I think pitch contetsts are a fabulous chance for unagented writers. You get your work out there for agents (and sometimes editors) to see without having to query them all individually. A request means you've already sparked my interest so I will prioritise your submission over a normal query, so it's a bit like the fast lane of the querying process. And then there's the learning curve even if you don't get any requests. You get the chance to look at pitches/ tweets that got requests and get an idea of what might or might not work. I seriously can't think of any cons right now. (If you can think of any, please comment below!)
But these things are only fun when everybody taking part respects the rules, and even more importantly, the other participants. Some of you might not even have an idea how much time and hard work goes into organising and pulling off a great blog pitch contest, so always make sure to follow the rules the contest hosts have come up with. They're doing the contest for YOU, after all. And they're doing it voluntarily, in their own spare time.
Since Twitter pitch parties are open to everyone, from newbies to experienced Twitter pitchers, it's hard to enforce rules, but here's my dos and don'ts from an agent's perspective.
The biggest rules since Twitter Pitch Party rules: only pitch if you are unagented and have a finished and polished manuscript. This is non-negotiable.
Mention the genre if you have characters left. I know, squeezing a pitch, the hashtag (i.e. #PitMad), AND the genre into 140 characters is tricky, but the genre can really make a difference. I want to know if it's adult (A) or children's fiction (e.g. MG or YA), if it's Sci-fi (SF), Fantasy (F), Paranormal Romance (PNR), or not. This information can really make or break a pitch for me. If I'm unsure, I will probably not request.
Focus on your hook. I see many pitches that are far too general, like "Boy meets girl. Things happen. Will they stay together?" This probably describes about 72.5% of all stories out there. Tell me what sets your story apart from all the others. What's so special about THIS boy, THIS girl, and THEIR story? Similarly, pitches like "Boy + girl + change = no happy end?" -- too general. The formula can work, but again, this specific example doesn't really make me want to read the story.
Again, focus on your hook. And what your story really is about. I've received requested material where the story wasn't actually about what the original pitch had promised. If your pitch mentions an unorthodox family structure and your story is about a family of dragons, I might feel slightly... misled.
An agent has favourited your pitch? Fabulous. That's a request. (Wahey!!) Check out their Twitter to find out what they want you to send in. Most agents have very specific "If I favourite your pitch, please..." tweets somewhere on their timeline.
When you send in your material, include the Twitter pitch party hashtag in your subject line, like "PitMad request: TITLE."
If you're super pro, you paste the original Twitter pitch I favourited into your query. It really helps to jog my memory and saves me the time to find your pitch in my favourited tweets.
Do not -- NOT -- spam us. If you tweet the same (or only slightly altered) pitch 50 times an hour, I will not request. Simply because you've managed to annoy me already. I'm serious -- your whole attitude during a contest or query process gives me a clue what it'll be like to work with you. Also, if agents are checking out the pitches (and they usually let you know when they're about the hit the feed), and you tweet yours once or twice, they WILL see it. If you've sent 50 tweets within an hour and haven't received a request, it's definitely NOT because we didn't see it. Trust me. I totally understand that you want to get your pitch seen, but I have bowed out of pitch parties before, just because it was the same pitches over and over and over and over again. Please don't be selfish and ruin it for everyone else.
Don't tweet your pitches to me directly. When I'm on the hashtag, I make sure to check out ALL the incoming pitches, so again, I WILL see yours. If you think your story is exactly what I'm looking for, query me. I'm always open to submissions. But please don't clog up my personal Twitter. (Those agents who want you to pitch to them directly will let you know.) I've also seen writers tweet their pitches to other agents directly, and even though I thought it sounded interesting, I didn't favourite it because I felt like the writer only wanted the other agent.
Don't tweet links to your Goodreads, Amazon, or other sites. We will NOT click on them.
Do not lie about requests. It doesn't happen very often, but... well, it does happen occasionally. If you send me your material claiming I requested it during a contest and I didn't, I will find out. To be on the safe side, if I've requested your pitch, you might not want to delete that pitch before I get back to you.
You don't have to send your material to every requesting agent/ editor. It's an invitation for you to submit your manuscript, but it's not an obligation. If you already know that you don't want to work with that agent or editor/ press, there really is no point. It's just a waste of your (and our) time, so focus on those agents/ editors you'd like to partner up with. Similarly, if you're set on finding an agent before getting published, really think about sending your work to a small press. Normally, if you were querying, we'd tell you not to submit to agents and editors at the same time. I know contests can make this difficult... I just want you to be aware of this.
I think this is all from me right now. I'm sure there are tons of great points I forgot to include, so feel free to leave a comment with your questions and/ or remarks. :)
See you at the next Twitter pitch party.
Come on, did you really think I wouldn't post a picture of Monsieur Efron? You must not know me very well...