People are always fascinated when they learn I got a 2 book deal and a kickass agent after entering a Twitter contest. Honestly, I’m still a little amazed myself. And it’s been two years!
If you write with the goal of seeing your words published and in the hands of rabid readers you either have or eventually will write a query letter. There are few things in life I loathe more than a query letter. Mainly because I totally suck at writing them. For me, after my brain has spent the better part of a year pondering plot twists and character development, I simply can’t “dumb it down” into a paragraph or two. After years of trying the old -fashioned way, my query letters weren’t getting the job done. And we all know the definition of insanity is continuing to do the same thing while expecting a different result.
So, I changed gears.
In 2014, I entered my first Twitter writing contest, Brenda Drake’s Pitch Wars, and slowly my path to published author started moving.
With the help of my amazing mentor, the ever fabulous Kristen Strassel, we polished the Hollywood Hot Mess manuscript to a high shine. (A side note – Kristen is a Hollywood make-up artist by day, smexy romance writer by night, and was full of wonderful insights for a book set in her industry).
Hollywood Hot Mess finaled in Pitch Wars but, alas, was not selected as a winner. I however, had a baby right as the contest finished. So my publishing path was put on hold.
In late 2015, mom life settled into a rhythm and I decided to try again. This time, I entered #Pit2Pub. In one afternoon, my dream came true. A year later, Hollywood Hot Mess and its sequel Total Trainwreck published with Harlequin’s Carina Press. You know what they say about the rest.
I live life with the belief that sharing is caring. If my experiences can help others realize their dream of becoming a published author, I want to do that. Below I’ve outlined some tips for entering Twitter contests and also what worked best for me. Enjoy!
Don’t reinvent the wheel every time
I kept a word document with 30+ tweets in it ready to post. My life is go-go-go. A lot of the tweets came to me while I was out and about. I kept a running “note” on my phone and then transferred them to the main document the next time I was at my computer. When a contest rolls around all that’s required is a little copy and paste on your part. Easy Peasy!
You can use this website, or one like it, to be sure your Tweets will work properly before the day of the contest. Don’t forget to include the contest hastags in your character count. This way you can tweak the tweet wording until it’s perfect, then paste that tweet back into your main document and, boom, you’re ready to go.
Look up Twitter Word Abbreviations
For the love, don’t make up your own. But do use accepted word abbreviations because they can save you some valuable characters when used correctly.
Do Not Forget Required Hashtags
These are usually the contest entry hashtag and your genre specific hashtag. For me it was #Pit2Pub and #Romance or #PitchWars and #Contemporaryromance. They take up a lot of characters in your tweet so be sure to take them into consideration when planning. If the contest is already genre specific and you are pitching your sub-genre abbreviations can also work – #NA for new adult romance, #CR for contemporary romance, #FR for fantasy romance, etc. ALWAYS LOOK THESE UP, TOO!
Read the contest entry rules to figure out how many times you can tweet. This will vary by contest and can get you disqualified if not followed. Then schedule your tweets to post accordingly via Hootsuite and sit back, relax, and wait for those likes to start rolling in!
Keep Track of What Works
Chances are, you won’t hit a homer on your first at bat. Always keep notes of what works and what doesn’t. What did editors/agents like? What did readers like? Take note and adjust accordingly for your next contest.
Don’t Try to Write a Summary in 280 Characters
I know this runs counterintuitive to everything contest rules will tell you, but if you can find a way to capture the overall mood or tone of your book or main character, chances are, it’ll get more attention than a vanilla word vomit of plot summary. Summaries are nearly impossible to do in 280 characters. Have fun. Get creative. What’s the biggest hook or plot element that sets your book apart from the pack?
Here are my results from 2015’s #Pit2Pub:
-9 responses/likes from editors
-5 offers of publication
-2 offers of representation
-1 signed contract for a 2 book deal with Carina Press!!
My top Tweets:
“It was a good book, but the sex scenes were too hot.” Said no one ever #Pit2Pub #Romance
Sleeping with co-star – big mistake
Falling for co-star – huge mistake
Choosing between love and your career – epic mistake
The first one worked because it was exactly what my main character would’ve said about the book. Carly is a smart ass and that is totally something that would’ve come out of her mouth. The second tweet was a fun way to summarize the book without getting down in the weeds. There are no character names and even less description, but it’s short, sweet and to the point in a fun way. These editors are reading hundreds of tweets. Find a way to stand out!