla.

Having grown up in the small town of Nailsea in England, Halla studied Drama at Exeter University. She then toured as an actor for six years, performing in everything from Shakespeare to comedy musicals to children’s theatre.

Halla singing.

Although she discovered many wonderful places, she came back to live in Bristol, near where she grew up, to work as an English teacher. After 16 years, she left teaching to become a proofreader and editor and finally finish Song of the Storm.

Bristol’s live music scene is a particular joy for her and she sings regularly at the ‘famous’ open mic at The Oxford pub in Totterdown. Her favourite local band is the Dusk Brothers.

As a fantasy reader, her favourites include Robin Hobb, Janny Wurts, Steven Erikson, Joe Abercrombie, Mercedes Lackey and Brandon Sanderson. She has a Facebook page and you can follow her on Twitter if you are interested in the writing/publishing process.

You’ll find her website here.

Blue edged, pink, orange and yellow rainbow scroll with text: Get blogs in your inbox & updates from Elise every second month. Join my Fiction Frolics. Select this image to learn more.
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Further Reading

If you’re curious about the alternative -signing with Indie publishers- here’s my interview with three authors about how they found, signed with and knew they had the right Indie Publisher for their book.

For more information about querying, all of my favourite querying resources are linked in Querying Links: Letters & Literary Agents.

You’ll find my best advice on query letter structure and a query pitch breakdown in Comprehensive Query Letter Tips.

Signing with an Indie Publisher -3 Author Interviews

Most querying writers hope for a literary agent, but what if you get a pitch party like and ultimately are offered a contract by a small press? How will you know if they’re the right press for you, or for this particular book? And what would signing with them be like? In these publisher signing interviews, I talk to authors Nikky Lee, Alexandra Beaumont and C.G. Volgars about their experiences of querying, determining that the press making them an offer was right for their book and signing contracts with their small presses.

What was your experience of querying?

Nikky's head shot.

Nikky

Which pitch parties did you participate in and what responses did you get?

Pretty much everything I was eligible for: #SFFpit, #Pitmad and #PitDark were the main ones. 

All up I got 18 likes from agents and publishers across 10 twitter pitching events.

The most interest I had by far was at my first pitching event, #SFFpit in Jan 2019, where I got 6 likes in the one event. Unfortunately, I blew it because my book wasn’t ready. 

Lesson learned: don’t waste your pitch party “debut” pitching a book that isn’t ready. 

I had the most success at the #SFFpit events – 10 of my likes came from those. I was pitching under Adult and YA. My book sits in that awkward New Adult space ideal for 18-25 year olds, though it could happily be read by a mature YA reader or adults who enjoy YA reads [YA crossover being the latest term for this].

How long were you querying all up?

Nikky Jan 2019 to May 2020. But in that were two periods where I stopped querying to do a round of revisions. In hindsight, I started querying too early. The book was not ready and it became pretty clear after that first batch of queries. I like to think of that as my test run. I stopped querying and did some big structural edits and a lot of darling killing. When I came back a second time, it was in August 2019 and I queried fairly consistently with it until May 2020.

Was your contract a result of cold querying or a pitch party?

From #PitDark. I got two likes from my editor at Parliament House Press in that event. 

How did the way you got it and how long it took compare to your expectations?

Nikky To be honest, I expected to be querying for a while. I’d read stories of people querying hundreds of agents until one finally said yes, and all up I barely queried 30. I was prepared to query 100 agents before shelving the book and working on something else.

Alexandra's head shot.

Alexandra

I pitched in #Pitmad in Sept, #DVPit and #Pitdark in October 2020. I got more speed on it by the time I did #Pitdark. It suited me better because my book is dark fantasy. That was how I found the small press that is publishing it. The responses I got were pretty good. Someone on Twitter commented, “That’s like something Neil Gaiman would write,” and I thought, “Great. Publishers and agents looking at pitches might , if I’m lucky, see that someone thinks its like Neil Gaiman.” I thought, “No way is my writing close to as good as Neil Gaiman’s, but I’ll take it if it gets me the exposure.”

When did you feel like you got the hang of pitching?

Alex I think at my second party I got a feel for pitches. I’m quite a straight spoken person, so it took me a bit to get a feel for writing really evocative pitches. I think for the second one I upped the drama a bit more. Its high drama stuff, which I guess is how you get the attention.

I never assumed that this would go anywhere, partly because my partner is a development editor and has worked with books before, as have some of our friends, and everyone said it’s really hard to get a publishing contract. I went into it hoping it was going to go somewhere but also with a very realistic expectation that probably it wasn’t going to. That said, their support and experience really helped get me over the line and helped me know what to do.


Signing with an Indie Publisher -3 Author Interviews

C. G.

C. G.’s Querying Experience

Looking back, I can’t lie–it wasn’t the most fun time period in my life. Every time I got an email alert, my heart jumped into my throat. A twitter friend suggested using a secondary email purely for queries, so I wouldn’t have a mini heart attack at every Gmail notification. That definitely helped. But no, I didn’t really enjoy querying. 

That said, I met a lot of talented writers through #AmQuerying and #StrictlyWriting and learned a lot about pitching and querying with them. Also, because I’m with an indie press I’ve been able to incorporate some of my pitches into promo materials and even parts of my query and synopsis into marketing copy. Querying was rough, but it made me practice explaining and selling my book to people. So, I guess I got something out of it. Meh.

When did you feel like you got the hang of pitching?

I felt a lot more comfortable pitching the second time I started querying Static Over Space. The first time I had no idea what I was doing: I didn’t know the rules of writing a pitch. I didn’t know what made my story stand out. I didn’t know how to connect with other #AmQuerying authors. 

The second time was about a year and a half later. I had several killer pitches ready that I’d been retooling for months, I had a good group of writer friends to help me hone them, especially the #StrictlyWriting gang. Most importantly, I knew what made my writing stand out–VOICE. By the time I jumped back in, I felt really excited and pumped!

Which pitch parties did you participate in and what sort of responses did you get?

The first go-around I was doing everything under the sun–#Kisspit, #Pitdark, anything you could remotely fit a genre fiction under. The second time I knew I had to be real and narrow it down. My first pitch party after rebooting was April 2020 for #DVPit. I got 16 likes… three of which were actually people in publishing! [In Twitter Pitch Parties, liking tweet pitches is reserved for agents and publishers to request submissions, but some writers always forget and like pitches anyway].

How long were you querying all up?

My querying journey was spread over three years, but totalled two. The first year and a half, I got one full MS request from a cold query and no Twitter pitch love. After I stepped back and retooled, I queried for 6 months before an offer was made.

How did the way you got a publishing contract and how long it took compare to your expectations?

Interesting question. I don’t love that it took as long as it did… But there’s also no question in my mind that this version of Static Over Space is infinitely better than the first one. So double meh.

Querying Specs

AuthorsHome CountryGenreAudience AgeHow long did you query and
where before signing your contract?
Nikky Lee?? (New Zealand)Dark FantasyYA crossover1 year & 3 months
Mostly in US, some UK.
C.G. Volgers??SciFi FantasyYA Crossover3 years, mostly US, some UK.
Alexandra Beaumont??Dark FantasyAdult4 months
(NB: this is exceptionally rare)
Uk, US & Europe.

How did you know you had the right publisher?

Alexandra

You kind of go with the one you’ve got the offer on right?

Elise not necessarily. [We had an off the record conversation about other writer’s experiences confirming this statement].

Alex I did get an R and R, with a publisher that was more of a coffee subscription box who published books on the side. I didn’t go with them. 

When I researched Gurt Dog Press, they seemed very friendly and professional and I liked the artwork that they’d done and some of their other books. A lot of their other authors seemed to have good experiences. 

Elise Was there any particular person you had contact with who made you feel that way about them?

Alex I spoke to the editor and the marketing manager. They seemed to be everything that I expected and were really friendly. They’re early on in their publishing house journey. It was quite nice in a way, having a first novel being out with a publisher that’s also starting out, both being in it together. They are working on expanding and have had some great successes in their first year, so it feels like a really exciting place to be.

Elise Do you know who they sell to?

I think it’s mostly Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords and online, but they’re looking to expand. Some of the authors have got their books placed in local bookshops too.

Nikky

What struck me about Parliament House Press was they had a good range of books and they published regularly—they were clearly an indie press working towards becoming a mid-sized publisher. 

They also had a “monster shop” section in their online store, which I loved. And I could see my book fitting into that. They also had very professional looking covers.

On the business side, they had recently teamed up with a digital distributor to help spread their books. 

Audiobook rights were on the table too—I’m a big fan of audiobooks so that really sold it for me that this publisher was future focused and knew where the trends were. 

I contacted three of their authors, and they had nothing but good things to say. There were the usual caveats of going through a small to mid-sized publisher e.g. you have to be prepared to roll up your sleeves and put in the effort to market and promote the book. But to be honest, you still have to do that anyway, even if you’re published with the big 4. And I work in marketing, so that bit wasn’t so daunting.

C. G.

I had sooo many signs Outland Entertainment was the right place for SOS! First, my editor, Alana Joli, made a really funny Avarian joke while we were discussing Outland’s offer. I knew right then not only did she understand the story, but really understood the characters and world. She also has a great sense of humor and a keen eye for what makes a story shine. Her idea to switch Yula’s gender (a big Wookie-like character) to female will forever be one of the most genius edits for Static Over Space ever.

The second sign was when I saw the Art Director and Founder’s art portfolio and larger career. Jeremy Mohler not only teaches art at the college level, he’s worked with some of the biggest comic book names out there- Marvel, Blizzard, and IDW Comics. His street cred and art style was exactly what I’d always dreamed of finding for SOS.

Third, I sent the contract to the Author’s Guild Legal team [the Author’s Guild offers free Contract Review to paying members]. They looked over the contract, gave me a few pointers, but overall agreed it was really fair and even-handed.

The final green light was from someone I trusted inside publishing. Through #LatinXpitch I’d made a connection with an editor from a prominent imprint. He wasn’t looking for a YA SciFi when we met, but he’d remained a trusted mentor. Later when Outland made the offer, he asked around and gave them the thumbs up!

What stage is your novel at?

Alexandra's head shot.

I’m waiting on the full edits, and the book will be out in April.

C.G's headshot.

I just handed off the MS to my editor [January 10th]. From here we’ll do initial editing, then copy editing, then layout!

Nikky's head shot.

I’ve just finished my first round of edits from my editor. There’ll be a few more to come in the next six months or so. My publisher has already set up the digital preorders for it. 

We’re looking at a tentative April/May 2020 release for book 1. It’s still too soon to say for Books 2 and 3.

What Advice Would You Give Querying Writers?

Alex

I don’t have a lot of advice that I imagine people aren’t already doing, but perseverance is definitely a strong part of this. I was initially like I’ll just query 10 favourite agents and that didn’t go anywhere. My main one is everyone understandably thinks I’ll go through an agent, and my books will go to the big publishers and be published by the end of the year.

But that’s not always the case. I think there needs to be more recognition of other routes to publishing. Like it’s all valid. I came through it not knowing a lot about the small presses and only thinking about the big 5, but then I got into it and thought ok, there’s a mid band of publishing houses and a whole load of small presses as well. At the end of the day, getting your book out doesn’t have to be in that way. Getting a book out is still an achievement.

That’s the main thing i’ve taken away from it: not everyone’s going to be best selling authors and that’s ok. It depends what your ambitions are, but as long as your story’s out there, that’s the main thing for me.

The small press I’m going with is Swedish so I don’t think it needs to be in your own country. I was originally like ‘I’ll only query UK agents’ but someone said to me, “It’s a fairly international audience these days so you don’t need to pigeonhole yourself in your own country.” I think there’s no reason not to go wide.

Nikky

This is hard because everyone’s journey is so different. But based on my own experience, make sure the book is truly ready before you send it out. That means beta read -several rounds if need be, edited and proofed to the best of your ability. I blew my chances with several major NYC agents because I sent it to them before it was ready.

As for querying, I do think it is a numbers and timing game, and I do think it’s smart to try different avenues for getting noticed i.e. cold query, twitter pitching, conference pitching where possible.

C. G.

Find a great writer, preferably someone in the industry, to give you real, no-holds-barred feedback. After querying the first time I sent my MS to three #AmQuerying authors that I knew were amazing storytellers and Gina Damico, a YA author with several published books who offered novel consulting through Grubstreet

I couldn’t afford to pay her to look through the entire MS, but I got her advice on the first chunk. She told me, point-blank: here’s what you’re good at, here’s what you have to work on if you’re going to break through querying. It was painful at first. I basically had to rewrite half my book! But in the end, it was worth it. 

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

Alex

It’s become a Twitter #WritingCommunity cliche, but I never expected the level of support and community there is on Twitter. I’ve met some great people in a Query DM Group who have read the opening chapters. I’d say while the online presence is helpful, don’t worry too much about it.

Its easy to go down the rabbit hole of spending a lot of time thinking about your writing, and having an author platform -I work full time in a busy job, so my time is fairly constrained. Making sure you’re not spending all your time doing all of this stuff is important for your sanity.

Speaking as someone who both wrote a pitch and signed a contract within half a year, it was a big effort to do all that and I kind of gave my life over to it for half a year. So my reflection and advice to people doing this for the first time is: its great and do calve out time to do this stuff if you’re passionate, but don’t kill yourself, because the market will still be there next year.

C.G

Yes! Edelweiss.plus is a great way to find comps for books that have no comp. And trust me– I would know!

Alexandra

Alexandra's head shot.

Nikky

Nikky's head shot.

Alexandra was raised on fairy tales, folklore and legends. She followed adventures at every turn: exploring the old parts of London, taking part in medieval re-enactments, and writing in every spare moment. ​ When not writing, Alexandra has a wanderlust for exploring new places, roaming the countryside and taking part in Live Action Fantasy Role Play. (Meaning she’s often covered in mud, grass and leaves.) Her passion for exploring new worlds drives her creative endeavours. Her debut novel, Testament of the Stars, will be published in April 2021 by Gurt Dog Press.

On Testament of the Stars:

Astrologers govern the lives of both the blessed from the plateau of Gemynd and the downtrodden from the planes of Rask.

When Einya reluctantly joins the settlement’s ruling star-cult, she thinks only of the rights it will give her: the permission to marry her Raskian lover. Instead she is thrown onto a treacherous path of betrayal and political strife, trapped within the cult persecuting Rask.

Forced to drink the blood of the stars and steal their thoughts, Einya ends up at the heart of a fierce rebellion, caught between a fight for freedom and the strange luring power of the stars.

Alexandra’s website.

Nikky is a New Zealand-based writer who grew up as a barefoot 90s kid in Perth, Western Australia. With eight years in content marketing and copywriting, she’s published numerous articles on behalf of businesses and for magazines.

In her free time, she writes speculative fiction, often burning the candle at both ends to explore fantastic worlds, mine asteroids and meet wizards. She’s had over a dozen short stories published in magazines and in anthologies around the world. Her debut novel, The Rarkyn’s Familiar—a dark tale of a girl bonded to a monster—will be published by Parliament House Press in 2022. Nikky’s Website.

C. G. Volgars

C.G's headshot.

CG Volars is the debut author of STATIC OVER SPACE, that Gender-Bending Scifi coming from Outland Entertainment in Spring 2022. 

CG currently resides in California with her family and two grey cats—Skittles and Rosie. In her spare time, she writes, uses potty language and collects SciFi pins. Join the #SpaceShip today at www.StaticOverSpace.com.

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Further Reading

If you’re sad the Twitter referred to in this post no longer exists, I recommend trying Blue Sky. This Guide will help you get started.

For more information about Pitch Parties, see this post.

For definitions of different publisher types and pros and cons of publishing with them, see Writer Beware’s: Small Presses and Hybrid Publishers & Vanity Publishers (I’d steer clear of the latter!).

To avoid infamous publishers, see Writer Beware’s Thumbs Down Publishers List.

A great place to see other writers experiences with particular publishers is Absolute Write’s Water Cooler.

Another useful site in researching publishers is Preditors & Editors, which is unfortunately in maintenance mode, but you’ll find their resources and updates on their Facebook Page.

For more Querying and Publishing resource links, see my Writers Resources Page.

If you’re wondering what Finding & Signing with a Literary Agent is like, see this interview with Fantasy Author Halla Williams.

Social Media For Writers

Social media is an ideal space to think about how you present and to begin interacting publicly as a writer. Twitter and Instagram have thriving Writing Communities, where you can find your tribe. A Facebook page (or Instagram) are great spaces to share your writing life and books with personal contacts. Any of these plus Pinterest, Youtube and others are potential spaces to reach readers and promote your published works. And Tik Tok? If you haven’t been living under a rock, you’ll know writers are selling books over there. So which social media is most appropriate to you as a writer, which account is best to start with and how do you get started on your writer social media?

Social Media Introductions

Twitter

Twitter used to be a great starting point, because of its #WritingCommunity. The pandemic hit it hard and Musk virtually destroyed what was left. The final tweets I saw before deleting my account were people asking if the community still existed, because algorithms and Musk’s garbage were hiding most people they knew. I don’t recommend it now, as much for moral and ethical reasons as site dysfunction and the disintegration of the writing community. On the odd chance it gets sold, gutted and refurbished, I won’t delete the Getting Started on Twitter section at the bottom of this blog.

Twitter Alternative: Mastodon

This is a different category of social media, because it isn’t algorithm based. You can go offline as long as you like, and it won’t change your visibility or content on your feed, unlike Twitter and Instagram. Unlike them and Facebook pages, you can’t even see how many impressions your toots get. Best of all, its crowdfunded, so it isn’t littered with promoted posts. Its decentralised, so you join a server and can view toots on its feed, or on the fediverse, which is every server linked to the one you joined.

It’s tricker to be seen there, as algorithms don’t boost you hours after you toot. But boosts (re-toots) share your toots on both the feeds of anyone following people who boost you, and on the fediverse. As a nonbinary, neurodiverse person, I can also report that its a friendly space to diverse people generally, especially in terms of accessibility. If you’d like to find out more about interacting on Mastodon, this post has some good advice.

I also recommend checking out the daily #WritersCoffeeClub, #WorldWeavers and #PennedPossibilities prompts, posting and interacting on them. These prompts are a great bridge, connecting writers across Mastodon instances (servers). You’ll also find many prompt hashtags, such as #Vss365, #VssPoem #Mpotd, #MicroFiction etc, with daily prompts to stimulate your short or poetry toots.

Twitter Alternative: Blue Sky (my new home)

This seems to be where the #WritingCommunity from Twitter is regrouping. Its basically Twitter, looks the same same, is gradually getting the same functions (though its still in beta so has far less functions currently). But it doesn’t have sponsored ads, or an algorithm, or transphobes or rage tweeting or… its got alt text and feeds filtered by topic (and keywords on posts.) Its a friendly, inclusive space and I’ve a written a separate blog about getting started on it.

Instagram

If you have a personal Instagram account and feel at home there, its #WritingCommunity are also welcoming. A good way to introduce yourself there is on hashtags like #MeetTheWriter and #FindMyWritingCommunity. (Include a photo of yourself for increased engagement). Instagram also has #Bookstagram and is a great place to promote your books to readers. With Twitter under new management, its writing community is also taking on Twitter refugees. For more see below, Getting Started on Social Media, Instagram.

Who can you reach there? Hootsuite’s 2022 research found Insta still more popular than Tik Tok for Gen Z, and most popular with Gen Z and millenials (18-34). If your books are likely to appeal to these age groups, but Instagram is outside your comfort zone, I’d leave it for now, but plan to set up a writer/ author account there eventually.

Facebook Page

I say ‘Facebook page’ as opposed to ‘account’ or ‘profile’, because if you want to use the word ‘author’ or ‘writer’ in your name, Facebook considers you a public figure and requires you to have a page. If you create a profile as (whoever) Author, you will have your account suspended, and probably deleted for ‘posing as someone else.’

Research on Facebook’s demographics by Hootsuite says its most popular with men and women aged 35-44 (younger than I anticipated from personal experience). If you’re active on and comfortable with Facebook, a Facebook Page (or group created by your page) is a good place to start book promotion. Alternately, you can use your personal Facebook account , if you just call yourself first name, last name. For advice on choosing between using your profile or creating a page, see Facebook for Authors by Jane Friedman.

Pinterest

Pinterest differs from the above three media in a few key ways. Pinterest’s algorithms work differently, with the pins which appear on people’s feeds being determined by the topics each Pinterest user selects, as opposed to pins created or pinned by people they follow. On Pinterest, users are also more likely to use the search function to find particular types of pins, so who sees your pins isn’t limited by how small your following is. It doesn’t even require you to be active on Pinterest, or to make algorithms happy for your pins to be seen.

Pinterest Boards You can pin (create your own copy of, collect and organise) other people’s pins by pinning them to your own boards, using them to attract followers with similar interests. You can click and drag your boards, to position them in the order you want visitors to your profile to see them. You can also select the edit icon (on the bottom right corner of any board) to select (and position) which pin it displays as its cover. I have the boards I’ve saved my blog pins to across the top, where they’re most prominent, and inspirational image boards (for my writing and drawing) underneath.

If you’d like to create pins for your blog or site pages to embed on your WordPress (so visitors can pin them from there), here’s a Pinterest tool which makes that easy. To learn about who you can reach on Pinterest and how often, here’s Hootsuite’s Pinterest statistics.

Tik Tok

I’ve seen a few posts in an author Facebook group (20Booksto50k -great for learning about marketing), noting an increase in their book sales which appears to correlate with an increase of their book promotion and impressions on Tik Tok. An advantage of Tik Tok is that hashtags are a big factor in how your posts are seen, so if you choose the right hashtags and use popular sounds, you can potentially be seen by far more people than your followers.

Another advantage is that when you start typing hashtags on TikTok, it will tell you how many people post on that hashtag, assisting your visibility by hashtag within the app.

Lastly, Tik Tok’s like of people being themselves, not the polished, scripted versions of themselves you may see on more formal youtube channels, makes it friendlier to the budding writer who isn’t a budding actor. And if you don’t like showing your face on social media, #BookTok is fond of book trailers, and related videos, so videos of you aren’t necessary. If you’re scared of Tik Tok altogether, according to Hootsuite, 70-80% of its audience also uses Facebook, Instagram or Youtube.

Hootsuite reports that 40% of Tik Tok users prefer it as a search engine over Google and Instagram, and that while still very popular with teens, in 2022, 31% of its users were aged 24-35 and its still growing in popularity with all ages and many walks of life.

Youtube

This may not be technically social media, but Youtube is competing with Facebook’s levels of active monthly users in the US and Hootsuite has lots of encouraging statistics about audiences reachable on it. A few writer friends with established channels have recommended youtube. If you have an interest in film, acting or audio narration, or if your day job involves public speaking, this may be a natural platform to establish yourself as an author.


An advantage of Youtube is that it basically functions as the Google of videos, with users regularly searching it for content, so again this is a space that doesn’t depend on a large following or interactions on the platform nudging algorithms to display your posts to more users. If it isn’t in your comfort zone, again I’d get started where you feel more comfortable.

Getting Started On Social Media

Man's hands holding tablet displaying social media icons.
Photo by NordWood Themes

Whichever social media you start with, find and follow some writers, and if you like, people who share similar interests to you. Spend some time looking at what content they post, how they interact and getting a feel for that space and which content could resonate with potential followers and readers there.

When you start your second social media account, post asking other writers if they are on it and begin your platform by connecting with and learning from writers you already know on the new platform. I see periodic tweets about this for anything you could follow authors on, and this was my entry point into Pinterest. I also met writers to share Instagram and Tik Tok content ideas with on Twitter.

Social Media Names and Profile Photos

I’ve read that your name is your brand —not your book title— so my name on all my social media profiles is @ElisesWritings. My first and last name are also the dot com name and header of my site. My social media profile photo and the most prominent head shot on my site are the same.

Consistency across all these spaces lets you build your brand —you— so when choosing a user name, think of something appropriate across every social media you plan to use (including Discord). I’ve seen some writers develop logos as profile photos, but I find logos easy to forget, while faces are memorable, so I prefer self portrait profile photos.

What Should I Post? Getting Started on Instagram, Pinterest & Facebook

(for Twitter see below)

Marketing 101 —don’t only post book adds! Your account will look like spam and you’ll put people off following you. Vary your content. A ratio a few authors like to use is 80% give, 20% ask. That could be 80% entertaining posts —quotes, photos, jokes, discussion questions related thematically or by genre to your writing. It could be personal interest or update posts and some work-in-progress posts. Then 20% ‘sign up to my newsletter’, ‘here’s my latest review,’ ‘please vote for my cover,’ or ‘my book is currently on pre-order/ discounted’ posts.

On Instagram

Yes, if you’re time-pressed and mostly write tweets, you can just share them on Insta. But Insta is a visually focused space. My favourite posts to view and read are ones with thoughtfully selected quality photos or images, which compliment a thoughtful personal update, or someone’s reflection on life or writing.

Insta is a great place to share mood boards for your works in progress, character art or sketches. Posting a good photo of yourself can signal a personal update or a reflection on your writing post. You might also like to post photos of and write about some of your other interests —especially if they tie in to your books— and make those connections clear to your followers.

Whatever content you choose, Instagram allows you to use up to 30 hashtags to boost your post’s visibility. It has multiple equivalents of #WritingCommunity hashtags and many hashtags for posting about books. Here’s a list of around 70 writer and bookish tags to get you started.

#Bookstagram is full of book covers artfully arranged with props, coloured fabric backing, glitter ect. So if you’re posting book reviews or adds on Insta —be creative. Make your cover the focus of a visually pleasing scene, or explore short animated video add options.

If you want to share quotes or questions, I suggest getting on canva and designing an Insta post image with a coloured (or photo) background and a nice font. Using the same font on all Insta posts helps them become recognisable by it, as well as looking good.

Marion Blackwood's 3 Storm book covers, candles and a sword on a wooden chopping board.
An Insta book promo post by Marion Blackwood of her Storm Series.

No, you don’t have to do the above

Yes, people will follow you if you just take photos of your cat or not-very-visually-pleasing photos of your device with your work in progress on its screen and write comments about those. But if you want to gain (and retain) followers, and to attract potential readers to your account, I suggest making full use of the space by creating visually pleasing and interesting content and taking book add inspiration from #Bookstagram.

How Often Should I Post?

Until I hit around 500 followers, I routinely got unfollowed by multiple people if I didn’t post for a week or 2. You’ll gain the most followers posting daily —and may keep them if you post popular content like motivational quotes, but you’ll attract a lot of people follow for follow-backs unfollowing you too. For me, posting every second or third day was the best balance to gain the kind of followers who stick around and not be unfollowed for not posting.

Following & Bots on Insta

There are quite a few bot accounts on Insta —particularly those of single men following women— and some bots which write generic comments on your posts. The bots’ aim seems to be the same as that of people who follow you, wait till you follow back, then unfollow you —to gain followers (or ‘dm me to promote your books -for a fee). Its annoying. The best safeguard against it is setting your account to private, so bots can’t bother you. (Yes I’ve done this, and yes I get requests from people wanting to follow me, even though they can’t see my posts —my bio alone seems to be enough).

You can get apps to track follows and unfollows, but there’s a LOT of Insta following apps, so I’d choose one carefully. (I don’t use an app, ignore bots and follow back carefully, screening my followers by taking the steps in When Following Back on Twitter and Instagram below.)

Promoting a Blog On Instagram

The provider of my social media share button (Social Warfare) doesn’t include an Instagram share button. Their research shows over 80% of Instagram users stay on Instagram and don’t want to visit other sites advertised there. However, having found great quality photos on unsplash to illustrate and promote my blog posts with, I post those on Instagram. I write a blurb relating to my personal experience of the blog topic and I include a discussion question for people to reply to. Then I paste the text of the link (which people have to copy and paste into their browser, as Instagram posts don’t do hyperlinks).

Generally my Insta posts about my blog get more likes than elsewhere. So if you have a blog to promote and you join the Writing Community on Insta, I encourage you to experiment with posting about it.

For more advice on creating an appealing look and on what to post, see:

Instagram for Authors: Building a Platform and Selling your books by Catarina Pinto.

Writer’s Guide to Instagram: Tips from Top Bookstagrammers & Authors by Francis Bogan.

For tips and Free Webinars, see Instagram Best Practices for Beginners by Mary DeMuth.

On Facebook

Because Facebook allows link sharing, your Facebook page is a good place to share interesting articles of topical or thematic relevance to your books. Most commonly, I’ve seen writers posting updates about their latest work in progress, favourite quotes (of other writers and of their own works), character art, cover reveals, reviews of their books and some book advertising, interspersed between personal posts about holidays etc.

There’s plenty of room for Facebook Page and Insta content to overlap, and I tend to post the same poetry (sometimes with different travel photos to illustrate) on My Facebook Page as on my Insta. I post occasional work in progress updates on both, but tend to go into more detail on Insta, where I have more writer followers interested in detail about writing than the personal contacts following my Facebook Page.

For a thorough introduction on setting up each part of your FB Page, what to post and interacting as your page, see Epic Facebook Author Pages: Everything You Need to Know.

On Pinterest

I recommend using canva.com to create full pin size images for Pinterest (as I did in my pins), and to add text to pins (if applicable). Hashtags are also used on Pinterest. I tend to choose 5 on my pins, and to search terms I think would be popular tags in the Pinterest search bar to help me choose them. Some popular Twitter or Instagram tags aren’t used at all on Pinterest, so its worth checking your choice of tag has a chance of boosting your pin impressions and isn’t just taking up space in your pin description.

As Pinterest is also very visual, you may like to use the same images to create pins as mentioned for posts above on Instagram. If you’re looking for photos on Pinterest to inspire your character or setting descriptions (something I plan to do), you may like to save these as public boards, as they may also draw interest to your account.

When creating pins for blog pages (if you have one), you may like to use photos from unsplash.com (as I did with the pin on the right). I’ve also made pins of my sketches of Lord of The Rings characters, because I write fantasy and some people interested in those drawings may also be interested in my books. As with Insta, thinking of photos or images from other interests which relate to your books may give you content ideas.

For more ideas on how to use Pinterest, see Pinterest for Beginners by Jane Friedman.

Also, Pinterest for Authors: the Formula for Great Pinterest Boards by Penny C Sansevieri.


Following Back on Social Media

You might feel great gaining your first followers, and be tempted to follow them all right back. Don’t. Most writers following you in #WritingCommunity’s are probably fine (but don’t assume so). I only blocked 4 jerks on Twitter in my first 2 years -so I didn’t unwittingly follow them- but its always a good idea to screen accounts before following back, in case they happen to be a troll, a jerk or to post content you dislike. So before following back, check the account:

-has a bio and has posted (writing a comment and using hashtags on Insta, not just posted a photo) -so you don’t follow a (primitive) bot account.

-look at posts and see if you want that person’s content on your feed.

-check if the account is only following a few hundred but followed by thousands -they’re an influencer who’s likely to unfollow you after you follow back.

Also be aware that while some writers will always follow back fellow writers, others may follow or follow back through interaction only (in my case when replying to people’s posts).

Further General Social Media Reading

Social Media Tips by Marc Guberti is aimed at businesses generally, but has some useful tips for writers.

Why You Should Join All Social Media Networks, yet not be active on all, by Jan Friedman.

Would you like to discuss author socials, newsletters and other aspects of author platform with fellow authors?
My Strictly Authoring Discord Server is dedicated to this. Let me know you’d like to join it by replying to my posts on Blue Sky on Mastodon, or via my contact page.

Related Reading

Prioritising Writer Social Media

Becoming an Indie Author advice part 1

Becoming an Indie Author 2: Book Launch

Author Newsletters: the Basics

Author Website Set Up Tips

Getting Started On Twitter

Computer with Twitter bird on screen.
Photo by MORAN

Twitter Bio

Some writers are partial to following writers of the same genre. The easiest way to let us know what type of writer you are is to state your genre/ text type and audience age in your bio. If you have a website, you may like to put a link in your bio to make it accessible through your @ (and by extension through your tweets) instead of just on your profile page. Beyond that, try to inject some personality into your bio, as well as telling us about your interests, so your bio gives us a sense of who we’re potentially following.

First Tweet

Introduce yourself to the #WritingCommunity. Tell us who you are, what you write, that you’re new and anything else you like. I suggest asking other writers a question to encourage people to interact with you too. My first tweet said who I was, who I’d like to meet and had a question for the #WritingCommunity (I forget exactly and it no longer exists because I deleted my account).

It got a tone of likes, tens of replies and perhaps several hundred followers. One of them is still a friend now, four years on. I can’t promise you the same response, but it’s a great way to ‘meet’ people. (I don’t recommend #MyFirstTweet -you get some weird/ random responses).

Before You Tweet

You might like to ask; why am I on Twitter? I assume many of us hope to sell our books, but do you want writer friends/ colleagues to share the journey and seek help and advice from along the way? If so -will you tweet as a companion in the writing/ revising/ querying trenches?

Will you tweet writing motivation and encouragement, or humour or tips and advice? If you want to connect with readers, will you tweet discussion questions related to themes in your writing, your interests or share links to topically relevant articles? And what and how much would you like to say about yourself, your life and your opinions on your writer/ writing focused twitter account?

Before You Retweet

You may consider, am I going to retweet everything of interest to me, or just things topically/ thematically/ genre or generally related to my writing and or topics I feel strongly about? Will I retweet things which are helpful, useful, encouraging or entertaining to my followers? Will I retweet to help the writer whose tweet I’m retweeting?

It’s also worth considering how often you retweet. Retweeting anything which interests you many times a day may make your account look like a bot, and put people off following you.

What Should I Tweet?

Tweets with images tend to get more impressions, but writing or reader related quotes, jokes and clever or just well-timed comment tweets about writing, reading or life can get lots of interaction. Asking a few questions to get to know your followers and encourage people to interact with you is also a good way to start.

Don’t forget, social media isn’t just about producing organic content. On Twitter or Instagram -reply to and interact with others- especially if you’re looking to find your #WritingCommunity on either. Even if you’re not -reply to people who reply to your content, to connect with your audience.

Promoting a Blog or Book On Twitter

Include a blurb. Don’t just tweet a link. No-one will click it if you don’t give us reason to. And don’t just write, “My book is out on Amazon now!” Sell it to us, with a pitch.

Example: “George thought he had problems. He’d lost his job and the house might be next. Then his city vanished, taking everyone he knew with it. If he can’t work with out-of-towners to find his city and bring it back: he’ll truly lose everything. #BookBoost #SpecFic #BookPromo.” (Yes, these are actual Twitter promo hashtags.)

How Do I Get Tweets Seen or Interacted With?

Short answer -use hashtags. By algorithms no-one I’ve spoken to can fully explain, hashtags help your tweets get onto people’s feeds, but they can do more. Specific, relevant hashtags can act as subheadings and incline people to read and interact with your tweets. Savy Twitter users may also find and interact with your tweets by searching hashtags. For a list of hashtags to connect with writers and find tips, help and prompts on, see this post.

Tips for Getting Tweet Impressions & Interactions

1. Be Concise

My two line tweets often get the most impressions, whereas 3-4 lines often get the least.

2. Tweet Some Questions

Few of us have the gift of being able to write statement tweets which go viral, so ask some questions most writers/ readers can answer (unless you’re seeking specific information). This encourages people to interact and is a good way to get to know your followers. The odd poll can help too, especially if your question is thoughtful or a research question.

3. Use 1-3 RELEVANT Hashtags

Lots of hashtags hurts eyes and puts people off reading tweets. No hashtags means we don’t know what the tweet is about. Using vaguely relevant hashtags clutters that hashtag’s feed with tweets writers searching that tag for information or tweets to interact with may find irrelevant and or annoying. So stick to 1-3 relevant tags. Here’s a list of popular, categorised tags to choose from. Using a popular, umbrella hashtag like #WritersOfTwitter/ #AuthorsOfTwitter will also boost impressions.

4. Interact

Don’t just ❤️ others tweets -some of us only look in ‘Mentions’ and only notice replies -so reply. Help when you can. Answer questions. Play tag games or respond to prompts (these are listed in my Hashtag Guide.) Reply to familiar faces on your feed and log in at a regular(ish) time of day. Doing this increases your chances of seeing and being able to interact with the same writers, and their chances to interact with you, making it easier to get to know people.

What do the Community Acronyms Mean?

WIP= work in progress

CP= critique partner

POV= point of view

Antag= antagonist villain/opposing force

Protag= protagonist

MC =main character

MS= manuscript

PB= Picture book or paperback

MG =Middle Grade

NA used to mean New Adult -which no longer a marketing category (aside from Romance/ indie books), but some people use it because they don’t know about YA Crossover (the new traditional publishing thing).

YA = Young Adult

SFF =Science Fiction, Fantasy and Speculative Fiction

LI =love interest (courtesy of @Davina06496120).

What do these Query Related Terms Mean?

QT =Query Tracker, for keeping track of literary agents you’ve queried (courtesy of @KLSmall_Author).

Synopsis: means ‘book summary’ -including the ending- generally 500 words for literary agencies. But some agency websites call a query letter pitch (which is ideally around 300 words, ending with an impossible choice the MC must make or point of tension after main conflict and stakes are revealed -but not the ending) as… a synopsis.

‘Short synopsis’ tends to mean ‘query letter pitch.’ ‘Long synopsis’ tends to mean book summary. Unfortunately, ‘synopsis’ can mean either. (Unsure? I’d ask others how they interpret that agency’s guidelines, or email the agency to clarify).

A Blurb is NOT a pitch

Blurb =back of the cover description, which can say anything to entice a reader to read the pages.

A Pitch must include: MC intro, MC role in conflict, MC personal stakes, (MC impossible choice) and anything unique about those. It can include other interesting things, eg lists of crazy situations MC must overcome to resolve conflict, but omitting or not making any of the 3 clear is likely to see your query letter rejected, or your tweet pitch ignored (rejection/ no industry likes having many other causes too).

Staying Connected On Twitter

Managing Notifications: Untagging, Muting & Seeing Replies

Replying to @____ and 48 others
Tweet your reply

Once you’ve met people, don’t be that person who notifies 50 people when talking to the one person who tagged them. When you hit ‘reply’, check if above it says ‘replying to @___ and 48 others’. (Like it does on the right).

Select the ‘and’ before ’48 others’ then untick the ‘others in this conversation’ option from the menu, to reply to the one person who tagged you.

Or re-tick/ re-tag the 3/50 people below you’re speaking to (below ‘others in this conversation). If the blue box is ticked -like above- you’re about to notify (in this case) 48 people of your reply. It’s much easier to stay connected if our notifications aren’t bursting with replies of people not speaking to us.
If others don’t do this for you, hit the top right 3 dots on any tweet in the thread clogging your notifications, then select ‘
mute conversation‘ from the menu.

This means you won’t get notified when someone replies to your tweet in that thread. To see those replies, go to your profile, select ‘Tweets and Replies’. Then scroll down the ‘tweet and reply’ feed to your reply in the tag thread. Selecting your reply will display replies to you.

Staying In Touch: Twitter Lists

The easiest way to remember who you’ve met and something about them (eg. genre, where they live in the world, etc) is to add them to a twitter list by a category of your choosing (using the left menu in your profile page). This will store people’s twitter handles for you and create a list feed which only displays list members tweets (which is how I find my friends tweets out of tweets by the 4k writers I follow.)

Staying in Touch: DM Groups

If you want to talk regularly, or easily ask questions in a private group, or find out what friends are saying without sifting through public Twitter feeds, you can make or be added to a group DM. That’s when someone starts a new Direct Message, but after pasting one person’s twitter handle into ‘search people’, and selecting that account from the drop down menu, you paste another twitter handle in, and continue adding up to 75 people (soon to be 100 under new management). Then select ‘Next’ -top right- then type your message. See below for DM etiquette.

NB: twitter etiquette is to speak via public tweet and agree to DM people, not to jump straight into people’s DMs. So if you’re creating a DM group, I’d tweet publicly asking who’d like to be added.

Shortcut: scan your feed for writers offering to add you to their DM groups (which is what many of my friends did with mine ?).

I hope this helps you get started.
To navigate Twitter’s #WritingCommunity and find out which hashtags to use in your tweets, see my Hashtag Guide. If you’d like a more detailed Twitter introduction (including Twitter etiquette), see Emma Lombard’s comprehensive Twitter Tips for Newbies.

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What’s Querying A Novel Like?

As a member of a querying writers group, I’ve watched writers wait 6 months to receive full manuscript rejections, or go months without receiving so much as a form rejection for queries. I’ve learned a lot about having realistic expectations and how to tackle the querying process. In these querying interviews, I interview some of those writers, with the aim of giving newly querying writers insights into what to expect on your journey, and advice. And to give those of you already on your querying journey a chance to reflect and possibly tweak your approach to querying.

Where Are You Querying From & Which Genres?

(Scroll right to see Debbie Hadad’s details).

Cheryl
Burman
Alexandrina
Brant
Susan
Waters
Juliana Savia ClaytonMelissaDebbie Hadad
FromUKUKCanadaUSAustraliaIsrael
GenreHistoricalFantasyScifiDystopianScifi
How long for?3 years2 months?5 months7 months (Tapered off July to write second).1 month1.5 years

What did you Think Querying Would Be Like?

Susan Way, way back I thought it was going to be every door slamming before I could get near it, but then when I learned that normal people can get literary agents, I realised I could be one of them. But at any point you get reminded it’s going to be hard and you’re going to get lots of rejections.

Alexandrina This is not my first time querying. This time round I wanted to go in with my excel spreadsheet and make it as ordered as possible. 10 queries at a time, wait 2 months, do another 10. I came into querying with a definite plan. I didn’t stick to it.

Debbie I think I underestimated how disheartening it could be and how much emotional energy it takes to keep going. If only you could just hand it to an agency to keep submitting or if there was an app like Book Tinder! Put your query up and if an agent likes it they swipe right and get your pages!

Melissa I did a lot of research and had an idea of agents taking a long time to respond, or not at all. I knew it was pretty hard to find an agent -if at all. I never planned to write a picture book. I’m not relying on this to get an agent.

It would be wonderful to be traditionally published for that kind of validation…

Cheryl

What has Querying Actually Been like?

Susan's head shot.
Susan’s Querying Experience

I definitely know now that literary agents are normal people. Some of them have giant egos. Some of them are very, very humble. You learn which one you might want to work with.

And Twitter is a good way to see, at least, from what they choose to put out there, what they might be like. You still get an idea of their sense of humour and professionalism. It’s a good place to look for red flags, if nothing else.

Susan Personalisation, I don’t know what to do with that. Eg. “I saw on September 17th that you like spaghetti”. [My blog on query letters will address this later this week, and be included in my newsletter going out Oct 23rd].

Cheryl's headshot
Cheryl’s Querying Experience

In the UK you can only really query agents directly. The big publishing houses don’t take direct submissions, like some of them do in Australia. It’s a really time consuming process, just hunting down agents who potentially might be interested.

“Because that one (Cheryl’s second novel) is totally in my control… I have made the decision to self publish that. It could have been a minimum of four years before Keepers got on the market. I’ll be on my walking frame by then, so I just want to get it out there. I’m not interested in making gallons of money. That would be nice, though that’s not going to happen.

Alexandrina reclining in a hollow tree trunk.
Alexandrina‘s Querying Experience

Every rejection you get is a knock back. That feeling of ‘do I need to leave this for another month? Do I need to hold back on my next batch? And re-work it and look for more querying partners?

Elise Do you feel like you’re overthinking or being a bit too cautious?

I always go by the reactions I have per round. If I haven’t got a reaction out of ten or from agents with similar things on their list then something’s not quite right.

Alexandrina For my third round, I’m focusing on the whole novel, not just what could be wrong in the opening. There’s always a chance I could get that full request, so I want the whole novel to be the best.

Elise How long do you think querying might take and how long are you prepared to pursue traditional publishing?

Alexandrina I could send 100 queries then call it quits. It depends how much feedback I can get.

Debbie wearing a shirt saying 'Just Don't Care.'
Debbie’s Querying Experience

I sent out a few, then waited a few months. It’s like, will you please reject me? I rewrote my first chapter 6-10 times after letting it sit for a year. Then I got a request.

What have been your Biggest Learnings so far?

Alexandrina Be more social. I never actively searched for a critique partner via Twitter. I never found DM groups. Pitch parties… I feel like I have more confidence to say, ‘Hi. I see you’re doing x, y, z. Do you want to swap pages?’

Susan How much you should be ready to put yourself in a box. They want you to be clearly one thing. I wrote a book about an 18 yo, and it’s not really a dystopia… but it might be, and there’s serious situations, and comedy, and I don’t really know how to do comps but please just read this!

Melissa It’s well worth paying for services like Query Tracker. I learnt the value of it when it was discussed in my query group. Looking back, I probably queried prematurely. I had revised a lot. I did have feedback. But I think I needed to go through again.

Juliana’s Learnings

I didn’t make too many tweaks. I know a lot of people make many on their first pages. I think that way lies madness. At some point you have to let your baby go.

About a month in, when I wasn’t getting the response that I wanted I reached out to an editor, @AmQueryingH, and she’s amazing. She did my query and first five pages. I had the bones of the query, but she really amped it up and that was the query that got me a couple of responses.

I didn’t realise how competitive the market is. Its more about being better than good enough. And a million other things that you don’t know about.

That was such an eye opening moment. It wasn’t my writing. It wasn’t that it was a dystopia. It wasn’t that he thought it wasn’t marketable. It was just that he already had that book.

You don’t have all the reasons why (for a rejection). Sometimes that makes it sting a little less. Sometimes the bourbon makes it sting a little less. And cuddling the cats and a very supportive husband…

Debbie’s Learnings

People always say don’t take it (rejections) personally. To pick yourself up after a rejection is hard. After a while you develop fatalism. It’s like “has my rejection come through yet?”

The more I learned, the more I realised I didn’t know. I learned you need to let it (your manuscript) sit. You are completely blind to the first draft. You have to have other eyes on it. When you read for someone else you pick up patterns. You need someone to help you notice yours and break you out of them.

Listen to feedback you trust. Listen to your gut. If you listen to feedback from everyone, you’ll go mad.

Be willing to implement advice. Get rid of things you really like if it improves the story. You need to be confident enough to think you’re good enough and humble.

You’re blind to your manuscript’s faults because you’re so in love with it that you can’t see what’s wrong with it.

Like phrases you use too much. I removed characters and rewrote from third person past tense to first person dual point of view.

What Advice would you give to Writers Beginning Their Querying Journey?

Melissa I don’t put all my eggs in one basket. You can’t rely on one path to get you through. Have a process for dealing with rejections. (Some writers)… have a dream agent or a few dream agents in mind and I feel like that’s setting yourself up for disappointment.

Alex Take on feedback. Actively look for feedback. Know this agent looks for this because of this interview.

Susan Even if you do fit into more than one category, you have to know how to make yourself fit into the boxes the agents want to fit. Accept that you’ve got to follow the established rule for comps. Actually read at least enough of them to understand why you’re comping it. Ask people who have experience with querying… who’ve gotten to have informal conversations with agents (at conferences). Go to any conferences available to you. If not, find people who’ve been there (not stalking ?).

Cheryls’ Advice
Cheryl's headshot

Do not start querying until you are super, super happy with your manuscript. Give it to as many readers as possible and beg for their honest views. Re-write. Re-write.

-Cheryl

Tell them you’re not just interested in where the commas are. You really want to know if the story works and how do the characters come across. So ask questions. [For an example of possible questions, see my chapter one critical reader checklist.]

Think about your comps very carefully. Think about style, tone, voice -is it similar? Don’t be too specific about the story.

Make sure you read the submission guidelines very, very carefully. If they ask for 50 pages, send 50.

In terms of getting your manuscript ready, make sure you’ve actually written it technically properly… point of view… dialogue.. make sure you learn those things from other writers. From reading books like Dave King and Renee Brown’s Self Editing for Fiction Writers.

Because an agent’s just going to throw it out the door… they need just the slightest excuse to move on to the next one.

Juliana’s Advice
Juliana's head shot

After living the rejections, it gets easier. It really does.

By my 80th rejection it was, “well at least I heard back. That was nice.” I had 5 agents say, “That wasn’t for me, but I hope you’ll keep me in mind for future work.” So make sure you read your rejections all the way through, because it usually comes at the end if they say that…

If they say “I’d love to read this”, that means they want the full…

Keep track of it. Query Tracker is a really good website.

For my future queries, I have that sheet with who wanted more and whose responses were kind and personalised. I got a couple that were kind of scathing like, “consider joining a critique group.” Like, I am. I got one that just said, “Thank you. This isn’t for me.”

I can’t emphasize enough: have a support system. Nobody gets it like a writer gets it.

Debbie’s Advice

Seriously, make a list of 50 people. Collect 100 rejections. Treat it as an exercise. Be persistent. It’s a long long process. Finding an agent by Friday is like walking down the street and finding a bag of gold. It’s like going on a first blind date and expecting that person to be the one. You need to date a lot of weirdos before you find the one. It’s the same with querying.

Agents have to practically marry your manuscript to represent you. They’re going to be going over it so many times and pushing it to other people.

I need to make a decision if I’m going to keep querying or self publishing. I really love my books and I think they are publish worthy. I believe they will find a home in readers hearts. You can’t know if there’s a cavern of gold and you’re centimetres away. We don’t know how far we are from the cavern or if there is a cavern.

I kind of want to say don’t give up because you could succeed tomorrow, but you don’t want to be querying forever.

Debbie wearing a shirt saying 'Just Don't Care.'
Debbie Iancu Hadad

Two short stories of mine appeared in the anthology ‘Achten Tan: Land of Dust and Bone (Tales from the Year Between, Book 1)’. Currently querying a couple of YA SFF novels, participating in three different anthologies, writing vss on Twitter and buying way too much stuff on Aliexpress. For my day job I give lectures on humor and serve as a personal chauffeur for my two teenagers. Residing in Meitar, Israel. You’ll find her on Twitter @debbieiancu.

Susan's head shot.
Susan Waters

lives in Ontario, Canada. Her writing, however, usually features her east coast roots, whether by landscape or by culture. Her first novel is an upper YA Speculative Fiction she hopes is the first volume in a series. Currently she’s penning an adult romantic comedy while plotting half a dozen stories, most of which blend science fantasy and humour. You’ll find her on Twitter @storiesbysusan.

Cheryl's headshot
Cheryl Burman

lives in the beautiful Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire, UK. Her first novel was a fantasy middle-grade trilogy but she has since taken to adult historical fiction. Her co-authored novel The Shanty Keeper’s Wife is currently being queried and she has also written a  romance set in Australia in the 1950s. Her current WIP uses the Forest of Dean as its backdrop and is a magical realism novel about a young woman who becomes a hedge witch – and a little bit more.At the end: She also writes short stories and flash fiction, a few of which have won prizes. She also writes short stories and flash fiction, a few of which have won prizes. You’ll find her on Twitter @cr_burman.

Juliana's head shot
Juliana Savia Clayton

I write young adult novels and picture books. Currently, I’m working on a YA Romcom. I am an active SCBWI member, serving as the Indiana chapter’s Volunteer Coordinator. I am also a member of the Indiana Writers Center. In my day job, I edit environmental documents, and I have one published non-fiction article in my field. You’ll find her on Twitter @kidlit_writer.

Alexandrina reclining in a hollow tree trunk.
Alexandrina Brant

Raised on a diet of Tolkien, Doctor Who, and Agatha Christie, Alexandrina Brant grew up around the city of Oxford, England. After graduating from the University of Reading with joint honours in Psychology & Philosophy, she hightailed it to London to study a Master’s in Linguistics at UCL, where her focus was sociolinguistics and dialect blending. She currently lives in Yorkshire with her husband and two warring cats. Her short stories have been published in several local anthologies and she is working on a Steampunk novel about a linguist’s journey to rescue her fiancé and a Doctor-Who-esque sci fi about lesbian aliens trying to save a corrupt planet. She keeps up with the bookish community on Instagram @lingua_fabularum. You’ll find her on Twitter @caelestia_flora.

Melissa's headshot
Melissa-Jane Nguyen

is an Aussie freelance writer and editor and mum to two little ones. She has writing published in Kidspot and Essential Baby, she sends out a fortnightly newsletter that combines aspects of writing and parenting, and she runs a short story publication with her sister. Melissa is currently working on querying and writing picture books, planning a middle grade novel, and letting a young adult manuscript marinate for a while before turning it on its head and rewriting the entire thing. Melissa is (sort of) becoming an expert at juggling lots of projects simultaneously. If you can get her to sit down for a chat, she’s partial to any kind of tea and will happily relate all she’s discovered about celebrities and topics she has no real interest in but has researched thoroughly as a result of falling down rabbit holes. You’ll find her on Twitter @MJEditing.

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Related Reading

Querying Your First Novel

Crafting A Quality Pitch

Resource links spanning Query Letters & Synopsis to Finding and Communicating with Literary Agents: this post.


Twitter Pitch Parties & Pitch Tips

Twitte Pitch Parties + Mentoring Programs

I will no longer state how many pitch parties are on Twitter or have moved elsewhere, because as Twitter falls apart the number is constantly changing. In this post I’ll try to include updates on pitch parties current locations, links to their current websites and note when parties have been discontinued. I’ll give detailed advice on effective pitch and party preparation and on making the most of #WritingCommunity support. (Hint, RTs are the beginning -not the end!).

But First… Is your book Ready to Query?

Have you edited your MS for every aspect of character, conflict, story tension etc you’ve read up on? Have you received constructive feedback from critical readers focused on making the book a better reading experience? Did you edit again and possibly get a second (and third round) of critical readers? (Especially if you’re a fellow pantser ?). Is your query letter up to scratch? Have you researched its contents, how to ‘sell’ the book to literary agents or acquiring editors in your pitch, and received critical feedback?
If not, see this post to kick your query letter into shape!

Which Pitch Party is for Me?

#IWSGpit Most fiction. January 25, 8am-8pm EST, 2024 TBC. IWSG

#KidLitPit Children’s books from PB to YA. January 26th 11.59pm in your time zone (all/ any), 2024 TBC. Website

#SFFPit Fantasy, Sci-fi, Speculative Fiction. August, 8am-6pm EST (Not yet scheduled for 2023. Its unclear if it will continue).

Savvy Authors Pitchfest begins 9am Feb, June & Oct 2024 TBC. This event is by registration on their Savy Authors Site.

#PBPitch -Picture Books- February 16th 2023, June 15th & October 26th, 8am-8pm EST, 2024 TBC. PBPitch Website.

#PBParty Picture Books. March 1, midnight to 1am EST OR 6pm -8pm EST via Google Form. 2024 TBC. PBParty Website.

#WMPitch -Picture Books through to YA- April, 8am-8pm British Time Cancelled? Website no longer exists.

#MoodPitch Fiction, all audience age ranges and genres. November 2023 cancelled. The organisers are hoping to deliver an April 2024 party, but are currently unsure on which platform. Moodpitch website.

#Smoochpit Romance. This is pitching to a mentorship program, not literary agents. 8am-9pm EST May 12th 2024, TBC. Website

#SWANAPit writers from South West Asia & North Africa (countries listed on website). May? Cancelled? Website no longer exists and Twitter account inactive since 2022.

#APIpit Asian and Pasifika Writers, May 5th 8am-8pm 2022. No 2023 dates. Cancelled? Website not updated since 2022. APIPit Website.

#Pitmad Most fiction & non-fiction. (2022 TBC): March, June, September, & December, 8am-8pm EST. Pitmad Website Pitmad is discontinued as of 16/02/2022.

#LGBTNPit Authors in the Queer Community, special focus on trans & non-binary authors. April 14th 2022, 8am-8pm. LGBTNPit Website. Discontinued as of May 2022.

#CanLitPit for Canadian authors. Cancelled 2023. The organiser aspires to move to a new platform in 2024 and has left Twitter. CanLitPit Website.

#PitchDis for authors with a disability & neurodivergent authors. Post-poned till 2024. PitchDis Website.

#DVpit -Marginalised Writers- August children’s and YA, Adult has moved to Discord (announced here, as of May 2023). Discord invites will be delivered via their newsletter. DVpit Website.

#KissPit Romance. 9am-9pm EST, May 6,. Discontinued as of July 2021.

#PitDark Dark Fiction. May 25th & Oct TBC, 8am-8pm EST, 2024 TBC..

#JoyPitch The opposite of Pitdark, for ‘light hearted feel good fiction and non-fiction’ of all categories and age ranges. June 1st, 8am -8pm, 2024 TBC. Joypit website.

#FaithPitch -Christian Fiction- September (2022 TBC). FaithPit. website Discontinued as of March 1st 2022.

#QueerPitch LGBTQIA+ Authors, August 1st, 2024 TBC. Queer Pitch Website.

#LatinxPitch -For Latino Writers of PB-YA Fiction- September, 8am-8pm CDT, 2024 TBC. Latinx Pitch Website.

#PitBLK For black authors, has been postponed to Fall (date tbc, announcement here). PitBLK website.

Indie Book and Author Parties

#ReadGala All authors, genres and categories. Thursday, May 25th & Nov ? 2023. Website

#SelfPitch For upcoming or recently released self-published and indie-published books. 7am-7pm PDT 13/7/23 Adult, 13/7/23 for Kidlit. Website

Preparing For Pitch Parties

1. Read Pitch Crafting Advice & Successful Pitches

If you haven’t taken this step, chances are there’s a lot you don’t know or understand about how to write a successful pitch. If you don’t know where to find tweet pitch advice, mine is here for starters.

Reading as many strong pitch examples as you can also helps. To find them, search the pitch party hashtag and the hashtags you plan to pitch on. The ‘top’ feed may have some great examples, but it also has rather ordinary pitches by people with lots of rts them, so I also suggest skimming ‘latest’ too.
A third source of inspiration and understanding is successful query letter pitches. Here’s a spreadsheet of 600+ successful query letters by genre.

2. Comparison Titles & Formatting

Use comps in your pitches. They can indicate more about tone, setting and themes than you have room to indicate in your pitch. For party pitches, you’re not limited to books published within the last 5 years (unlike query pitches). Film or tv series and older books are ok. Ideally your comps will be recognisable to agents and publishers, and or contrast with each other (e.g. my MG tweet pitch comps were MATILDA X kids INCEPTION).

Alternatively, you could have a notable twist on a comp, e.g. gender-swapped (fairytale/ well-known story) or for example Downton Abbey —with witches. Putting your comps in ALL CAPs at the top of your pitch can help them stand out and encourage industry folks to read and pay proper attention to your pitch.

3. Party Hashtags

Agents and publishers will search genre, audience age and marginalised writer hashtags to find pitches of interest to them. Parties like SFFPit have their own official hashtag lists, which aren’t always the same. So whichever party you’re pitching in, check if it has its own hashtag list and if so, use hashtags from that list, so your pitches are seen by industry professionals. I’ve linked every pitch party I know of’s website above.

As you’re identifying the main relevant hashtags for your pitch, and having already chosen comp titles, now is a good time to type your pitch and hashtags into a post or do a character count to check each pitch with comps and hashtags fits the platform or specified party character limit. If you’re struggling with this, you might want to skip to step 4.

4. Get Feedback on Your Pitches

There are a few options for doing this.

Pitch Feedback Parties

#Mockpit (their website hasn’t been updated since 2021) and #Practpit used to exist, and be practice pitch parties run on a particular hashtag, day and time. I’ve deleted my Twitter account, so I can no longer search the above two hashtags to see if these parties are still running, but you’re welcome to search both stags on Twitter and see if you can find recent tweets on them. If they are still running, they’re a great way to get pitch feedback if you’re new to Twitter and have few contacts, or want additional opinions on pitch revisions.

Asking For Feedback

Alternative to the above, you can tweet/ post on other platforms asking for feedback, or search your pitch party’s hashtag for anyone offering feedback. Or you can or do a search of ‘Discord’ and ‘#AmQuerying’ to look for servers which may have pitch feedback channels. If you’d like to join my Craft & Query Discord Server (which has pitch, query letter, synopsis & beta reader channels), let me know by replying to my posts about it on Blue Sky on Mastodon, or via my contact page.

5. RT or Comment Lists

Tweeting offering to add writers to a twitter list where you can RT or comment on each other’s pitches is a good way to encourage each other and to boost your pitch visibility. With so many people pitching in parties, its also an increasingly popular idea. If you don’t want to make your own Twitter list (which stores handles of people pitching so you can check their feed or pinned tweet), I suggest searching the pitch party hashtag for people offering to put writers on their lists.

6. Join a DM Group

Pitch parties can be lonely, stressful and discouraging affairs on your own. Creating or joining a Group DM on Twitter, or a Discord Server to share pitches for RTs and comments, and to chat, commiserate, celebrate successes and cheer each other on makes Party Day much more enjoyable. It gives you a community, whereas spending time on the party’s hashtag feed on your own may give you the feeling of being a drop in the ocean.

If you’re new to pitch parties or have questions about anything, including agents or publishers who like your pitches, a DM Group gives you a bunch of people to ask directly. And as many people in my DM groups have said: pitch parties are more fun in a DM group!

To find people creating DM groups, search the pitch party hashtag in the Twitter search bar. (Alas, having left Twitter I can no longer offer to add you to the dying pitch group dm that was once a great place I pitched in parties with company in).

The easiest way to share your pitches in a DM is to hit this button

Twitter Pitch Parties & Pitch Tips

on the bottom right of your tweet after you pitch it. Then select ‘Send via Direct Message’ and select the name of the DM group from the menu. On computer, you can also copy the url from your browser, paste it in the DM and hit ‘enter’ to share it in the group.

7. Tweet to Explain Pitch Party Etiquette

It never hurts to tell your followers you’re pitching and that they can support you by boosting your impressions and visibility on hashtag ‘top’ feeds to industry professionals (you may like to include a mood board for your wip in this tweet). Your followers can boost by comments (which are more effective for Twitter algorithms) and RTs (which make your pitch more visible to writers, who can then comment on them). If you don’t have many followers and aren’t getting many comments or RT’s, the other hashtag feed industry professionals can search is ‘latest’, which shows up EVERYONE’s pitch at the time they tweet it.

The other important thing to tweet is the explanation that during a pitch party a ❤️ is how literary agents and indie publishers request submissions, and that non-industry likes cause disappointment, or leave us fighting hope as we sift through tens of ❤️ ‘s wondering if even one is an actual request.

8. Mind Set

2021 March’s #Pitmad saw over 570k tweets on the hashtag (yes this includes LOADS of RTs). Its possible your pitches won’t be seen by industry professionals and its VERY common not to get industry requests. Some agents and publishers made under 20 requests -period not just per genre- in March’s 2021 Pitmad. But if you go in expecting nothing from the industry, and prepare with the goal of improving your pitch craft, making writer friends, and of testing how your pitches are received by fellow writers to learn what works well for future parties and query editing- you’ll be all set for a positive experience.

9. Decide Which Pitch to Tweet First

This is important because your first pitch will get the most impressions, as people who are supporting pitching writers are most likely to retweet and comment during the first hour. So try to identify which pitch sells your character best, makes your conflict and stakes the clearest and most engaging, and ideally also the pitch which has the most voice.
To get maximum retweets and or comments -pitch it in the first 1/2 hour. If you’re not sure how to write a pitch, or don’t know the difference between a pitch, a log line or a blurb (book pitches are different to both and must include certain things to be successful), here’s my post on tweet pitch crafting.

But when do you tweet your other pitches?

Hourly for some parties, but only 2 or 3 pitches max for others. Parties tend to get increasingly quiet after 1pm -especially in the finale hours- so you may wish to tweet all your pitches by as early as 1-3pm. That said, I saw a few agents tweeted that they were beginning to check Pitmad pitches in the last few hours of March 2021’s Pitmad, so if you are online during the party, checking when agents are online is your best way to decide. You’ll sometimes find their ‘I’m checking out (insert party)’ tweets on the party hashtag’s ‘Top’ feed, including agents searching party hashtags the day after the party. If you have particular agents or publishers in mind, you could also check their twitter profiles, as they will normally tweet when they start checking pitches.

9. Schedule Your Pitches on Twitter

Yes, you can use Tweetdeck or Hootsuite, but now you can use Twitter to schedule, so everything is in one place. Whether you’re home all day and awake during a party, sleeping because your timezone isn’t compatible with the US east coast, or working -or both- scheduling pitches takes pressure off you during the party. If you’re online, scheduling lets you focus on retweeting and or commenting on others pitches.

To schedule pitches on Twitter

1. Hit ‘tweet’.

2. Type your pitch.

3. Select this button (beside the emoji button).

Twitter schedule log

4. Select your time and date.

Timezones: If you’re not on US EST time, most parties run on it, so check your party’s times above (its often 8am to 8pm but again, not always) and convert them to your timezone! If you’re pitching from Australia or New Zealand, remember it’s often the date after the party because we’re a day ahead!

5. Hit ‘confirm’ (top right).

6. Then you’ll see your pitch again. Hit ‘schedule’ (bottom right).

10. Pin your Pitch

This is so writers you know and kind random strangers can easily find and retweet it -if you’re also retweeting other writers and your feed is cluttered with RTs. I’m hearing a lot about how comments do more for Twitter’s algorithms, so I suggest commenting on pitches if you can and asking others to do so for you. (Bear in mind this only works if they’ve got time and it isn’t midnight or 2am in their timezone -fellow Aussies -and Kiwis- I feel your pain!)

To pin your pitch to the top of your profile, after its tweeted, hit the top right ̇ ̇ ̇ then select ‘pin to your profile.’

11. During the Party

Get in your DM group and or the party’s hashtags to comment on each other’s pitches. When you find pitches of writer friends, associates or pitches you like, reply saying what you like about them. We’re all nervous, so acts of kindness like words of encouragement can really make people’s days. And yes, hopefully you will get some of what you have given -and you will have earned it.

12. After the Party

Celebrate, commiserate -ask how writers how they fared and share anything you learnt or ideas you have for next time with anyone likely to participate again. If you pitch in a future party, try and connect with the writers you’ve met this time and see if you can continue supporting each other in future. This is also a great chance, via DM group, Discord or tweet, to offer to trade query letter and synopsis feedback with querying writers.

Whichever pitch parties you participate in, Good Luck!

If you’d like a concise PDF of most of these steps, you can download it on the right. (Note: this pdf isn’t post death of Twitter updated).

Pitch Parties By Calendar Month

(To see them listed by type as above, select here)

January  #IWSGpit, #KidLitPit & (#AuthorMentorMatch -mentoring).

February #SFFPit???, #PBPitch, Savvy Authors Pitchfest

March #PBParty

April #MoodPitch?, #Revpit (Revision & Editor Mentoring).

May #APIPit???, #Smoochpit, #PitDark

June #JoyPitch, #PitchDIS???, #PBPitch, #CanLitPit???

July  

August #LatinxPitch???

Sept #SFFPit???, #PitBLK???

October #PitDark, #PBPitch. #DVpit?, Savvy Authors Autumn Pitchfest

November #MoodPitch?

Dec

*All party dates on this post are correct as of November 2023.*

MORE Pitch Parties.

My Pitch Crafting Tips

For a list of resource links spanning Query Letters & Synopsis to Finding & Communicating with Literary Agents, see this post.

Writer Mentoring Events

There are three mentoring programs which involve matching writers with mentors, who will provide manuscript editing notes and help writers hone manuscript for submission, #Pitchwars mentors also help with query package edits. For #AuthorMentorMatch and #Pitchwars the mentors are authors, for #Revpit they are editors.

#AuthorMentorMatch, is run by @AuthorMentorMatch in February.

#Revpit is Revision & Editor Mentoring for MG, YA & Adult Fiction, which begins with pitching on Twitter in April. For more details, visit the Revpit Website.

#RogueMentor is a new mentoring program offering mentorships in Northern Hemisphere Summer, Spring and Fall. For more details, visit the Rogue Mentor Website.

#Pitchwars mentors profiles can be viewed and the submission window for writers to submit via email opens in September. For more details visit the . Discontinued in 2022.

Critique. #PassorPages by @OpAwesome6 is for query critiquing. For details on which genres and audience ages you can receive feedback on and when visit their website. Round one is in February, with rounds throughout the year, the last in October.

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#StrictlyWriting Community

Like many writers, one of the things I loved about joining Twitter’s #WritingCommunity was the opportunity to discuss the craft and to learn with other writers. But as I followed more writers, questions about the business of writing virtually vanished from my feed. I created the hashtag #StrictlyWriting to make these things more visible.

#StrictlyWriting‘s goal was to act as a space to ask for writer or wip help, talk nitty gritty of writing craft and reflect on outlining to querying). It was also to tweet advice to help each other on our writing journeys, and share opportunities like workshops and festivals.

The hashtag died before Twitter did, but not before those of us who enjoyed it most relocated to a Discord Server, on which the hashtag’s original focus (in the graphic below) is still a goal.

Text: #StrictlyWriting is for... giving advice, reflecting/ learnings, outlining through to author platform, opportunity sharing (critiques, workshops, conferences, groups).
#StrictlyWriting is also to ask for help with outlining, drafting, editing, critical readers, querying, author platforms and publishing.
To share/ find resources, #StrictlyWritingResources.

Strictly Writing Community -on Discord

Discord began with gamers. It creates private, invite link only groups. Instead of viewing posts via a personal profile, you enter a Server (like an old school forum) with group feeds (channels), organised under Categories. Everyone comments or asks questions on topically relevant channels, so you can go straight to channels whose topics interest you and ignore channels which don’t.

Left Text: Strictly Writing Community
Left image: silver laptop, white hands writing in notebook at coffee table.Right Text: Strictly Authoring
Right image: bird's eye view of a long rectangular table with books for sale across it, buyers on one side, purchasers on the other.

The Strictly Writing Discord Community is a supportive space. It has channels for writing craft discussion and seeking critical readers, query discussion and query package feedback. There’s also a companion server, Strictly Authoring, with channels for discussing self publishing, newsletters, social media, author profiles and book marketing.

Both are open to fiction writers. Most of us on both write novels and or shorts, for audiences of all ages, many being SFF and quite a few queer.

Left Text: AusWrites on yellow square background.Right test: Queer & Or ND & Or Dis Writers on brightly painted rainbow backgrou

There’s also a Discord for Aussie Writers, and one for Queer and or Neurodiverse and or Disabled writers (because why stop at two?) The Queer/ Disabled Writer Server is for discussing life as diverse people, and writing diverse characters.

To join any server, let me know by replying to my posts about them on Blue Sky or Mastodon, or via my contact page.

#StrictlyWritingResources

This tag has also fallen into disuse, but selecting#StrictlyWritingResources shows many great resources relating to craft, querying and more. Feel free to add resources you’ve found helpful or you’ve made on it or to tweet them on #StrictlyWriting.

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Which Other Writer Hashtags Exist? Many.

If you’d like hashtags to connect with specific types of writers, prompts, live chats & tip tags (on Twitter and Instagram), I’ve cataloged many in Writing Community Hashtag Guide.
If you’re interested in questions about wip content (eg. characters, setting etc), and writing, a good tag for this is #WritingQ which is also taking off on Blue Sky (see my Blue Sky Newby Guide to get started there).

If you’re new to writer social media and #WritingCommunity, you’ll find advice on what to post and getting started on multiple in Social Media for Writers.

Bird's eye view o long bookstall tables with books arranged across it, sellers seated  on one side, buyers standing on the other.
Am I selling my book to the best of my ability? Photo by Maico Pereira 

Whether you’re pitching to hook literary agents or readers, either way, you want to do it WELL. This blog focuses more on pitches for literary agents and publishers who take unagented work, but there’s still plenty for querying writers and indie authors both to learn. (And indie authors will have more wriggle room than this blog implies. It becomes ‘know the rules and know why you’re breaking them’ more for indie authors than traditional publishing pursuing writers).

Book Pitch vs. Blurb

On Twitter, you will see people use ‘pitch’ and ‘blurb’ interchangeably. A pitch is NOT a blurb. A pitch aimed at literary agents or publishers will not get you requests if it doesn’t include specific ingredients, address them clearly and well (see below). Pitches often conform to particular formulas, like ‘Character is X, but when Y happens character must A or else incur terrible C.’ There are variations, which include essential pitch ingredients (see below). Whereas, a back-of-book blurb may or may not include all the essential ingredients of a pitch. A blurb may also include bonus details to appeal to readers, like thematic statements. (Thematic statements are mostly NOT included in pitches because they take up limited space and are usually not what sells a book to industry professionals).

Book Pitch vs. Log lines

You may see people advising, ‘Don’t name characters in pitches. State their role or what makes them unique instead. Definitely state their uniqueness, but I suspect this advice confuses log lines with a pitch. A log line is generally telling the audience (eg. at the movies) they’re in for a wild ride or a fun journey. It’s not trying to get a literary agent or publisher to care about or take interest in a main character. Its not trying to persuade busy agents and editors that they like this character so much or relate to them so well that they want to spend their limited time reading about this character. ‘Little Timmy’ is more likely to generate sympathy or to be relatable than ‘little no-name’. So I advise against log lines in Twitter pitches (in a query letter it may work), and for either, I say name your main character!

Basics

Over the past year, I have critiqued an estimated 100+ tweet pitches for various parties (not including revised pitches). This has helped me note patterns in essential ingredients and maximise opportunities to hook a reader. However, quality ingredients don’t guarantee a quality end product. So I won’t just list ingredients, I’ll explain why it’s important to address them well, then give advice on how to do so.

Essential Book Pitch Ingredients

Main Character
Inciting event, central conflict & stakes
Character growth that must occur for the MC to resolve conflict and avoid stakes or impossible choice the MC must make

Before we dive in

Remember that your pitch isn’t just saying ‘this is a great novel’. You’re telling an industry professional why they want to represent your novel. So how does your novel differ from others in your genre? What is unique about your character, inciting event, conflict, stakes & character growth? As you draft and revise your pitch, keep checking that it highlights what is most unique and compelling about your novel. Try to be as specific as you can in your pitch.

Note For SFF & Multiple POV Writers 

It’s tempting to write an opening which introduces the wonderful world you have created -but don’t. In a tweet pitch and even in a query letter, you aren’t selling your fantasy or scifi setting. You’re selling an intriguing character, with a compelling personal role to play in a conflict involving significant personal stakes. This is why it’s so hard to pitch multiple points of view. Its also why, if your novel has multiple points of view, I recommend giving the main characters a pitch to themselves, to do justice to each character’s arc. You may also write like to attempt a 2 pov pitch. A two pov tweet pitch normally has a sentence to introduce each character and a third sentence explaining their roles and stakes in the conflict.

Character

Seated, brunette woman wearing fancy red headdress, black lipstick and a green silk, floor length dress wielding knife curved, jagged silver bladed knife.
Photo by Ferdinand studio 

Your main character is your hook. Your goal is to introduce them that piques interest and or invite a literary agent or publisher to connect with them. (Do name your MC- thats a mental hook for details about them to hang on and makes more sympathetic than ‘random, un-named office worker’.)
A character description could be a single adjective, or a job title. Ideally, it will show or state what your character draws on to help them confront the conflict and be specific to your character.
Eg. fear of swimming from near-drowning as a child, in a story of personal growth in which she sees a child drowning offshore at a deserted beach. However you introduce your character, consider: what is the most unique thing about them? What helps them resolve the conflict and what are the most engaging word choices to show or describe that?

Character Intro Examples

“17 YO Jorden’s specialties are baking apple pie, hand to hand combat and leaping before he looks.” -Debbie Iancu-Haddad @debbieiancu.

“Elective mute Ashari remembers nothing before the void in her mind.” -Halla Williams @hallawilliams1.

If you’re struggling to find space for an engaging character introduction, you could use the inciting event as your hook and frame your introduction with it, as I have done here. “Thrust to power by death in the family, peace-born Ruarnon…” -Elise Carlson.

Inciting Event and Tension

You might like to frame your character introduction with ‘when’ to lead into the inciting event. ‘When’ is a good opening to lead into a collision of worlds, desires or wills etc. It amplifies the fact that the character we’ve just met and connected with is about to have their world turned upside-down and leaves us wondering how and what the outcome will be. (Try not to use the phrase ‘turned upside-down’. This phrase is common to many stories and can sound generic. If you use it, highlight the way in which that character’s life is changed. Or their emotional response/ reaction, to keep the focus on what is ‘unique’ about your story). Ending with a clash of wills with another character, or clash of morals between the character’s beliefs and actions -with an obstacle to their goal or resolution of the conflict- is a good way inject tension.

Inciting Event Examples

“His suicide mission: Build a bomb, destroy a space ship and save the world.” -Debbie Haddad.

“Having lost her memory in a storm, she chooses the unlikely safety of becoming a mercenary for the enigmatic Captain Westorr.” -Halla Williams.

“Monsters live under beds, but Julie is sure there’s one in her ceiling.” -mine.

Conflict

Two white birds grappling in mid air
Photo by Chris Sabor on Unsplash

An important thing to note with conflict is that in a pitch you don’t create conflict by saying ‘there’s a war on.’ Conflict here doesn’t refer to external plot events. It refers to your main character’s personal struggles within those events. Or to struggles in relationships necessary to achieve story goals, or to moral or ethical dilemma’s your main character faces. Again, inclusion of these personal elements creates opportunity for readers to connect emotionally to your character and story and for your pitch to hook them.

Of pitches I’ve critiqued, I would estimate that half do not clearly state the external conflict and or the main character’s role in it. Author bias really kicks in here. You know your story so well that your subconscious fills holes in your pitch. But critical readers can point them out, so you can fill holes and clarify that pitch for industry professionals. This is where I highly recommend trading pitch feedback with other writers.

Conflict Examples

“But falling in love wasn’t part of the plan…” -Debbie Iancu-Haddad.

“There’s only one way to find out and stop being scared -climb the tree beside the house and meet the THING!” -my picture book pitch.

Stakes

Once you have introduced a character and conflict which has hooked our interest, we need to know not only the external stakes, but the personal stakes your character faces. A pitch in which the stakes are ‘or the world will be destroyed’ is generic. Also, the world/ fantasy kingdom x’ is an anonymous entity the reader knows nothing about, so it has little impact on us. A character however, is someone we can connect with, so when you threaten that character, we feel something. If external conflict is key to your story, be sure to state the character’s role in it and the personal stakes their role entails.

(Conflict and) Stakes Examples

“…completing his mission means sacrificing the girl he loves.” -Debbie Haddad.

“But ‘safe’ is a relative term. For both of them.” -Halla Williams.

Character Growth and Impossible Choice/ More Tension

Perhaps the greatest place to hook a reader into your pitch emotionally is when you state how your character must grow or develop to overcome the conflict. If main character Jane hates estranged uncle Tom, but his knowledge is crucial to preventing granny’s murder, and Jane must forgive Tom’s past mistakes to enlist his help in saving Granny -that adds tension.

Specific demons from your character’s past (or other obstacles/ shortcomings) they must overcome to resolve the conflict are often what makes me lament your book not being in print yet. Think about how your character must change to overcome the conflict they face and try to include it in your pitch. If you struggle to identify how your character changes (I did in my first Pitmad), this may be a sign that your novel isn’t ready to query. It may signal that your main character’s arc needs another structural edit (as mine did.)

Impossible Choice Example

“…she must use her voice or let her captain perish.” -Halla Williams.

But Wait, There’s More

The Save the Cat Formula features an addition that may be difficult to fit in a pitch, but can make a pitch highly engaging to read. This final ingredient to kick your pitch up a level is adding a complication to your character’s ability to resolve the conflict. Then indicate how this complication raises the stakes. What factor makes it even harder for your MC to achieve their goal? Does a friend betray them? Do they lose an asset crucial to success at the eleventh hour? Can you jam this complication and an indication of how it raises the stakes into your pitch?

“When a monster army invades…” (the second conflict in my novel).

Tweet Pitch Examples which got Agent Likes

The above pitch elements may seem like a lot, and you may only fit some of them into each pitch -which is why it’s great you get 3- so you can highlight different elements in each one. Here’s the pitches I’ve referenced above -each reference is often sections of 2 different pitches.

Debbie Haddad’s Pitches (You’ll find her website here.)

Crafting a Quality Book Pitch
Tweet: The day teen eco-terrorist Jorden Lund left Earth he had 4 months left to live.
His suicide mission: build a bomb, destroy a space ship and save the world.
But falling in love wasn't part of the plan and completing the mission means sacrificing the girl he loves.

Halla William’s Pitches . You’ll find her website here.

Late June 2020 update: Halla is now agented -congrats Halla!

How Do I Achieve All This in a Book Pitch On My Own?

You don’t. Whether you’re writing pitches, a query letter or book blurb, you can post on social media asking who’s happy to trade pitch feedback (which will get you more response than asking and not offering to return the favour).

Most of what I’ve learnt about pitch craft came not from reading blogs like this, but from reading MANY tweet pitches. It also came from reading query letters -critically- and providing feedback to help other writers strengthen their pitches. Not all of this knowledge applied directly to my own pitches (to date), but all of it has given me valuable insights.

If you’d like to join a Discord Server focused on querying and including tweet pitch and query and synopsis feedback channels, let me know by replying to my posts about it on Blue Sky on Mastodon, or via my contact page.

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More Book Pitch and Related Resources

I’ve listed the pitch parties I’m aware of, which months they’re held in and links to Pitch Party websites here.

You’ll find resource links spanning Query Letters & Synopsis to Finding and Communicating with Literary Agents, in this post.

If you’re new to social media Writing Communities, see my Social Media For Writer’s post, or Blue Sky Newby Guide to help you get started.

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