#PitMad for Christian YA recap by Megan Schaulis

#PitMad Recap: My First Twitter Pitch Party

On September 3, 2020, I participated in my first Twitter pitch party. I had never heard of such a thing until a few days before the online event. Then I spent a few hours frantically researching #PitMad and crafting eye-catching pitches.

A Twitter friend

Like many on Twitter, I tweeted about what I was planning to tweet on Twitter. I wrote:

Any other #Christian #writers participating in #PitMad this week? Any agents who’ll be looking for Christian fiction/inspirational works?

To my great delight, Jessica Shaub Lewis replied to my tweet. I have no idea how she saw the post at all given my minuscule following. But she did. Jessica is a Christian picture book author who found her agent through a pitch party. She had just launched her personal website and directed me to her post on writing pitches.

From her post, I learned that it’s important to think about how the post looks and reads instead of just cramming in as many details as possible in 280 characters. Using this advice, I crafted the following draft pitches.

Draft #PitMad pitches

Pitch 1:
Hinds Feet x Walk to Remember
James knows the King is good—not that anyone’s ever met him. After uncovering hurtful family secrets, he leaves everything he knows to face the King himself. Will James’ fear-filled visions destroy him before he reaches the King?
#PitMad #YA #CF #INSP

For this pitch I used a convention I found by stalking the June #PitMad of referencing comp titles. Here I’m claiming my book is a cross between Hinds’ Feet on High Places (a Christian allegory) and A Walk to Remember (an inspirational teen romance). I ultimately did not use this pitch. This is noteworthy because this description is very similar to the hook paragraph in most of my query letters. Perhaps I’ll be revisiting those in my next round of queries.

Pitch 2:
The good life
James could’ve had it all if his parents hadn’t hidden an invitation the King sent 11 years ago. Hurt and angry, James sets out across the mountains to find the King. But the farther he travels, the worse his nightmares become.
#PitMad #YA #CF #INSP

This was my first pitch of the day. (#PitMad allows up to three tweets per manuscript.) Here I used the strategy of splitting words over line breaks to make the tweet more visually appealing. I received 23 retweets for this pitch—my most successful of the day. I even got one like! But instead of being an agent, it turned out to be from a Twitter passer-by who didn’t know the rules of the game. (During pitch parties, only agents/editors are supposed to “like” posts. This is how they indicate you should send them a proper query for this book.)

Pitch 3:
Walk to Remember x Hinds Feet + nightmares
James & his crush leave small town behind and travel the wilderness to find a good but mysterious king. Wrecked by guilt-ridden hallucinations, James must battle his own mind to reach the king he’s desperate to know. #PitMad #YA #CF #INSP

A quick note on the hashtags. Each pitch party has specific hashtags that agents use to search for material. In this case, I’m saying my manuscript is young adult, Christian fiction, inspirational. I’m honestly not clear on the difference between Christian and inspirational. I guess inspirational isn’t always explicitly Christian but often has faith-based values? Anyway, I was pretty sure it applied to my book so I included it.

Pitch 4:
A boy with no rescue story
A girl with a life-altering invitation
A king covered in scars
When his crush receives a precious invitation, James fights for his sanity as he helps her reach the king. But the farther he travels, the worse the nightmares become.
#PitMad #YA #CF #INSP

This is another pitch I crafted but didn’t use. It felt too similar to pitch 2, both in structure and content, so I ruled it out. I may revisit this one for a future pitch party, like #FaithPitch in November.

Pitch 5:
Parents who lied.
A box full of sins.
A girl who believes in more.
Small town teen James has a lot to deal with as he and his beautiful neighbor cross the mountains in search of a mysterious king. But the farther he travels, the more real his nightmares become.
#PitMad #YA #CF #INSP

This was my third pitch of the day. It performed better than pitch 3 but not as well as pitch 2. I wonder if that had more to do with the time of day than the content.

Planning for the next pitch party

I ready just about every other #YA #CF pitch of the day. It was easy to see why some had many agent likes and others didn’t. The ones with likes were impressively engaging. They gave me just a taste without trying to cram too much in. Here are ideas I’ll be playing with next time:

  • First person pitch from main character since the book is in first person already. Something like:
    • If the King’s so good why is Melody dead? Why did my parents lie? Why is Victoria leaving? It seems he only gives to take away. OR
    • However I pictured the King it wasn’t like this. Who knew the Great Rescuer has a million-dollar lake house, makes homemade chai tea, and likes to go cliff jumping? 
  • A list of catchy highlights including small town romance, wilderness travel, mind-bending nightmares and cliff diving with Jesus
  • A statement about the primary supporting character like: Victoria’s already been rescued. The town is nice. The boy is nice. This life could be nice. So why does she crave more? And when will she meet her Rescuer?
  • Something from the King’s perspective, though this might be too much of a spoiler

All that to say, even though my first pitch party didn’t get me any agent bites, I learned so much about how to “sell” my book. I also gained many followers and made one solid Twitter friend.

Photo by Sara Kurfeß on Unsplash

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