The first-ever #PitchDis last month ended up being a much bigger event than I anticipated. At one point, #PitchDis was the #7 trend on Twitter! Thank you to everyone who participated and spread the word. I hope you'll consider doing it again in the future.
Thanks to those who filled out the event survey, I was able to get some insight on what worked and what didn't work during #PitchDis. I'm all about transparency, so I wanted to share some of the input and how it'll be addressed in the future.
I'm always looking to improve and make the event better for everyone, so I welcome any suggestions.
Things That Will Be Clarified...
I take full blame for this one. I added some tags to the site to give examples and mentioned the list wasn't exhaustive, but I should have added more. They’re basically universal for most pitch contests, but not everyone knows that and for that I apologize. My goal is to have a downloadable list, or maybe just a page on the site with them, for next time.
Ownvoices and/or Disabled Characters Not Required
This was mentioned on the site in a few places and on Twitter, but I’ll do a better job of letting participants know projects do NOT have to include disabled characters. What matters is that the author self-identifies as disabled.
What Will Change...
Day of the Week
I was truly happy with the number of agents and editors who participated (more on that later). Many have participated in Twitter pitch contests before, so they know how to search for what they want using hashtags and don't have to wade through other tweets. The event being held on a Tuesday didn’t seem to be an issue on their end. However, some of you requested the change because new books release on Tuesdays and you want to share release day information on your friends’ books. So the next #PitchDis will take place on a different day of the week.
I went back and forth on this for a bit when planning this year’s event. On one hand, it’s a great way to show support. On the other, they do tie up the feed and it isn’t fair to keep seeing the same pitches over and over again. So we will not allow retweets or quote retweets next time. You can show your support by commenting on it, which may be better because that way the author can see it without having to go look and see who retweeted or quote retweeted their pitch.
What Won't Change...
While I’d love to have #PitchDis more often, it’s simply not feasible. The #PitchDis volunteers have been amazing, but #PitchDis is currently run by just one person (me). The event itself lasts 12 hours, but months of planning goes into it and the pre-show events. I work, volunteer with a couple of organizations, have family obligations, and have my own writing and revising deadlines. I don’t get paid for any of my #PitchDis work and have actually spent some of my own money on it, but I do it because I love it. I have a limited amount of bandwidth, and right now it can only handle an annual event. Could this change in the future? Absolutely. But right now expect for #PitchDis to happen once a year, sometime in June or July.
I’ve said it many times and I’ll say it again—you will NEVER need to provide proof that you are disabled to participate in #PitchDis, and agents and editors should not ask for it either. You do not need to tell anyone about your disability. That being said, self-identifying as disabled is the main requirement if you’re pitching. This event is to showcase the work of disabled authors, whether they write disabled characters or not. If you’re not comfortable with others knowing you’re disabled, even if they don’t know your disability, then this is probably not the event for you. You may want to look into #pitmad or #DVpit (which is for authors that self-identify as being in a historically marginalized group), or another one of the smaller contests like #APIpit or #LGBTNpit if you meet their eligibility requirements.
What We Can't Change, But Can Try To Improve...
Agent and Editor Participation
I’m going to go in depth with this one a bit. Some people mentioned there weren’t enough agents and editors participating. I recently posted we had 28 agents and 9 editors who participated, but that number is on the low side. I spent a few hours going through the tag and found quite a few I missed. Still, at LEAST 37 industry professionals for a small, first-time event is actually huge. And of course we hope to have more as we (hopefully) continue to grow.
A few people mentioned having agents and editors register and while I see the appeal to this, I am currently leaning against it. We had some agents and editors who planned to join us way in advance, some who didn’t and maybe saw a pitch and liked it that day, and others who may have just found out about the contest that day. We don’t want to dissuade any reputable agents or editors from making requests. This isn’t to say we won’t require registration in the future, but this is going to require more thought and we have to weigh the pros and cons.
This leads us to the WAY agents and editors participate. Agents and editors were asked to tweet and/or pin a post about how to send in your materials if they liked your pitch. Most did, but some did not. I was asked if I could require agents to comment on a pitch in addition to, or instead of, liking it. All I can do is ask that they add a comment, but there is no guarantee that will happen. Many agents have a limited amount during the day to go through the feed—they may just hop on there for a few minutes just one time—and it’s very possible they won’t have time to comment on every single pitch they want to request.
Can we require agents and editors to do these things? Probably not, as many who have been doing pitch contests for years may not even read the rules for smaller ones and just automatically “like” to express interest. But can we encourage them to? Yes.
We can’t control a lot when it comes to agent and editor requests, but you can always reach out if you need assistance with a request, or if you have any doubts about someone requesting.
Just like we can’t force agents or editors to participate, we can’t force authors. I had a couple comments say “I would have liked to have seen more ____ authors participate.” I would have too. I’d love to have ANY disabled author participate. But only if they want to.
Likes That Aren't From Agents or Editors
I know, they can be annoying. But since this is a public event it’s hard to control them. One suggestion is to send out a tweet either the morning of the event or the day before, letting your followers know you’re participating in #PitchDis and you’d appreciate if they didn’t like your pitch. This has worked for many people in the past with similar contests.
Individuals Stealing Pitches
I’m not going to lie—it sucks. But let’s think about this for a second. Say that person gets likes from agents and editors with your pitch. What happens then? They obviously don’t have your manuscript or query, so they have nothing to turn in. This gets them absolutely nowhere. My advice—if someone copies and pastes your tweet and it gets a like, tweet the agent or editor making the request and say something like “Someone with the username _____ copied and pasted my pitch and it received a like from you. If you’re still interested, I can submit the requested materials to you.” If the pitch garnered their attention the first time, I’m sure they’ll still be interested. And please, please send the PitchDis twitter account a DM if this happens. We had someone who stole pitches during the event, but we found out they were actually a spammer who was copying and pasting several different tweets that had nothing to do with #PitchDis. However, we had so many participants who reported the spammer that they were eventually banned. So always make sure to let us know.
What Happens Next...
#PitchDis will be back in 2022, sometime in June or July. These changes and improvements will take time, but we'll be ready by then.
One suggestion was a #PitchDis newsletter, which I thought was a great idea. It'll only go out once or twice a year, but it'll be a good reminder of the event and any pre-show events. Look for sign-up info in the next couple of months.
And even though there isn't a lot of activity now that the annual contest is over, please keep in touch! Let us know if you have a success story to share or if there's anything you'd like to share =)