If you’re here, you probably know that I host #SFFpit and you likely have a question. The odds are good that your question (or one like it) has already been asked and answered, so I’m writing this post to capture them all in one place.
What is SFFpit?
This is a Twitter pitching event for authors of complete, unpublished, query-ready SF/F manuscripts. Participants pitch their novel in a single tweet on the #SFFpit hashtag. Agents and editors “like” the tweet to make a request.
Who runs this thing?
Dan Koboldt, who owns this website, co-hosts it with Michael Mammay. They are both traditionally published SF/F authors represented by well-known literary agencies.
When is it?
Twice a year, usually in February and August. On the designated day, it runs 8:00 am to 6:00 pm, Eastern (NYC) time.
When is the next one?
At the time of writing, it’s Thursday, August 25th, 2022. Beyond that, we don’t know. We usually set a date only a few weeks in advance of the event. So you can assume it will be around February or August, date TBD.
Why am I just now hearing about this?
My guess is that you’re not on the mailing list where I share information about #SFFpit (and other insider info) with fellow writers.
Know Before You Go
Who participates in this thing?
Generally around 1,500 authors and anywhere from 20-50 literary agents, assistants, and editors. Note, although editors at traditional publishing houses stop by, most are not making requests. The current exceptions are Angry Robot and Baen Books, who have both agreed to participate in the August 2022 event.
Is there a list of agents or agencies who participate?
No, as such a list would be impossible to maintain. It’s different every time. Also, not every agent advertises their presence in the feed. Some will make apparent requests and leave it to the author to figure out how to submit. I call them stealth agents, and they represent a not-insignificant proportion of participating agents.
Is there a list of agents or agencies you invite?
Yes, Mike and I maintain a list of agents we invite (usually by a personalized e-mail) to each event. We try to update it as agents close to queries, changes agencies, or leave the industry. Currently it’s sitting at around 100 invitees from ~45 agencies.
Can I see it?
I’m sorry, but no. Mike and I have built trust/relationships with many of these agents, and our working spreadsheet has lots of non-public information that we can’t share.
Will you add me or someone else to it?
If you’re a literary agent or even would like to nominate someone who represents SF/F to be invited, please reach out. Generally speaking, we only invite people who have QueryTracker profiles, a known Twitter handle, and are currently open to queries.
Can I pitch my…
Novelette or novella? No.
Story collection? No.
Self-published book? No.
Small press-published book? No.
Book that I only put on Amazon for a little while, and later removed? No.
Romance, horror, or other (non-SF/F genre) book? No.
Complete, unpublished, SF/F novel? Yes.
Questions About the Tweets
How often can I tweet?
About once an hour, which works out to 10 tweets per event, per project.
What if I have more than one book?
You can pitch each of them once an hour (so 10 tweets each), but I’d spread them out. And really, you should think about whether to pitch multiple things at the same time — which implies you’re querying them at the same time — which is generally not a good idea. Also, if an agent looks at your feed history it may not be clear that you are pitching multiple projects. It might look like you can’t decide what your book is about.
What if I live in [insert your place or time zone here] or will be [insert activity here] during part/all of the event?
I would strongly advise you to pitch during the contest hours, making use of TweetDeck or HootSuite or similar tweet-scheduling tools. This puts your pitches out at the time when most agents will be looking at the feed.
Can I include images or mood boards in my pitch?
Unless you are pitching a graphic novel tagged with #GN, please don’t do this. Images clog the already-busy feed, and some of your fellow participants might feel you’re trying to unfairly hog attention. Plus, in most cases authors don’t own the copyright to artwork on mood boards, etc., and that is problematic. We have told people pitching graphic novels that it’s OK, and we’ll see how it goes. If there are abuses of the system or many complaints, we will revisit the exception.
What about emojis?
Currently we’ve decided those are allowed for those who want them. It’s unclear if they are effective (or even a good idea) when pitching a written book. If you try them, maybe do a split test and tell us how it goes.
What hashtags should I use?
#SFFpit is required. An age category is strongly recommended. Beyond that, it’s up to you. Hashtags are most valuable for the purposes of brevity.
My project is X with elements of Y and/or Z. Should I use hashtag A or hashtag B or….
We don’t know. Not to be impolite, but figuring out how to appropriately pitch your work is your problem, not ours. If you have questions like this, ask your CPs or writing friends. Or, throw the question out on the hashtag (on days other than #SFFpit day) and tap the hive-mind that way.
Will you add a hashtag for ______________?
This is probably the most commonly asked question at all. The answer is usually No. Why? Because we have captured most age categories and subgenres already. Odds are you’re asking for something that is a small niche. Tags are not necessary for niche projects. One could even argue that the best pitches don’t need special tags because subgenre and age category can be inferred from the pitch itself.
If you still feel strongly, you can ask. But we will challenge you to make the case for a new hashtag, i.e. by showing us at least ten other authors who want it.
What should I do if I get a request?
Follow the steps provided in the So You Got A Request, Now What? section of the main #SFFpit page.
Do I have to submit to someone if they request?
Can I query someone if they participate in #SFFpit and don’t like my pitch?
Yes, and you should follow normal query etiquette. Remember that this event has thousands of participants so most agents will see only a fraction of the pitches — and they request a fraction of the ones they see. Statistically and based on my prior analyses, your odds of getting any agent request are around 5-6%. Your odds of getting a request from a particular agent — based on the average number of requests per agent by established agents in past events — are less than 1%.
What do I do if an agent requests my pitch but I’ve already queried them?
This is tricky, but it’s important to remember that following established query etiquette is more important than honoring a one-click action by an agent during a crazy pitch contest. In other words:
If the agent has already rejected your query/partial/full, do not submit.
If the agent has not yet responded to your query/partial/full, you can either wait, or follow up. If you follow up, send a polite e-mail, thank them for the like, include your pitch, and tell them the project title + date of query.
What if I queried a different agent at their agency?
The correct action depends on the status of your query and the agency’s policy. If the query is still pending, you probably should wait until it’s answered. If the agency has a “query one agent” policy, i.e. you may query one and only one agent per project, then you should not submit.
What if I get requests from an agent and a small press editor?
This can happen, and generally speaking, you should probably pick one. Each represents a different path to publication: the agent is the traditional publishing path, and the editor is the small press path. Keep in mind that an offer of publication from a small press probably won’t come with a large enough advance to entice an agent to sign you. There are other excellent essays/blog posts on making this decision, so go find some of those.
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