Blocking Success

So last Thursday was #PitMad.

#PitMad (not to be confused with Pitch Wars, which is what I submitted Creampuffs to) is short for Pitch Madness, and it’s a twitter event. Free to participate in and sometimes a little bit confusing, it works like this: from 8am to 8pm EST you get to tweet about your ready-to-query manuscript (3 times per manuscript for as many manuscripts as you have). Then agents search through the tweets, and “like” ones that they think are interesting. If they do, that’s a signal that you should query them ASAP (and mention the tweet). It’s a way to get people’s pitches in front of agents and small presses that they might not know to query. There are official hashtags and everything: for genre, demographic, specific themes, etc. (Followers are asked NOT to like the pitches; they’re asked to retweet instead to show support. So likes get left for agents/editors alone to dispense.)

The first time I participated was last June and it… did not go well.

Condensing both Creampuffs and Ashes into 140-character digestible chunks was hard enough but also I had to make it sound SUPER EXCITING AND PUNCHY at the same time. It was pretty stressful, but I got it done. Six pitches, tweeted throughout the day. And then I had nothing to do but sit on my hands and wait for the likes.

That was the plan.

…except for the part where I did not get any professional likes.

None. On any of the six tweets.

I was gutted. There may have been ugly crying and definite stress-eating. I’m the first person to admit I am not great at The Social Medias but I didn’t realize I was that bad at it. Or …maybe… it was that my books just don’t sound interesting to people (cue image of pizza being shoved down gullet whole like a sword-swallower).

The summer went by and the pain of falling flat on my face faded. By the time #PitMad rolled around again (they are quarterly) I was ready to try again with Ashes (Creampuffs being under consideration for Pitch Wars means I can’t query it).

I had a bit of a cry in the shower, told myself sternly that the worst had already happened, so what did I have to lose besides a bit of time/effort/bandwidth, made myself a good cup of coffee, and sat down at my computer, Ready to Work.

Let’s do this, I said to myself.

And then, because I Want To Do A Good Job, I double-checked the PitMad entry rules and the category tags. I made sure my tweets were within the character counts. And finally, just to be ultra-careful, and possibly also to procrastinate a bit I went on twitter to see what people were already posting. I find the tweets in question by searching for the “pitmad” hashtag.

A warning bell began ringing in my mind. You know in a movie when a character realizes something and the camera zooms in on a dolly so that it looks like their world is flattening? I know what that feels like now.

I went back to the spreadsheet where I listed my tweets (with spaces for potential results and stats). I stared at it for a long moment. To make doubly-triply-sure I searched my actual timeline on Twitter for June. But it was staring me in the face:

I forgot

to use

the fucking

#PitMad hashtag.

After letting out various comic-book-worthy noises of dismay (such as “blleeeaaaarghhhh!”) and head-desking until I saw stars, I put on my big-kid pants, poured myself some more coffee, and re-wrote my pitch-tweets to have THE FUCKING HASHTAG THAT AGENTS USE TO SEARCH THE ENTRIES before finally posting to Twitter. And I am happy to say that I got, not only 2 likes by small presses, but several retweets and comments from other people who think Ashes sounds neat. Which represents a 1000000% increase in attention from June, and a wise lesson in The Social Medias, if not life:

I found out what the mistake was by trying again.

If I hadn’t, I would have never learned anything about why June’s attempt was so unsuccessful; and who knows, maybe those two presses will fight over Ashes culminating in one of them driving a dump truck of money up to my house. (Wouldn’t that be a great way to end this story in the future? “So I learned a valuable lesson about hash tags and made my first million at the same time, who knew”?)

Or maybe I’ll just get two more rejections to throw on the pile.

The point is, rejections hurt, falling flat on your ass hurts, get up and try again. You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take, blah blah sportsball blah and/or horse metaphors.

GO DO THE THING.

I’m here with ya. We just gotta keep swimming.

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