It only took me about three years to realize that Twitter, as a whole, is much more fun if I actually participate. See, I’m an extrovert, but I’m also shy (those things aren’t mutually exclusive). I spend a fair amount of time thinking about the way I present myself on social media, and don’t ever intend to give the wrong impression of myself. I find Twitter to be a difficult medium. 140 characters isn’t much space to get the point across.
Recently I stumbled on something there called Agent Match. For those of you following along, you probably know I’ve been writing and have one book honed enough to shop (I have three, but Book #1 needs work on the opening chapters and Book #3 is in the revision phase). Book #2, the one I’m putting out there, is a spinoff novel featuring a minor character from a novella I wrote a few years ago. Writing it was a blast, because it was like writing fanfiction for my own characters. It fairly flew off my fingertips and onto the page. Then I sat on it, and sat on it, and sat some more until the requisite amount of time passed. I only knew it was the requisite amount of time because I stopped feeling all ooh and aah when I read it, which meant I could finally look at it with a critical (editorial) eye. But I digress! I actually worked on a query letter for it, which is fairly decent compared to some of the other query letters I’ve seen, and got brave and submitted to one agent as a test. She requested a partial (yay!) but rejected it. So I went back to the drawing board, incorporated some of the changes I’d been resisting but knew really made sense, and now I’m ready again.
That’s where Agent Match comes in. It’s a very kind Twitter pitch contest in that there’s no “competition” round. Many of the pitch contests start out with a certain number of entries (queries, samples, what have you) and send them to review, where only a subset are allowed to progress to the next round, and so on. Agent Match isn’t like that. The woman running it, the lovely Samantha Fountain, took the first 150 entries that followed her required format. I made it in, figuring I really had nothing to lose
Little did I know how much I had to gain. Samantha lined up twenty-three agents and editors; they’ll look over the blurbs on February 10 and 11 and if interested, request more information from the authors. Simple enough, right? She didn’t stop there, however. A number of these agents & editors have given up a half hour of their time to participate in twitter-based chats with the Agent Match participants… and anyone else who wants to ask them questions. This type of generosity with time and expertise has been absolutely invaluable for me.
At first I spent a lot of time worrying that my questions would be stupid. Much like I did when I was a little kid in school, I hung out quietly in the back of the classroom letting questions burn holes in my throat but not asking them. Then I remembered there really are no stupid questions, and started asking away. Not recklessly; all my questions have been ones where the answers have been of interest to me as an author. Some have been based around query letters, some around genres, some around wish lists, some around advice. It’s been great.
Agent Match (the actual reveal of our blurbs for agent consumption) hasn’t even happened yet, and I’ve learned so much already! Even if nobody’s interested in my story this time around, I know what I want and need to do to rework my blurb, to reword my jacket copy, and to punch up my query letter. I’ve been able to take part in all but two of the chats (lucky me!) and have started to get a real feel for what agents are looking for and how to present information to them. That alone makes me feel like a winner! As a bonus, I’ve made quite a few new Twitter contacts and have gone back to using it again more regularly.
Would I do this again? You bet. I’ll probably even be brave enough to test the waters on one of the elimination-round pitch contests. I look at it this way: if we never open a door, we’ll never know what’s behind it. The worst that can be there is nothing.
Feel free to join me on Twitter at @notsuestorm (and yes, I will be happy to tell the “not Sue Storm” story if anyone wants to hear it).