On Thursday, I participated in my first #PitMad, a quarterly Twitter event where writers put together up to three tweets about a manuscript they’ve written, add the #PitMad, age category, and genre hashtags, and hope that agents and / or publishers like their tweets. A like means that they’re interested in receiving your query. Think of it as a writer’s foot in the virtual door. With the likes in your notifications, you then research those agents and publishers, review their query requirements, and send in your materials. And then you wait, and likely wait and wait and wait.
I didn’t expect to receive any likes on my 3 manuscripts. I figured low expectations were warranted with so much competition. I was shocked and thrilled when all 3 manuscripts got some interest. I’m working on my queries this weekend, and am excited to see what comes of it. Of course, I’ll keep you all in the loop!
Here’s what I learned during my first run at #PitMad:
1.) Take your shot
Yes, there will be thousands of tweets in competition with yours. Yes, the odds are long. And yes, it’s worth it. Your manuscript deserves every shot at being published, even the long shots. In publishing, it’s all a long shot. Take as many as you can.
2.) Relatively minimal effort on your part
It’s three well-composed tweets. You can write them ahead of time and schedule to publish on the day of #PitMad. Yes, they take time to write but think about how much time querying takes, and most of those queries fall into the void. Write the tweets, post them, and see what happens.
3.) Love shines bright in the writing community
The best part of #PitMad for me was seeing all of the love fly around the Twittersphere that day. People retweeting and commenting on posts that piqued their interest made my day. Twitter can be a bullying garbage pile sometimes with so much disrespectful criticism, and it was nice to see it as a force for good for writers during #PitMad.
I will absolutely participate again, and if you have a finished manuscript, I encourage you to participate, too. For more details and the 2020 dates for #PitMad, check out https://pitchwars.org/pitmad/.
The day before Thanksgiving, I wrapped up my third run at NaNoWriMo and hit my 50,000 word goal for my third novel. I’m giving the novel a good long rest on my desktop until I pick it up again to begin editing in early 2020.
Here’s the draft synopsis:
“After a succession of personal tragedies, Libby Farina runs her family’s Italian bakery on Mulberry Street in the year 1910 in New York City’s Little Italy. As the city around her swirls with innovation and its often dire consequences, a stranger arrives on her doorstep near death. Who is he and how will his presence in her life, however brief, forever change her world?”
I write a book the way a painter covers a canvas, the way a scientist arrives at the lab, the way a baker arrives in the kitchen. I have an idea in my mind of what I want to create, what I want to discover. It’s a bit fuzzy at first with soft edges, a hypothesis, a dream.
I start to sketch some lines, some ideas, a recipe via my outline. It’s broad at first and then gets more and more refined as the story becomes clear in my mind. I experiment by writing some passages, bits of dialogue, setting descriptions, and character sketches. I watch and listen and read. Then I add some more lines and then maybe some color and shading with scenes that are more fleshed out with more detail and more purpose. Every draft is adding more detail, more information, more frosting.
My point in this metaphor is that I don’t see editing as onerous. An artist doesn’t paint a canvas in one sitting. A scientist doesn’t prove a theory in one trial of one experiment. A baker doesn’t perfect a recipe in one swift action. It takes multiple efforts over a very long time. It’s trial, error, and trial again.
First, I have to zoom way out. I take in the whole world surrounding my characters, the context in which they live their lives. Then I move closer step-by-step, taking note of the details, the times they live in, the circumstances swirling around them. Eventually, I’m standing beside them, eavesdropping on their interactions. And finally, they’re telling me their deepest darkest secrets.
We don’t get to know someone all at once. Their story unfolds for us over time. The same is true for my books. I wish there was a short route, an easier, faster path. To date, I haven’t found one and honestly I think that’s for the best. What builds slowly, lasts. I have no doubt that eventually every story will come into focus. Much of that is out of my control. What I can do is show up every day and get down what’s clear in the moment.
I say this to myself as much as I say it to you: give yourself a break. Just keep showing up and getting it down as best you can. Just keep moving forward a step at a time. You can’t do it all, all at once. Just do today’s part today. Refinement takes time.
This is what it’s all about, you magical, imaginative, creative being. You can create worlds out of thin air. Characters, settings, desires, motivations, losses, victories, love, joy, disappointment, and healing. The full breadth and depth of human emotion lives in you. As a writer, you’re trying to get all of that out of your mind and heart, into your hands, and out into the world so you can connect with others, so we all feel less alone. What a noble, generous, and loving thing to do. Writing is service in its highest, most selfless form.
I started my first nonfiction book proposal tonight. I wasn’t sure how to craft one so I turned to Eric Smith’s website. Eric is an agent, author, and one of the most generous people in the publishing industry. I highly recommend all his Twitter and website to every writer I know!
He shares his tips for a successful nonfiction book proposal he put together with one of his clients. He also links to several excellent posts by Jane Friedman, Nathan Bransford, and Brian Klems who provide amazing advice for nonfiction book proposals on their own websites.
Happy proposing, and writing!
The writing moment I love best: I write a scene, do research for the next scene, and find an eerie, wonderful synchronicity with secret history I uncovered in my research and never knew before. These magical moments makes me feel that the story I’m writing is meant to be written by me. It’s happened to me many times, especially in the course of writing my second Emerson Page novel. Every single time it happens, I’m amazed.
Thanks to everyone who weighed in on the genre for the novel I’ll be writing during National Novel Writing Month in November.
Can a bread bakery in New York City be the setting for a book that’s historical fiction, an immigrant story, and a romance novel? I’m going to give it my best shot. Let’s see what I find. Regular updates will be provided in November.
Are you participating in NaNoWriMo? If so, I’d love to know so we can support each other through it!
I’ve decided to participate in National Novel Writing Month again this year, writing 50,000 words in 30 days. I have a few new book projects I’m thinking about in different genres and I’m trying to decide which to work on in November. Would love to know your opinion! Choices:
1.) Young Adult Sci-fi
2.) International Crime
3.) Romance Novel
4.) Historical Fiction: ~the year 1910
Also, are you participating in NaNoWriMo this year? What are you planning to work on?
I got some unfortunate news on Friday night: my publisher for my novel is going out of business on September 30th. As of October 1st all the publishing rights for Emerson revert to me. Because the book has been reviewed well, received several awards, and is still up for a few more awards, I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to find a new home for her story that will include the existing novel and the sequel. If you’ve been through this type of situation or know someone who has, I’d love your advice on approaching this process and taking next steps, I’d love to hear it. Thanks, all!
It’s back to school time and that has me thinking about books. Hard to believe my Emerson Page book met the world two years ago and that I’ve nearly finished book #2 in the series. What an adventure.
I’m looking forward to talking to more students and teachers this year! If you’d like me to chat with your classroom, please let me know. I love visiting students and teachers, in-person and virtually via Skype and Google Hangout.