If you’re on Twitter, you may have noticed Twitter pitch events have exploded in popularity over the last few years. These events involve writers tweeting a synopsis of their book using the event’s hashtag. Literary agents and editors then have the opportunity to request full queries by liking the tweets.

Each event has slightly different rules, like how often you can tweet throughout the day and what genres are accepted, but they all suggest hashtags to include in your tweet so agents can quickly see your book’s target age group (#PB for picture book, #MG for middle grade, #YA for young adult, #NA for new adult, and #A for adult) and genre category (#F for fantasy, #SF for science fiction, #R for romance, etc.). Some of the most popular Twitter pitch events include #PitMad, #SFFpit, and #DVPit.

I love participating in these events, because they allow me to scour the Twitterverse for novel ideas that fascinate me and authors I might be interested in working with. Plus, if a writer can succinctly summarize their book into 280 characters or less, it’s a good sign.

It’s easier said than done, of course, and I see a lot of writers who don’t get any likes on their tweets because their summaries don’t actually tell us anything about their stories. Tweets that are generic (i.e. “my sci-fi novel is filled with intrigue, adventure, and mind-bending technology”) are useless; tell me what the story is about and I’ll decide if it’s intriguing or not! Tweets that tell me how to feel (i.e. “you’ll love my YA novel”), or provide a premise without describing the main character and why I should care about them also get a pass from me.

Here are five examples of well-written pitches and five things I look for in a Twitter pitch—elements that will encourage me to hit that coveted heart symbol:

1. A summary that shows me WHO the main character is (give me a name, please!) and WHAT the stakes are.

Here’s an example from #SFFPIT that got a ton of likes, because it lists a character (Clara) and something interesting about her (she can break windows, make fires, and grow flowers), plus the stakes (she can save her dad, for a price):

 

2. Proper sentence structure.

Typos are a tiny red flag (because proofreading 280 characters shouldn’t be that difficult), but since I’m just as guilty as the next person of making them, they’re not deal-breakers for me. However, if your sentence structure is bad and the pitch reads awkwardly, I’ll assume the novel does too. Here is an example of a well-structured tweet:

 

3. A comparison to fandoms I love.

This ONLY works if your book is actually reminiscent of the fandoms you list, and you’re not just using the titles to grab attention. It can also backfire, because I might dislike one of the titles you list but enjoy your book. Personally, though, I appreciate the trend of comparing your book to two famous titles; sometimes it ingratiates me towards the writer if they list two fandoms I love, though the pitch still needs to be well-written and intriguing; for example, I adore Firefly and the writing of Leigh Bardugo, so I liked this #PitMad pitch:

 

4. Strong character/narrative voice.

I loooove unique voices. If you bring the voice of the novel’s narration into your tweet, like this pitch appears to do, I am more likely to be excited about it:

 

5. Focus on specific details.

I see many pitches that include vague conflicts between good and evil without a hook. Your pitch should specify what is unique about your story. The following pitch COULD have read “A circus performer embarks on a magical quest to save his home,” and I would have passed. But instead, it includes specific points about the main character, his goal, the world, and the stakes:

 

If you are considering entering next week’s #PitMad event or another Twitter pitch contest—try it out! It’s a great way to stretch your summarizing skills and support like-minded writers in their publishing journeys.