The Dark Side of Twitter Pitch Parties – The Need to Research Who Bites Your Hook

I remember a saying, it goes something like this: if you’re prepared to cast your fishing line, you better be prepared for what (or in this case, who) bites.

Hook

I think it applies well to twitter pitch parties. You know, those intermittent pitch contests where authors post hooks of their manuscripts to agents and publishers in 140 characters or less? Agents and publishers “like” the posts they want to see more of i.e. in a subsequent query. It still may not get you representation, but these queries may get fast tracked through the query slush pile if the author mentions that the agent saw the hook in a pitching contest.

I recently entered such a contest. I am by no means a regular participant, having only entered once before. I see it as a way to force me (with gritted teeth) to condense my story into a single sentence or two. Another way to hone my pitching skills.

Anyway, I received one “like” from a fellow author (even though the rules stipulate that “liking” should be kept for requests). And I received a tweet from a publisher requesting me to submit. Submission was to include my full manuscript. There was no corresponding “like” of any of my pitch posts, just a tweet that looked suspiciously like one of those automated DM’s you get when you follow some people (the fact that the wording of the tweet did not correlate to the hook in my pitch may have also had something to do with rousing my suspicions.) Real personal, it was.

Now I am someone who tends to research the death out of something. I have been known to research something until the cows come home (I did live on a dairy farm for part of my youth), so I researched this publisher and found some very interesting comments from authors who have dealt with them over the last two years:

  • The contracts sent to these authors read more like a vanity publishing contract, stipulating added costs to the author, although there is no indication from the publisher’s website that they trade in this manner;
  • If they questioned or attempted to negotiate anything in the contract prior to signing, it was immediately rescinded. Some were not even advised of this, but only found out after repeated requests for an update on negotiations. Others have not been advised at all;
  • There were authors approached via twitter pitch parties who received requesting tweets IDENTICAL in wording to mine i.e. a generic statement regarding our MC’s. This led me to wonder: did the publisher even read my pitches?

And, to me, the worst discovery of all:

  • There were authors who submitted their full manuscripts to this publisher upon request, who have since seen their private contact details and their work up on a third-party website without them granting permission for this to occur, and without signing any contract with the publisher.

Say what?!

It’s fair to say I did not submit to them. As far as I’m concerned, no contract is better than a bad one. But I did decide to research (yep, here I go again) other agents and publishers who attended the contest in question. While there were many reputable names and organizations involved, I was amazed at just how many names popped up who have received negative assessments by groups such as AbsoluteWrite and Preditors & Editors.

So, if I have any advice to give, it’s to DO YOUR RESEARCH on any agent or publisher who “likes” your post in one of these contests BEFORE submitting to them. After all, you should be doing this any way to ensure they are a good fit for you, as well as your manuscript.

I’m glad I did. I have put too much time, effort and love into my manuscript to have unscrupulous hands on it.

Happy writing,

Rebecca

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