Twitter Pitch Tips

If we’re being totally honest, I think some books are just easier to pitch in 140 characters (or easier to pitch in general). I have two novels nearing the querying stage. One I have three elevator pitches that I think are pretty good. The other novel I have one okay short pitch.

But there are some tips I’ve found that have been helpful. I’ll be using examples for a pitch of a dream I had recently (though I’m starting to think maybe it should actually be a book).

The X meets Y Formula

Who doesn’t love blending two wonderful things into a new, even wonderfuller thing? It’s like the book version of slutty brownies (you know, the ones where you have the chocolate chip cookie layer and the brownie layer with a bonus Oreo layer in between?).

This is sometimes a cross between two books. Lisa McMann’s Unwanteds series is being sold as “Harry Potter meets Hunger Games” and that works for that book.

But a lot of my favorite pitches are more to the effect of one concept meets another. Example: My book is a zombie apocalypse, but in space. (45 characters) People like zombies and space, so why not both together?

But, this formula doesn’t work for all books. So let’s talk about some alternatives.

What’s Different?

Every pitch (regardless of length) you want to focus on the one most unique thing about it. This can be a unique feature of the plot, character, or setting (though I think setting is the hardest to pull off).

For my space zombie novel, I might specify how the character is unique: Cyn never liked her prosthetic leg. Until it saves her from being taken over by body-snatching parasites. (105 characters)

Or plot: Humans enjoyed exploring space until body-snatching parasites began exploring them. (83 characters)

Personally, I find the ones focusing on the uniqueness of the character are often my favorite.


This generally takes the form of an if/then statement. Basically, though. What does the character stand to lose?

Example: If 17yo Cyn can’t stop the body-snatching parasites invading her ship, her friends may end up as alien puppets. (111 characters)

I will say I see a lot of “The world will end” sort of stakes. Not that those aren’t important stakes, but I like seeing more intimately how the main character will be affected. That’s why I chose to focus my tweet above on the friends rather than how actually all humanity would be screwed.


This is sort of a bonus thing, because it’s hard enough to get the basic information down, much less the voice. But if you can, great.  I think this is easiest with sort of sassy characters, but that I might just be because always write sassy characters (they can say things that I’m too polite to say).

Example: Body-snatching aliens are possessing all of Cyn’s friends. Jerks. (65 characters)

Genre and Age Group

Hopefully, this is somewhat clear just from the pitch. If you can say something like “17 yo Cyn” it’s implied that the story is YA, but if I have room I usually put that it’s YA (that’s only two characters).

“YA SciFi” is only 8 characters and would fit onto any of the example pitches with room leftover for whatever hash tag you need. I usually just tack it on to the end or the beginning.

I do try to stay away from abbreviations as they make the tweet seem less professional. But I don’t mind them for establishing age range and genre. PB, MG, and YA are fine. If you don’t specify, I usually assume it’s adult.

These example pitches aren’t perfect. Like I said, they’re from a random dream I had, and I sort of just came up with them on the spot. But hopefully they give you an idea of some of the possible directions you can take your Twitter pitch.

If you’re still struggling, consider purchasing a Twitter pitch critique. See special deals on my Editing Services page.


Writing your Twitter pitch got you feeling like this? Don’t worry. You can do it!

Pitching Fantasy

Here’s a thought. Pitching fantasy is hard.

I know, pitching everything is hard (unless it’s super high concept, but even that has its challenges).  And every genre has something that makes pitching it hard. But especially lately I’ve been noticing it with fantasy (across all age groups).

I get a lot of fantasy coming through the slush pile. Which is fine. I like fantasy. I read and write a decent amount of it. But for how many fantasy queries I get, I request very few. Especially when it comes to high or epic fantasy.

Why? Mostly because a lot of the queries start to sound the same. Most have

  1. Similar plot structures (the chosen one must save the world from an evil dictator)
  2. Similar world-building (medievalish Europish world with elves, dwarves, wizards, ect.)

Which isn’t to say those type of stories are bad. Some of them find their own ways to be unique, and plenty of them still get published. But it’s hard for me to read three paragraph summaries of these types of books and not think “Haven’t I read this before?”

And there are a TON of these stories. When I talk to authors about the first book they ever wrote, many say that it was basically a wannabe Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter. My own first novel was in the vein of LOTR (and bad in so, so many ways).  I guess our brains are just wired to imitate before we’re ready to write more original stuff. Anyway, there are a lot of debut manuscripts like that floating around, and it’s easy for a manuscript like that to get drowned out by all the noise, even if it is polished.

So what do you do if you’re trying to pitch a story like this? Focus on whatever it is that is unique in the novel. And there should be something unique about it. Tolkien has already written Lord of the Rings. You don’t need to do it again. Whether it’s an aspect of the setting*  or the magic system or the character or whatever. Make sure the unique bit stands out in the query.

And that, actually, is a good lesson for anyone pitching anything.


*Side note on setting: I once had very lengthy discussion with a friend about how the best fantasies are the ones based on real mythologies. Tolkien’s world was heavily influenced by the mythologies of the British Isles, and he knew his stuff. Other greats, like Lloyd Alexander, have also used this mythology (Alexander was particularly inspired by Welsh mythology) and they knew. it. well. Super well. A lot of modern fantasies seem to take place in sort of made up European land. Many of these settings would be made stronger by delving more deeply into the existing European culture or by placing it in a different culture.

Multicultural literature is a rant for another day, but I’ll just say that the Asian, African, Island, and Native American settings and mythologies are all VERY underutilized. I’ve seen a lot of great stories based on these lesser known mythologies and they stick out (as opposed to a million retellings of the Grimm fairy tales that I see all the time). For instance, I think Avatar: The Last Airbender was way cooler in an Asian inspired setting. It gave the series a nice flavor.