Almost any writer who has queried agents knows that the task is daunting, and the odds of gaining representation are rather low. Agents get thousands (maybe tens of thousands) of emails a year, and from that, they might sign 2-3 clients–at best.

I’m not discouraged by these odds, but I have discovered an alternative route to pitching that I’ve really enjoyed–going through writers to get to agents. This doesn’t mean that I use my writer friends to pitch my book for me, or that I ask favors of my favorite authors. Rather, it means that I’ve been participating in Twitter pitch events hosted by agented writers who freely–and generously–offer their time to help emerging writers find agents.

I am a fan of this approach to pitching for many reasons. For one, the writers who host these events usually add a critique or feedback feature to their event, which means that writers get something they wouldn’t normally get via traditional querying–feedback. Most agents, like everyone else in the publishing world, are supremely busy, and they want polished manuscripts. Participating in Twitter pitches has helped me to see that some of my projects weren’t as polished as I thought, and this insight has saved me the grief of querying prematurely. Not only that, but I’ve gotten some decent feedback from these events, and that has helped with my revisions.

Another reason why I love participating in writer-hosted pitch events is that I make connections. I follow the mentors and writers participating in these events, and they follow me. More followers = more potential books sales when/if I finally do land that contract. More importantly, more followers = more friends and writing support.

All of this is to say that I think the traditional method of querying is changing. Instead of cold querying an agent, writers can participate in writer-sponsored pitch events first. The writers who host these events essentially serve as agency assistants–weeding through the slush and presenting agents with what they feel are the strongest entries. Many writers land agents this way and, those who don’t, still reap some kind of benefit.

If you’re interested in participating in such events, here’s a little list of some dedicated writers and groups who host them. I highly recommend following their blogs and following them on Twitter. If you know of anyone else who hosts similar events, then please, be a gem, and leave your recommendations in the comments.

Brenda Drake: @brendadrake
Michelle Hauck: @Michelle4Laughs
Authoress: @AuthoressAnon (FIY, The Authoress is not Miss Snark.)
Writeoncon: @WriteOnCon

Happy querying! And may the odds be ever in your favor.

Advertisements