[Blog] Should You Query Through Twitter Pitch Events?

Querying an agent can be exhausting and terrifying. There are a multitude of ways to query an agent, ranging from writers’ conferences to emailing a submission. But there is another way to query that is not as well-known: Twitter pitch events.

Twitter pitch events are a virtual opportunity for unpublished authors to pitch their manuscripts to literary agents and/or editors. If an agent or editor likes your work, they will request more material from you. And, hopefully, this will lead to a deal.

In this blog post, we share the benefits and drawbacks to querying through Twitter pitch events, as well as include three of the most popular pitch events that take place annually.

The Benefits

Participation in a Twitter pitch event can help you test interest for your story. You can search through other Tweets, learn about books within your genre, and determine if there is a market for your story.

Pitch events are a great means to make connections in the writing world (and as we frequently reiterate, connections are the best way to land a book deal!) A pitch event allows you to get opinions on your work from other writers. And if you’re searching for a beta reader or critique partner, you might find someone within your genre.

A Twitter pitch event will also help you improve your pitching skills. Twitter allows only 280 characters per a Tweet. So, you will have to play around with a single sentence or two short sentences that accurately represent your story—and make you stand out from the crowd.

If you’re unable to share the premise of your story in a single sentence, or two sentences, then you might need to reconsider your work. A pitch should be short and to the point. And your story should be easily explained in a short amount of time. Agents are short on time, and are looking for strong opening hooks that will inform them of the most important information in your story.

The most obvious benefit to a Twitter pitch event is the potential to land an agent or editor. If an agent or editor is interested in your work, they will like or favorite your Tweet and then request more material.

The Drawbacks

Hundreds, if not thousands, of people participate in Twitter pitch events. Throughout these events, thousands of Tweets will be published. And if you’re not active on Twitter prior to the event, then the algorithm will work against you. It is difficult to get seen if you’re not active on Twitter.

A low success rate is another drawback to pitch events. Because thousands of Tweets are published, and because only a few agents and editors participate, it’s challenging to land a deal. You might have a wonderful manuscript that gets buried beneath other Tweets.

Even if you do land an agent or editor, they might not be the right fit for you. This can be frustrating since you spent time and energy constructing your query. But there is no guarantee that you will land a deal, much less land an agent or editor who are the best...

[Blog] How Do I Keep My Reader's Attention?

Didn’t you hear? Humans have the attention span of a goldfish.

The statement may be a stretch (even though Ted Lasso made us all believe it’s an immutable truth!), but the idea behind it isn’t. The attention span of a human is short.

You may wonder how a person’s short attention span affects your writing. We did some math and made a few hypotheses. Read below to find out more.

How Fast Do I Read?

Let’s begin by establishing some parameters.

On average, adults read 220 to 350 wpm (words per minute). This does not include technical, software reading, which takes far longer (and probably more brain power) to complete. College-age people (19- to 23-years-old) read, on average, 300 to 350 wpm. And high schoolers read 200 to 300 wpm.  

Will This Chapter Ever End?

Most chapters fall between a 1500- and 5000-word count. That’s not to say that some chapters are longer (as can be seen in popular fiction series such as The Lord of the Rings or A Game of Thrones). But, for the most part, chapters will fall into this range. Especially in nonfiction.

The sweet spot for chapter length will be 3000 to 4000 words.

20 Minutes Is My Limit

Research has concluded that the optimal attention span in adults is 20 minutes. “Optimal” means your audience is engaged at their fullest capacity.

No matter how interesting your topic may be—whether it’s a speech, lecture, or piece of writing—20 minutes appears to be the limit. There will be those outliers who exceed a 20-minute attention span—who have a natural ability to spellbind us with their words—but we’re focusing on average people. Like you and me.

Consider the previous parameters established. If an adult reads 220 wpm, they will start to lose attention (after a 20-minute period) at a 4400-word count. If an adult reads 350 wpm, they will start to lose attention (after a 20-minute period) at a 7000-word count.

Forget Everything Else. Curiosity and Tension Are Your Greatest Allies

Now you’re probably wondering: how do I keep my reader’s attention?

This may relate to previously mentioned research on words read per minute and the attention span of the average human. Emphasize may.

You can research all you want about words read per a minute, the average length of a chapter, the average attention span of a human, etc.—but none of that really matters.

Humans—readers—are curious beings. We pick up a book and want to know what happens to the characters, to uncover the mystery, to learn more about complex ideas. It is our curiosity that encourages us to read a book in the first place.

And it is our curiosity that leads to anticipation. Anticipation keeps us reading. We want to know what happens next. We want to know if our characters will make it out alive, if they heal from their trauma, etc.  We want to know why an author’s ideas matter—more specifically, if they matter to me.

This is how...

[Blog] A New Writing Challenge: Join NaNoWriMo for the Month of November!

Today is November 1st, and do you know what that means? 

We’re beginning NaNoWriMo!  

If you’re not familiar with National November Writing Month, it’s a global challenge to write a 50K novel throughout the span of November. It’s typically used as a means to motivate people to finally write and complete the book they’ve been stuck on. 

NaNoWriMo is a fun and motivating challenge for all writers—fiction and nonfiction alike! It’s encouraging to participate in a writing event with so many others. And it’s the perfect opportunity to write without the fear of editing and publishing.

NaNoWriMo is best for improving your creative juices and forcing you to write with the sole expectation that you write. 

In heart of a new month and the start of this challenge, we are providing three tips to help you start your writing journey today. 

1. Set Aside Time to Write Every Day for 10 Days.

It’s cliché. We know it. You know it. Everybody knows it. But it’s true.

Setting aside time to write will help you do that—write.

Add it to your calendar. Post a note to your mirror. Do whatever is necessary to remind you to write for the day. You may have to sacrifice TV time, or wake up earlier or stay up later than normal. But if you’re serious about writing—and making progress on a book!—then you must respect your writing. 

2. Do NOT Edit.

NaNoWriMo is solely about writing. Not editing. This is a time for you to spit out all the thoughts, ideas, specific phrasings you have in mind and to splatter them onto your page. Your work will be messy, chaotic, full of grammatical errors and misspellings.

That’s the fun of NaNoWriMo! You’re writing! Embrace the chaos and disorder and just write! Leave editing for later.

3. Figure Out What Motivates You, and Keep It Handy.

Participating in NaNoWriMo is like setting a New Year’s goal. We’re excited, pumped, energized, and ready to make headway on our book. And we maintain that energy for the first day, probably the second and third day as well. But by the end of the week we start to drag.

And then ten days pass and we hit a bump in the road. Something falls flat. Or our ideas start to shift altogether and it's overwhelming to find a way back.

We meet the two week mark, and we’re drained. We don’t have the motivation nor encouragement to continue to write. So we stop, we take a day off. Which turns into two days off, and then three. And then we decide that this year wasn’t our year.

Rather than giving up completely, prepare for the barriers ahead of time. Seek support and accountability up front. Whether that be a friend or family member checking in with you once a week. Or maybe you post an update to your social media accounts every few days. Or you can print off an inspirational quote and stick it on your desk.

Figure out what works best for...

Finding My Writing Voice

by Melissa Parks

I thought I wasn’t a writer.

Sure, I earned a bachelors and masters in English and learned how to impress professors with lengthy sentences stuffed with semi-colons and fancy, sesquipedalian words. I even worked for a publishing company, where I was surrounded by award-winning authors.

And over the course of 18 years with a marketing agency, the bulk of my work has been crafting marketing copy, ghostwriting for articles and books, and editing.

But none of that made me a writer. Because, quite simply, I didn’t really write.

I knew the right way to write. An em-dash here. A stronger verb there. And a non-passive voice everywhere.

But I didn’t have a voice.

Voice is one of the most nebulous aspects of writing, difficult to define to someone who has only written for an A in the grade book.  Voice isn’t about rule-following. Voice is how you interpret the rules of writing.

Voice is personal — even sensual — like the laundry scent on your clothing that people smell when they hug you. The signature pink lipstick people remember after you’ve flashed your smile. The laugh that ends in a snort. Voice is memorable. It’s what lingers after people finish reading a social post, a blog post, or a chapter in a book.

Loosening Words

But you don’t find your voice by staying silent — or by pages remaining blank. As I learned, you have to actually write.

A few months ago, I received an email from a colleague who said something like this: “I am stunned by how you’ve upped your writing game the past couple years. I don’t know to what to credit it, but it’s incredible.”

His words carried more weight than the A’s I received on papers about William Blake’s use of sprung rhythm. But his observation rang true. I felt the change. Words loosened. When tasked with a writing I assignment, I didn’t agonize about what I was going to say or how I was going to say it.

Why?

In 2015, I committed to writing daily on my Instagram platform, where I tell stories and share insights about buying, selling and decorating with vintage items. Sentimental stories share space with humorous moments and practical insights. Admittedly, I cringe when I read my posts from the early days. Stories were forced, and my structure was rigid.

But day after day I wrote. I toyed with turns of phrases. I learned how to get to the point with a story. I found power in brevity.

Thousands of posts later, the caged bird began to sing — or at least chirp.

Theory into Practice

Through my writing on Instagram, I was asked to write articles for a magazine focused on flea market décor. Nights and weekends, I would tackle the freelance work, forced to think of fresh ways to tell stories about vintage living within the confines of a 400-word limit. Forced to find the big idea. Forced to think of tension, and how to pull a reader through from beginning to end. Forced to think about what makes...